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A Gala Set in Stone

Honoring Top SCR Donors With 'Marbleized' Busts Will Be Benefit's Signature

August 10, 2000|ANN CONWAY

In a new twist on benefit marketing, underwriters of South Coast Repertory's upcoming gala not only get the best seats in the ballroom, their "marbleized" images will be part of the decor.

For a donation of $10,000 or more, SCR supporters can have their likenesses sculpted by theater artisans and propped on pedestals at the Roman Affair on Sept. 16 at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa.

It's all part of the Romanesque ambience the benefit committee is creating for the event that traditionally launches Orange County's social season.

"So far, we have 14 people who are having busts made," gala chairwoman Barbara Roberts said.

Among them: Dee Higby, board development chairwoman for SCR, and her husband, Larry Higby of Newport Beach.

But instead of having one of their own images sculpted, the Higbys have chosen to "surprise a friend" at the $500-per-person fund-raiser, where guests will be invited to dress in the style of the 1st century or the year 2000. "We have enough pictures of this person in the SCR archives to pull it off," Dee Higby said.

A party for gala underwriters was held last week at the art-filled home of Marsha and Darrel Anderson of Newport Beach.

During the festivities, which included the chance to ogle the Andersons' stunning collection of figurative paintings, Roberts explained that it was a recent trip to Italy that inspired the 22nd annual gala's Roman theme.

"I was enchanted by the beauty of the ancient sites and by their historic significance," said Roberts, who attended the party with her husband, Bill. "Seeing the Coliseum was seeing the beginning of theater as we know it. I thought this would make a great theme for SCR's Gala 2000."

Besides showcasing the decorative busts--which will be housed in niches around the ballroom--Roberts and her committee plan to give a rectangular dance floor the appearance of a classic Roman reflecting pool. The means? Theatrical lighting effects, of course.

Cuisine will be served on china enhanced by 14-inch round terra-cotta chargers stamped with the SCR logo. "We brainstormed about how to make the gala tables look like Roman times," said Donna Collett, gala decor chairwoman and general manager of the Salvatore Ferragamo boutique at South Coast Plaza. "And finally, we came up with terra cotta! Each piece is being hand-thrown and guests will get to take them home."

For gala information: (714) 708-5518.

Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at

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