Hitting the Night Notes!

All the Swirl was a Stage

The black-tie brigade headed thematically to the Sheraton New Orleans for a night of sounds and wondrous sights. The event, the annual Pasta & Puccini fundraiser, was presented by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society and The Wendell and Anne Gauthier Family Foundation.

Featured were extraordinary vocalists, accompanied by the JPAS Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Dennis Assaf; appetizers and libations; a sumptuous dinner by the Sheraton; an art auction and a 6-9 p.m. silent auction (chaired by Connie Falati and Sandra Hecker); a Restaurant Pull; and raffles.

The above Gauthier Family Foundation figured in the top sponsorial category, Impresario, while the JPAS Leading Ladies Guild held the second spot, La Vedette. In La Soubrette, the third, were Gibbs Construction, Raymond James at the Galleria, Mrs. Jeri Nims/Robert and Myrtis Nims Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Shane.

Manifold thanks to many entities came from Nora Vaden Holmes and Melinda Bourgeois, the event co-chairwomen. Their husbands, Bruce and Wayne, joined them. More gratitude from them tapped Lisa and E.B. "Tripp" Ludwig for hosting the patron party at their Old Metairie home.

Decorations in the Sheraton’s ballroom caught many a glance. The tables were decorated with tall crystal vases and hanging prisms and topped with fuchsia and pink plumes, as well as crystal and gold-lighted vases topped with fuchsia feathers. When guests sat, they enjoyed a field green salad, filet mignon and a jellied chocolate truffle and light chocolate tart. All delicious.

Assaf led the orchestra in a varied program that included an opening by the JPAS Theater Kids! Competition Team. Then came a series of individual performances, such as those of Vanessa Van Vrancken, Patrick Ryan Sullivan and Drew Arnold, who wowed respectively as Roxie Hart, Billy Flynn and Mary Sunshine in JPAS’s recent hit, “Chicago.” Van Vrancken (whose mom, Valerie, enthusiastically applauded her performance) and Sullivan are both Broadway performers who’ve returned home to New Orleans. The spotlight also turned to numbers by Jade Antoinette Coates, Michah Richerand Desonier, Lucy Furr, Bruce Landry, Lindsey Reynolds, and Gregory Rittiner. Credit for the show tapped JPAS managing director, Nicholas “Nick” Frederick, the event production manager.

Among the gala’s supporters were the above Anne Gauthier with daughter and son-in-law Cherie and Kevin Lirette; Leading Ladies Guild President Valerie Hart, JPAS development director, and Gary; Larry and Marion Gibbs; John and Jackie Morgan; Henry and Pat Shane; Donna Roebke; Penny Baumer; Valerie Englade; Macon Moore; Jerod Schoen; Greg and Mary Beth Rittiner, parents of performer Greg; former gala Chaircouple Murray and Gerri Valene; Dr. Chuck and former P & P Co-Chairwoman Lorraine Cucchiara; Kip and Debbie Rouen; and JPAS board members Darrel Beerbohm, Howard Bennett, Kellie Barnes, Joy Shane, and Shannon Hannahan. Others included Irvin and Janet Schwary, Jolene and Ashton Ryan, Ginger Crawford, Carrel Eppling, Dianne Breaux, Margaret Wagner, Dolores Hall, former P & P Co-Chairwoman Karen Villavaso and hundreds more. Gallivanters galore!

A 75th-anniversary salute

The League of Women Voters of New Orleans joyously celebrated its 75th anniversary of “Making Democracy Work” through local action at a bash held in The Cannery. Councilwoman Susan Guidry was the mistress of ceremonies and Lea Young, former League president, was the event committee chairwoman.

A Tinseltown-quality documentary of the organization’s history, which was filmed by Max Cusimano and produced by former state League President Joyce Corrington, a retired Hollywood script writer, was shown on an oversize theater screen. It featured the strides and impact of the League on local government in 10-year increments. Featured, were the above Lea Young, Sybil Morial, Joel Myers, Karen Wimpelberg, Tania Tetlow, Linda Walker and LWVNO President Rosalind Blanco Cook.

More highlights were the honoring of Suzanne Dicharry for her dedicated work; the taste treats of Caesar salad, stuffed chicken, and bread pudding; and pretty table centerpieces of crystal candle holders. Each guest received a magnet with a picture of a high-heel shoe with coloration inspired by the U.S. flag and the wording, “These shoes are made for voting!”

More attendees included state President Caro DeVille, LWVNO Vice President Jessie Nieblias, Secretary Carol Billings, Treasurer Yvonne Mitchell Grubb, Renee Smith Auld, Ann Middleton, Joan Francis Smith with husband Royal Smith, Betsy Walker, Barbara and Stacey LaFleur, Judge Regina Bartholomew Woods, Judge Robin Pittman, Clerk of Court Dale Atkins, Judge Piper Griffin, former Judge Desiree Charbonnet, and Judge Veronica Henry. Also, William “Bill” Reeves, Ph.D., whose mother, Jean, was the LWVNO president from 1962-64 and then again from 1982-83. Before Cook became the 2015-18 president, Francine Giugno held the gavel for two years.

Fifty-year members — and a number attended — included the above Joel Myers, Juanita Bohn, Anne Dlugos, Carol Good, Marietta Herr, Julanne Isaacson, Felicia Kahn, Althea Lawes, Carol Levy, Anne Lowenburg, Helen Malin, Donna Moran, Sylvia Stern, Sara Stone and Ruth Weisler.

The final moments were set to music. A second line featuring Clive Wilson, Lars Edegran and Anthony Bennett played traditional New Orleans Dixieland jazz, rating unanimous “votes” for a celebratory send-off at a big anniversary.

Decade Delights

At-ten-tion was paid to the Lambert House Foundation at its gala chaired by Holly Abbott and Tim Trapolin. This was the 10th anniversary of the foundation and folks were festive. A buffet dinner with an open bar, live entertainment by 5 Eaux 4, and silent and live auctions beckoned 175 guests. They first nibbled on passed hors d’oeuvres and then enjoyed the dinner, all by chef Jacques Saleun.

Stephen Moses presented the five live auction pieces. The top item was a party for 30 people by Fleur de Que, donated by Todd Thompson and Patrick Able and “won” by Mrs. Edward McCloskey.

The look of the levity was lovely. White lighted drapery and long-stemmed white roses embellished the entrance to Lambeth House and in the party area, there were white flowers and subtle tea lights.

Headliners included LH CEO Scott Crabtree and wife Tammy, foundation board Chairwoman Polly Thomas, Ph.D., Ellen and Mac Ball, Lauren and Ken Flower, Tracey McCann, Susan Tyler, Hartley and Blair Crunk, Lee and Tamie Bressler, Shannon and Patrick Able and scores more, such as new grandparents, George and Sarah Young. Their grandson, George Villere Meeks, was just born to Matt and Bess Young Meeks.

More good news was the $70,000-plus raised for the Fellowship Fund for LH residents who outlive their resources.