South Coast Repertory’s 32nd annual Gala Ball, “The Play’s the Thing,” opened the theatrical and social seasons in Orange County with a glittering event that netted more than a half-million dollars for the theater’s Annual Fund and featured a surprise performance by two of the theatre’s most dedicated (and valiant) couples.
Chaired by Sophie Cripe, the evening of dining and dancing at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa paid tribute to SCR’s Founding Artistic Directors, David Emmes and Martin Benson, and to those playwrights whose work they honor.
“Tonight, as we celebrate 46 seasons of great theater, we look confidently toward the future,” Cripe said. “Because David and Martin have built South Coast Repertory on a solid foundation, the work that has thrilled playgoers in Orange County and advanced the art of theater in America will be our legacy for generations to come.”
First envisioned by the 46-member Committee months ago, implemented through their creativity and hard work and produced by SCR’s brilliant theater artists and artisans, “The Play’s the Thing” was a glamorous evening that began with appropriate theatricality.
Gala guests swept into the hotel, up the grand staircase and along a red carpeted hallway divided by chrome stanchions and adorned with posters of SCR productions and the playwrights whose classics, modern masterpieces and world premieres have been at the heart of the theatre’s 46 seasons.
As partygoers greeted old friends and welcomed new ones, they were entertained by actors from SCR’s Theatre Conservatory, elegantly attired in period costumes and performing brief monologues from great plays.
Just before darkness fell, the actors — still “in character” — led the way into the ballroom for the dining and program.
The evening was topped off with a surprise number by “The First Nighters” (Sophie and Larry Cripe with SCR Board of Trustees Vice President Tod White and his wife, Linda) who performed Stephen Sondheim’s “Comedy Tonight,” re-named “SCR Tonight,” with lyrics changed to include tributes to many of the Gala’s underwriters (those whose names fit into the rhyme!). The fearless foursome was backed by singers from “California Dreamin’” and the full 41-piece band, which continued to play for dancing into the evening at what everyone agreed was a Gala to remember.