A Tout to “Todd”
Whereas “Faust” is on the opera agenda this weekend, and the Mad Hatter’s Luncheon is Wednesday, a look back at a recent dinner given by the Opera Club of the New Orleans Opera Association showed the club honoring stars of the last performance, “Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” It was held at the impressive Women’s Guild Home in the Garden District.
Cocktails were served at 7 p.m. along with fish and chips and — in keeping with the theme, and eliciting a few smiles — little meat pies. Then immediate past Opera Club President Bruce Gordon, who represented current President A.J. Capritto, welcomed members and guests and thanked hosts Diane and Dr. Charles Dupin for planning the party. Bruce then introduced NOOA general and artistic director Robert Lyall, who, in turn, introduced Greer Grimsley (Sweeney Todd in the opera), Luretta Bybee (Mrs. Lovett and also Mrs. Greer Grimsley) and Emma Grimsley (Johanna and the daughter of Greer and Luretta). Each one was asked by Robert Lyall to give some thoughts about being back in New Orleans and singing as a family. The final introduction was Lyall’s of “Sweeney Todd” director Brenna Comer, a first-time visitor to the Crescent City (but not her first time in directing the Grimsleys).
Four young singers from Loyola University — Katharyn Domyan, Blythe Reed, Alexander Sibley and Spencer Reichmen — were tapped along with their pianist, Jesse Reeks, for solos and duets. Applause was hearty.
After the singing, it was time for supper and the English theme continued with a salad, veggies, Yorkshire pudding, lamb shepherd’s pie, beef Wellington, and warm sticky pudding. The floral embellishment was from Federico’s Family Florist and consisted of glass containers filled with river rocks, pincushion flowers and green coffee bean sprays.
All of this was relished by the above Bruce Gordon and wife Melissa, the Dupins, Jerry and Annette Hudson, Harold Young and Constance Cowart, Joe and Aysen Young, Bob and Ann Barnes, Robert Pope, Guy and Loretta Corbett, Tom and Faye Wartelle, Margie Breeden, Ted and Sonda Stacey, Bill and Dee Long, and a few others. All made opera their social dish.
A nautical theme permeated the premises, the Southern Yacht Club, for the Leukemia Cup Regatta Kickoff Party. Tables were adorned with royal blue and white striped satin tablecloths, and the centerpieces were metal sailboats made by a local artist and placed atop a mirrored mat. Votives added a twinkle.
New Orleans taste treats thrilled the palates. Folks enjoyed crabcakes, fried catfish, jambalaya, smoked salmon, mini po-boys, and crawfish and meat pies. The national sponsor, Gosling Rum, provided the specialty drink, A Dark and Stormy.
John Robert Tubre, an active 4-year-old who attends St. Paul’s Episcopal School, is the honored hero this year. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with Pre-B acute lymphoblastic lymphoma and is in remission. His parents, Michael and Jamie Tubre, and sister Annie accompanied him.
Limelight turned to guest speaker Gary Jobson, the national chairman for the Leukemia Cup Regatta, who is also an American Cup winner, an ESPN commentator, producer and author. He has raised more than $55 million for the LCR across the country and loves visiting New Orleans. Then 2017 LCR Chairman Robert Kottler, of Iberia Bank, announced that the bank would be the 2017 title sponsor for the Mississippi/Louisiana LCR.
Among the attentive listeners were Jenny (Mrs. Robert) Kottler, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society board President Mike North, board member Philip Koote, Guy and Pam Brierre, Dave Erwin, Lynn and Thomas Long, the Jeffrey Husemans, Blaine and Joann Gahagan, James and Joy Wade, William Wright, Sheri Baker, Kyle Smith and Carrie Booker, spouses Leslie Higgins and Jerry Lemann, the Jeff Montzes, and the co-chairmen of LCR participation, Clerc Cooper and Patrick Ryan. All aligned with the mission of finding cures and improving the lives of patients and their families.
Waiting on a Prime-Time Star
The Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane was the social site when more than 600 guests celebrated the opening of “Mickalene Thomas: Waiting on a Prime-Time Star.” Curated by NAM’s director Dr. Monica Ramirez-Montegut, the show presented 40 works by the famed artist, who is known for bedazzled portraits of women with a retro vibe. Guests relished moving about the premises against a lush backdrop of shimmering rhinestones and vibrant fabrics. The main attraction was the show’s expansive tableau recreating a 1970s living room with a television continuously playing Thomas’ award-winning film, “Happy Birthday to Beautiful Woman.”
As artistic lagniappe, local collectors Walda and Sydney Besthoff had an opportunity to show their stunning, mixed-media painting by the artist, which usually hangs at their eponymous foundation’s headquarters at Lee Circle.
The evening started with a VIP preview hour in the Woodward Way Breezeway, where guests mingled with the artist and her partner, Racquel Chevremont, while enjoying bubbly and hors d’oeuvres by Michael’s Catering. The next steps were to the Montine McDaniel Freeman Auditorium for an engaging dialogue between Thomas and Tulane art history instructor Dr. Mia Bagneris. Immediately after, the standing-room-only crowd enjoyed a public reception with light fare.
A nod to Carnival was apparent in the artist’s recently published photography book, “Muse,” that was displayed and perused by many.
Making their rounds were the above Besthoffs, William Andrews, Susan Taylor, Andrea Andersson, Don Marshall, Rebecca Snedeker, Robin Forman, Ana Lopez, Deborah Luster, Yuri Herrera, Jacqueline Bishop, Ron Bechet, Judge Michael Bagneris, Ana Hernandez and Rontherin Ratliff, Zachary Lazar and hundreds more, who’ll certainly log more hours in the museum before the show closes on April 9.