The invitation to Stages Repertory Theatre's "Hollywood and Vine" Gala & Auction asked guests to wear "1920s Hollywood Glam" or black tie and most of the crowd of 250 eagerly complied. Co-chairs Sandra Porter, in a form-fitting red-carpet red gown, and Vivian Wise, in a signature pink tea length dress with marabou-embellished slippers, led the way, along with flappers Jessica Rossman, in pink fringe, and Yasmine Haddad, in red fringe.
Inspired by the upcoming Stages production of Mack and Mabel, which centers on Hollywood's golden era, cigarette girls passed popcorn and chocolate cigars at the luxurious new event space, The Astorian, where guests, including Miya Shay and Mandy Kao, were photographed on custom-designed mock movie sets. Also getting into the film spirit were Dr. Franklin Rose and wife, Cindi, both in Chaplinesque attire, Tammie Johnson and Nicole Lassiter in glamorous evening gowns, Beth Muecke sporting a lace fascinator and Page Parkes in a '20s-era pearl cap.
Stages artistic director Kenn McLaughlin welcomed the crowd and Stages board chairman George Lancaster presented the Theodore Award for Visionary Leadership to Mario Ariza, chief operating officer of Houston First, who was instrumental in the theater company's successful efforts to purchase its historic building on Allen Parkway. Brendan Bourque-Sheil touted Stages’ Young Actors Conservatory (YAC), where he trained. Bourque-Sheil wrote The Book of Maggie, which will have its world premiere at Stages next January.
Bubba McNeely and Greg Giacona, who make up the popular duo Bubba & Greg, entertained the crowd, finishing off with a soulful rendition of "Proud Mary," with backup singers/dancers Porter, Rossman and Jillian Nel.
Auction chairs Mauri Oliver and Jared Lang were excited over the frenzied bidding — all done via cell phones. Cabrina Owlsey was top bidder for a special behind-the-scenes adventure with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas as well as a New York getaway including airfare, hotel and theater while Ericka Bagwell and Alex Klein triumphed in a bidding war for the William Loyd painting, "Heavy Flow."
As the dinner concluded, the glamorous space was transformed into an after-party venue hosted by Matt Burrus and Michael Pearce. It began with a huge confetti blast and champagne poured by aerial artists suspended upside down. Guests in pink feather boas danced the night away while cigarette girls passed out custom pink-glazed Shipley’s donut holes along with Whataburger breakfast tacos for the late-night crowd. Among the eye-catchers were J. Michael Soliz in spats, pearls and a Hollywood headdress and Cathy Echols in a tailored 1920s gangster suit and fedora.
The event raised more than $180,000.
Seen in the crowd were Vicki and Jack Rizzo, Susie and Sanford Criner, Cece and Mack Fowler, Carolyn Farb, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, Jonathan Blake, Sally and Philip Edmundson, Jim and Jo Furr, Vance Muse and Carl Palazzolo, Jeff Shell, Kim Padgett, Regina Garcia, Gigi Huang, Shirlee and John J. Jamail, Jr., Gary Chiles and Amy Sutton, Ted Bowen, Roland Maldonado, Edward Sanchez, and Joanna and Stephen Handel.