There was lots of Hollywood red carpet glamour at the 2017 Stages Repertory Theatre Gala as many guests took the "Starstruck" theme to heart. Women wore dramatic form-fitting gowns, accessorized with long opera gloves and dazzling jewels, while some men wore metallic brocade tuxedos. And if that wasn't enough dazzle, colorful capes and costumes were available for those who wanted to glam up even more and trip the night fantastic on the dance floor.
Environment designer Lisa Pope-Westerman draped the classic columned venue with curtains and purple lighting, while characters from storied Stages productions, ranging from Marie Antoinette to The Great American Trailer Park Musical, posed with guests in a stage tableau at one end of the long event space.
Following a high-energy cocktail hour with silent bidding, guests dined on duck confit with truffled asparagus spears, braised beef short ribs, and assorted desserts, catered by Jackson and Company.
Stages board member and longtime actress Sally Edmundson presented the company's Theodore Award for Visionary Leadership to "the man who set all of this in motion," as she saluted Ted Swindley, who founded Stages in 1978 as a home for new and progressive theater. "The power of dreamers and the passion of Houston is here tonight. Let us always look to the future for more great work," she said.
Swindley left Houston in 1990 but "his DNA remains the cornerstone and the spirit of Stages," Edmundson said. Swindley recently returned to make the city his home again, so it seemed the right time to honor him. Singer Kelley Peters surprised Swindley with musical selections from his hit musical Always...Patsy Cline, which will return to Stages this summer in celebration of the theater’s upcoming 40th anniversary.
After dinner, guests filled the dance floor to groove to high-energy hits from the Jordan Kahn Orchestra, which even inspired a conga line.
Event chairs Jo and Jim Furr were elated that the gala was the biggest fundraiser in Stages' 39-year history, bringing in more than $382,000. Stages artistic director Kenn McLaughlin and managing director Mark Folkes also welcomed the crowd and thanked them for their support.
Enjoying the evening were underwriting chairs Elaine and Ray Messer, auction chair Ellyn Wulfe and auction committee members C.C. Ensell, Alexis Rogers, Mary Elizabeth Sand, and Helen Schaffer.
Also seen in the crowd were Vicki Rizzo, Mauri Oliver, Vivian Wise, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Debbie and Rudy Festari, Jessica Rossman and Gordon Bethune, Susie and Sanford Criner, Carolyn Farb, Leisa Holland Nelson, Myrtle Jones, Princess Tatiana Galitzine and Guillermo Sierra, Sandra Porter, George Lancaster, Jane and Dick Schmitt, Bart Truxillo, Mary Hooper, and Beth Muecke.