Guests are invited to pick an outfit from one of TheatreWorks' past productions to wear to the party. Featuring: Entertainment by James Monroe Iglehart, from the TheatreWorks and Broadway casts of "Memphis"; auctioneer Brendan Milburn of GrooveLily; music for dancing by Pride & Joy; Catering by Grace Street Catering.
When: 5:30 p.m.-midnight, October 20, 2012
Where: TheatreWorks Scene Shop, 1100 Hamilton Court, Menlo Park, California.
Tickets: $275-$500. Tables: $2,750-$10,000. Contact TheatreWorks Special Events Department at 650-463-7159 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. www.theatreworks.org.
The big fun of attending Anything Goes, the TheatreWorks costume gala, was in seeing all the nice people dressed up in their often amazing costumes.
Most of the costumes came from TheatreWorks own cache of hundreds of thousands of costumes, collected over the 42 years of its greatly productive history.
There were lots of guys at the Saturday, October 20, 2012, event in military garb - with high hats that bespoke West Point, or European monarchies or American high school marching bands. A few London Bobbies and a cowboy or three.
Among the women - sure, there were a few witches, including one with the cute red-and-white striped socks, like in "The Wizard of Oz" - but mostly there was a great amount of classic beauty. Cinderella. African queens. Antibellum ball gowns. Slinky costume dresses that would have looked at home on Audrey Hepburn.
And it was such a delight to see everybody parading around and smiling at each other.
Me? I was dressed as Oberon, king of the fairies, the guy in Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" who tricks his wife, Titiana, into falling in love with Bottom, who's been given the head of an ass. In fact, my one joke I could come up with was to tell guys, "Gee, I was going to give you the head of an ass, but I see someone's beaten me to it!"
I used the joke three times and received only modest, perhaps polite laughter. And one fellow I used it on kept looking at me with considerable suspicion for the rest of the evening.
As one of my tablemates asked me, "You don't get out much, do you?"
Still, it was fun, and I didn't break any goblets or chairs or anything (A new personal record!). I was wearing a costume that was used by TheatreWorks for "Shakespeare in Hollywood," in early 2005. I didn't have the headpiece that Don Carrier wore in that show, so I hit Michael's before the party and bought a fake green door wreath and some gold leaves and wired them together. It worked, I think. But I had to put my BonTaj Roule cap underneath it, to keep the wreath from scratching my skin. With the gold leaves sticking up, I was about seven feet tall, I think.
When I wore the costume, a lot of people smiled at me. When I took it off, because it was hotter and heavier than a sleeping bag, revealing the Hawaiian shirt underneath, people looked at me with considerable suspicion.
And yes, the 400 or so people there were very nice.
Because, ya know, they were there to help TheatreWorks. Money raised from this event will go to help TheatreWorks stage plays, sure, but also to help fund the troupe's many education programs, including "Oskar and the Big Bully Battle," a show that tours to schools, and helps children have some fun while learning something worthwhile. Anything Goes raised $270,805 this year, a record, said an official keeper of such information.
It's a pretty good party for attendees. I was there on a press pass, but most people paid at least $275 each to get in. Some paid much more. A large chunk of the ticket price is tax-deductible, which is good if you happen to have income.
And they get a very good party, in what was the scene shop for TheatreWorks for many years, with huge stage pieces hanging on all the walls, and props sitting here and there. Behind the stage were the colorful backdrops from the "Twelfth Night" that Founder and Artistic Director Robert Kelley directed in December 2007.
They get an open bar. They get an excellent meal catered by Grace Street Catering. They get to be entertained by James Monroe Iglehart, a TheatreWorks favorite who went off to Broadway with the show "Memphis." Later, they get to dance, to the funk/soul band Pride & Joy.
And, they get more opportunities to give more money to TheatreWorks, in a live auction.
The way that works is, people donate great stuff to TheatreWorks, and then TheatreWorks auctions off the stuff to raise dough. I guess more charity deductions are involved, and that's a good thing. The fun part of this is that Brendan Milburn was the auctioneer. Milburn is one third of the great band and theater creators GrooveLily, and he was very amusing. Auctioning off two nights at the Peter Michael Winery on the slopes of Mount St. Helena, a trip that includes a reservation at the French Laundry restaurant, Milburn pointed out that "anybody would give their left arm for this, and this way, you get to go, and keep your left arm."
Such a deal!
Auctioning a trip to The Masters Tournament, he pointed out, "I think I know something about it" - golf - because, "I played miniature golf once."
The evening also included a toast to Julie Kaufman and Willy Niemasik, longtime TheatreWorks supporters. Founder Robert Kelley presented them with an engraved crystal bowl from Tiffany & Co.
Niemasik, dressed in colorful surgeon's garb, noted that he's been dealing with pancreatic cancer of late, and spending a lot of time at Stanford Hospital - and that he's learned it's better to be a doctor than to be a patient.
He gave a very nice speech, in which he said that when he and Kaufman give donations to Stanford Hospital for research and development "we know it will benefit future generations. But when we look at our giving to TheatreWorks, we know that we are helping not only for the future - our support of TheatreWorks goes to creating the plays we're watching right now.It helps build the theater culture in Silicon Valley, which is something we can all enjoy."