hot havana night

Houston's gorgeous guys and dazzling dolls toast TUTS with hot Havana-style gala

Houston's gorgeous guys and dazzling dolls toast TUTS with hot gala

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Beth Malone, David Peck, Michelle Phillips, and Ilana Levine. Photo Courtesy Priscilla Dixon
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Cal and Connie Dalton. Photo Courtesy Priscilla Dixon
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Helen and Jim Shaffer. Photo Courtesy Priscilla Dixon
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Sandy and Randy Stilley. Photo Courtesy Priscilla Dixon
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Daniel Turner, Jay Landa, Patrice and Pete McKinney. Photo Courtesy Wilson Parish
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Heather Conerly, Michelle Phillips, and David Peck. Photo Courtesy Wilson Parish
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David Bamford, Luis Perez. Photo Courtesy Priscilla Dixon
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Leticia and Steve Trauber. Photo Courtesy Wilson Parish
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HSMT and The River Students entertain guests before dinner. Photo Courtesy Priscilla Dixon
atmosphere TUTS
The Hobby Center Stage was transformed for the TUTS Gala. Photo Courtesy Priscilla Dixon
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atmosphere TUTS

Little did fashion designer and Theatre Under the Stars gala chair David Peck know how one direct message during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey could culminate in an innovative and highly entertaining night eight months later at the TUTS gala at the Hobby Center. 

His outreach brought Broadway Stars Ilana Levine of the ​“Little Known Facts” Podcast and Beth Malone, Tony nominee and currently in Angels in America on Broadway to the Havana-inspired evening, raising $500,000 for TUTS Artistic and Education initiatives. Peck initially connected with Levine on an attempt to raise support for Hurricane Harvey victims and the duo worked together to bring her to Houston.

The colorful evening took a different turn for a gala and included a podcast recording Levine’s “Little Known Facts.” She interviewed Malone, who then knocked it out of the park with songs from Unsinkable Molly Brown, which she plays lead Molly Tobin for a new St. Louis production beginning July 21.

Of course, no TUTS gala would be complete without musical performances, and guests were treated to selections from Guys and Dolls by TUTS stars, Simone Gundy, Holland Vavra, Courtney Markowitz, and Mark Ivy, and students from TUTS Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, and The River Performing and Visual Arts Center performance troupes. TUTS Latin-inspired re-imagining of the musical comedy classic, Guys and Dolls premieres June 12 at The Hobby Center.

A backdrop of floor-to-ceiling twinkling lights greeted guests to the Hobby Center stage for dinner which included a crabmeat tower, coffee-crusted filet mignon and a roasted boniatos stack. 

Co-chairs Cal and Connie Dalton and Michelle Phillips and Peck created an unforgettable evening honoring Jim and Helen Shaffer for their decades of service and support to TUTS and the Houston arts community. Before moving to the gala stage, guests gathered in the lobby, bidding on auction items, enjoying cocktails and taking in a performance by TUTS Humphreys School of Musical Theatre and The River Performing and Visual Arts Center performance troupes. The after party kicked it up a notch with the Taylor Pace Orchestra and tables laden with flaming Bananas Foster.

Great gowns are a favorite element of every gala, and in addition to co-chairing the gala, Peck and his signature design skills were seen on quite a few women including TUTS executive director Hillary Hart, TUTS director of development for TUTS Amy Lampi, Levine, and Malone.

Those spotted at the Havana-tinged evening include Steve and Leticia Trauber, Jennifer and Bryan Caswell, Tammy Nguyen, Farida Abjani, Heather and Shawn Conerly, David Bamford and Luis Perez, Ernie Manouse, Becky and Bart McAndrews, Paul David,Van Atta and Gregg Harrison, Randy and Sandy Stilley, Frank and Demetra Jones, Julie and Rob Goytia, Alan and Tricia Ratliff, Jay Landa and Daniel Turner, TUTS Executive Director Hillary Hart, and Artistic Director Dan Knechtges.