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The Crowd: Winter social season is almost upon us

August 25, 2010|By B.W. Cook
  • HOST WITH THE MOSTS: Larry and Sophie Cripe, Mary Ann Brown and Rick Reiff entertain guests at pre-gala evening on behalf of South Coast Repertory.
HOST WITH THE MOSTS: Larry and Sophie Cripe, Mary Ann Brown… (Hand In, Daily Pilot )

Summer is only just beginning, weather-wise that is, on the California Riviera. In spite of the sun's seasonal delay, the summer social calendar will end Sept. 10 with the lavish Oceana benefit at the Cahill estate high above the Laguna surf. Following time-honored tradition, the winter social season officially commences the following evening, Sept. 11, with the South Coast Repertory Gala. Organizers are billing the evening as "The Play's The Thing," which it has been for decades in Orange County

Chairing this season's extravaganza will be the incredible Sophie Cripe. Committee co-chairs are the amazing and beautiful duo of Olivia Johnson and Teri Kennady. The event promises to be the grand opener on the O.C. cultural calendar. Cripe, Johnson and Kennady will be joined by an all-star team of SCR devotes including Bette Aitken, Pam Muzzy, Elizabeth An, Betty Huang, Linda Hovee, Ashleigh Aitken, Beth Phelps and Laurie Smits Staude ensuring both financial success for SCR and a fabulous evening for the donors.

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For those unfamiliar, the gala is one of the top five events of the entire year on the Orange Coast and it carries with it a reputation for superb creativity and incomparable excellence in every detail. It is one of the most important fundraisers of the year for SCR and its supporters are among the most influential and philanthropic citizens in the community. Most importantly, these people return, year after year, some dating to the founding, ready to help in whatever way possible. Among the generous committee members are Julianne Argyros, Toni Berlinger, Susan Bowman, Dede Brink, Donna Cohn, Yolanda De La Paz, Nadine Hall, Dee Higby, Pat Neisser, Michele Rohé, Nola Schneer, Elizabeth Segerstrom and Elaine Weinberg, to name only a select few.

This past week the gala committee threw a little summer pre-event cocktail party and dinner at the chic coastal residence of SCR Trustee Mary Ann Brown and her TV-host husband, Rick Reiff, of KOCE public television fame. The handsome setting greeted the crowd with a "white-carpet" entrance into the ocean-view estate enhanced by verdant orchids adorning the living room and terrace.

The floral creations were provided by Enzo, while Laguna's Mark's Catering handled the delicacies. SCR patroness and Newport Coast resident Danuta Schenke donated her own personal cabernet sauvignon from her vineyards to the delight of the crowd. Her exclusive "Danuta" label is sold in limited quantity in the finest stores.

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