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Gala opens Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills

Ferragamo hosts opening event with dinner, fashion show and inaugural theater performance.

October 21, 2013|By Ellen Olivier

The event: The "Grand Inaugural Gala" to celebrate the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. Presented by Salvatore Ferragamo, the affair came with cocktails, a gala dinner, fashion show of the Italian designer's latest collection and the first-ever performance in the Center's 500-seat Bram Goldsmith Theater.

The setting: The brand new "Wallis," designed by architect Zoltan Pali of SPF:architects to incorporate the city's Italian Renaissance-style post office and temporarily house a pop-up Ferragamo boutique.

PHOTOS: Inside Annenberg Center

The show: Not to forget its post office past, "A Dream in an Envelope" had John Lithgow, Diane Lane and Kevin Spacey reading classic letters from Will Rogers, Martha Graham, Groucho Marx, Peter Tchaikovsky and Tennessee Williams. Onstage too were tap-dancing postmen; dancer Lil Buck; a beautifully executed pas de deux; and Terri White belting out "This Joint Is Jumpin.'"

"Why don't you give these birds the dough," said Lithgow, as he read Will Rogers' good-humored request for government funds to build the post office.

The glittery crowd: Wallis Annenberg and Jamie Tisch co-chaired the event, and although Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, the honorary co-chairs, did not attend, there was no shortage of star power.

"Brad is fighting zombies somewhere and Robert is lost at sea," said Tisch, referencing their recent movies, adding that the two asked her to "extend their deepest gratitude to Wallis for the creation of this wonderful center."

Celebrities abounded, as did business, social and cultural leaders, including, among others actors, Charlize Theron, Jodie Foster, Amy Adams, Nicole Richie, Joe Jonas, Jason Bateman, Courteney Cox, Evangeline Lilly, Demi Moore, Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Chord Overstreet, Tim Robbins, Sidney Poitier, Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Abbie Cornish, Geena Davis, Josh Duhamel and Dita Von Teese; Bram Goldsmith and Paula Kent Meehan, for whom the new theaters are named; Eva and Marc Stern, Lori and Michael Milken, Sherry Lansing, David Bohnett, Ron Burkle, Candy Spelling, Carolyn Powers, Deborah Borda, Ann Philbin, the night's speakers Ferruccio Ferragamo, Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch and the center's board chair, Jerry Magnin.

Quotes of note: "I don't have enough adjectives for this beautiful new auditorium," former California Gov. Gray Davis said.

The numbers: With tickets priced from $2,500 each and tables ranging up to $100,000, the celebration attracted 1,000 guests, enough to require two performances in the new theater.

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