Broadway Ball at the Straz Center
Cocktails in view of a Central Park backdrop, dinner fit for a Trump, dessert at disco Studio 54 — the Broadway Ball raised the curtain on a new season at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Board chairman Martin Silbiger dedicated "An Evening in New York With Michael Feinstein" to the late civic leader Dottie Berger MacKinnon. "She represented all that Tampa is," said Straz CEO Judy Lisi as presenting sponsors Erika and Don Wallace and many of the 350 guests blinked back tears.
Patrons Charlene and Mardy Gordon racked up four of the six live auction items Saturday ("It's my birthday," she said), bidding $11,000 each for a Broadway Blitz trip and tickets to see the Tony Awards; $10,000 for a custom bronze and steel sculpture by Dominique Martinez of Rustic Steel and $5,000 for a Shih Tzu puppy they gave to Laura Lipton, daughter of maestro Daniel Lipton.
Then it was off to Ferguson Hall, led by benefactor Louise Lykes Ferguson, 101, where singer-pianist Feinstein's two-hour concert carried the torch for the Gershwins, Cole Porter and more composers from the American songbook. About half the crowd followed co-chairmen Rita and Todd Wickner back to the Morsani Hall stage where dining tables were replaced by dessert displays, DJs and disco dancers. Event proceeds added $300,000 to the $3 million the annual $500-per-ticket gala has raised for arts outreach at the Straz.
"Krazy koppers" tossed speakeasy guests in the clink until Unleashed for Hope emcee Russell Rhodes, WTVT-Ch. 13 anchor, got them to raise bail, otherwise known as donations, to Frankie's Friends charitable pet foundation.
"Dad's greyhound, Frankie, was his favorite daughter," half-joked Lisa DeBartolo at the party Oct. 18 at Centro Asturiano. Eddie DeBartolo is honored, she said, that the organization helping families pay for a pet's expensive medical treatments is named in memory of his dog.
Rhodes (who has two French bulldogs), plus 200 animal lovers sampled from Donatello, Irish 31, Mekenita's, 717 South and other restaurant buffets, plus Cassandra Mahana's rich brownies and Mahana banana bars. Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners will match proceeds raised at the event.