Guests at "A Midsummer Night's Dream" benefit squealed when it was announced that Carl Karcher would chauffeur the Pope during his visit to Los Angeles in September.
But they blushed when Stan Pawlowski added, "Carl (of Carl's Jr. burger fame) will steer the Popemobile with one hand, and pass out hamburger coupons with the other!"
Well, every Midsummer Night's Dream needs its Puck. And the mischievous Pawlowski, a friend of Karcher's for 30 years, proved that he could take it as well as dish it out Sunday at the fund-raiser for the Orange County Pacific Symphony and Master Chorale, receiving some pretty good jabs from Karcher in return.
Karcher and Pawlowski were among 270 guests who paid $100 each to dine on beef tenderloin and watch Olympic gymnast-turned-actress Cathy Rigby and husband, Tom McCoy, perform at the Laguna Beach estate of Phyllis and Raymond Contino.
Gross proceeds, estimated at more than $50,000 (which included pre-benefit donations) will be used to help defray projected expenses at $40,000 to $50,000 for the symphony and chorale's appearance at the papal Mass to be conducted by Pope John Paul II at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Sept. 15.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Pacific Symphony conductor Keith Clark during the sit-down dinner staged on the Contino's putting-green-perfect lawn above Crescent Bay. "Opportunities come and go, but this is very special. And while it's great to get recognition beyond Orange County, the important thing for the orchestra is that we really exist for Orange County and want to represent everything it is becoming."
Floss Schumacher, who glided about the 1.5-acre estate in rose-pink dappled silk, agreed. "This is the most thrilling thing," said the arts activist, who headed the benefit with Pawlowski's wife, Theresa, and Marcy Mulville. "It fits right in with what Orange County is doing--trying to make a statement to the rest of the world. It would have been enough to just see the Pope. But, to have our music--our symphony, our chorale--performing, well, it's a very smug and wonderful feeling."
Holding hands with date Patty Brennan, Master Chorale director Maurice Allard said he was "excited" about the upcoming performance and was "not worried about a thing."
"The chorale is wonderful. We feel so privileged to be invited," Allard said.
McCoy and Rigby, who live in Fullerton, own the production company that will produce the pre-Mass concert. McCoy said they became involved when he received a call from "an old priest friend," Fr. Fred Gaglia, pastor of Sacred Heart church in Rancho Cucamonga and chairman of the pre-Mass celebration.
"Father said he was looking for an idea and wanted to stay away from that halftime-at-the-Super-Bowl kind of thing," McCoy recalled.
So, McCoy, 31, whom Gaglia directed in "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Hello, Dolly!" when McCoy was a student at Servite High School in Anaheim, has put together a show that will feature Placido Domingo, DenieceWilliams, Sandi Patti and Joseph Campanella. The Pacific Symphony and the Master Chorale will also perform "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and the "Hallelujah" chorus from Handel's "Messiah."
"We're calling it 'A Celebration of Joy: Music, the Mosaic of Faith,' " Gaglia told guests after they'd polished off hunks of white chocolate cake drizzled with raspberry sauce. "We're going to create a tremendous musical picture for the people. And through that picture, try to create some understanding of who, we feel, in our church is a great communicator, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II."
Although she is not a Catholic, Pam Goldstein said she planned to attend the Coliseum event. "Our family is ecumenical," said Goldstein, who had thrown a party for another cause at the Contino estate the night before. "My husband is Jewish, and I'm Episcopal. And when our 10-year-old daughter, Mandy, asked recently who the Pope was, our 17-year-old son Mark, answered: 'He's probably the most respected human being on this planet--for his stand on peace.' "
Karcher said he would attend the Mass with his wife, Margaret. "Margaret and I and some of our family had an audience with the Pope during February of 1983," said Karcher, whose Karcher Enterprises will donate food to volunteers at Masses in the Coliseum on Sept. 15 and Dodger Stadium on Sept. 16. "It will be wonderful to see him again."
Pawlowski, who attends the same church as Karcher--St. Boniface in Anaheim--recalled when he and his wife met the Pope during a visit to Rome: "I spoke to him in Polish, and he answered in Polish. Then Theresa shook his hand and wouldn't let loose. She just stood there, hanging onto him until he finally said: 'I've got to leave!' "
Renee Segerstrom, attending the benefit with her husband, Henry, said that the couple would not attend the Coliseum event but that she had enjoyed audiences with two of Pope John Paul's predecessors. "It's a very special experience," she said.
UC Irvine Chancellor Jack Peltason, attending the benefit with wife, Suzanne, said he wouldn't attend the Coliseum event but had seen the Pope during the Pope's visit to Washington, D.C., about five years ago.
Peltason was president of the American Council of Education at the time, he said, and had been invited to represent higher education when the Pope visited Catholic University.
"Afterward, someone asked me what I'd thought about what the Pope had to say. And I said I was so overwhelmed by the occasion I'd forgotten to listen. It was a magnificent occasion."
Mulville said any proceeds left over from the papal performance will be distributed between the Master Chorale and the Pacific Symphony.
Also attending the affair were Dr. Maurice Mulville; Ed Schumacher; Don and Dolly Karcher; Carol and Michael Gilano; Al and DeeAnn Baldwin; Doris Clark; Phillip Quarre and his daughter, Connie, and Marnie Fluor Reed.