The Crowd:

Four decades of theatrics

September 12, 2008|By B.W. COOK

“One day you will be walking through the theater district in New York or London and on a marquee you will see a play by Sarah Ruhl,” offered Martin Benson, artistic director and co-founder of South Coast Repertory Theatre.

Ruhl wrote a new work titled “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” which will debut on the Julianne Argyros Stage at South Coast Repertory on Sept. 21, running through Oct. 24 this season.

Benson joined his artistic partner David Emmes and South Coast Repertory board chairman Wylie Aitken on the stage of the grand ballroom Saturday at The St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach to celebrate the dawning of the 45th season of repertory theater in Orange County.


The 2008 SCR gala ball, called “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” raised $500,000 for the theater company and was a dream event heralding in the 2008-09 social season on the California Riviera.

Chaired by the uber-dedicated Jean Weiss, who, with husband, Tim Weiss, is a long-standing major benefactor of the repertory, the party was flawless fun in high gear.

Much loved by the community and recognized for her continuing efforts, Jean was dazzling at the party wearing a Donna Karan couture gown of nude silk emblazoned with sparkling faux diamonds strategically placed in all the right places.

Jean was an absolute show stopper, more dramatic than any star at the Oscars, and surely appropriate for this milestone gala event honoring 45 years of creative South Coast Repertory output, ever-evolving and cutting-edge.

Jean Weiss greeted the arriving black-tie crush as the crowd descended the grand stone staircase outside of The St. Regis ballroom to join in an alfresco pre-party reception in the hotel garden. It was a smashing Saturday evening soirée as the beautiful people mingled with actors attired in period costumes representing four decades of South Coast Repertory productions. Cocktails flowed and memories poured forth.

In a case of pure serendipity, the 45th South Coast Repertory event Sept. 6 was also the 45th wedding anniversary of Aitken and his wife, Bette. The happy couple reveled in the coincidence, which was applauded by countless friends in the crowd.

Toni and Steve Berlinger, Gail and Erne Doe, Jane and Richard Taylor, Linda and Bob Hovee and Helen and John Guiltinar were among the celebrants for both the repertory and the Aitkens.

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