Hear the buzz? South Coast Repertory, producer of the gala that opens Orange County's social season, has refused to play "Can You Top This?" for this year's party.
That makes sense. How could anyone one-up last year's extravaganza--totally underwritten by Tiffany & Co.--with its palatial white tent, its pouf after pouf of ecru satin, its cloud of Tiffany fragrance waltzing across the marble dance floor with the likes of Paloma Picasso?
So they're taking the gala, dubbed "Dramatic Directions," to a dramatic new direction--the endless and ultramodern lobby of Fluor Daniel at Park Place in Irvine.
Now before you scream "lobby?" hear out Cliff Faulkner, the resident scenic designer for SCR who waved his magic wand over last year's do. "We went strongly in one direction last year. And this year, we wanted a whole new direction. The lobby is enormous, so we will need to use only part of it. We'll divide it into absolutely adjoining spaces, with a cabaret that sits beside a dining atrium that is four stories high. Guests will be able to see from one space into the other."
The party's theme highlights what South Coast Repertory is all about, Faulkner said. "SCR is leading the way in new American theater writing. Because we have so many play commissions that go on to other theaters across the country, we want to keynote that with this event. The title underlines that; the whole evening is a major dramatic direction."
The gala, set for Sept. 16 with an underwriters' bash at Willa Dean and William Lyon's on July 13, will begin outside, Faulkner said.
The ring of flagpoles that line the Park Place concourse will be incorporated into the decor theme with Air Dimensional Design creating inflated air tubes in brilliant colors ("red, marigold yellow, teal green and purple, accented with black and silver," Faulkner said) that will begin outside and continue through the lobby. Huge white paper sculptures, the cutting edge in gala decor, will provide the bandstand backdrop.
"Last year, we were looking for formal elegance," Faulkner said. "This year, we're going for dynamic sophistication, something avant-garde, something very contemporary."
The price tag will remain the same--$300 per person. Willa Dean Lyon is gala chairwoman.
The buzz too: They're still buzzing about heiress Joan Irvine Smith's private party on Sunday at the Oaks Classic in San Juan Capistrano. Not the people who were invited to the lush VIP bash that Smith stages under a blocklong, scalloped white canopy. The people who weren't.
How can they get invited next year? "You don't have to be somebody," Smith says. "We just invite people we know, just friends. We don't have people get invited to this party. If they want to be here, they can buy a ticket, sit at a table and see the horses. But they're not going to sit under the tent. If you're not on the list, you're not invited. And you don't get in if you come and ask."
Gala tickets for sale: "Help," says Kate Lund. "I have four Orange Blossom Ball tickets at $275 each for sale!" Lund is worried. Very worried. Lund is going to marry Jim Hix on July 8. And, when they bought their table for $2,750 (10 tickets) for Saturday night's ball at the Irvine Hilton, they thought the ball was going to be in July. "We thought last year's ball was in July," Lund says. "All of these payments are coming due at the same time!"
The couple will use three tickets. "One for Jim, one for me, and one for my daughter," Lund says. And Hix, a deputy district attorney from El Toro, has sold three. "That leaves four," Lund says. "Next year, if we buy a table, we'll start selling tickets in January. The ball is Jim's favorite charity. He buys a ticket every year. But this is the first time he has bought a table."
On consignment: Harry Bubb, CEO of Pacific Mutual, has donated a few dozen Steuben glasses to On Consignment, the Newport Harbor Art Museum shop that opens at its Costa Mesa locale with a party on Sunday. The rare wine and highball glasses were once used in Pacific Mutual's executive offices. Also up for sale at the new fund-raising boutique: a rosewood piano, circa 1800, with a $1,800 price tag; and a Ching Dynasty vase selling for $9,000. For the lover of reasonably priced one-of-a-kinds, a single bookend is on sale for $7.50. The shop also features quality linens, silver, and contemporary and antique accessories. Shop hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p. m. Tuesday through Saturday.