Stanton Welch, Phoebe Tudor, Allison Thacker, Jim Nelson
Chairs Beth Zdeblick, Shawn Stephens
Bill & Courtney Toomey
Connor Walsh, Jean May
Jo & Jim Furr
Diane Lokey Farb
Jonathan McPhee, Martha Rocks McMurrey
Gillian Hobson, Alyssa Springer
Hallie Vanderhider, Fady Armanious
Honorees Ted & Melza Barr
Karina & Carlos Barbieri
Kelley & Stephen Lubanko, Letty Loya, Leigh Smith
Kevin Black, Tony Bradfield
Kristy & Chris Bradshaw
Mararet Alkek Williams
Phoebe Tudor, Becca Cason Thrash
Steven & Cabrina Owlsey
Houston Ballet Opening Night Onstage Dinner
Tables set for dinner on stage at the Hobby Center
The emotion was palpable as Houston Ballet celebrated its first “opening night” performance and gala on-stage dinner. Actually, it wasn’t the season opening night. Nor did it take place as planned on stage at Wortham Theater. But, yes, it was a spectacular evening for the company adjusting to its temporary home in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
Gliding on a high from the stunning performance (many saying they had never seen better), a coterie of well-heeled patrons joined ballet leadership on stage for the inaugural opening night dinner. But not before Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch shared a few thoughts with the gathering of close to 250. “This is the most rehearsed ballet we’ve every had,” he quipped. The opening festivities were originally planned for September 8, less than a week after Hurricane Harvey wreaked disaster on the ballet’s Wortham Theater Center home.
“So here we are late, but better than never,” he said as he congratulated the evening’s chairs S. Shawn Stephens and James M. Jordan and Beth and Nick Zdeblick for their flexibility and determination to carry on with the inaugural fundraiser.
Introducing the night’s honorees Melza and Ted Barr, long-time Houston Ballet patrons, Welch noted that this was supposed to be a celebration of them. But after the storm “they very graciously asked that the evening instead celebrate the company and the fact that the dancers were back on stage after such a big disaster.”
“But we do have to say thank you,” Welch said. “Because what you’ve done for us and because of what you do for us is so inspirational and it makes us want to dance and makes us want to create and it gives us the chance to come up here and put on this kind of performance.”
There was a commendable performance of another kind once the curtain rose for the second time. The Events Company and Jackson and Company surprisingly quickly and, as expected, deliciously transformed the stage into a romantic dining salon with festive strings of lights overhead.
Among those contributing to the night’s success, raising $170,000, far exceeding the goal, were Houston Ballet managing director Jim Nelson and Richard Lapin, ballet board chair Phoebe Tudor and Bobby Tudor, Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, Beth Muecke, Jo and Jim Furr, Letty Loya, Chree Boydston, John and Becca Cason Thrash, Susan and Jack Lapin, Leigh Smith, Courtney and Bill Toomey, Jean May, Cabrina and Stephen Owsley, and Kristy and Chris Bradshaw.