Curtain Up

Decadent Art Deco party greets Dallas-Fort Worth guests at Firehouse Theatre gala

Decadent Art Deco party greets DFW guests at Firehouse Theatre gala

Mindy Bell, Billy Betsill
Mindy Bell, Billy Betsill Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Julie Bonneau, Nicole Lewis
Julie Bonneau, Nicole Lewis Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Caroline Rivera, Branden Bailey
Caroline Rivera, Branden Bailey Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Derek Whitener, Victor Newman Brockwell
Derek Whitener, Victor Newman Brockwell Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Denise Lee and her band
Denise Lee and her band performed in the speakeasy. Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Singing in the Rain performance
A performance to Rihanna's "Umbrella" introduced the upcoming show Singin' in the Rain. Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Janelle Lutz, Lon Barrera, Tyler Jeffrey Adams
Janelle Lutz, Lon Barrera, Tyler Jeffrey Adams Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Annie performance
Kids performed "It's a Hard-Knock Life" from Annie to promoted Firehouse Jr. Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Mark Mullino, Vonda K. Bowling
Mark Mullino, Vonda K. Bowling Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Sherrelle Evans-Jones, Nicole Lewis
Sherrelle Evans-Jones, Nicole Lewis Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Janelle Lutz
Janelle Lutz performed a few of her signature tunes. Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Hunter Lewis, Katie Moyes-Williams
Hunter Lewis, Katie Moyes-Williams Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Derek Whitener
Artistic director Derek Whitener. Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Urinetown performance
"Run, Freedom, Run" was performed from the musical Urinetown. Photo by Kris Ikejiri
Mindy Bell, Billy Betsill
Julie Bonneau, Nicole Lewis
Caroline Rivera, Branden Bailey
Derek Whitener, Victor Newman Brockwell
Denise Lee and her band
Singing in the Rain performance
Janelle Lutz, Lon Barrera, Tyler Jeffrey Adams
Annie performance
Mark Mullino, Vonda K. Bowling
Sherrelle Evans-Jones, Nicole Lewis
Janelle Lutz
Hunter Lewis, Katie Moyes-Williams
Derek Whitener
Urinetown performance

It seems natural for a theater company to bring the drama at its annual gala, but Firehouse Theatre went above and beyond. The Farmers Branch-based theater traveled back to the 1920s — with some modern twists — to announce its 2020 season and celebrate all its accomplished this past year.

Dapper gents and dolled-up dolls arrived at Vouv Event Space ready to party like it was 1929 (the speakeasy way, that is). They were greeted by an impressive silent auction coordinated by auction chairs Amy Scott and Julie Bonneau, which featured everything from wine and spirits packages to luxury goods to one-of-a-kind experiences. Raffle tickets were also sold for the two grand prizes: a New York City Broadway trip and a Mexican beach getaway at the winner's choice of five different locations.

A lip print reader provided insights and predictions for those who planted a smacker on small cards.

Gala chairs Sherrelle Evans-Jones and Nicole Lewis, along with Firehouse executive director David Moore and artistic director Derek Whitener, transported guests to an Art Deco dream populated with performers at every turn.

Victor Newman Brockwell's exquisite costumes, Bethany Lorentzen's music direction, and Mindy Neuendorff and Mark Quach's impressive choreography created a dazzling world for the attendees to inhabit, if just for the night.

Not surprisingly, the program — emceed with humor and panache by Billy Betsill — was more like a full-length performance with staged songs and intricate dances helping to introduce each show in the upcoming 2020 season. Whitener also briefly acknowledged his 2017 attack, using it as a touchstone for how far he and the theater have come since those dark days.

Honorary chairs Todd and Julie Bonneau received the 2019 Advancement of the Arts award, recognizing their instrumental work in creating Firehouse. The theater was also presented with its DFW Critics Forum Awards, of which it won three for the production of Bright Star.

The main program closed with a concert performance by Janelle Lutz, who will reprise her star turn in The Drowsy Chaperone. But the party wasn't over yet: dancing and drinking continued in the lobby "speakeasy," where DFW chanteuse Denise Lee performed with her band.

All told, arts lovers brought in $97,500 for the theater, which opens its next production, Side Show, on October 24.