The Crowd: A black-and-white affair

September 14, 2011|By B.W. Cook
  • SHOW STOPPERS: SCR board chair Tom Phelps with super donors Mary and John Tu at 2011 Black and White Ball for SCR.
SHOW STOPPERS: SCR board chair Tom Phelps with super donors… (Daily Pilot )

Truman Capote would have smiled.

In the avant-garde tradition of Capote's 1960s New York social A-ticket known as the "Black and White Ball," Orange County trendsetters borrowed on the theme to ring in South Coast Repertory's 2011-12 season.

The SCR event, which unfolded on Saturday evening in the ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, took the Capote memory one step further. As the crowd of some 300 patrons arrived, donating a minimum of $2,500 per couple to the theatrical organization, black-and-white masks were presented. Some were encrusted with glittering stones, others adorned with plumes of ostrich.

The ladies held their disguises on sticks while the gents affixed them to their heads. For centuries, ball designers have been concerned over the ladies' hair.

As the crowd arrived, guests were asked to descend a grand exterior stairway into the Monarch Bay Courtyard, where they were greeted by a reception line of dignitaries.


This was more than a simple courtesy. The warmth of the greeting was a sincere touch, welcoming old friends and new, setting the tone for one of the most glamorous black-tie parties on the coast, and also one of the most intimate and gracious. Most of the arriving crush adhered to the black-and-white dress code. There were a handful of exceptions with more than a splash of red here and there.

The most elegant women in the crowd were the event co-chairs. Longtime ardent SCR supporter Elaine Weinberg, a stunning brunette and accomplished lawyer, joined her exquisite daughter, Nancy Dahan, also an attorney. Both wore simple, classic black evening gowns.

Nancy, showing off her slim silhouette, wowed the crowd in a floor-length black sequin fitted mermaid gown. She could not have eaten one bite.

Which by the way, was a shame. The dinner, supervised by executive chef Andres Jimmez, with a first course of Maine lobster salad followed by an entrée of blackberry braised short ribs over lobster risotto, was so outstanding that guests could barely touch the dessert of chocolate and lemon crème brulée.

When guests at a banquet are not clamoring for dessert, that says it all. So often the entrée is left to be removed by the waiters.

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