DPAA Gala Encourages Interaction
Close to 400 elegantly-clad patrons had the unique opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with artists from the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Saturday night.
The special party, held at the Schuster Center, was the 2013 Dayton Performing Arts Alliance Inaugural Gala. The theme was “A Little Night Music.”
“The goal was to blend all three art forms and create a gala that would promote all of them,” explained Allyson Danis, who chaired the event along with Annette Salsman and Ingrid Brown. All three women are trustees of the DPAA.
Danis said they had decided to make the gala interactive whenever possible.
“We wanted our guests to touch ballet shoes, to see our opera marionettes up-close, and to pick up a violin and have someone show them how to hold it,” she said.
The plan worked: throughout the evening, artists mingled with the crowd and attendees were free to make their way through the Wintergarden, to both the Mead and Mathile Theatre for entertainment, and to dessert stations located backstage and in the lobby.
Guests arrived to watch wig and make-up artist Tom Venditelli demonstrate make-up and wig techniques on two University of Dayton music students. Venditelli, who lives in Kentucky, has been coming to Dayton for the past 17 years as a lead designer for Dayton Opera.
“My own hair is actually pinned up underneath,” explained Elisha Evanko, a UD music therapy student who had been given a long blonde wig. “It was interesting the way he painted on my make-up with brushes.”
On the Wintergarden staircase, the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra String Quartet provided music.
A trumpet fanfare called guests to dinner. The sit-down dinner — featuring beef tenderloin and creole shrimp cake — was served in the Wintergarden on tables decorated with red roses and sheet music.
Among the pretty desserts? Cute little gingerbread men and female dancers in tutus.
After the meal, conductor Neal Gittleman urged patrons to join him on stage with the orchestra for dancing.
“It’s not that hard to dance the minuet if I can teach you how to do it,” said Gittleman, demonstrating. Soon everyone was joining in.
“I love dancing the Viennese waltz because it brings back memories of when I once worked in the old city of Vienna and held a party for our Frigidaire distributors and I learned the Viennese Waltz,” said Patrick Crippen of Washington Twp. who was standing in the wings of the stage with his wife, Suzanne.
“This is a marvelous part with all these elements,” she said.
In a cabaret setting in the “Amore Lounge,” tenor Scott Piper wowed party-goers with beautiful Italian and American love songs.
Late in the evening, Gittleman introduced a “Mini Signature Event,” a rendition of Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You.” While the orchestra played, tenor Piper sang and dancers from the Dayton Ballet performed.
“This gives you a taste of what we can do together,” Gittleman said.
Before dinner, the DPAA’s president and CEO Paul Helfrich addressed the crowd saying: “We have only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible.”