Fun for the Good of It
New York City parks and libraries, Irish mansions, a ballet company, all will benefit from funds raised at recent parties. We stopped by some gala events —mark your calendars to join in on all of the fun next year!
In a thunderous return to Lincoln Center, American Ballet Theater presented a world premiere of "The Tempest" a visual adaptation of the Shakespeare play and then celebrated at an after party affecting a storm at sea with thunder clapping and cotton batting "cyclones" swirling among the tables.
After performances of Balenchine's "Theme and Variations" and another world premiere, Marcelo Gomes' "Aftereffect," it was time for the shipwreck drama with Gomes onstage as Prospero and Danil Simkin a dazzling Ariel. More "thunder and lightning" greeted guests entering the dinner where the company's dancers joined the tables (I got to sit beside Ariel himself). After David Koch welcomed the crowd to his namesake theater and presented the Melville Straus Leadership Achievement Award to Adrienne Arsht, guests dined on a starter course of Tempest Antipasti and concluded the evening on the ballroom floor dancing up a storm themselves.
The Divine Doyenne of the New York Restoration Project, Bette Midler hosted her annual Hulaween party—Halloween served with a twist of her upbringing in Hawaii. This year she celebrated with a New Orleans them. It was so close to the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Midler said, that it was apt to celebrate the city that survived its own Hurricane Katrina.
Again this year a chorus line of hula dancers in leis and grass skirts competed for attention with the crowd of conscientiously costumed guests like Billy Crystal as a New Orleans funeral walker, a ghoul Glenn Close with her face chalked white, Mayor Bloomberg as a young George Clooney.
Once all the creatures had trooped into the Waldorf ballroom, Judy Gold in a jumpsuit a la "Orange is the new Black" regaled with jokes and introduced Midler done up as a black lace voodoo princess to announce the winners judged by Michael Kors; a group from Studios Architecture dressed up in religious togs, each depicting one of the "Saints Go Marching In." Auctioneer Hugh Hildesley coaxed donors into buying trees and other park improvements, Harry Connick, Jr. sang, and everyone chowed down on Voodoo Shrimp Remoulade, Trout from the Black Lagoon, and other "Bayou Vittles" prepared by chef John Besh. As an alternative to trick or treating you can "Bette" it was fun, and the evening raised $1.8 million to beautify city parks.
Folks of a literary bent gathered at the New York Public Library to toast this year's "pride" of Library Lions. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and three Pulitzer Prize winners journalist author Katherine Boo, novelist and short story writer Junot Diaz and novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson received this year's red ribbons and medals.
Walking past picketers objecting to the library's expansion plans, guests proceeded from Astor Hall up the candle-lit stairs for cocktails in the McGraw Rotunda before filing to the Main Reading Room, which designer David Monn had transformed into a forest of bamboo and laurel trees. Bowls of apples adorned the tables and spears of asparagus awaited the diners before each new lion was introduced and celebrated. More than two and a half million dollars was raised to benefit scholars and users of the library's 86 neighborhood branches.
IRISH GEORGIAN SOCIETY
top left: Carleton Varney and Rachel Allen; middle: jeremy Irons
A trip to Cork's noted Ballymaloe House is almost mandatory on every tourist's trip to Ireland, and members of the Irish Georgian Society had a chance to acknowledge its chef and teacher Rachel Allen at their annual gala dinner. Allen's new cookbook was on display and the author mingled with Carleton Varney, and fellow author Robert O'Byrne, vice president of the society whose new book was also displayed and for sale, a new biography of Desmond Fitzgerald, the Knight of Glin, who founded the society dedicated to preserving historic Irish architecture.
Also in the crowd was another noted resident of Cork, actor Jeremy Irons, who introduced Allen, an ambassador for Irish cuisine, for her after-dinner speech. Besides his parts on screen and stage it was noted the actor has also played the role of preservation. His restoration of Kilcoe Castle, overlooking south Ireland's Roaring Water Bay, exemplifies the society's mandate.
HOPE FOR DEPRESSION RESEARCH FOUNDATION
The mood was appropriately sober at the 8th annual lovely and informative "lecture" luncheon organized by HDRF founder and chair Audrey Gruss to raise funds for medical research on depression. This year's theme was "Depression in Men," and there were several men in attendance among the guests seated at horizontal tables set with yellow HOPE M&M's and handy notepads and yellow pens.
Emcee Chuck Scarborough cited the perpetrators of recent school and mall shootings as timely examples of the need for attention to this growing problem. And Dr. Dwight Evans startled the crowd with the statistic that of the 38,000 suicides recorded annually in the US, 80 percent are men. Retired fireman Jimmy Brown described recovering from his own post-9-11 siege if depression deploring that many men who are brave enough to run into burning buildings lack the courage to ask for help. Businessman Peter S. Paine III and actor Richard Dreyfuss both recounted their own bouts with the disease, and Dr. Eric Nestler described the important work of the Depression Task Force which is addressing this pervasive and growing condition.