Dallas' AT&T Performing Arts Center choreographs applause-worthy gala with Broadway star
The AT&T Performing Arts Center's 2022 Bravo! Gala took many of the 200 attendees places they'd never been before.
In a presentation as well-choreographed as the shows that play there, the November 19 event moved patrons around various parts of the Winspear Opera House for a "progressive cocktail hour" featuring performances by the center's resident companies at precise intervals:
- 6:40-6:50 pm: Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico in the East Lobby
- 6:55-7:05 pm: Texas Ballet Theater in the PNC Members Lounge on the second floor
- 7:10-7:20 pm: The Dallas Opera on the Fourth Floor Landing
- 7:25-7:35 pm: Dallas Black Dance Theatre in the PNC Members Lounge
Guests had just enough time to fuel up on passed hors d'oeuvres and refill their champagne glasses before sashaying along to the next performance locale.
Dinner gathered everyone into the West Lobby, where the center's new exclusive onsite caterer, G Texas, prepared a sumptuous feast of spring greens salad, wood-fired tournedo of beef and pistachio crusted halibut, and creme brulee bread pudding for dessert.
During dinner, gala chairs Morgan W. Cox III and Derrall Hill announced that AT&T would be matching contributions up to $15,000 and encouraged patrons to (pearl clutch!) turn on their cellphones and consider texting a gift.
As dinner wound down, a trio from Dallas Theatre Center performed a musical medley. "What the World Needs Now (is love, sweet love)" had patrons swaying and singing along at their tables. Their finale, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," got folks feeling festive — punctuated by the holiday lights shining in trees outside the building.
There was one more "move" to be made, to the Margaret McDermott Performance Hall. Attendees filed in and ascended stairs onto the stage for a rare chance to view the audience chamber from a performer's eye. With coffee or cocktails in hand and popcorn and truffles awaiting them on tables, guests took in touching tributes to the evening's honorees, the late Eugene and Margaret McDermott, founders of the Eugene McDermott Foundation. A video presentation praised their contributions to Dallas — particularly in the arts — and their daughter Mary Cook and granddaughter Grace Cook spoke about them personally, from the heart.
The evening came to a blockbuster conclusion with an intimate onstage performance by Broadway star Joaquina Kalukango. Kalukango won the 2022 Tony award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for her performance as Nelly O'Brien in Paradise Square — and a passionate performance of her number "Let it Burn" demonstrated exactly why.
Her rendition of "For Good" from Wicked brought tears to eyes around the room, and she sweetly dedicated "The Impossible Dream" to the McDermott-Cook family. Kalukango will soon take over the role of the Witch in Into the Woods on Broadway.
DJ music and a photo booth were late-night options for those who wanted to extend the evening. Those who chose to head to the valet line were greeted with one more sweet treat: A gift bag containing fresh-baked scones and orange juice and champagne for next-morning mimosas.
In total, the Bravo! Gala raised more than $420,000 to support the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s programming and education and community engagement initiatives.
Spotted in the crowd, enjoying the evening, were numerous Dallas arts leaders, patrons, and supportive dignitaries, including Bess and Ted Enloe, Hal and Diane Brierley, Ellen Winspear, Wendy Lopez, Jeff Netzer, Lynn McBee, Brad Pritchett, David Chadd, Lewis Chang, Daffodil Bias, Ahmad Garrett-Price, Gillian Clifford, Melissa M. Young, Bianca Melidor, Sean J. Smith, Mark Beneke, Michelle Wong, Robbie and Ashleigh Kinney, Amber and John Scanlan, Chris Heinbaugh, and Joe Riggs.