Two recent events hailed a younger set, thanks to the love-interest focus in the play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” presented as a premiere (and continuing through tonight, Saturday, July 12) by the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane and the Summer Party of the Junior Committee of the New Orleans Opera Association. Supporters within the party packs headed to the Lupin Theater on the Tulane campus and The Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue.
With a lively bit of Puck
“As a bit of relief in this steamy summer, Shakespeare has given us something purely to amuse and delight. What a lovely gift.” So said “Midsummer” director Clare Moncrief (also the fest’s managing director) about the work, which can be described as a fantasy of fairies and folklore, a fusion of song, dance and poetry, and a playful tribute to burgeoning love.
Just ask characters Lysander and Hermia, and Demetrius and Helena, the yearning young couples. Add to the merry mix (and mishaps) a pair of older twosomes, sprites, the Rude Mechanicals (the “actors” for the marriage-celebration entertainment) and Robin Goodfellow, better known at Puck.
The season preview party presented by the board of directors of the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane and honorary Chairman Michael Cerveris, Tony Award-winning actor and television star (featured on “The Good Wife,” “ Treme,” and “Fringe”) commenced with hors d’oeuvres (the catering was by Joel), an open bar and a “sneak peak” performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” After the performance (and intermission for more mingling, food and drink), guests enjoyed champagne and desserts with the cast and crew.
Milling about the theater lobby, enhanced with a floral decor by Meade Wenzel, fanciful lighting and Cole Porter tunes, were board President Ted Martin (spouse Louise was at their summer home) and guest Robert Lyall, general director of the New Orleans Opera Association, and other members from the board, such as Mark Adams, Juan Barona, Bonnie Boyd, Marie Cahn, Robert T. “Bob” Lemon II, Judge Stanwood Duval Jr., Louise “Lou” Hoffman, Charles L. Lacoste Jr., and Barbara Motley. To name most. They in turn were joined by their guests, several of whom were particularly helpful.
Noted, too, were festival artistic director Martin Sachs, School of Liberal Arts Dean Carole Haber, Diane Mack of WWNO, Contemporary Arts Center Director/CEO Neil Barclay, Donna Kay Berger, fest director of operations Chaney Tullos, the actors, and scores more, who wished for a little bit (or more!) of luck when the donated raffle prizes — a stay at the Windsor Court Hotel and (separately) dinner at the new Marcello’s Restaurant — were announced.
Chatter also concerned the prestigious grant from the National Endowment of the Arts that the festival received to help fund the annual Performance for the Schools; “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” the speedy romp with the Bard that runs through July 19; and “Twelfth Night,” presented by the Gavin Mahlie All Things Shakespeare Program, which will draw crowds from July 31-Aug. 3 with a cast of “up-and-coming” student actors in New Orleans. The fest’s theatrical fun opened and will close with a “Night” and, in between, the boards have — and will — duly beckon with countless hours of fine frolicking.
A second nod to a younger set unfolded when the Junior Committee of the above NOOA held its Summer Party at The Columns with selections sung from the forthcoming opera season, 2014-15. The Old World charm of the hotel, consisting of rich mahogany contrasting with the namesake white columns outside, became a welcoming venue for the committee and their guests. Summer bouquets decorated the patrons’ tables and wafts of jasmine, sweet olive and gardenia blooms were noticed as people entered and exited. Another dreamy night!
Spearheading the event were Elia Diaz-Yaeger and Amanda Peavy, who were joined, as committee principals, by Junior Committee Chairwoman Autumn Harrell and husband Justin, and board members Cordelia Tullous, Mysheka Battiste, Courtney Sherman Lane, and Annie Machado. From the Opera Association came Women’s Guild President Betsy Dowling with spouse Patrick.
Others included Larry and Nina Pugh, Jody Forster Jackson, Mary Bubbett Jackson, Tori Dean, Anne Duffy, Sonya Moore, Laura Donnaway, and Meg Kaul, who calls Jackie Clarkson grandmother.
Included, too, was new member Summer Duperon, who was greeted by Autumn for sort of a seasonal salute of names.
The hotel purveyed light cocktail fare and libations.
Then came the music and the raves. Thanks — and applause — were directed to NOOA executive director Todd Simmons at the piano and his wife, Kathleen Halm, whose gorgeous soprano voice rendered selections from the Opera season’s 2014-15 programming. She started with noteworthiness from Bizet’s “Carmen,” and then moved on to Dvorak’s “Rusalka,” Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” and Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” Applause at the finale was thunderous.
Later on, and after the vocal previews, a smiling Kathleen commented that she will be appearing in the November-scheduled “Rusalka,” and will sing in Czech.
Around and About
When the bride walked down the aisle of St. Louis Cathedral escorted by daughter and granddaughter Heather and Caroline Zimmer, the smiles of friends and family beamed. A couple of handkerchiefs dabbed eyes, too.
Dressed in flowing white and holding white flowers was Amie Harllee Borne, who then swapped vows with Richard Dalton Seba. Both bride and groom at the Saturday nuptials were joined, as part of their cortege, by several generations of family. More kin and kith partied with them at nearby Tableau Restaurant, where bridegroom Richard and his “barbershop-style” singing cronies regaled the assembly with songs.