For its second fundraising gala, The Classics Theatre Project took inspiration from its name and did it up old-school. The '50s-era glam of Addison's Table 13 provided a swanky background for the Classic Crooners Evening, a dinner and concert suffused with vintage Vegas vibes that was chaired by Judy Birchfield and Stan Graner.
And what would a posh party like this be without an equally glitzy host? Local performing legend B.J. Cleveland welcomed supporters done up as one of his most popular personas — Liza Minnelli — as they streamed into the restaurant, with the Marc Toussaint Combo playing in the background.
After a few opening remarks, "Liza" sang a rendition of the musical theater standard "Cabaret" with clever parody lyrics about the new-ish theater company, which debuted in 2018 with a production of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard.
Next to take the stage were cabaret chanteuse Denise Lee and her accompanist, Norman Williams, performing a bill that included standards by Burt Bacharach standards and closing with Etta James' "At Last."
The night's guests of honor were Liese and Mike Canterbury, longtime arts patrons and champions of the local theater scene.
Attendees dined on a menu provided by Table 13 owner Gabe Nicolella: filet mignon and creamy Parmesan risotto, served with roasted asparagus spears and a mixed salad with chef-inspired raspberry vinaigrette. A decadent dessert course featured a flourless chocolate torte with homemade vanilla ice cream, all topped with fresh whipped cream and raspberries.
Following dinner, guests could either cut a rug on the dance floor or browse the silent auction and raffle prizes. Spotted among the crowd were TCTP artistic director Joey Folsom, Lisa and Kim Titus, Karol Omlor, and TCTP board president April Bosworth.
Lucky winners went home with season tickets to Second Thought Theatre and Stage West, a lovely necklace handmade by local actress and artist Diana Sheehan, and a grand prize aimed at the ultimate theater fan: tickets to productions over the next year at 13 area theaters.
The Classics Theatre Project, Amphibian Stage Productions, Casa Mañana, Circle Theatre, Dallas Children's Theater, Firehouse Theatre, Imprint Theatreworks, Kitchen Dog Theater, Lyric Stage, Stolen Shakespeare Guild, Theatre Three, Uptown Players, and WaterTower Theatre were all included, as well as a catered dinner for four by Bosworth and Andrea Redmon.
The company mounts 19th and 20th century plays in a way that's accessible for modern audiences, finding what is universal in great works and presenting them as publicly viable entertainment.