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Benjamin Epstein

It Was a Tough 5 Acts to Follow

May 16, 1985

Five acts or five chapters?

Both played a part in "On with the Show," a lavish affair co-hosted Saturday night by the Irvine Guild of the Orange County Performing Arts Center and Bullock's South Coast Plaza.

The five chapters of the guild are Applause, Chapter Two, Learned Ladies, Sophisticated Ladies and Stage Door; together they raised $70,000 for the Center.

The five "acts" make up the program for the evening, with the spotlight on Carol Wilken, outgoing guilds chairman for the Center.

ACT I: The Irvine High Stage Band offered big band sounds as valets relieved 800 guests of their cars (and Wilken of her limo) at the Bullock's entrance. The strolling violinists of the Pacific Pops, hosted bars and five cuisines by Culinary Classics awaited at the bottom of the escalators.

Guests enjoyed pasta in patio furnishings, four kinds of chilled soup in the fine linen department, curries and condiments near greeting cards and, at opposite ends of fine furniture, New York tenderloin strips with Madeira sauce and chanterelles and seafood, including oysters shucked on the spot and four kinds of caviar accompanied by three flavors of vodka.

"Look, they've even provided a few beds to fall down on," noted Harry Esayian, whose wife Shari is outgoing president of the Sound of Music chapter.

ACT II: Half the evening's proceeds were generated by the Silent Auction. Big bidders included William Frank of Irvine, who has at least three vacations--two in Hawaii and one in Manzanillo--to schedule in the coming year, and Jack and (Stage Door chapter chairman) Elaine Delman of Irvine, who took home an AMC Jeep for their son as a graduation gift. (A Mercedes-Benz and a BMW failed to inspire opening bids.)

ACT III: Bullock's general manager Sue Graham welcomed guests in the Jewel Court. White chocolate mousse cake with raspberry sauce accompanied a musical tribute to Wilken, "Of Thee I Sing," conceived and executed by Stage Door chapter members. Show-biz twins Doris Pascale and Daphne Walker--from a musical and theatrical family--wrote and directed the production; Jan Starkovich choreographed.

Wilken recalled highlights of two years as guilds chairman: the groundbreaking in July of '83--"Jim Bentley gave me my own hard hat with my own name on it"; the Topping Out, September of '84--"it was a privilege to sign the last steel beam before it was put in place," and the recent hiring of executive director Tom Kendrick--"we all sat in the board room with this wonderful grin on our faces."

She noted that her term also had an impact on her son Matt, a graduating senior at University High School in Irvine: "Every night Kent and I were going out to another fund-raiser, he'd say, 'Well, guess I'm cooking my own dinner again tonight.' "

Wilken confided that although "the new gal's name has not yet been voted on," her replacement will be Pat Rowley of Corona del Mar.

Center board member John Rau announced a surprise.

"It seems like I get three or four hundred invitations a year (to Center fund-raisers)," Rau explained. "Every time I go, Carol and Kent are there, sometimes two and three times a day.

"I've got something of a reputation as a fund-raiser myself, you know, and I've got an idea. You thought we were only having a silent auction tonight, but we're also going to have a live auction. All the guilds and the Center board are going to bid for two more years of Carol, and Kent'll bid on the other side. If you want to stay home (at night), Kent, you'd better get out your wallet.

"OK, the board's opening bid is half a million dollars . . . "

Intermission? No way.

ACT IV: Bullock's seemingly no-expense-spared extravaganza--part fashion, part musical theater--showed the store's summerwear, for the most part prints, prints and more prints; the production featured a backdrop of chess pieces in flashing lights, illuminated Communist hammers and sickles (the significance of which remained obscure), a fog machine, belly dancers and a real live boa constrictor.

Bullock's, not incidentally, underwrote all the entertainment and decorations and half the food and beverage costs for the evening.

ACT V: The denouement consisted of dancing to music by The Charmers till midnight.

Joining in the fete were event co-chairs Irene McCaffrey and Marcie Lemmon; Center directors Georgia Spooner and Elaine Redfield; Bullock's fashion director Carol Humphries; chapter chairs Darlene Day-Chester, Nancy Hall, Michele Smith and Sue Wright, and Wilken's mother Mary Malaska, who flew in from Speedway, Ind., for the event--and, just maybe, for Mother's Day.

A vintage '50s Coke machine and a fire hydrant donated by the Buena Park Fire Department were among the auction items at the seventh annual HUG (Help Us Grow) Event Saturday night at the Anaheim Hilton and Towers. Sixteen Cabbage Patch dolls, each earmarked for a specific child abuse victim being treated at the Child Guidance Centers, were auctioned (and given back for the children) in less than five minutes.

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