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Ann Conway

Camelot Guests Joust With the Elements

March 19, 1987|ANN CONWAY

It's true. It's true. The crown has made it clear. The climate must be perfect all the year.

--"Camelot," Alan J. Lerner

Rain in Camelot? Never. At least not until guests had filed into the Registry Hotel ballroom Saturday night.

During the outdoor reception of "A Night in Camelot," a benefit staged by the Camelot chapter of the Performing Arts Center, the climate had suddenly become less than perfect. A rude wind began to lift flowing skirts, tilt jeweled crowns and leave more than one maiden's "fairy godmother" hat askew.

"Ohhhhhhh, I hope it doesn't rain," wailed chairman Gayle Anderson. It did. But not until guests had reached a more congenial spot.

"I can't believe it," said guest Floss Schumacher, peering through the window at a make-believe castle being covered with plastic by hotel staff. "When everybody came in, it just decided to rain!" Talk about happily ever-aftering. The warmth of the ballroom decor more than made up for the chilly reception. Banquet tables had been laden with Della Robia-like arrangements of leaves, fruit and nuts. Fat hurricane lamps housed flickering red candles. Brightly hued "medieval" flags hung from the ceiling. A water fountain danced in colored light. White-gloved waiters wore "knave" aprons. "Wench" waitresses wore brightly hued coverlets.

The event marked the first major fund-raiser for the group. "When I became ways and means chairman, I told chapter members I would like to do a large benefit for them," Anderson said during dinner. "Since this is the chapter's 10th anniversary, I thought a theme party honoring chapter founders would be appropriate."

The $100 per-person affair was expected to raise $20,000 for Arts Center operations.

Dinner was fit for a monarch. The first course, "Black Knight's Fowl," offered smoked pheasant, turkey and cheese served on pewterlike plates. Prime rib with roasted potatoes made up "King Arthur's Feast." A dreamy English trifle, "Guinevere's Delight," was the piece de resistance.

In addition to a performance of songs from "Camelot" by musicians Mic Bell (King Arthur), Diane King (Guinevere) and Richard Kinsey (Sir Lancelot), festivities included kudos to chapter founders by Center leaders.

"The work of chapters such as these now results in an annual stipend of $400,000 per year," announced Timothy Strader, president and chief executive officer of the Center board of directors. Strader presented Dotti Stillwell--first chapter president--with a framed photograph of the Center. It was autographed by Center board presidents.

"It occurred to me that Camelot was a wonderfully appropriate name for the first chapter of (the Newport Beach area) of the guilds," said Thomas Kendrick, executive director of the Center. "I also thought it an apt metaphor for building of the Arts Center. You people have helped turn those mythical spires into reality. Now the task is to bring the finest knights and ladies of the arts into the realm on stage." Kendrick admitted he had played "Camelot" on the stereo "10 times" the night before.

Also recognized were Schumacher, first chairman of the Camelot chapter board, and past Center board presidents John Rau, Tom Moon, Louis Knobbe and Elaine Redfield.

Vin Jorgensen was master of ceremonies. Among the chapter founders honored were Dolores Virtue, Barbara Campbell, Jackie Guy, Bonnie Stewart, Joane Evans, Georgia Spooner, Joan Rabun, Nancy Bushnell, Susan Beechner, Marion Farmar, Virginia Bennett, Patricia McClure and the late Marilyn Bidwell.

Committee members included Hope Van Herzen, Nora Jorgensen, Reta Hawkins, Paula Van Eden, Fran Going, Joan Williams, Jean Lucas, Elaine Basmajian, Lee Gormley, Wanda Gwozdziowski, Mary Lou Hopkins-Hornsby and Kathy Rolfes.

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