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.