Red All About It

Forget the LBDs, this was the night to revel in red. “A Red Hot Jazz Gala” titled the 15th annual Ladies in Red event given by the Preservation Resource Center to support its African American Heritage Preservation and Heritage Education programs. Of course, some party gals still opted for that “little black dress (LBD),” but most felt right in red.

One of the committee co-chairwomen even had that as her surname: Anne Redd. She and Tara Carter Hernandez spearheaded the committee of dozens that ran from A-Y: Marva R. Arceneaux to double “Y” representation in Hilda Young and Sally Young. Last year, the chairing twosome consisted of Jule H. Lang and Gaynell Lawrence.

The 2015 chromatic caper took place at the Historic Carver Theater, where the Solomon Group did the lighting and décor, 16 restaurants/caterers provided culinary treats, and Café Dauphine and Second Vine Wine served libations. Tapped to entertain at the patron party were David Torkanowsky and Sons of Jazz brass band (with a “welcome” courtesy of Barbara Lacen Keller and Holly and Geoffrey Snodgrass), while Big Sam’s Funky Nation centered the stage at the gala. Fidelity Bank provided complimentary valet parking, and with Reily Food Inc., figured as the two Trumpet King sponsors. That category was the top tier.

The roster of ’15 honorees included Antoine “Fats” Domino, Pete Fountain, Doreen Ketchens, Ellis Marsalis, Deacon John Moore, Tipitina’s Foundation, and Joseph Torregano. Those attending were applauded profusely during the 8:30 p.m. awards ceremony when they received plaques in recognition of their significance in preserving the culture of New Orleans.

Notables, and there were many, included master of ceremonies Alfred Parker, Edmond Redd (with Anne), and from the City Council, Stacy S. Head, Jared C. Brossett, Susan Guidry, and Nadine M. Ramsey. Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell was represented by Julius Feltus, director of constituent services, and Councilman Jason R. Williams by chief of staff Perlina Thomas. Jackie Clarkson, Kristin Palmer and Peggy Wilson, all former councilwomen, made their “Red” rounds.

From the PRC board came President Julie Habetz with husband Scott, Janie Blackmon with Elbert, Edgar Chase, Shaun Duncan, Marshall Hevron, Allen J. Melillo with Ginny, Jim Morse with Anne, Rick Normand, Hal Williamson with Dale LeBlanc, Gaynell Lawrence and Anne Redd. Patty Gay answers to executive director of the PRC.

Seen, as well, were state Rep. Joseph Bouie Jr., Sunada Brookins, Karin Coleman, Byron Cornelison, Deb “Big Red” Cotton, Ernest and Jackie George, Eric and Bethany Paulsen, Kurt Weigle, and hundreds more — supporters and sponsors — who made “Jazz” their jaunt.

The Social ‘Thing’s’ the Play

On Saturday evening, the 22nd annual New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane opened its 2015 season on the university campus with the Rob Clare-directed “Cymbeline” by William Shakespeare. The play and partying were sold-out.

In anticipation of the season’s productions, Festival board members Adee Heebe and Barbara Motley teamed earlier to entertain co-board members and guests interested in the Shakespearian season and to introduce them to Rob Clare, the Festival’s director in residence, and actress wife Reiko Aylesworth. The impressive Arts District home of Barbara Motley and husband Biff, who greeted guests at the street entrance, was the site for the night.

As they milled about, guests partook of the fine fare of Patti Constantin Designs in Catering, such as chilled avocado soup and seafood-topped fried green tomatoes with the noshing complemented by vinous selections from WINO. And for the musical deserts, Harry Mayronne entertained at the former Le Chat Noir cabaret’s baby grand piano.

By way of introducing the Festival’s main stage production, “Cymbeline,” that will run through June 27, actors/spouses Liann Pattison and Silas Cooper led guests in a lively verbal stroll down Memory Lane with the Bard. Seated on a staircase in the Motley home (with the guests looking on), the couple asked their audience to remember the high school and college Shakespeare works they had studied, seen and/or acted in. Audience participation rated an A+.

Then director Rob Clare, who with his family calls New York home, related stories about his many years of passion for and involvement with the famous playwright, including a Ph.D. from England’s Oxford University, to acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company and then joining the staff of the United Kingdom’s National Theatre. He emphasized eloquently that Shakespeare and his works transcend time.

Another Clare, but it’s her first name, addressed the group. This was Festival managing director Clare Moncrief, (joined by the fest’s and Tulane’s Marty Sachs and Chaney Tullos) who talked briefly about the season. After “Cymbeline,” Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” will occupy the boards (and, no doubt, generate a lot of smiles and laughter) from July 11-25. Then comes the July 15-22 “Incarnate,” followed by The Gavin Mahlie “All Things Shakespeare” Program, August 6-9.

Turning attention to the “Bill” billing were Festival board members, including board President Ted Martin, Cassie Worley (in a cool summer frock, as were several) with Rob, Charlie Lacoste Jr. with Mary Catherine, Bonnie Boyd with John, Marie Cahn with Jimmy, Judge Stan Duval with Janet (both back from California trips), Lou Hoffman, John Landrum with Martha, Max Nathan Jr., and Herschel Abbott Jr. (Daughter Cathryn Abbott is engaged to be married to Middleton O’Malley.)

Some of the fest’s guests were Harry Blumenthal and Murray Pitts, Carol Gelderman, Dr. Nia Terezakis, Linda Fendley, Karen and Jim Ward, Ann and Dr. Tony Fuselier, John Abajian and Scott Simmons, and Charlotte Bollinger, who said, in appreciation, “Thank you for all that you do to remind us of this wonderful opportunity in the city.”

n ‘Spring’s’ the Thing

The Garden Room of Commander’s Palace was the lovely setting for the Fine Arts Club’s Spring Installation Luncheon. Attendees were prepping for the 100th anniversary of the club’s charter that will be celebrated in the spring of 2016. The chapter was established in 1910 and chartered six years later.

Among the features of the gathering were decorations of pink and white balloons; appetizers of eggplant fingers and garlic bread; and a main course of grilled Gulf shrimp salad, followed by creme brulee.

Headliners included club President Sonda Stacey, event Chairwoman Amie Harllee Seba and guest the Rev. Gerard Young, Arthemise and Ed Gros, Dottie Rivenbark, Jacquelyn Lothschutz, Martha Irwin, Ann Humphreys, Anita Garcia, Puddin’ Baltar, Nancy McArthur, Suzie Russell, Hattie Fraser, Olive Fuchs, and Nanette Edmundson, who was just back from China to see her grandchildren.

For a group that enjoys fine arts and beauty, Mother Nature added a contribution. It was a beautiful day.