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Shelby's Social Diary

Celeb's impromptu musical number brings down the house at Ensemble Theatre gala

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News, Shelby, Ensemble theatre gala, August 2014 Robert Townsend and Yvonne Washington
Honoree Robert Townsend joins Yvonne Washington on stage at the Ensemble Theatre Gala.  Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Deborah Duncan, LeToya Luckett, Laurie Vignaud
Deborah Duncan, from left, LeToya Luckett and Laurie Vignaud. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014 , Annise Parker, Sheila Jackson Lee, Kathy Hubbard
Mayor Annise Parker, from left, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Kathy Hubbard. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Darryl Willis, Michael J. Helm, Deavra Daughtry, Laurie Vignaud
Darryl Willis, from left, Michael J. Helm, Deavra Daughtry and Laurie Vignaud. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014 , the Rev. DeFarris Gooden, Jerelyn Gooden
The Rev. DeFarris Gooden and Jerelyn Gooden accept the Founder's Award. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Audrey Lawson, Rev. Bill Lawson
President's Award recipients Audrey and the Rev. Bill Lawson. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Eileen J. Morris, Hal Williams
Eileen J. Morris and Hal Williams, Legacy Award recipient. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble theatre gala, August 2014 Sharon Michael Owens, Jackie Phillips, Frank Brown Debbie White
Sharon Michael Owens, from left, Jackie Phillips, Frank Brown and Debbie White. Photos by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014 , Robert Townsend, Skylar Townsend
Director of the Year Robert Townsend and daughter Skylar Townsend. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014Janette Cosley, Merele Yarborough, Kayla Lee
Janette Cosley, from left, Merele Yarborough and Kayla Lee. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Dr. Warren Anderson, Lisa Ashley
Dr. Warren Anderson and Lisa Ashley. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Sylvester Tuner, Clarease Rankin Yates, Carey Yates
Rep. Sylvester Turner, left, Judge Clarease Rankin Yates and Carey Yates. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Camille Scott, Catherine Flowers
Camille Scott, left, and Catherine Flowers. Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Argentina James, Paulette Peoples
Argentina James, left, and Paulette Peoples.  Photo by David Bray
News, Shelby, Ensemble theatre gala, August 2014 Robert Townsend and Yvonne Washington
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Deborah Duncan, LeToya Luckett, Laurie Vignaud
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014 , Annise Parker, Sheila Jackson Lee, Kathy Hubbard
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Darryl Willis, Michael J. Helm, Deavra Daughtry, Laurie Vignaud
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014 , the Rev. DeFarris Gooden, Jerelyn Gooden
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Audrey Lawson, Rev. Bill Lawson
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Eileen J. Morris, Hal Williams
News, Shelby, Ensemble theatre gala, August 2014 Sharon Michael Owens, Jackie Phillips, Frank Brown Debbie White
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014 , Robert Townsend, Skylar Townsend
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014Janette Cosley, Merele Yarborough, Kayla Lee
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Dr. Warren Anderson, Lisa Ashley
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Sylvester Tuner, Clarease Rankin Yates, Carey Yates
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Camille Scott, Catherine Flowers
News, Shelby, Ensemble Theatre gala, August 2014, Argentina James, Paulette Peoples

It was one of those moments that a gala chair just has to love — when a national celebrity jumps on stage to join the entertainment in a rousing musical duo. That would be performer and filmmaker Robert Townsend, who accompanied local favorite Yvonne Washington on stage at the Hyatt Regency Downtown during the Ensemble Theatre's annual black-tie gala.

Many in the throng of 700 were on their feet as the awards evening moved into high party gear. Earlier, Townsend spontaneously joined emcee Deborah Duncan, KHOU Channel 11 talk show host, on stage in a round of improvised comical exchanges. It was quite a night.

E ntertainment included a rousing performance of Pharrell Williams' "Happy." by the Ensemble Theatre Young Performers and Silvanus LaToison.

Townsend, with his stunning daughter Skye Townsend on his arm, was honored with the Director of the Year Award, joining in the spotlight actor Hal Williams, who received the Legacy Award, and the glam actress/singer LeToya Luckett, recipient of the Rising Star Award.

LeToya, wearing a gown designed by Jenise Gregg Couture, was involved with the Ensemble as a youth. "The Ensemble Theatre and Eileen Morris (artistic director) have been a part of my life since I was four years old," she told the gathering. "It was because of her that I discovered my passion for entertaining and a big part of the reason I’ve extended beyond my musical career into acting."

The evening also honored Jerelyn and DeFarris Gooden with the Founder's Award and the Rev. Bill Lawson family with the President's Award. Community leadership awards were presented to BP and McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy LLP.

The gala, which raised $350,000, was chaired by Laurie Vignaud and Deavra Daughtry with State Rep. Sylvester Turner serving as honorary chair. The evening's entertainment included a rousing performance of Pharrell Williams' "Happy" by the Ensemble Theatre Young Performers and Silvanus LaToison as well as a music video of the hit song performed by Ensemble staff, artists and the gala committee.

Joining the festivities were Ensemble executive director Janette Cosely, Mayor Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Elwyn Lee, City Councilman Larry Green, Audrey Lawson, Michelle and Barry Barnes, Dawnia and Darryl Willis, Melanie Lawson and John Guess Jr., Jane Page and John Crump, Michael Moore, Sharon Murphy, Merele Yarborough, Argentina James and Ben Hall. 

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