What a week of partying! You can tell summer is approaching as every group tries to get in the last fundraiser before everyone heads to the beach. There were three trips to New Orleans, but the travel was so worth it because they were all fab parties.
The release of the remake of “The Great Gatsby” proved to be an inspiring theme for the Leading Ladies Guild of the Jefferson Performing Arts Society’s annual Parasol Promenade brunch at the Audubon Tea Room May 19. Greeting guests at the door were glasses of champagne. I mean, how can you channel Gatsby without bubbles?
As we enjoyed a delicious cup of gumbo, LLG models strutted the runway in fashions from Dillard’s. They included Shelli Ali, Susie Baker, LLG President Kellie Barnes, Heather Esposito, Beth Goddard, Joy Shane, Lynn Skidmore, Margaret Wagner and Diane Sloan, whose husband Jack, a JPAS board member, served as the afternoon’s emcee. Entertaining the crowd during coffee and dessert were members of the nationally acclaimed JPAS Theatre Kids, Bree Hollis, Anna November and Dallas George, who was a real trooper when his allergies to animals kicked in.
The day’s finale was the announcement of the winners of the Parasol Promenade and Best Gatsby Ensemble competitions. Parasol winners were my hostess, Faith Peperone, first place, and Glory Toups, second. Sarah Grundmeyer Abrusley took best ensemble honors. The daunting task of selecting them fell to judges Jan and Bob Carr, Nikki Reyes and Jefferson Parish Councilman Paul Johnston.
Pat Persaud chaired the event. Assisting her were Lisa Baynham, Alice Clouet, Carrel Epling, Gloria Esthus, Josephine Haas, Valerie Hart, Irene Klinger, Brenda Melancon, Lucy Myer, Rita Nelson, Jolene Ryan, Ali, Barnes, Peperone and Wagner.
Buddy Melanie Uzee accompanied me to the Big Easy, well, technically to Kenner, May 17 for Cancer Crusaders’ annual “Dancing for a Cause” dinner dance at the Chateau Country Club. The dance floor stayed occupied by fox-trotting, cha-chaing, waltzing couples lured by the toe-tapping sounds of The Wiseguys. Melanie and I were mesmerized, and had so much fun watching the entertainment!
We also had a wonderful time visiting with a few of the doctors who benefit from the funds raised by Cancer Crusaders, as we were seated with them and their lovely wives. In fact, one of them, Dr. Scott Delacroix, turned out to be married to a young woman from Baton Rouge, Sunny Mayhall, daughter of Lorri and Van Mayhall Jr.
The evening’s finale was a live auction of some very tempting items. Before turning the microphone over to auctioneer Brent Broman, co-chairwomen Joan Ingram and Jean Rice reminded the several hundred guests that all of the money raised by this all-volunteer organization stays in New Orleans and goes toward cancer research at Tulane and LSU.
My first trek south on I-10 for the week was into the French Quarter May 14 for a very special VIP party to celebrate the reopening of LePetit Theatre. I have no point of reference, as it was my first visit, but the renovation’s results are spectacular. Co-hosting the party were Dickie Brennan and lovely wife Leslie, who just so happens to be from Baton Rouge. The Brennans’ Tableau Restaurant shares a lobby and courtyard with the 97-year-old theater, which is scheduled to open in mid-July with a performance of Nora and Delia Ephron’s “Love Loss and What I Wore.”
As I said, it was a VIP party and among the guests were Mayor Mitch Landrieu and my new bosses, Dathel and John Georges. Also spotted in the mix were actors Bryan Batt (“Mad Men”) and Wendell Pierce (“Treme”), and major donors Kay and Tim Favrot, who made their underwriting of a new educational annex all the more generous by announcing they were donating an additional $50,000 in honor of daughter Kathleen Favrot Van Horn, who serves on the theater’s board of governors.
I also ran into longtime friend Juli Miller Hart, who I haven’t seen in forever. We had fun catching up and I so enjoyed meeting and visiting with her mom, Jerri Cullinan, and friend Earl Lamartiniere.
As theater types are wont to do when there’s a piano around, a crowd soon gathered around Jimmy Maxwell to request show tunes as they burst into song and dance. What fun!! I didn’t want to head back to BR, but a long drive awaited me.
Speaking of new bosses, I took new editor Peter Kovacs with me to the LSU Museum of Arts members-only reception May 16 for its latest exhibit — “Ed Pramuk: Seeing Music” and “An Eye on Jazz: Photographs by Herman Leonard.” It proved to be a great opportunity for Peter to meet some of my favorite folks and for him to meet them. The perk was getting the first look at the artwork, which is great — especially if you’re a jazz fan. Another perk was getting to meet the new dean of LSU’s School of Art & Design, Alkis Tsolakis.
