The Capitol Park Museum will roll out the red carpet for the nation’s biggest movie star on Saturday.
No, it isn’t Matthew McConaughey, and even Brad and Angelina would have to step aside for this one. She’s starred in more movies in the last few years than any of them.
It’s Louisiana who’ll take the spotlight when the fifth annual “Night at the Capitol Park Museum” celebrates the state’s movie industry with the theme, “Starring Louisiana.”
This is more than appropriate considering the Friends of the Capitol Park Museum’s annual fundraiser is inspired by Hollywood.
Think back to the 2006 Ben Stiller comedy, “Night at the Museum,” where magical tablets at the tomb of Ahkmenrah brought Brooklyn’s Museum of Natural History exhibits to life each night. Ahkmenrah was the mummy in the museum’s Egyptian display.
The Friends group has a way of spinning its own magic once a year, bringing to life the museum’s exhibits through historical characters played by local actors and re-enactors, along with Louisiana food and music.
“And we’ll definitely have a red carpet and a VIP sign-in tent,” says Caryn Roland, gala chair. “We’ll also have Abstract Productions providing our movie floodlights outside, and we’ll have rotating stars as you walk in and on the plaza. The theme is movies, and we’re making it different. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Roland also is event manager for Heirloom Cuisine, which has supplied food for the event since its inception.
“Last year, we had food samples from different regions of the state, but we changed it this year to go with the movie theme,” she says. “We’ll still have some food stations, but most of the food will be tray-passed, or butler-passed. We thought this would add elegance to the event.”
Donner-Peltier Distributor of Thibodaux donated distilled spirits, and a snowball machine will be set up for visitors to make liquor-flavored treats.
“They’ll be able to choose the liquors for their snowballs,” Roland says. “We’ll have different flavors, and we’ll have Louisiana names for the drinks and menu items.”
The menu, prepared by Heirloom Cuisine Executive Chef Jason Roland, will include The Green Mile (Mediterranean orzo pasta salad with feta cheese and grilled vegetables), Duck Commander venison queso with homemade chili dusted tortilla strips, The Big Cheese (cheese display), Huey Long’s blazin’ boiled shrimp, Benjamin Button’s boudin cakes with pepper jelly and caramelized onions, Daisy Duke’s watermelon feta salad, Truman Capote Missed the (Italian) Boat, Steel Magnolia Natchitoches meat pies, and Treme’s Gran Marnier mousse (served with “gold dust” in mini martini glasses).
The lineup of Donner-Peltier snowcone spirits includes the Britney Spears, a watermelon snow cone infused with Oryza vodka and topped with a cherry; the Louis Armstrong, a peach snow cone infused with Oryza gin, lemon juice and fresh mint; and the Pistol Pete, a pomegranate snow cone with Rougaroux praline rum.
Then there’s the entertainment.
“This year, we’ll have Phat Hat as our main performers,” says Bill Stark, the museum’s director. “And a lot of our characters will be returning.”
In past events, Gabriel expressed his love for Evangeline beneath the museum’s reproduction of St. Martinville’s Evangeline Oak, while Huey P. Long made the rounds. And filling in the spaces in between were members of local Mardi Gras Krewe of Yazoo pushing lawn mowers while wearing their traditional chicken costumes.
Among the “Night at the Capitol Park Museum” favorites back this year is popular Advocate columnist Smiley Anders.
“He’ll be playing the hot dog vendor again,” Stark says.
Anders will stand next to a Lucky Dog stand, one of many that can be found on New Orleans’ street corners. He’ll wear the vendors’ uniform of a red and white striped shirt and black pants that also harkens back to John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “A Confederacy of Dunces.”
One of the book’s most iconic scenes is when main character Ignatius Reilly takes a job as a hot dog vendor.
Joining Anders will be Oneal Isaac, who’s returning as Homer Plessy, Stark says.
Plessy was a New Orleans shoemaker and of mixed race, known at the time as a Creole of color. He made headlines as the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Courts landmark separate-but-equal decision, legalizing state-mandated segregation.
Isaac will tell the story in the character of Plessy, while Cliff and Lynda Normand play German Coast Militia officer Pierre Trepagnier and his wife, Elizabeth Renaud.
“Cliff and Lynda also played these characters in the past,” Stark says. “And we’ll have Earl Hebert back again this year. He was the captain of the Coca J, the shrimp boat that’s permanently on display. He tells stories that happened while he was on the boat. They’re popular.”
Hebert donated the Coca J to the museum after years of shrimping. He’ll show up in full working gear, including his white rubber boots.
All of the action will take place among the decor of a collection of premiere posters for movies filmed in Louisiana.
The Capitol Park Museum is part of the Louisiana State Museum and was once known as the Louisiana State Museum at Capitol Park. Proceeds from the event will fund the Friends of the Capitol Park Museum’s educational and volunteer programs, as well as its financial support for the museum.
Get your cameras ready. Louisiana is about to take its walk down the red carpet.