Opera Theatre: Showers Can't Dampen Gala Opening

Article excerpt

OPERA THEATRE of St. Louis' spring gala, "Overture to Candide," filled the Pavilion at Hunter Farms on May 14.

Close to 350 people paid upward of $250 apiece, mputting the $310,000 net way past the goal of $250,000 for the matching grant for Opera Theatre.

Co-chairwomen Patty Bush and Bettie Johnson pulled off a perfect party, despite torrents of rain during cocktail time.

The tent tacked onto the pavilion protected a gravel driveway, so gguests' feet stayed dry, too. The pavilion is raised and has awning panels that were lowered to protect the guests and teak floor from the downpour on the windward side. The panels worked. Leeward was open to the night, and as the clouds cleared, Opera Theatre impresario Charles MacKay pointed to one bright star sparkling in the western sky, a star for wishing. It was MMacKay's birthday.

At evening's close, Martha Scharff spoke of the group's gratitude to Jane Hunter MacMillan and Bryan MacMillan and her son and daughter-in-law, Stephen and Kimmy Brauer, for their civic-mindness in building the pleasure dome.

Scharff said: "We all are grateful that at Hunter Farm there is such a place as the pavilion, where a synergism occurs that brings out the best in the community.

"Where else can people gather in such beautiful surroundings and interact so well?"

Desi and Mary Ann Lee underwrote fireworks that followed a fabulous concert of young Opera Theatre stars: Katherine Terrell, Pamela Dillard, Mary Dunleavy, DMark Oswald, Tony Stevenson, all accompanied by Kirt Pavitt.

The principal underwriters were Samuel R. Goldstein and the Mr. and Mrs. Lyndon C. Whitaker Charitable Foundation in honor of the late Charles "Bud" Wilkinson.

According to Patty Bush, dinner was designed around the travels of Candide, the hero of the operetta that opened Saturday, May 21. Canapes were from Candide's native Westphalia; the celeriac soup represented Paris; and the main course of grilled lamb and sweet potato cake with sauteed red, yellow and green peppers came from the mythical South American land of El Dorado, where the lamb's wool coats were of spun gold.

The happy ending for the characters of the musical show, and for the guests at dinner, was Venice. Gondolas? No. Mocha cream puffs shaped like swans floating in a pool of chocolate and orange sauce. Brava to Catering St. Louis Inc.

Laclede Gas Co. underwrote the music, which included dancing to swinging Jack Engler's Combo and Hi Fi.

Greeting guests on arrival was Bucky Bush, closely followed by Jimmy Johnson. Among the guests were: Patty and Harv Hecker with singer Elaine Bonazzi, who will appear in "Falstaff"; Nardi Hobler and Bill McCarthy; Nora and Jim Burst; Joan and Bill Kiburz; Anita and Gary Vincel and their daughter, Lucian; Joseph Dreher; Fabienne and Ed Hemmann; Sally Levy and Richard Wolfheim; Marielle Huber and Dick Hancey; Martha and Tom Hogan; Ulrike Karst and Tom Schlafly; Rosemary and Dr. Jerry Flance; Mary and Jim Siverts; Glenn and Dr. Bill Sheffield; Joanne and Alan Kohn; Barbara Bull and Hal Spener; Tineke and Peter Vermeeren, formerly of Holland, now of Chesterfield; Bob and Mary White Lucy; Bob Koetting and Mayor of Frontenac Peggy Symes; Luann and Ron Yates; Mary Ann and Dr. Pat Hogan; Marge and Bob Rosenthal; Anne Marie and Arthur Heise; Sylvia and Urban Bergbauer; Joanne Foreman; Diane and Tom Jacobsen; Roma and Ray Witcoff; Jackie and Gene Frerichs, who were celebrating their seventh wedding anniversary; Jane and Whitney Harris; Helen and Julian Seeherman; Sally and Jack Parriott; Jan Greenberg; Dr. …