Will the lobster bisque stay hot in the canister? Will the roses wilt?
What about the traffic? "Pick me up at the office, we'll save time, and don't forget the ice, and let's be a little early, and don't forget the parking pass."
Everything could go wrong, but that wouldn't spoil an evening at the Hollywood Bowl--not even the seven separate airplanes heard during the Bowl's 66th anniversary opening on Tuesday, featuring flute soloist James Galway with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
That's because the Bowl has its own charisma and is an institution unique to Los Angeles, revered not only by serious music lovers but by serious picnic lovers.
And so it was on Tuesday evening. Vera Panosian, Hollywood Bowl volunteers chairman, and opening-night chairmen Aurora Durr and Leah Rotermund--all sitting in a box with their husbands--Howard Panosian, Michael Durr and Arthur Rotermund--had promised balloon artistry. The breezes were flowing; swirls of balloons were undulating. During the National Anthem, red balloons were released on the cue of "the rockets' red glare," yellow ones on "O, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave . . . " and the final blue masses ascended into the skies on "home of the brave."
Bowl-goers who trudged in earlier included David McIntyre, weighted by two huge picnic hampers. His wife, Norma, in black sweater and crisp white pants, led them to the box they've occupied for years. Arrivals nearby were Hannah and Edward Carter, with their guests Phil and Mary Hawley; Elinor Griffin and her daughter, Elayne, and son-in-law Thomas Techentin; Harriet Smith and her daughter, Hannah, and son-in-law Russel Kully, grandson Andrew Kully and his date, Holly O'Hare.
Over a few spaces were John and Patsy Austin; along the aisle, Peter and Annette O'Malley; and nearby, Philharmonic board member Bram Goldsmith and Elaine; a few rows above in the Terrace boxes, Philharmonic executive director Ernest Fleischmann, and back a bit, Warner and Carol Henry, staunch opera supporters. Most of these are among the aficionados who have held Bowl boxes in the family for years and attend up to three times a week.
The Bowl draws the out-of-town famous, too. Last year, Gov. George and Gloria Deukmejian attended. On opening night this year, Australia's former prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, was the dapper gentleman in the corner box with Jon and Lillian Lovelace and their son, Rob. Fraser will be back in town again in October for the International Council of Associates world leaders gathering at Claremont University Center, which pleases Claremont President John Maguire and his wife, Billie, whose Bowl guests Tuesday evening were Henry and Dorothy Hwang. (He's chairman of Far East National Bank, and proud of his Tony Award-winning son, playwright David Henry Hwang of "M. Butterfly" fame.) Richard Koshalek, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and his wife, Betty, and Daniel Belin, chairman of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and his wife, Daisy, were among arts leaders in the crowd.
The Bowl is a mixed-generation affair: New Music Center president Esther Wachtell and her husband, Tom, shared their box with their offspring--Wendy, Peter and Roger. (Roger Wachtell marries Susan Stone of San Francisco on Sept. 10 in Chicago.) Volunteer Nancy Wayte was with daughters Lee Anne and Mary Beth Larrabee and Lee Anne's friend, John Woodruff.
Too, it was just a good chance for friends to get together--Hoyt and Jackie Leisure with Herbert and Marcia Howard, over Szechwan chicken; Kathy and Jim Grossman with Missy and Malcolm Stuart; Ronnie and Dick Lippin with Phil and Doris Corvo; and Francis and Bob Rice of Long Beach with Ed and Diane Cline of Arcadia, dishing pasta and sitting in the Rices' beloved box a few rows from the stage over the spot where the fountains used to splash. Picnics at the Bowl take all forms; some never lack champagne--Bobbie and Ken Galpin's, for instance. Champagne was also uncorked at intermission by the crowd including Sheila and Tim Smith, Kandi and Ed Wopschall and Steve and Jan Moore.
DeAnne Hayes (co-chairman of the Friends of the Hollywood Bowl) and her husband, Byron, opted for the new Wolfgang Puck pizza being offered this summer at the Bowl, and rated the spicy chicken and four-cheese pizza plus-plus, and the chocolate cake plus-plus-plus. (The pizza, at $13.95 per serving, comes with a Caesar salad in a basket delivered by a waitress.) The Friends, begun last year, has increased membership to 650 (members get discounts on seats and picnics).
Suzanne and Dick Miller, sitting in a corner box with their guests Michael and Penny Gill, captured creative cuisine credentials. Gill prepared the first course--fresh marinated scallops with avocado salsa and red peppers, served "with a little Schramsberg," and Suzanne followed with her cold peach soup. Later they dined on sliced loin of lamb and carrots in tiny zucchini baskets and curried rice pilaf.
It was all so nice that after the concert one gentleman with a big basket didn't seem to care at all that he scraped at least a dozen Mercedeses, Cadillacs and Isuzus as he squeezed through the 12-inch space between the rows of closely packed autos.