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Positive Revue

Chapman students help each other in a scholarship-funding dinner and tribute to the Tonys.

November 10, 1998|KATHRYN BOLD

The event: Chapman University's 17th annual American Celebration, a multimedia song-and-dance tribute to the Tony Awards produced and performed by students and faculty. Saturday's fund-raiser on the Orange campus included a black-tie dinner.

Off Broadway: More than 700 guests gathered under a big top for a cocktail reception and gourmet dinner before the show. In Memorial Hall, communication arts and music students demonstrated their strong voices, fancy footwork and charisma.

Combining video clips with singing and dancing, the cast presented tunes from Broadway favorites from "Damn Yankees" to "Rent," whose theme of young actors struggling to succeed seemed especially appropriate.

The show impressed one member of Hollywood royalty--event co-chairwoman Cecilia Presley, granddaughter of Hollywood legend Cecil B. De Mille. "We've all been to a lot of awards ceremonies, but we've never been to anything as spectacular as this," Presley said.

True to their school: The night proved a celebration of Broadway melodies as well as of Chapman's growth.

"Chapman is such a foundation in Orange County. That's why it gets hometown, grass-roots support," said Ron Soderling, event co-chairman, whose three children are Chapman grads. Son Kurt, who graduated from the theater arts program in 1987, has been director of photography aboard "Titanic" "Armageddon" and other Hollywood blockbusters.

"Chapman is much more recognized [in Hollywood] today," Kurt said.

Quote: "We hope you don't think we're building an empire and losing our way. We haven't forgotten why Chapman was [put] here in the first place," said James Doti, Chapman president, who called the private university a guardian of values and ethics.

Thanks to a bit of video wizardry during the show, Doti made cameo appearances in "Citizen Kane" and other film classics.

Faces: Elmer Bernstein, Academy Award-winning composer, recipient of the award for lifetime achievement in the arts; Paul Pressler, president of the Disneyland Resort, who received the award for outstanding corporate citizen; Ron Thronson, show producer; William Hall, conductor; Jo Ellen Allen; George and Judie Argyros; Raj and Marta Bhathal; Ernie and Edy Chapman; Frank and Eileen DeSantis; Tom and Pat Elliott; Harry and Mary Hamilton; Georgia Haney; Bill and Rusty Hood; Gary and Erin Lastinger; Gary and Kay Liebl; Jack and Belle Lindquist; Gerald and Patricia Molen; Roger and Colleen Oglesby; Edgar and Libby Pankey; and Gail Soderling.

Bottom line: American Celebration netted more than $460,000 for Chapman. Proceeds will go to the university's student scholarship fund.

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