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American Stage Gala Under the Stars raises more than $47,000


American Stage's annual Gala Under the Stars drew more than 350 patrons to St. Petersburg's Demens Landing and raised more than $47,000 for the theater company's artistic programming.

Guests were treated to fare from Southern Wine & Spirits and Bon Appetit Management Co. before taking in a performance of Altar Boyz, the current American Stage in the Park production.

Todd Olson, producing artistic director, drew applause as he spoke about the new Raymond James Theater at St. Petersburg College. "I can tell now that the theater is done," he said. "And it's beautiful."

Volunteer of the year awards went to Hal Freedman and board of trustees chair Evan Whittle.

Scott Wagman chaired the event committee, which included Jean Carnes, Linda Champagne, Barry Dingman, Robin Grabowski, Gayle MacKinnon, Jacqueline MacNeil, Mirella Smith, Cathy Swanson, Mary Harden Wall, Angela Bond and Shannon Orrell.


The intimacy of Argentine tango lent an air of elegance and mystery to the eighth annual Medallion Gala benefiting the St. Anthony's Hospital Foundation.

"Tango Argentina" was the theme, and Tampa Tango's Victor Crichton led a team of performers who danced during the cocktail hour, then starred in an after-dinner floor show in the Palm Court Ballroom of St. Petersburg's Renaissance Vinoy Resort. The entertainers included Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo, who represented Argentina earlier this year in NBC TV's Superstars of Dance.

Crichton, whose depth of knowledge about the tango is impressive, explains the uniqueness of the Argentine version as compared with other forms.

"When people look at the ballroom tango, what they see is something that is created for competition," he says, "very theatrical and highly exaggerated styles. In the Argentine tango, people dance cheek to cheek. It's just like someone hugging a favorite partner. They dance in an embrace."

Guests at the event, which took in $112,000, included St. Anthony's Hospital president William Ulbricht, with his wife, Ann; board of trustees chair Worth Blackwell, with his wife, Betsy; foundation executive director Robert Sherman; Dr. Larry and Sarah Williams; J.V. and Susan Blackwell; Van and Jane Sayler; Bettye Black; Ford and Barbara Kyes; Fran Davis; Janet Raymond; and Pat Howells.


Often it is said of a generous man: He would give you the shirt off his back. Julie Janssen, superintendent of Pinellas County schools and president of the Celma Mastry Ovarian Cancer Foundation, presented the shoes off her feet to the winning bidder for a package of Tampa Bay Rays tickets and gear at the foundation's annual gala, held at the St. Petersburg estate of Fazal Fazlin.

Janssen, who co-chaired the event with Cheryl Perry, purchased the brown Prada high heels at a half-price sale in New York last fall. The bidder admired them and offered to increase the offer if they were part of the deal. Ever eager to help the charity that bears her mother's name, Janssen agreed, and auctioneer Rich Herrera, the Rays' director of radio operations, saw the winning bid rise to $2,500.

The fourth annual "Turn the Tables" event raised about $65,000 for the foundation, which supports educational efforts and Tampa Bay area cancer research projects, and offers financial help to cancer patients.

Inspired by the 1920s theme, many patrons wore vintage costumes, and models strolled the grounds in flapper styles from Buffalo Gal Vintage in St. Petersburg. Adding to the ambience were a cigar bar, lawn games, a car show and a "speakeasy."

Patrons sampled food and drink donated from numerous Tampa Bay area restaurants, and wine and spirits vendors.

Competition was fierce in the table-decorating contest. Guests chose conceptBAIT's Lynn McGhee as their favorite in the professional category and Patty McAtasney of Bradenton in the nonprofessional division.

American Stage Gala Under the Stars raises more than $47,000 04/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 25, 2009 4:31am]
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