Fun and Flair
Wouldn’t It Be LOVE-ly!
The 23rd annual Past & Puccini Fundraising Gala of the Jefferson Performing Arts Society went to the heart of the merry matter, titling the black tie-to-do, “Mi Amore.” In keeping with the amorous theme, the top donors, dubbed “Romeo & Juliet,” were the gala’s presenters, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Shane. Arlene and Craig Tafaro, co-chaired the gala, and Celeste and Cherie Gauthier (of the Wendell & Anne Gauthier Family Foundation) were the honorary chairing force. More support came from the JPAS Leading Ladies Guild. Prior to “Mi Amore,” a patron party unfolded in the impressive River Ridge home of Cathy and Paul Pastorek.
Guests first arrived at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel at 6:30 p.m. for appetizers by Bistro New Orleans and Mulate’s Seafood Restaurant, as well as libations courtesy of the Goldring Family Foundation. The seated dinner occurred an hour later with seafood gumbo, a filet of beef and creamy lemon tart as menu pleasers. Decorations included metallic silver and gold deco-wreaths, Eiffel Tower vases, crystal chandelier vases, rose topiaries and accents of fairy lights.
Punctuating “P&P” was the raffle excitement with, as winners, Jennifer Henton (a destination vacation) and Milton Cavalier (a basket of wine) and 170 silent auctions, including jewelry purchased by Ricky Templet and Henry Shane. To round out the revelry, maestro Dennis G. Assaf, whose name is synonymous with JPAS, conducted the JPAS Symphony Orchestra. Thanks tapped Hall Piano for the grand piano. Micah Desonier, Jennifer Delatte, Riley Tafaro, Hannah Bialous were among the limelighted performers, singing hits from Broadway musicals. Capping the evening was dancing to the JPAS Big Band Orchestra.
Making their rounds were Gerri Valene (husband Murray was in China on business), Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken and spouse Steve Dwyer (who answers to JPAS president), Councilman Ricky and Christine Templet, Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng, and Parish President Michael Yenni and Michelle. Also, Nora Vaden Holmes, Sheila and Britton Sanderford, Ann Johnson, Debbie and Rip Rouen, Kyle and Toni Potts, Robbin Hardee and Ron, Miriam and Wayne Gonsoulin, Laurie and Jeff Young, Shanon Hannahan, Joy Shane, Ginger Crawford, Carrel Epling, the Larry Bergers and the Darrel Beerbohms. Present in spirit was Puccini, composing the conviviality.
The annual Touro Infirmary Foundation Gala began with a patron party, followed by a round of cocktails in the Riverview Room of Mardi Gras World. Features included small bites from 1718 catering, the Little Coquette Jazz band, gaming tables, and an Elvis impersonator and fan-girls to evoke vintage Las Vegas, the gala’s theme. The tag line included “Touro, Baby” as a nod to the event’s fundraising initiative. The River City Ballroom housed the main event.
Furthering the Vegas vibes were centerpieces that included stacked dice, feather plumes, playing cards (some custom made) and poker chips. Chrissy Sheets and her committee crafted floral centerpieces.
Always a highlight, the presentation of the Judah P. Touro Award honored Allan Bissinger (with Nancy), who was praised by Touro Infirmary CEO Susan E. Andrews for his service of many years to the Touro Governing and the LCMH Health boards and his advocacy for better healthcare.
Luminaries included gala Co-chairmen Brook Bissinger, Nicole Miles and Dr. Paul DuTreil, LCMC Health CEO Gregory C. Feirn, foundation executive director Jonnie L. Honse and husband Ford Sutter Jr., Kodi and Passionate Craft, Zach Kupperman, spouses Drs. Meredith Maxwell and Stephen Morel, Ruth and Larry Kullman, Mara and Joshua Force, Alan T. Ashley, Dr. Christopher Lege, Dr. Rebecca and Chuck Perret, Drs. Lance and Leslie Estrada, Benjamin Swig, Councilman Jason and Liz Williams, Gregory and Angele Romig and countless others, who thrilled to the fun of the "Speakeasy” after-party and the musical momentum of DJ Twiggs.
Whereas hosts of New Orleanians are circling February 3, 2019, on their calendars with Saints’ Super Bowl hopes, hundreds headed to the Audubon Tea Room for a take on the title: the Salvation Army’s SOUPer Bowl. Donna Flower and Charlotte Spooner, whose husbands are Paul and Ed, chaired the gala reception-dinner ado to benefit the SA Center of Hope. In the Greater New Orleans Area, the command officers are Major Ernest Hull and Major Debbie Hull.
Beautiful and seasonal centerpieces of sunflowers, magnolia leaves, oranges persimmon s and kumquats embellished the tables, while The John Parker Jazz Trio added the musical lilt.
For the program, The Household of Faith Church’s Men of the House Choir performed; SA Maj. and Area Commander Ernest Hull delivered the invocation; Sonya Brown gave touching remarks; and board member Tim Scandurro (with Sara) served as master of ceremonies.
Enjoying a dinner of mixed greens salad, chicken piccata and bread pudding were Janetanne and Arthur Mears, Kelly and Derek Commander, Cindy and Bill Woessner, Karen and Christian Blessey, Skye and Mike Fantaci, Kathy and Bill Hornsby, Peggy and former Rex Bobby Monsted, Margo and Esmond Phelps and scores more, who thanked top sponsors Woodward Design + Build and the Key Family in memory of John M. Key, as well as three schools (Country Day, Newman and McGehee), which provided the SOUPer Bowl favors.
The Chapel of the Holy Comforter was decorated with bunting and Union flags for visual delights of the recent Britfest NOLA put on by the Daughters of the British Empire. Martine Lowe — joined by husband Martin — answers to DBE president of Louisiana.
Wearing a figurative toque, Martine teamed with Jean Benard to cook shepherd’s pie (and a vegetarian one). More tasty nibbles, such as chicken curry, came from the Taj Mahal restaurant in Metairie.
Further “fest” attractions were booths for Christmas goods, British DVDs and books, a silent auction, Abita Brewery-donated suds, and taste treats (scotch eggs, sausage rolls, Cornish pastries) cooked by Joy Miller, Fiona Boyd, Gail Duffy, Liz Beauregard, Carol Benson, Jenny Lintott and Margaret Friloux, to name a few.
Reveling in the “Brit” buzz were Jane and Lenny Caruso, Betty and Butzy Calzada, Hazel Turlington, Beryl Mundee, Liz Diaz, Margot McNeely, Valerine Warner, Marjorie Allen, Gillian Eggleston, Allison Quayle, Winona Gibbs, Beth Goddard, Beth Arnold and Pat Blackman. As the Map Game winner, Jacob Bradford flashed a knowing smile.