Lighthouse Levity

Midway through the party, the combo played “La Vie en Rose.” It could have been “View” as the focus was on sight (in its various manifestations) and socializing. The Gumbo Pot Trio were the music makers with their traditional jazz styling, the venue was Arnaud’s Restaurant, and the presenting sponsor, Postlethwaite & Netterville. “An Evening Benefiting Lighthouse Louisiana” titled the to-do.

Arnaud’s created a beautiful setting for the exemplary cuisine. Around and about were dining stations, while servers passed further delicacies. Vinous attractions abounded, many going home with the guests. A wine pull, offering 55 chances to win a bottle of wine ranging in value from $30-$150 had folks lining up.

One of the major attractions of the evening was the live auction, featuring artwork created by John Bramblitt, who began painting after he lost his vision in 2001.

His painting of a boy looking out over the sunset had Mi chelle Villere as the purchaser.

The artist was introduced as “someone who had lost his sight, but not his vision.” When Bramblitt (joined by wife Jacqi) spoke, he cited Lighthouse as the start of his “journey, continuing with “They would not give up on me.” He feels lines to paint. As a sentimental note, Bramblitt said, “Today is my son Jack’s eighth birthday. He’s the sweetest kid.”

(Recalled was the quote by Pablo Picasso, “Painting is a blind man’s profession…”).

Lighthouse Board Chairman Curtis Eustis addressed the gathering at 8:10 p.m., right before the raffle drawing that had Julie Koretsky as the winner of a $1,000 gift certificate at Saks Fifth Avenue.

He started with thanks to the event chairwoman, Katy Casbarian of Arnaud’s, and to the restaurant for hosting the fundraiser for 10 years. Along with Arnaud’s, he thanked Sustaining Sponsors Huhtamaki, Morgan Stanley, and Whitney Bank. Joining Curtis were spouse Celeste and her parents, Donna and Paul Flower, and his, Dee and Ernie Eustis. The official slate mastheads Paul Masinter as chairman-elect, A. Peyton Bush IV as treasurer, and Tabatha L. George as secretary.

Paul, with spouse Renee Masinter, mingled as did auctioneer and Lighthouse Advisory Board Chairman James Slaton and Nikki, Lighthouse President Renee Vidrine, Macon and the Rev. Hill Riddle, the above Tabby George and Charlie Marts, Sara and Ryan Gootee, Erica and James Reiss, Susan Pereira, Dr. Sean O’Sullivan, Anne and Andy Black, Lamar G. Villere and Michelle, Keith and Evie Katz, Claire and Harry Stahel, and dozens more.

The gala was considered very special: Lighthouse is commemorating its 100th year “of service to people who are blind, deaf or have other disabilities.”

All the proceeds of Spring Benefit 2016 help fund Louisiana Lighthouse’s services in New Orleans.

Twinkle, Twinkle

“Celebrate under the Stars with us at the Starry Night Gala benefiting St. Catherine of Siena” beckoned hundreds to The Cannery on Toulouse Street for a one-hour patron party and the later, three-hour gala and raffle. Drinks and featured restaurants, entertainment by Epic, and auctions furthered the excitement.

The sidereal setting announced the theme via white tablecloths topped with a runner of blue and gold glittered trimming, star luminaries, white hydrangea arrangements, golden accents and candle light. Thanks aplenty for the flowers went to Jeanie Favret.

Among the caterers were three owned by St. Catherine of Siena School parents: Justin and Katherine LeBlanc (Bevi Seafood Company), Daniel and Jennifer Lichtl (Porter and Luke’s), and Kelly and Jene Ponder (Rum House). Boulevard American Bistro and Superior Grill also purveyed taste treats. Teamed as event sponsors were Crescent Crown and New Orleans Steamboat Co.

Now for the auctions and the raffle! Donated by James Carter, a No. 9 Drew Brees jersey figured as one of the 108 items in the silent auction. School dad Tony Bonura was the proud purchaser. Within the live auction, another donation by James Carter, along with Quality First Marine, was the Deep Sea Tuna Fishing Charter that will have school dads, “winners” Sanders Offner and Matt Salkeld, heading to Venice, Louisiana.

Wayne Francingues, Derek Cook, Franck Chameco Jr. and Leni Sumich spearheaded the $10,000 raffle. It was won and split by three couples, Arnaldo and Renee Bustillo, Scot and Amanda Koloski, and Ryan and Miranda Powell.

Headliners included “Starry Night” Chairwomen Charlene Sutherlin, Emily Hardin, and the above Jeanie Favret; gala Chairmen James Carter and Gerard Adam, who also answers to Men’s Club president; Erin Graham; the Rev. Ronald Calkins, church pastor; the Rev. Tim Hedrick, parochial vicar; Deacon David Ducote; Co-Op Presidents Kim Heller and Jan Carroll; Georgine and Henry Bienert; Donna and John Hummell; and Jayne Lieberman. Lots of others, as well, who rallied around the dessert table that featured a fabulous, starry-themed cake done by Men’s Club member Sean Lionnet.

More Stars!

The buzz of a new season marking100 years thrilled the crowd of 100-plus at the beautiful home of Dana and Steve Hansel. Shining as the “star,” was Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, now in its centennial glory. Hostess Dana serves as an advisory board member.

To blend history and hobnobbing, decorations included photos of Le Petit’s “first” 100 years, including a visit to the theater of Tennessee Williams in 1977. Elsewhere, there were spring flower arrangements by Steve Baker of Ambrose Garden and, on the dining room table, magnolia branches from the Hansels’ garden positioned artistically by Dana. Guests enjoyed a lavish gustatory spread by Patti Constantin of designs in Catering.

Slated to open the touted 2016-17 season is the musical, “Pippin,” which had four selections performed at the party by Leslie Castay and Bryan Batt, who were joined by their respective spouses, Brian Burkey and Tom Cianfichi. Jefferson Turner from NOCCA accompanied them on the Hansels’ burled wood, grand piano, which is older than the theater.

Subsequent plays will be “Freud’s Last Season,” “Jelly’s Last Jam,” “Dividing the Estate,” and “It’s Only a Play,” co-produced with NOLA Project.

Conversation touched on the Centennial Seat Campaign (guests were invited to purchase seat plaques) and The Curtain Call Ball, which will take place Sept. 9 in the theater and Dickie Brennan ‘s Tableau.

Reveling in all the theatrical anticipation were LPT board President Bruce Hoefer with Libby (both seen last Sunday at Southern Rep’s closing performance of “Orpheus Descending” on the UNO campus), Frank and Paulette Stewart, City Councilman Jared Brossett, Shon Cowen Baker (who chaired a CC Ball), Joyce and Sidney Pulitzer, Edmund and Kathleen Schrenk, Kay Favrot, Brent and Lele Wood, and Kathleen Parke and Bob Edmundson.

From the LPT board came Jackie Clarkson, Batt, Diana Bajoie, Barbara Motley with Biff, and Kathleen Favrot Van Horn (vice president) with Charlie. The staff of the theater (known to locals as well as Little Theatre) included artistic director Maxwell Williams, managing director Katie Hallman with husband Cavan, Crystal Gross with wife Renee Corrigan, Clayton Shelvin with husband Andy Forester, and Bill Camp. All agreed, 100 is the happening.