All it took was a yellow brick road, the wizardry of Willie Chiang and the fairy godmother generosity of Occidental Petroleum to take the Society for the Performing Arts gala on a whirlwind ride that ended in the land of green. The Oz-infused evening brought in record greenbacks to the tune of $575,000.
Other familiar tunes were part of the black-tie gala program in the Grand Foyer of Wortham Theater Center where vocalist Hilary Kole, fresh from Friday night's performance at Jones Hall as part of the SPA series, entertained with pieces from her show, "Over the Rainbow: A Musical Tribute to the Artistry of Judy Garland."
Fittingly, the gala was themed "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and, yes, that was one of the many Judy Garland favorites that she performed.
Chang and his wife, Linda, chaired the successful evening that played out amid an Oz-inspired tableau courtesy of Bergner & Johnson's Rebekah Johnson.
The evening honored Occidental Petroleum, which recently relocated its national headquarters from Los Angeles to Houston, and jumped into the philanthropic fray by ponying up generous dollars on this evening for SPA programs.
Adding to the hefty coffers were auction chairs Bruce Padilla, Karen Turner Smith and Monica Ziemba and auctioneer Jeff Smith.
Among the 550 guests sitting down for the Jackson and Co. dinner were SPA executive director June Christensen, Doreen and Victor Bhatt, Melanie Gray, Barbie and Bruce Ross, Katherine and Paul Murphy, Liz and Tom Glanville, Nancy and Chuck Davidson, Liz Zaruba, Bob Devlin and Amy and Jonathan Homeyer.