With a musical detailing the last days of Judy Garland in 1968 currently wowing audiences at Stages Repertory Theater, organizers of the annual gala came up with the idea of staging it with a '60s "Mad Men glamour" theme.
The gala, labeled "Talk of The Town" after the London club where Garland performed and which serves as the setting for End of the Rainbow, got Houston's fashion crowd scurrying to come up with their best '60s styles. Gala co-chair Debbie Festari wore a two-piece brocade suit and bob 'do while co-chair Mauri Oliver shone in a '60s-style black cocktail dress. Melissa Mithoff and Sandra Porter piled their hair into high bouffants and glimmered in black attire (Mithoff in a short cocktail dress, Porter in a long flowing gown). Brittany Rose channeled Jackie Onassis in a pale blue gown with above-the-elbow white gloves while Nicole Lassiter and Beth Muecke wore pillbox hats and Don Mafrige smouldered in a paisley smoking jacket.
A Memorable Event transformed the ballroom of the Astorian into a '60s-style supper club in black and silver with splashes of red and a big dance floor for an after-hours boogaloo with tunes by DJ Senega while Cordua Catering served up a hearty dinner of grilled bacon-wrapped filet mignon, achiote shirmp and mashed potatoes.
Stages performers Holland Vavra and Carolyn Johnson, who is starring as Garland in End of the Rainbow, opened the evening with a duet to "Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again" and Johnson returned to sing two classic Garland songs, "The Man That Got Away" and "Over the Rainbow."
Ted Swindley, who was instrumental in founding Stages in the damp basement of a downtown brewery in 1978, gave a brief history of the organization before presenting the Stages’ Theodore Award to Tara Simon, a long-time supporter, past board member and gala chair.
A late night crowd hung around for dancing and a breakfast of chicken and waffles along with a grown-up version of frozen slushies.
Thrilled that the evening raised more than $300,000 — a record for the 38-year-old repertory theater — were artistic director Kenn McLaughlin, managing director Mark Folkes, board chairman George Lancaster, and supporters Jo and Jim Furr, Tatiana Galitzine, Mauney Mafrige, Rob Rutherford, and Joanna and Stephen Handel.
Regina Garcia, Doug Naeve, Harry Bowles, Christine Kirchner, C.C. and Duke Ensell were among the high bidders for a host of auction items. Others joining in the fun were Vicki and Jack Rizzo, playwright Jack Heifner, Dr. Roland Maldonado, Patti and Don Murphy, Raul Diaz, Edward Sanchez, Vivian Wise, Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, Tena and Tyson Faust, Annette and George Strake, Susan and Neal Hirsch, and Houston City Council member Robert Gallegos.