There was plenty of bang for the buck at the Ensemble Theatre's "Follow the Dream: Celebrating the Empire" gala at the Hilton Americas-Houston on Saturday. Song, dance, awards and snippets from productions kept the night rocking and rolling from start to finish.
Five stages guided guests through a panorama of Ensemble esthetics while performances and award presentations rotated around the ballroom. The black-tie action kicked-off with a rousing performance of "You're So Beautiful" from the hit FOX drama Empire. Rising Star Award recipient Katlynn Simone gifted the audience of more than 500 with her rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear" from the holiday musical and Ensemble talent presented a soupcon from the theater's upcoming season opener, romantic comedy, "Platanos Y Collard Greens."
(In a nod to that play, the menu included collard greens along with beef short ribs, shrimp scampi, twice baked potato and desserts of amaretto cheesecake and chocolate mousse parfait.)
Taking bows as chairs of the evening that raised more than $350,000 were chairs Argentina James, Scott Minnix and Jesse Tyson. KHOU Channel 11's Deborah Duncan served as emcee for the high-energy evening.
They were part of the program that included awards presentations —Mayor Annise Parker who received the Founders Award; Irma P. Hall, Lifetime Achievement Award; Schlumberger, Corporate Partner of the Year, represented by Dan Domeracki; and Attica Locke, Producer of the Year, represented by her mother Sherra Aguirre. Applauding the honorees were Ensemble execs Eileen J. Morris and Janette Cosley.
The night closed out with the sounds of the popular Yvonne Washington. Among the many notables in the mix included Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Bill King, Judge Clarease Rankin Yates and Cary Yates, Genor and City Councilman Dwight Boykins, Rachel and City Councilman Jerry Davis, Mary Benton, Sallie Morian and Michael Clark, Diane and Judge John Peavy, Merele Yarborough, Eleanor and Ben Gilbane, Diedra and Terrence Fontaine and Brenda Peters-Chase and John Chase Jr.