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The Crowd: Magic for South Coast Repertory gala

September 17, 2010|By B.W. Cook
  • Larry Cripe, Linda White, Gala Chair Sophie Cripe and Tod White perform at SCR Gala.
Larry Cripe, Linda White, Gala Chair Sophie Cripe and… (Daily Pilot )

The 2010-11 social season on the Orange Coast was inaugurated with great style Sept. 11 at the South Coast Repertory Gala Ball. Chaired by Sophie Cripe, resplendent in a golden satin strapless ball gown, the evening was billed as "The Plays The Thing."

By the end of the evening at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, more than $530,000 net was raised for the Costa Mesa-based theatrical company. The 32nd annual gala ball, responsible for a major contribution each and every year to the repertory's annual fund, attracted an upbeat contingent of Newport-Mesa guests who have supported the theater since its beginning 46 seasons ago.

Founding artistic directors David Emmes and Martin Benson graciously thanked the audience for its support, letting attendees know that they are significantly more than donors; they are in fact members of a very close-knit Orange County extended family. Cripe echoed the sentiments and extended heartfelt thanks to her husband, Larry Cripe, and her sons and their spouses in the audience for lending their unconditional support.

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"SCR is not only the greatest theater company in Orange County, but indeed possibly in all of America," the jubilant blonde party chairwoman said.

The crowd arrived at sunset on a spectacular late summer evening. As the valets whisked away the cars, the black tie-clad guests gathered in the reception area adjacent to the ballroom spilling out on to the oceanfront terrace just above the busy Pacific Coast Highway, which was out of sight and out of mind.

A talented jazz ensemble featuring a soloist on the trumpet spun a little sunset musical magic as the crowd enjoyed an evening cocktail and hors d' oeuvres while gazing out over Huntington Beach and watching the Pacific waves lap upon the shore. The dinner bell chimed at 7 p.m., and the more than 400 guests were escorted into the cavernous hotel ballroom transformed by the SCR production staff into a whimsical backstage setting. It was complete with an enormous raised stage and bandstand built to accommodate Orange County philanthropist John Tu's orchestra, known as California Dreamin'.

A troupe of SCR performers dressed in spectacular period costumes paraded both the cocktail party and the dining room, delivering brief speeches from multiple periods of dramatic writing ranging from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to the work of contemporary writer Amy Freed's "The Beard of Avon."

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