theatreWashington Announces Successful Annual Star Gala and Benefit Auction

Jennifer Clements


Washington DC – On October 26th, theatreWashington celebrated three treasures of Washington theatre and continued their staunch advocacy for education, community building, and professional development services for theatres, artists, and audiences of all ages with their annual Star Gala and Benefit Auction. In partnership with American Airlines, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, The Washington Post, Vornado Charles E. Smith, Bloomberg BNA, and Connoisseur Travel, the special evening greatly exceeded expectations.

The event held at the Four Season Hotel and Resort of D.C. included a silent and live auction, musical numbers by six of the Washington’s finest artists, and the presentation of Helen’s Star to three area visionaries whose dedication and leadership have shaped and redefined the landscape of Washington theatre immeasurably. Bonnie Fogel, Founder and Executive Director of Imagination Stage, Carolyn Griffin, Producing Artistic Director of MetroStage, and Molly Smith, Artistic Director of Arena Stage at The Mead Center for American Theater were each honored with Helen’s Star, named for the First Lady of the American Theatre who epitomized excellence and accomplishment.

The evening began with the silent auction, made possible by generous contributions from donors throughout the area. Local artistic talent provided a warm welcome to the nearly 300 guests as they perused and bid on tremendous gift packages. Sebastian Clarke, Senior Vice President and Director in Doyle New York’s English and Continental Furniture Department and featured appraiser on Antiques Roadshow, returned to the auctioneer’s podium to conduct the exciting live auction featuring exotic adventures, all-inclusive experiences, and even Kathleen Turner’s voice on a lucky bidder’s phone answering machine. Two outstanding surprise items were highlights of the live auction — a package from the Canadian Embassy to view the 2013 Presidential Inauguration from their Embassy balcony, and a priceless keepsake given to Helen Hayes upon receipt of her honorary degree from the University of South Carolina and generously gifted by the Helen Hayes — MacArthur family.

The tremendous outpouring of support from donors, guests, and bidders alike helped to exceed theatreWashington’s financial goal. Funds raised from the special evening will support the organization’s programming throughout the year including providing audience outreach, professional education opportunities, and help to theatre artists in unexpected emergencies.

“We were thrilled and most grateful to have the opportunity to recognize three extraordinary women without whom the Washington theatre community would not be what it is today,” said Linda Levy Grossman, President & CEO of theatreWashington. “And the chance to raise funds for our continued programming and outreach made it all the sweeter.”

Six stars of the Washington Stage saluted the three Helen’s Stars recipients with incredible performances. Matthew A. Anderson and Simon Diesenhaus tipped their hats to Bonnie Fogel singing the beautiful duet “Alone in the Universe” from Seussical opening soon at Imagination Stage. Natascia Diaz performed a sublime ballad from her recent engagement in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at MetroStage to honor her mentor Carolyn Griffin. Nicholas Rodriguez’s dazzling rendition of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” was a special selection for his director, Molly Smith. Donna Migliaccio and Karlah Hamilton capped off the evening’s tributes with “Change” from A New Brain and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy with soaring voices. Guests had a chance to join in the entertainment as the evening concluded with a lively sing-along around the piano with theatreWashington resident virtuoso Glenn Pearson playing showtune favorites.

As Chairman of the theatreWashington Board, Victor Shargai, put it, the Star Gala and Benefit Auction was “about having a good time while supporting the programs of theatreWashington and [making] Washington a better place to live. Because it is a truism that theatre improves the lives of all it comes in contact with.”

Click here for photos from the evening.

About theatreWashington:

theatreWashington is the only organization dedicated solely to promoting, representing, and supporting all segments of Washington’s professional theatre community—theatres, artists, company members, and audiences of all ages—and our community as a whole. theatreWashington’s programs include: — The ultimate online resource to see what's playing on Washington stages. Features include Washington’s only show-filtering system from which audiences can seek and sort productions based on their specific interests, extensive information about productions and artists, and fascinating stories from behind the scenes.

The Washington Theatre Guide — The FREE comprehensive year-long directory detailing theatre information, theatre festivals, complete seasons, as well as nearby restaurants, parking, public transportation, affiliate organizations, and a handy theatre neighborhood guide.

tixCertificates — Gift certificates valid for an array of shows that are playing at 50 Washington-area professional theatres; the perfect gift to introduce—or re-introduce—family and friends to the experience of live theatre.

Washington Collaborative Audience Database — A master patron database for participating organizations to cut costs, increase marketing efficiency, and examine audience behavior through comparative market analysis.

The Helen Hayes Awards — The annual event that honors extraordinary achievement in—and draws regional and national attention to—Washington professional theatre. Artists, audiences, supporters, and some of the most notable leaders in American Theatre join together to celebrate their combined accomplishments and Washington theatre.

Helen Hayes Recommended — A time-sensitive way for Helen Hayes Awards judges to help identify and promote exceptional work and therefore cultivate audiences while shows are still running.

Washington Audience Development Initiative — Multi-layered marketing and awareness campaigns to promote Washington theatre regionally and nationally as a world-class theatre destination.

Show Tunes & Cocktails at The Jefferson — A monthly sing-a-long for theatre lovers to join special guests from Washington stages and pianist extraordinaire Glenn Pearson to belt out show tunes in the intimate setting of The Jefferson Hotel’s elegant Quill Bar.

The Washington Theatre Legacy Project — A landmark program that, since 1994, has provided the tools, resources, and opportunities to incorporate theatre into the daily lives of area children, thus enriching, connecting, and strengthening the future generation of our community.

Community Mobilization — Advising, organizing, and mobilizing the community about relevant economic, social, and political issues affecting the Washington theatre.

The theatreWashington Green Room — Monthly informal networking opportunities to encourage mentorship and the sharing of ideas in which local theatre professionals gather, network, and learn from one another in a pressure-free, highly-creative environment.