The exhibit, underwritten in part by the Robinson Family Fund and Leah and Jeffrey McLain, runs through July 16.
My week of party-hopping in the Capital City began with the YMCA of the Capital Area’s annual meeting May 14 at the Renaissance hotel. This year’s theme was “Discovering Treasures,” and make no mistake, the Y has lots of treasures — moments, programs and people.
Among the people, who are true Y treasures, honored at the event were the Rev. Joseph Moore, who leads the Y’s Homeless Ministry, Edward D. Grant Volunteer Award; Victor Weston, creator of the Southside YMCA Gala, and Brenda Birkett, who got The Links to fund a $12,500 scholarship to the ExxonMobil YMCA, Myron Falk Fundraising Award; and Jacob Allen Nichols, who recruits kids in Old South Baton Rouge to bring to the Baranco Clark YMCA, Red Heart Award.
Also honored as “Treasured Volunteers” were David Vincent, Paula G. Manship Y; Owen Cope, Dow Westside Y; Garner Moore, Southside Y; Donni Shields, C.B. Pennington Jr. Y; David Shelby, Charles Lamar Jr. Y; Lion Evelyn Kirk, Baranco Clark Y; Tina and Terry Sullivan, A.C. Lewis Y; and Jacqueline Jones, ExxonMobil Y.
The following day began at the Charity Ball Association’s traditional French Picnic, where its 2013 debutante coterie was introduced to members. Cheryl Kirchoff opened her home for the festivities, and Mother Nature was most cooperative, with clear blue skies and a lovely breeze.
This year’s debs include Katherine Bowler, daughter of Angela and Samuel Herpin and the late Dr. James R. Bowler III; Machaela Brabham, daughter of Adair and Jack Brabham; Virginia Butler, daughter of Leigh Ann and Dr. Danny Butler; Helene Chastain, daughter of Joan and Sonny Chastain; Caroline Couvillion, daughter of Jean and Marc Couvillion; Sydney Field, daughter of Stephanie and David Field; Caroline Grand, daughter of Stephanie and Trent Grand; Katherine Heroman, daughter of Denise and Mark Heroman; Maria Karam, daughter of Jamie and Dr. Thomas Karam; Jennifer Landry, daughter of Cissy and Dan Malone, and Greg and Ray Landry; Betsy Patrick, daughter of Nell and Kirk Patrick III; Mary Rolfsen, daughter of Jeannette and Dr. Michael Rolfsen; Mathilde Silverberg, daughter of Marla and Dr. Joel Silverberg; Madison Smith, daughter of Renée and David Smith; Caroline Valluzzo, daughter of Mary Kate and Tim Valluzzo, of Mount Pleasant, S.C.; and Emily Walke, daughter of Mary Leah and Martin Walke.
The young women will be presented at Le Bal de Noël Dec. 28.
For the fifth year, Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge brought dreams to reality as it hosted its Storybook Ball fundraiser May 18 at the River Center Ballroom. Children of all ages got to get up close and personal with some of their favorite characters as they visited such storybooks as “Alice in Wonderland” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”
Wild Things require no pampering but princesses do, and to help them get ready for the ball, five local salons rolled out their red carpets that morning to help. Earning kudos for making little girls feel extra special were Fuze Salon, Ma Maison de Beaute, Rigsby Frederick, Salon Chateau and Studio Elan.
The week came to a close when I reunited with “Meanwhile, Back at Café du Monde” creator and coffee-table book author Peggy Sweeney-McDonald and several other participants for the third anniversary presentation of the food-related monologue at Boutin’s May 19. Serving as emcee for the evening’s show was Jay Ducote, of Bite & Booze blog fame, who has a fab story in the book.
Joining Peggy and me (“It’s Got Green Stuff”) in re-telling tales were fellow Advocate co-worker Smiley Anders, “A Quiet Christmas”; Jim Engster, “Life at Louie’s”; Daron Stiles, “A Pot Pie Story”; and Diana Zollicoffer, “The Other Creole Girl.” New to the repertoire with “Whose Party is it Anyway?,” about their fab Christmas party, were Karen and Bill Profita.
Now, if you missed us, don’t cry too hard. A panel of new storytellers is performing June 9 at Boutin’s.
Before I sign off for the week, I have to publicly say congratulations and farewell to LeBrian “Mr. Chocolishous” Patrick. I gave him that nickname when he stepped up to be my professional partner in Dancing for Big Buddy three years ago. I not only got to have fun for a very worthy cause and learned how to cha-cha but gained an amazing friend.
Now, after earning his doctorate in criminal studies from LSU May 16, LeBrian will soon be moving to Atlanta where he will be teaching at nearby Clayton College. I am so proud to call you my friend; I’ll miss you terribly!
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