Theatrical Fundraiser

American Idol brings down the house at flashy Dallas theater gala

American Idol brings down the house at flashy Dallas theater gala

Justin Guarini
Justin Guarini Photo by Dana Driensky
Bill Montgomery, Deedie Rose, Nancy Marcus
Bill Montgomery, Deedie Rose, Nancy Marcus Photo by Dana Driensky
Todd and Stephanie Anderson, Megan McManemin, Kimberley Elting, Stewart Cohen, Arun and Koshi Dhingra, Jeff and Regen Fearon, Justin Guarini
Todd Anderson, Stephanie Anderson, Megan McManemin, Kimberley Elting, Stewart Cohen, Arun Dhingra, Koshi Dhingra, Jeff Fearon, Regen Fearon, Justin Guarini Photo by Dana Driensky
Center Stage Gala 2016
Dallas Theater Center's Center Stage Gala 2016. Photo by Dana Driensky
Board Chair Julie Hersh, Gala Chair Ann Mahowald, Co-Chair Melinda Johnson
Julie Hersh, Ann Mahowald, Melinda Johnson Photo by Dana Driensky
DTC Centerstage Gala 2016 3
Models and champagne awaited guests upon arrival. Photo by Dana Driensky
Lynn McBee, Hamilton Sneed, Terri Provencal, D'Andra Simmons
Lynn McBee, Hamilton Sneed, Terri Provencal, D'Andra Simmons Photo by Dana Driensky
Kevin Moriarty, Deborah McMurray
Kevin Moriarty, Deborah McMurray Photo by Dana Driensky
Kevin Moriarty, Paul von Wupperfeld, Andy Smith, Jeff Woodward
Kevin Moriarty, Paul von Wupperfeld, Andy Smith, Jeff Woodward Photo by Dana Driensky
Michelle Moussa, Patricia Reyher, Eleanor Bond, Ann Mahowald, Deanna Mahowald, Cindy Pierce, Debra Hitzelberger, Melinda Johnson, Ann Wood
Michelle Moussa, Patricia Reyher, Eleanor Bond, Ann Mahowald, Deanna Mahowald, Cindy Pierce, Debra Hitzelberger, Melinda Johnson, Ann Wood Photo by Dana Driensky
DTC Centerstage Gala 2016 2
DJ Lucy Wrubel hosted the afterparty. Dana Driensky
Ken Hersh, Julie Hersh, Justin Guarini
Ken Hersh, Julie Hersh, Justin Guarini Photo by Dana Driensky
Matt Hickey, Jennifer Hickey
Matt Hickey, Jennifer Hickey Photo by Dana Driensky
Centerstage Gala
Supporters filled the Winspear Opera House for the DTC's 2016 Center Stage Gala. Photo by Dana Driensky
Justin Guarini
Bill Montgomery, Deedie Rose, Nancy Marcus
Todd and Stephanie Anderson, Megan McManemin, Kimberley Elting, Stewart Cohen, Arun and Koshi Dhingra, Jeff and Regen Fearon, Justin Guarini
Center Stage Gala 2016
Board Chair Julie Hersh, Gala Chair Ann Mahowald, Co-Chair Melinda Johnson
DTC Centerstage Gala 2016 3
Lynn McBee, Hamilton Sneed, Terri Provencal, D'Andra Simmons
Kevin Moriarty, Deborah McMurray
Kevin Moriarty, Paul von Wupperfeld, Andy Smith, Jeff Woodward
Michelle Moussa, Patricia Reyher, Eleanor Bond, Ann Mahowald, Deanna Mahowald, Cindy Pierce, Debra Hitzelberger, Melinda Johnson, Ann Wood
DTC Centerstage Gala 2016 2
Ken Hersh, Julie Hersh, Justin Guarini
Matt Hickey, Jennifer Hickey
Centerstage Gala

It was hard not to feel like a star at Dallas Theater Center's big fundraiser, Center Stage 2016. After being greeted by mod models in neon bodysuits and sipping champagne and cocktails in the lobby of the Winspear Opera House, attendees — who were there to support Dallas' leading regional theater company — claimed the spotlight for themselves.

Co-chairs Ann Mahowald and Melinda Johnson orchestrated a fancy and funky dining experience on the Shannon and Ted Skokos stage, putting some of the theater's most ardent supporters right where the magic happens.

Dinner sponsor Pier 1 Imports dished out a decadent three-course meal, starting with corn cakes covered in candy-striped beets and apple slivers, followed by banana-leaf-braised beef with chile sambal rice cake and stir-fried bok choy. A pretty layered parfait and an array of truffles and cookies made for a sweet finale.

With the plates cleared and napkins folded, it was time to get up and dance. Special guest Justin Guarini, whom Dallas audiences might remember from DTC's world premiere Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical and TV fans the world over know from the first season of American Idol, rocked the stage with his band.

They were having so much fun, in fact, that the winning table from a donations contest, which took place earlier in the evening, requested to be Guarini's backup dancers for a song, rather than having a private meet-and-greet after the set. Individual voice lessons with Guarini were also auctioned off, netting a couple more thousand dollars for DTC's upcoming season.

But the fun didn't stop when the band played its final song. The back walls of the Winspear dramatically parted to reveal DJ Lucy Wrubel and those neon-clad models, dancing up a storm amid the flashing lights. Spotted in the crowd were DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty, D'Andra Simmons, Lynn McBee, Stephanie and Todd Anderson, Stewart Cohen, Jennifer and Matt Hickey, Deborah McMurray, and Julie and Ken Hersh​.