Social Staging

Mama Knows Best?

The musical is suggested by memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, but everybody knows the show is really about mama-manager Rose. Starring Elizabeth Argus in the latter role, “Gypsy” closed the 50th season of Summer Lyric Theatre at Tulane University with a sold-out Sunday matinee. Maestro Leonard Raybon conducted the full orchestra.

After that, the cast “pooled” their talent once again as they shed show-clothes for swim ones and headed to the home of Frank and Paulette Stewart, longtime SLT supporters and SLT Steering Committee executive committee members, for a party. And unscripted dialogue. Co-hosts were Jim and Stacy Pellerin and Allan Eickelmann and Margene Minor.

Southern Hospitality had chafing dishes waiting at the Stewarts’ with such delicious offerings as chicken Florentine, creamed spinach, mixed green salad, chicken fingers for the young at heart (and art) and a slew of desserts. A full bar awaited, too. Appetite sated, it was party-in-the-pool time.

Post social splashing, Jefferson Turner sat at the piano playing musical theater melodies, which rallied the crowd. There was SRO (standing room only) around the baby grand as the cast members took turns singing their favorite Broadway hits. The 50th season was closed, but the songs went on.

Among those gathered were the three host couples; SLT artistic director and “Gypsy” director Michael McKelvey, Ph.D.; and, with husband John Meehan, the above Elizabeth “Liz” Argus, who rated a standing ovation as Mama Rose when the curtain fell in Dixon Hall, where “Gypsy” was staged. Also, Steering Committee Chaircouple Dr. Mark and Barbara Workman; Diane Lala, who choreographed (based on the original by Jerome Robbins) and lit up the stage (literally!) as showgirl Electra, and husband Robert “Bob” Pavlovich, the musical’s Burlesque Announcer; Charlie Farve Hayes, who enjoyed showing birthday photos of 1-year-old Rebecca; Jaune Buisson, who appeared as Tessie (in one of her three roles); Keith Claverie, also cast in three roles, and actress wife Leslie; twice-cast Marlene Thian, who had fun as Mazeppa; Daniel Shevlin; Tatum Ludlam and Meredith Owens, who played Mama Rose’s daughters June and Louise aka Gypsy Rose Lee; and a real-life mother-daughter duo in Leslie Castay and daughter Camille Burkey, the show’s Baby Louise.

And, Gray Randolph, a dancing standout as Tulsa; Robert MacDowell; Margaret Gilland, and stage manager Susan Threadgill from the University of Texas at Austin.

Smiles abounded as the cast recapped their “Gypsy” experience and chatted about upcoming projects. More smiles were elicited at the news that the endowment update stands at $437,000 toward the $500,000 goal. Everything’s coming up $ roses!

Churchill’s Champagne

“My tastes are simple. I am easily satisfied with the best.” So said Winston Churchill, who, among other indulgences, was reported to have opened a bottle every day in his adult life of his favorite bubbly, Pol Roger Champagne. He lived to be 90. In the 1980s, “as a gesture of respect and gratitude for Churchill’s lifelong support, Pol Roger dubbed its finest level of champagne ... Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill.” Also, Pol Roger holds the Royal Warrant as purveyors of Champagne to Queen Elizabeth II. She’s 91 and sharp as a tack. Again, hardly a coincidence!

The Churchill Society of New Orleans held a special Pol Roger tasting at Hopper’s Carte des Vins. Ric Hopper and Brian Perkins, along with society sommelier Walter Wolf gave a short presentation. Guests imbibed, nibbled on hors d’oeuvres and made conversational rounds.

Among the board members noted were Hill Riddle Jr., Bill Reeves, Betsy Stout, Christopher Tidmore and the above Walter Wolf. Mingling, as well, were Ben and Kris Capshaw (just back from a cruise), Shirley Trusty Corey, Raul Fonte and Helen Flammer, Melissa and Bruce Gordon, Wendell Stout, Drs. Rand and Terry Voorhies, Robert Young, Barbara and Dr. Perry Rigby, Courtney-Anne Sarpy, Katherine de Montluzin, Jackie Gamble, Jimmy Morse, Barbara Louviere and John Magill, and Patricia Strachan.

A Luncheon Launch

Ralph Brennan’s Heritage Grill was the site for a networking luncheon given by the American Business Women’s Association. Spotted raising shiny cutlery were Amy Corcoran, Barbara Barach, Ben Dehan, Candace Weber, Carol Schlueter, Carolyn Olson, Casey Blasier, Christi Felder, Daye Geigerman, Elizabeth Broekman, Erin DiZinno, Jeanne Bergeron, Jennifer Walls and Joan Collins.

They and dozens more turned an attentive ear to speakers Amy Landry, association president and owner of Fuel Success Academy, and Erin McQuade-Wright, vice president of Donor Relations for the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Her talk was titled “Benefits of Philanthropy for Your Business.”

Still others who enjoyed the two-course menu of pan-roasted salmon and chocolate truffle cake with berries were Julie Morse, Karla Frias, Katie McKay, Kimberly Hasney, Laura Donnaway, Laurie Thomasee, LeDiedra Baldwin, Lisa Picone Love, Lori Jackson, Lori Murphy, Lynnsey Belsome, Lynn Spearman, Marilyn Cox, Nicole Donnes, Rachel Whittaker, Sharon Bourgeois, Shawntele Green, Shannon Edmondson, Sheila Craft, Stephanie Bell, Sylvia Kamp, Ulla Gaudin, Valerie Allen, Yolanda Haynes and Wendy Dolan.