CABARET CHIC

A sea of shining stars by the sea! It was a stellar evening when “Broadway” came to Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort Rotunda via the Music Academy of the West. The event honored Marilyn Horne, who has been Academy faculty voice program director since 1997 and who studied at the school in her youth. The music was Irving Berlin’s and the artistic and musical director was Tony Award-winning Don Pippin. The cast was 24 of the brightest stars in the Music Academy’s summer study program.

Imagine walking out to the Plaza del Sol and see it filled with a gigantic stage, dozens of stage lights and two grand pianos for Pippin and Gerald Sternbach to conduct and accompany the show. In each arch hung a huge banner of a black-silhouetted 1930s style cabaret figure dancing on a white background. The rest of the rotunda was filled with tables done in black and white. And above the plaza on the circular balcony were all the guests in cabaret chic enjoying the view of the Pacific as waiters passed glasses of wine and trays of hors d’oeuvres. I joined them taking photos as I circled round.

Everyone was finally seated for a beautifully served dinner and then it was Showtime.

Irving Berlin’s genius shined through with songs like “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “It’s a Lovely Day Today” and “Count Your Blessings.” Horne surprised the audience by singing a duet with Don Pippin, “Just in Love.” It was goosebump time when the cast sang “God Bless America” and all the audience stood up to sing along.

Committee chair Diane Sullivan must have been elated along with her committee: Maureen Anderson, Margo Baker Barbakow, Nancy Barry, Judy Bartholomew, Patsy Blake, Carole Halstead, Mary Hampson, Nancy Hunter, Beverlie Latimer, Carole MacElhenny, Betty Meyer, Valerie Montgomery, Betsy Northrop, Julia Pizzinat, Robin Schutte, Joan Selwyn, Rhonda Sheakley, Marion Stewart, Mary Alice Tudor and Patty Weber.

The Music Academy was founded in 1947 by a group of Southern California musicians and arts patrons to cultivate and train young musicians for professional careers. More than 5,200 alumni have passed through the gates and now fill the ranks of major symphony orchestras and opera houses throughout the world.

The Academy has been a full scholarship program ($10,000 each) since 1998, one of only four in the world. This year they selected 137 college and graduate school-age students from more than 1,100 worldwide applicants for the eight-week course. There are 22 states and 22 countries represented. The students participate in more than 175 musical events, 90 of which are offered to the community for free.

A Toadal Ball

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was hoppin’ with its summer exhibit, Toadally Frogs. To celebrate, there was a special evening in the courtyard for the Fridays @ Five series of events. Families were invited and there were light appetizers and refreshments. Artist Mara Abboud was there signing reprints of her original work of art, “Toadally New.” She has been painting all her life, but this is a new contemporary style for her, painting on silk. Executive director Karl Hutterer was meeting and greeting.

With the food and refreshments came take-home amphibian factoids. For instance, do you know the difference between a toad and a frog? All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads. Toads are less active with a stouter body than frogs. They live on land and frogs like water. Toads have little or no webs and frogs are webbed. So now you know if you’re going to enter a jumping contest be sure you have a frog. They leap while toads hop. There are 3,500 species of toads and frogs that live in various climates from the arctic to the desert.

To amuse the kids the exhibit has dumb frog jokes like: “Why couldn’t the snake talk? He had a frog in his throat.” And don’t forget one of the most famous frogs, Kermit. He was the very first muppet Jim Henson created, which he did using his mother’s green bathrobe and a pair of ping-pong balls. He sang the amphibian anthem, “Bein’ Green.”

The Fridays @ Five committee is Bernadette Bagley, Janice “Cookie” Newlon and Patty MacFarlane.

Canines on Display

Earl Warren Show Grounds was once again the doggie spotlight for the Santa Barbara Kennel Club’s 90th and 91st dog show and Ennisbrook Clubhouse was the venue for an elegant Judges and Patrons Dinner.

Patron Chairman Carol Scott outdid herself with the setting for this annual event. As we walked into the courtyard the tables were stunning with black cloths, yellow sunflowers and a silver dog trophy on each. One of the largest trophies decorated the bar and inside were even more on display.

Judges and patrons got acquainted over cocktails and an elaborate dinner. Judges came from far and near – places like New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, Delaware and California. Some of the local patrons at the dinner were Hady and Ed Fleming, Wes St. Clair, Jo Ann Mermis, Jane and Jim Burkemper, Jeanne and Fred Bradley, Rod and Natalia Radula, Jill and Peter See, Alexandra Geremia, Kathleen Wathem and Carol and Paul Scott.

Miss Dorothy Nickles from Fort Worth, Texas is 92 years old and judged the Best of Show on Sunday – a Sealyham Terrier named Stonebroke Right on the Money. Handler Gabriel Ranger and owner breeders Howard Stone and Laura Jones must have been proud since their terrier had won Friday in the Simi Valley Kennel Club show at Earl Warren and Saturday and Sunday in the Santa Barbara Club show. Competition was stiff with more than 150 breeds and more than 1,000 entrants each day.

In the past Santa Barbara has been host to one of the most prestigious shows, second only to the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York City. You might want to check out our local show next year. And for all of you dog lovers, remember what dog spelled backwards is!

Moments and Memories

The invitation read, “Experience LifeChronicles in a beautiful space…The Sacred Space in Summerland.” I found it at the south end of Lilly Avenue. Sacred Space owners Jack and Rose Herschorn were there to show off their garden, pond and large boutique, which has been there about nine months. Supporters of LifeChronicles could sip wine, eat hors d’oeuvres and shop all at the same time.

Founder Kate Carter began LifeChronicles eight years ago. Student volunteers preserve lives on video for families “in health or life crisis, providing comfort, reassurance and lifetime memories,” Carter said. “We have done three hundred twenty videos to date, and that is a lot. We have seventy students who rotate as photographers.”

That night, they honored two of them. LifeChronicles photographer Oscar Gutierrez told the audience, “LifeChronicles inspired me to begin a video career and to go to college.” The other honoree, Brian Glover said, “It isn’t sad because in the video they can keep on smiling and keep on keepin’ on.”

As Catherine Remak from K-LITE remarked, “The videos can keep us connected to the generations before.”

Carter gave kudos to director of volunteers Sharon Morrow, who keeps everything running smoothly. No request is denied, even to those unable to pay the average $3,700 for a video. Donations are requested and there is a sliding fee scale for others.

Mark your calendar for the October 21 fundraising gala at the Carriage Museum. You can phone 966-3411 for info or log on to www.lifechronicles.org.