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At Symphony Gala, All Eyes Are on the Glittering Ice

June 12, 1995|ANN CONWAY

"If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany's . . . "

--"Breakfast at Tiffany's,"

by Truman Capote


Audrey Hepburn would have loved the "Symphony of Jewels" gala staged by the Pacific Symphony Orchestra League on Saturday night.

Not only was Holly Golightly--the character she played in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"--on hand, waving a mile-long cigarette holder and sporting shades and elbow-length black gloves, the ball committee had turned the Hyatt Regency Irvine into a glittering jewel emporium.

There were "ice goddesses"--statuesque models in clouds of snow-white chiffon--perched atop platforms, dripping in diamonds, rubies and emeralds.

There was a gigantic diamond-crowned ice sculpture revolving as it sparkled on stage, behind the Barry Cole Orchestra. Each mirrored gala table was topped with a clear globe filled with crushed "diamonds." Each votive candle was housed in a faceted jewel-toned crystal holder, created especially for the gala by Black Iris florists of Laguna Beach.

Not to mention the drop-dead ice on guests. The ears of Tiffany Vice President Jo Ellen Qualls, co-chairwoman of the gala with Pat Weiss, shone with diamonds. The left hand of Susan St.Clair, wife of orchestra maestro Carl St.Clair, glittered with the knockout diamond her husband gave her before their recent marriage.

The St.Clairs, who live in Laguna Beach, leave next week for Texas for the Round Top Music Festival, said Susan, who wore a ruby-red satin floor-length gown. "After that, we're off to Caracas."

Also among guests was travel guru M. William Dultz, founder of Travcoa of Newport Beach, the symphony board member who donated three opportunity prizes--trips to New Zealand, Africa and Egypt worth $60,000--to the affair.

Dultz knows diamonds. "I've been to the diamond mines of South Africa," he said. "A diamond in the rough looks like something you'd throw away, a piece of mud. You have to know what you're looking for; otherwise you'd pass it by."

Festivities began with a champagne reception in the hotel foyer, where guests such as symphony benefactor Mark Johnson, with main squeeze Barbara Hiller, mingled with orchestra board President Ron Hanson, his wife, Joyce, and about 400 other symphony buffs, including orchestra league President Barbara Trainor, Arlene and George Cheng and Lynda and Arthur Gome.

When the ballroom doors were opened, the crowd came upon what one guest described as "a rhapsody in blue"--an icy-cool chamber lit with sapphire spots that shone upon the glistening sculptures and table bouquets of white orchids, irises and gladioli.

Dinner was served by an army of white-gloved waiters, who delivered such palate-pleasers as melange of black tiger shrimp, sea scallops and king salmon with Cognac vinaigrette, roast loin of veal, and Tulip St.Clair, a hollow chocolate dessert cup filled with lemon sorbet and fresh berries.

Guests loved the table favors--Tiffany boxes containing cream-colored dessert plates--the borders of which were trimmed in gold and printed with the musical notes of "Moon River."

"They were created about a year ago for a tribute to Henry Mancini, who wrote 'Moon River' [the theme of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'] for Audrey Hepburn," said Qualls, who wore an aquamarine gown.

"Lovely idea," said gala guest Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut who was the second man to walk on the moon.

After dinner, guests danced to tunes such as "Moon River" and were entertained by Pacific Symphony cellist Timothy Landauer and soprano Dale Kristien. Proceeds from the $175-per-person affair were estimated at $175,000.


Backstage with Carol Channing: "All of you dear people," Carol Channing told the SRO crowd after "Hello, Dolly!" premiered in Segerstrom Hall last week. "I'm seeing people here that I've played 'Hello, Dolly!' to before.

"Here in Costa Mesa is one of the great theater centers of the Northern Hemisphere," she said. "So far, we've played 39 major cities. We have eight to go, then it's Broadway!"

Still outfitted in the billowy white ensemble she wore in the show's finale, Channing swept into Founder's Hall following her performance to chat with some of the Orange County Performing Arts Center's major donors.

"Hello, hello!" she said. "I'll bet you had great seats! You own the place!" And then, in that deliciously low, throaty voice, she asked, "Who designed it? I'd love to know."

Said a center spokesman: "A group of architects."

Channing replied: "Well, they certainly made the right decisions. A lot of theaters are built when they don't even ask the stage manager what's needed."

What has playing Dolly Levi for 4,500 performances taught Channing? "I don't think about myself that much," she said. "I think most actors are playing characters and it isn't really important what I'm like.

"I worked very hard to become Dolly. She was quite a departure for me after I played in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.' I'm really nothing like her."

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