A lively mix of 300 patrons filled the Rotunda at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond last night to kick-off the first-ever Anything Goes Gala supporting the Virginia Rep Theatre. The black-tie event started with cocktails and a silent auction with these fair ladies presiding over the bidding.
Local rising star Jesse Jennison welcomed the crowd with “Be our Guest” complete with a fire-lit Lumiere.
At the insistent clang of the bell, the crowd herded itself upstairs where this welcoming committee greeted everyone for dinner.
Resplendent tables topped with millinery from previous Virginia Rep theatre productions filled the glorious Grand Ballroom.
The scrumptious dinner energized the group for a raucous Live Auction. The patrons stepped up and bid mightily. Although results are not known yet, no doubt the efforts of the Auction Committee’s creativity paid off for the Theatre.
Following the Live Auction, Zak Resnick and Scott Wichmann regaled the crowd with musical numbers proving that our region need not look farther afield for incomparable talent. The night was complete with Blair Underwood in attendance, receiving the first-ever Virginia Excellence in Theatre award.
I have to admit, I was a bit giddy seeing a bona-fide celeb in our midst. When the curtain came down on the evening, I was tired (it was 11:15 after all)
yet thrilled to have been a part of this inaugural event.
As the night’s headiness wears off, I am left with a few substantive thoughts. Fundraising for the arts can be challenging in a troubled economy, particularly for a newly-formed theatre company. Working behind the scenes on the committee, I witnessed engagement from the group’s leaders Phil Whiteway and Bruce Miller, Managing Director and Artistic Director respectively, as well as the actors and staff. They were as involved in the fundraising, planning, decorations and set-up as any of the volunteer committee members. All communities need to support their medical, homeless, and educational non-profit groups. However, similar to making a house a home, what makes a city a community is its soul found in the arts groups it fosters.
I plan to support and enjoy this authentic group for a long time. In fact, Alison and I have put this on our calendar:
January 28, 2013