Compass Points South

Three recent events traveled socially to the Caribbean, Buenos Aires and countries with a “Latin flair.” Boundaries expanded for good times.

Island in the Sun

For its Curtain Call Ball to open the 101st season, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre took a cue from its opening performance, “Once on This Island,” and made the tropics its theme. When guests entered the historic patio steps away from the theater’s entrance on St. Peter Street, they heard the rollicking sounds of Casa Samba. On the various tables, Caribbean-inspired settings of palm leaves, pineapples, orchids and coconuts furthered the decorative flavor. For the actual ones, a sumptuous Caribbean buffet-presentation by Dickie Brennan’s Tableau lured the crowd. Dickie himself made welcoming rounds.

Penny Baumer, with husband Al, chaired the lively levity with LPT board Vice Presidents Shon Cowan Baker and Kathleen Van Horn (joined by Charlie) as event co-chairwomen. More board of governors noted were President Barbara Motley with Biff, Secretary Ned Benjamin with Helaine, Treasurer Brent Barriere with wife Judy Barrasso, former interim Councilwoman (among other positions) Diana Bajoie, Janet Daley Duval with retired Judge Stanwood Duval, immediate past President Bruce Hoefer Jr. with Libby, Brenda Moffitt with Mike, David Pons with Laure, Brent Wood with Lele, and emerita member/former Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson. Bryan Batt is an emeritus member, and Bob Gettys and Troy R. Poplous are on the board. Bruce’s brother Karl Hoefer and wife Lisa figured in the fun.

Thanked as Main Stage Sponsors were Tableau, The New Orleans Advocate and Iberia Bank. More top ones were Crystal Hot Sauce, Chevron, Livery, Friend & Company, and Keil’s Antiques.

At approximately 7:15, guests meandered into the theater for the program and a welcome by master of ceremonies Sean Patterson. He called on Barbara Motley, who, in turn, issued thanks, especially to the chairing troika, acknowledging their “long hours and hard work.” “You pulled it off,” she said with gusto. Up next was LPT artistic director Maxwell Williams (who’s soon to be married to Christy Pellegrini) expressing thanks to sponsors and announcing the City Council’s proclamation to Le Petit on its 100 years.

Stage thunder and lightning ensued and the cast of “Island” performed a musical number to hearty applause and a host of compliments: “So professional” and “I can hardly wait to see the show.”

Back again was Sean Patterson, who this time changed from his grass skirt to a Carmen Miranda-character. “I’m the lady with the tutti-frutti hat,” he chuckled. In yet another role, he was the auctioneer for “Le Petit Season Dream Package,” which went for a nice amount. Later, but in the courtyard, he stirred up bidding for seven choice packages, starting and ending with art work (by Tim Trapolin and George Dunbar).

Elsewhere Tom Hook took to the piano keys in the Drawing Room, where local musical theater friends entertained. All this was relished by Francine Segal (also Siegel), Janee Michelle (aka Gee Tucker), Bobby and Beth Hassinger, Anne Redd, Michael McKelvey, Andree Moss (just noted dining at Tony’s in St. Louis), Leslie Castay and Bryan Burkey, Steve Baker, and LPT patron Kay Favrot. A choice moment occurred when the Big Easy Boys (that’s Rich Arnold and three others) started singing ‘50s and ‘60s favorites and, in furtherance of the aqueous theme, serenaded Kay with the Beach Boys’ “Surfer Girl.”

It’s Got to Be Surreal!

Within a décor in the Ile de France Ballroom of the JW Marriott where red and black were dominant colors, the New Orleans Opera Association (celebrating its 75th anniversary) and Casa Argentina presented a tango opera. It was Astor Piazzolla’s “Maria de Buenos Aires” and starred Catalina Cuervo (Maria), Luis Alejandro Orozco and Milton Loayza. Robert Lyall of the NOOA conducted and Tomer Zvulun, general and artistic director of The Atlanta Opera, directed. For lovers of tango, after the applause for the two-act chamber opera, which was billed as surreal, a brace of couples got “real” on the dance floor. More applause acknowledged Carlos and Maureen Urrego and Jeremias Massera and Mariela Braufaldi.

During the 6:30 p.m. patron party, Julio y Cesar and their band entertained while hors d’oeuvres by chef Carlos Rafael Lainez were passed. Sitting to dine, guests enjoyed a tuna ceviche salad, an entrée choice (fish or meat) and crème brulee, all paired with Argentine wines. Empty bottle of each wine held red carnations and greenery and served as centerpieces. Luz Caputto and Blanca Maldonado did decorations.

Major donors were Dr. Nicolas and Haydee Bazan with son and daughter-in-law Drs. Hernan Bazan and Jasmine Ellison, and their young daughters, Chiara and Ariana; The Lupin, Patrick Taylor and Goldring foundations; Dr. Juan and Ana Gershanik and son Dr. Esteban; the New Orleans Saints, represented by Jamie Moore; Pan American Life, represented by Rafael Shabetai (with Claudia); recent birthday boy Dr. Carlos Trujillo (with partner Brian Drude); Paul Leaman Jr. (with Marilyn Dittmann); CA Secretary Marlene Donovan; Miriam Brown (with husband Andres Rodriguez); Dr. Eddy Randrup (with Becky Medders); CA President Betty and Greg Speyrer; Jones Walker, represented by Andrew Bruns; Ludovico and Stephanie Feoli; Berenice and Thomas Lanigan; and Drs. Efrain Raisin (CA vice president), Sergio Schabelman with Flori, Robert Matheney with Beverly, Salvador Caputto with Luz, Blanca Maldonado with Hector, and Luis Gabriel Uribe with Audrea. The New Orleans Opera thanked as underwriters Casa Argentina, Penny and Alvin Baumer, Elizabeth and James Landis, Nina and Larry Pugh, Drs. Terry and Rand Voorhies, and Debby Hirsch Wood. Yet another notable was CA Treasurer Yakelis Anzola.

Post program, Julio y Cesar struck up the music again and general dancing became the order of the operatic evening.

Latin Levity

The Chateau Golf and Country Club was the venue for the vibes when the sixth annual Senior Moments presented “Latino Styles!” Proceeds will benefit the Jefferson Council on Aging, which helps people age with dignity and independence “in the place and manner of their choice.”

Quaff and food quarters abetted the merriment with margaritas and sangria, and Hispanic dishes, such as fajitas and chicken quesadillas. A thrilling silent auction featured 70 items, including art by Colombian-born Gustavo Duque. Patrons also purchased deluxe trips to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, France and San Francisco. The eye had a treat with the decorations, which included multicolored mesh ribbon bows that adorned the pillars in the main ballroom; colored table runners; and glass and gold-embellished candle holders.

JCOA board Chairman Gordon Wadge and Mary relished the Latino tout, as did Senior Moments Chairwoman Miriam Brown and husband Andres Rodriguez, executive director Al Robichaux, Henry and Pat Shane, Mary Fay Legnon of Entergy, Missy Criswell (Gulf Coast Bank) with Colby, Sherri Peppo of New Orleans Catholic Cemeteries, Carol and John Hall, Claudia and Raphael Shabetai, Marie Clesi with Ken Masson, and state Rep. Patrick Connick and Rhonda.

All applauded with zest when professional salsa dancers from the NOLA Casino Son Dance Studio exhibited extraordinary moves. Later, for the “Latino Style!” legions, Julio y Cesar beckoned, packing the dance floor.