The social “3 R’s” celebrated the Southern Rep Theatre at a gala dinner in the Windsor Court Hotel, while on separate dates, and at The Cannery, Ladies in Red added chromatics to the calendar and School Leadership Center blended fun and fundraising to hail a readiness for education.
“Southern Rep Celebrates Louisiana” marqueed the merriment that billed as 2014 awardees Dr. Bernard Jaffe (Excellence in Leadership), William D. “Bill” Reeves (Supporter of the Year) and Madison Curry (Young Guard). They were recognized during the program hosted by Lesley Castay with remarks by playwright John Biguenet (“Broomstick,” which opens the 2014-2015 season of Pelican State-themed works), Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival President Janet Daley Duval, and Southern Rep producing artistic director Aimee Hayes.
A silent auction and its 70 enticements drew the crowd, who then raised hands to bid for the live offerings, including sports memorabilia, jewelry worn in “The Night of the Iguana” from Symmetry Jewelers, a luxury vacation, a Harouni painting, and a 2014 Vespa LX 150.
More big wheels were SR’s board President Richard Lee Mathis (who issued thanks to Windsor Court Hotel general manager David Teich), Vice President Bruce Gordon with Melissa, Secretary Renee Zack, Marlene Jaffe and Sally Reeves with the honored Bernard and Bill, and board members Lawrence G. Pugh with Nina, Amy D. Savoie, Patrick Dowling with Betsy, Ranney Mize, Susan Sarason with George Pence, and Mary Reidy. Still others were Joyce and Sidney Pulitzer, Paul Willis, Susie Hoskins, Diane Sinclair, Randall Smith, Vivian Fonseca, Owen Grossman, and from star Leslie Castay’s family, her husband Bryan Burkey and parents Gail and Walter Castay.
As they partook of a dinner of organic greens salad, filet mignon of beef, and Bananas Foster bread pudding, they turned an eye to the Louisiana-motif centerpieces done by students in Southern Rep’s Arts Education programs.
Then guests settled in for the exciting gala entertainment featuring hostess Leslie, who opened singing “File Gumbo”; pianist Harry Mayronne Jr.; “surprise” vocalist/actress Diana Boylston; Clint Johnson for “St. James Infirmary,” who wowed audiences most recently in productions by The New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane; Troi Bechet for “Louisiana 1927”; and, just after he served as an excellent auctioneer, Josh Smith, who teamed with Lesley DeMartin for “Creole Love Call.” The full company closed with “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” during an evening when Southern Rep made a date to extoll our home state.
‘Red’-Hot Jazz Gala
Music during the patron party by Sharon Martin and Company and a specialty libation preceded the awards presentation honoring jazz greats Dave Bartholomew (sons Ron and Don accepted); Wendell Brunious, The Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation Inc. (Demetrius Mercadel accepted); Ronnie Kole; The New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra (John Craft accepted); The Prime Example (Julius Kimbrough accepted); and Don Vappie (son Sean accepted).
The Ladies in Red Gala of the Preservation Resource Center then segued into the main merriment featuring Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs, the “best of New Orleans cuisine and cocktails,” Alfred Parker as the master of ceremonies, and as diverse chairmen Annie Avery, Marc and Michelle Morial, and Michael Valentino (honorary), Jule Lang (with Clifton Webb) and Gaynell Lawrence (event), and Janie Blackmon (the PRC’s African American Heritage Preservation). The committee for the gala, now in its 14th year, ranged alphabetically from Ashley Aubrey to Hilda Young. Sponsorial thanks were numerous and featured Reily Foods in the top category, Trumpet King.
At the time, Ted LeClercq was the board president of the PRC, which is now in its 40th year. The newly dubbed successor is Clyde Jacob.
Additional “Red” headliners were PRC executive director Patricia “Patty” Gay with George Schmidt (of the above Oriental Foxtrot orchestra), Don Marshall, Sybil Morial representing son Marc and Michelle, Charles Rice Jr., Katherine and Tony Gelderman, Karin and William Coleman, Germaine Bazzle, Lisa and James Ross, Ashley Aubrey and mom Agnes, Cynthia Hedge Morrel, and Ladies in Red committee member Holly Snodgrass and husband Geoff, vice president of the board of the New Orleans African American Museum. From the City Council came Jared Brousset and LaToya Cantrell.
Further features of the fundraiser — proceeds go to AAHP, Education and Outreach, Jazz House, and Heritage Education and My City, My Home — included auction artwork by Terrance Osborne, event management by Black Cat Productions; and decorations and flowers by Mona’s Accents. When it was time to dance, scores showed their “Red”diness.
Jeff Crouere, who answers to radio and television host (and recently to bridegroom, when he wed Simone Bruni) stepped forward as master of ceremonies at The Cannery, a sponsor along with Triumph Learning, during the School Leadership Center’s annual celebration. SLC-trained schools represent 26 of the 63 highest achieving schools in Louisiana, and the numbers are steadily increasing.
A Fellows reception launched the activity that included custom-wrapped, chocolate-covered Oreos, lighted-up wine glasses, a continual presentation about SLC’s accomplishments, an open bar, delicious food from Toulouse Gourmet and The Cannery, and awards presented to the SLC Essay Winners: Hanan Rimawi (Ursuline Academy), Metaxenia “Nia” Evangeloulis (Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy), and R.J. Gohn (Westdale Heights Academy Magnet).
Further accolades targeted Champion of Education Business Leader awardee Roderick K. West, Entergy executive vice president; Dr. Everett J. Williams awardee Doris Voitier, superintendent of St. Bernard Parish Schools; and SLC Fellows director John Brown (with Wynella), recently retired after 30 years in education.
Mingling in a gathering of at least 225 guests (a number of whom were SLC board members) were SLC CEO Dr. Brian Riedlinger and wife Dr. Carmen, SLC programs director Dr. Cissy LaForge, Eileen Williams (daughter of the above Everett Williams), Ron Stephens, Alexina Medley, Janice Foster, Ben and Barbara Johnson, the Bob Moras, Amy Gray, Rose Peterson, and Kathy Kilgore.
Leadership made its mark.
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