If it is a summer Friday night in Newport, the Ritz is arguably the place to be and be seen. In the grand tradition of the neighborhood pub, the remarkable Ritz, founded three decades ago by the late local legend Hans Prager and presently in the hands of the talented and hard-working Ray Jacobi, welcomes the social crowd in waves for some high-energy summer-weekend escape. On his European-inspired outdoor dining room Jacobi turns Friday nights into "Island Fever" in the garden, featuring an Hawaiian-style luau complete with a bit of Polynesian-themed entertainment. Grace Thelen and friends were spotted enjoying Maui in Newport. Inside the busy Ritz bar, pretty Patti Delahanty shared a Friday-night cocktail with pal Bob Hilbenhard, and across the room, social mover and shaker Pam Selber dined with her man Mick Mickler and pals Cindy Davidson and national tennis champ Kim Vieira. Artist Michele Dawn and friend Pamela Braccini added some glamour to the night enjoying the music of Jacobi's star entertainers the Baker Boys, who turn the dining room into a Vegas showroom any night they perform.
Summer entertainment on the Orange Coast took on a decidedly more highbrow purpose as Bridge 2 Broadway supporters came together July 13 to launch a project in collaboration with the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA). Philanthropic local arts advocates Tim and Pamela Kashani, who have become important donors for many Orange County arts and educational endeavors, have created and launched a new musical, which they are calling "Higher Education." In actuality, the musical is part of a tuition-free five-week educational arts program that connects local students with Broadway professionals in a wide variety of theater disciplines. The Kashanis have important ties to Broadway inasmuch as they have been investor-producers involved with such productions as "Memphis" and "Hair." Their musical theater program, which is taught at the Margaret A. Webb Theatre in Santa Ana, is now in its third summer season, attracting talented students from OCSA as well as UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and Chapman University.
A VIP reception launched the effort last Saturday evening in the Webb Theatre's Cabaret Lounge. Spotted in the crowd was producer Christopher Sepulveda with credits that include "The Color Purple" and "Altar Boyz." Musical director Mitch Hanlon joined choreographer Galen Hooks mingling with the local crowd of dedicated supporters, including Kathy and Noel Hamilton, Kim and Mitch Axene, Valerie Dalena, OCSA board member John Gates and his wife Cindy, Anne and Dan Manassero, Whitney and Jerry Mandel and Robin and Allan Lubitz. Also in the crowd were Twyla and Chuck Martin, Marybelle and S. Paul Musco, Julie Ann and Jim Ulcickas, Linda and Ross Peters, Laurie Rodnick, Anne and David Rosenberg and OCSA president and founder Ralph Opacic. Performances of "Higher Education" will run again Friday through Sunday. Visit bridge2broadway.org for more information and to purchase tickets.
More than 200 guests attended one of the most popular charity events on the Orange Coast on June 8 at the scenic Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine. It was the annual Children's Bureau Clambake, raising significant funds amounting to approximately $190,000 net in support of the Children's Bureau's child-abuse prevention programs in Orange County. The charity has long been a cherished affiliation for the late Donna and John Crean and continues to be supported by the Crean Foundation as presenting sponsors of the event. This summer, the foundation was joined by the generous Eve and Mike Ruffatto of Corona del Mar and Denver, helping to ensure the success of the party. Eve and Mike were also honored as the honorary chairs of the evening, introduced to the crowd by event organizers Peggy Goldwater Clay, Barbara Eidson and Brenda Walters. Highlight of the evening was an address by Carmen Wimsatt, a Children's Bureau parent who shared her candid and emotional story about working with the agency's foster care and adoption program. Each year, the Children's Bureau assists some 5,000 at-risk children and their families through a variety of programs, including in-home counseling, parent education classes, home-visiting health programs, family resource centers and much more.
THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.