Amy Scherzer's Diary

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Victorian Christmas Stroll kickoff; Broadway star Idina Menzel helps Straz Center celebrate 25 years

Straz Center 25th anniversary gala

"Unlimited. ... Together we're unlimited ... we'll be the greatest team there's ever been," sang Broadway star Idina Menzel, as if the lyrics to her signature song, Defying Gravity, were written for the 25th anniversary of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, rather than her hit musical, Wicked. Menzel's playful concert Saturday thrilled 400 black-tie gala guests who began the celebration dining in Ferguson Hall. The stage extended into three tiers of tables set with lush hydrangeas, roses and star lilies on glittering silver linens. Chef Benito d'Azzo's attention to detail included reattaching loosened crayfish claws, noted co-chairs Patsy and Gene McNichols.

Executive director Judy Lisi reminisced past successes and forecast more before following Carol and Frank Morsani to the concert hall they endowed. A live auction raised $5,700 from Dimity and Mark Carlson for a Broadway Blitz package. ("Our third year buying it," he said.) Kiran and Pallavi Patel bought the 10-plus carat diamond Riviera necklace for $19,500. A Patel Conservatory scholarship appeal raised $78,000, putting net proceeds up to $350,000. Menzel's performance included a Cole Porter-Police mash-up; a tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch; and five fans joining her in song, including galagoer Maya Jacobson, 16. As balloons dropped and confetti flew, ConceptBAIT designers transformed Ferguson Hall into a dance club. Guests discovered white lounges, 25 desserts and a DJ till midnight.

H.B. Plant Museum Society previews 31st Victorian Christmas Stroll

What's more fun than eating the yummy buffet at the Henry B. Plant Museum Society holiday cocktail party? That's easy. It's decorating the University of Tampa's Plant Hall for the kickoff to the 31st Victorian Christmas Stroll.

Holiday tunes made preparations jolly Nov. 30 as members readied for 300 guests. Most members contribute a platter of homemade treats, while the oysters and roast pig are catered, said Mary Kay Ross, who counted at least 80 poinsettias. Nancy Lorenzen invited the Tampa Prep string ensemble to play, including son Harrison, who turned 14 that day.

Events

Today: 23rd annual LAMPLighters Christmas Silver Coffee benefits Metropolitan Ministries; Armas residence, Harbour Island; 11 a.m.-1 p.m., minimum donation $35; (813) 928-5378.

Saturday: Red Cross Gingerbread House decorating brunch; 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; University of Tampa Plant Hall-Fletcher Lounge; $75, adults; children under 12, $50; or $100 with apron, chef's hat and extra goodies; (813) 868-7669.

Dec. 12: The Centre 35th anniversary gala; 5:30-8 p.m.; Floridan Palace; cash bar; $60 benefits Project Recovery scholarship fund; thecentre.org or (813) 251-8437, ext. 225.

Dec. 14: Annual "Home is Where the Heart Is" Holiday Stroll benefits Kids Charity of Tampa Bay; 6:30-10:30 p.m.; Davis Islands block party; $100; (813) 843-1833.

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Victorian Christmas Stroll kickoff; Broadway star Idina Menzel helps Straz Center celebrate 25 years 12/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 6:21pm]

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