What: Theatre Under the Stars 50th anniversary season gala
Where: The Post Oak Hotel
The scoop: Beloved Broadway superstar Idina Menzel "let it go" in a standout, private concert as part of Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) 50th Anniversary Gala. Co-chairs Leticia and Steve Trauber and Cheryl and Louis Raspino welcomed over 550 theatre supporters and helped raise more than $1.3 million for the local theatre company's programming and mission.
The black-tie affair was packed with TUTS benefactors, board members, supporters, and local students from The River Center for the Performing Arts and Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. At the start of the gala, an emotional video paid tribute to deceased founder, Frank Young, highlighting the past 50 years as well as his vision through moving photographs.
After a sumptuous, three-course dinner and immensely successful live auction, the curtain lifted to welcome Menzel, who was accompanied by her pianist. After her first song “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” the star strolled off stage and into the audience — chit-chatting, quipping, schmoozing and looking for local talent. She kept the audience laughing while she was blown away by our local black-tie talent singing “Take Me or Leave Me” from the smash hit Rent (an original investment show by TUTS years ago).
Locals Lainey Balagia, Michelle Lowther, and Christina Wells, (who is a local America's Got Talent semi-finalist) shared the stage with Menzel. Then came the highly anticipated "Let It Go" from the smash, Frozen. Still full of surprises, Menzel welcomed some of the children of Humphreys School of Musical Theatre and The River Center for the Performing Arts to sing along to the iconic hit. Tears flowed when the kids belted out the anthem. She then signed an original Wicked album — which quickly became a hot auction item — before making her exit.
The auction brought in major donor money with auction items such as: “The Tony’s Insider Experience in New York City,” “A private villa in Baja, Mexico, and “Custom Dinner with Dan Knechtges, Artistic Director of TUTS.” After the dinner and mind-blowing concert, party-goers danced until midnight to the Georgia Bridgewater Orchestra.
Who: Margaret Alkek Williams, Leticia and Steve Trauber, Amy and Rob Pierce, Cheryl and Louis Raspino, Marsha and David Taylor, Sherri Zucker, Vivek and Ishwaria Subbiah, Joanna Marks, Sofia Adrogue, Donae and Rob Chramosta, Dan Knechtges, Hillary Hart, Mady and Ken Kades, Paul-David Van Atta, Bill Stubbs, Jeff Gremillion, Amber Elliott, Roselle and Dennis Baldwin, Lisa Foronda Harper and C. Gregory Harper, Patricia and Sig Cornelius, Roselle and Dennis Baldwin, Sandy and Randy Stilley, Tricia and Alan Ratliff, Gracie and Bob Cavnar, Mary Ann McKeithan, Regina and John Mangum, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, David Peck, and Michelle Phillips.