In Kenner, Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts kicked off the New Year with happy hobnobbing and an announcement of its forthcoming season. Elsewhere, coming together for a purpose occurred when the French Quarter Business Association introduced its 2016 board of directors and honored French Quarter advocates at a dinner in the Royal Sonesta Hotel, and, in Metairie, the Jefferson Parish Medical Society held its 2016 Installation Dinner-Dance at the Metairie Country Club. In each social scenario, new names were paramount.
n The Show Is the Thing
During the annual party and fundraiser of Rivertown Theaters, it was standing-room only for the announcement of the spectacular lineup of Broadway classics, recent hits and new originals for the 2016-17 season. A show-and-sell bit of lagniappe was a number from the just-closed “Sweet Charity” performed by Shelbie Mac, which garnered hearty “Wows!”
Appropriately, show tunes filled the lobby as guests arrived. Mixing and mingling followed as folks enjoyed champagne, wine and beer. Then it was into the theater itself, where new Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni started the evening with a tribute to artistic directors Gary Rucker and Kelly Fouchi and then spoke about his admiration and support for Theatre 13 as the management company for Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts.
In their signature style of spirited fun, Gary and Kelly kicked off the program with a montage video of how they choose shows for the season, often a belabored and angst-filled process. Hilarity figured in the video, and audience chuckles resulted.
That duo then announced each show, one by one, for the 2016-17 season with a short accompanying performance. Excitement swelled as the names were announced: “Let the Good Times Roll”, “1776” (the musical)”, “Billy Elliot, The Musical”, “The 39 Steps” (Alfred Hitchcock’s), “Bye Bye Birdie” and “The Little Mermaid.”
In addition to thanking the audience for their presence and support, Gary and Kelly presented Volunteers of the Year awards to Kenner City Councilman Keith Reynaud and to Kelly’s unsuspecting mom, Jane Hirling, who was described as “tireless in her volunteerism and help.”
Further features of the multifaceted evening were the live auction (with Rivertown-related enticements, such as a walk-on role and a VIP suite for 10 people), as well as desserts and champagne provided by generous businesses at the after-party.
Reveling in all the excitement were the above Mike Yenni with spouse Michelle; Kenner Councilwoman-at-large Maria DeFrancesch, Councilmen Gregory Carroll and the above Keith Reynaud with wife Donna, Jerry and Marsha Parks, Shelbie Mac, actor David Hooper, Betsy and Geoffrey Dobson, Kenner TV hostess Doris Rappold, arts supporter Donna Kay Berger, Carolyn Cuseo, Michelle Macicek, and Betty and Don Kern. From the families of Fouchi and Rucker came Kelly’s awardee mom Jane and husband Charlie Hirling and Kelly’s husband, Marc, who dazzled audiences as Will Rogers in January 2015. Shelly Rucker, Gary’s wife, has also appeared in several productions.
Throughout the gala evening, teamwork was to the festive fore as was the thrill of the anticipated “another opening, another show.”
Mastering the Quarter
The Grand Ballroom of the Royal Sonesta buzzed with the excitement of business and fraternizing. Scores assembled for the annual French Quarter Business Association’s Installation and Awards Dinner, which was formatted as a buffet. Music added to the ambiance, thanks to the combo Cranston Clements.
Headlining the hobnobbing were guest speaker Col. Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police; state Sen. Wesley T. Bishop; state Rep. Helena Moreno; now Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser; Joseph Zolfo, producer of “NCIS New Orleans”; various members of the city council; and FQBA President Robert Watters and Vice President Timothy Spratt. Another vice president, Drew Bevolo, was unable to attend.
The above threesome, Watters (RCI Entertainment LA), Spratt (Kirkendoll Management) and Bevolo (Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights), masthead the board of directors. Additional officers are secretary/treasurer Louis Bartels (IberiaBank), at large Zeid Ammari (Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts) and Marci Schramm (French Quarter Festivals Inc.) and board Chairman Jeremy DeBlieux (Acme Oyster House).
Board members at the dinner were Neil Anderson, Sydney Anderson, Louis Faust, Bryan Francher, Dr. Scott Griffith, Levi Jansenn, James Lauga Jr., Dwrye McComsey, John O’Brien, Emily Schmidt Liuzza, Gene Sausse, Anna Sumas, Adrienne Thomas, Tony Viloria, Shawn Walsh, Kathleen Wilkin, and Mark Wilson. Angela Rowell, another board member, was represented in absentia.
As she has for six years, Nancy Parker of Fox 8 stepped forward as mistress of ceremonies. She was lauded as “a vibrant addition and a true friend of the Association.”
Awards play an integral part of the evening. Presented annually the Fleur-de-lis Award goes to someone for extraordinary dedication to the historic neighborhood of the Vieux Carre. Kimberly Rosenberg was the beaming winner. As for an individual or company in support of the FQBA and its goals, New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau was the applauded recipient.
Said FQBA Executive Director Brittany Mulla about the event that assembled 249 attendees representing businesses and organizations around the French Quarter, “It was great. We raised the most money (ever) and had the most attendance.”
Medical Society Socializing
“A Tribute to Our 2016 Board of Directors and Physician Leaders in Our Community” themed the Installation Dinner-Dance of the Jefferson Parish Medical Society at the Metairie Country Club, which was embellished with table decorations of votive lights and centerpieces made of a brightly colored mixture of Gerber daisies, snapdragons, chrysanthemums and Asiatic lilies. Passed hors d’oeuvres were followed by a seated dinner and a menu of Romaine hearts salad, pan-seared sirloin and a trio of miniature pastries.
Leading the notables were JPMS 2016 President Dr. Gregory N. Sossaman with spouse Dr. Julie Sossaman, Vice President Dr. Pablo Labadie with Renee, Treasurer Dr. Gabe Rivera-Rodriguez with Sherry, Board of Censors Chairwoman Dr. Tanya Busenlener with Jim, and member-at-large Dr. Eric Ehrensing with Sarah. Dr. Ralph P. Katz is the immediate past president.
And Louisiana State Medical Society President/JPMS member Dr. Dolleen Licciardi, Dr. K. Barton Farris (for the welcome and introduction of 2016 officers) with Cherise, and Drs. Robert McCord with Barbie, Beau Raymond with Katherine, Mohammed Suleman with Dr. Tasneim Suleman, Robert Brousse with Linda, Owen Leftwich with Laurie, and Raoul Rodriguez with Mari. As staff from JPMS, there were Charlene Baudier and Jodi Schwing. All thanked the four sponsors.
Kudos tapped Christine Settoon, a third-year medical student at LSU in New Orleans, who received the medical student scholarship presented by JPMS and the Society’s Alliance.
Music added the lively fillip with the band Lost in the Sixties providing a tuneful bridge between formality and fun. Beatles hits were the momentum that kept the dance floor filled between dinner courses and until the party’s end. Crowd favorites “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Twist and Shout” brought Drs. Rick Paddock and Robert Chugden to the mic with Dollie Katz and Elizabeth Chugden as backup singers.