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Masks, Minuets, and Theatrics Come Together for an Evening of Parisian Intrigue

The 2019 Alley Theatre Ball: La Grande Mascarade: Au Palais Royal attracts over 500 guests dressed to impress and beguile

Photo credit: Dave Rossman and Jacob Powers

General Editor: Margaret MacMillan

Publisher: Connie Kwan-Wong

The Celebration

The chic Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston was transformed into 18th-century Parisian splendor for this year’s Alley Theatre Ball: La Grande Mascarade: Au Palais Royal. The over 500 guests in attendance lent an air of mystery to the elegant event by accessorizing their couture with captivating, often ornate, masks. Chaired by Heide and Douglas Shanda, the spectacular soirée honored The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts.

The Story

Greeted by performers swathed in vintage French gowns, waistcoats, breeches, and spectacular masks designed by artist Holland Vavra, attendees stepped into the Grand Ballroom and found themselves transported back in time to a fabulous 18th-century French palace. Huge floral installations transformed the walls while centerpieces of fresh flowers and crystal candelabras decorated the tables.

The evening began with guests purusing the auction items as they sipped cocktails. Highlights included a trip to New York to attend the U.S. Tennis Open finals; a Harry Potter Broadway weekend; and a trip to Las Vegas, which included the Lady Gaga Enigma show.

Before dinner, participants were treated to a performance by the Dance House Fitness Dolls. Attired in traditional French dress, the troupe danced a minuet, then surprised guests with an enthusiastic hip-hop number. The delectable dinner created by Executive Chef Jean-Luc Royere, which followed, featured a double chocolate bar of fondant, Valrhona ganache, and pralines for dessert. After dinner and the auction concluded, guests rocked out to the sounds of Queen City.

The Moments

Butch Mach, the president of Alley Theatre’s board of directors, opened the evening with welcoming remarks. The event chairs, Heide and Doug Shanda, spoke about their connection to Alley Theatre and thanked everyone in attendance for supporting it. Mach joined Alley Theatre Managing Director, Dean Gladden, in honoring The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, which has supported Alley Theatre since the 1980s. Most recently, the trust gave Alley Theatre its first major gift for Hurricane Harvey recovery. Nina Zilkha accepted a signed script of Describe the Night by Obie award-winner Rajiv Joseph on behalf of the trust. The Alley Theatre’s world premiere production of the play could not have been produced without its support. 

The successful event raised $1.1 million for the Alley Theatre Education and Community Engagement Programs.

Guests: Nina and Michael Zilkha, Heide and Douglas Shanda, Tracey and Glenn Vangolen, Carmen and Butch Mach, Jane and Dean Gladden, Margaret Alkek Williams, Sarabeth and Pierce Bush, Cornelia and Meredith Long, Susana Brener de Stern and Juan Stern, Carroll Robertson Ray, Rose and Robbie Nelson, Helen and Jim Shaffer, Lori and Scott Wulfe, Elizabeth and James Black,  Pepette  and Joseph Mongrain, Kathryn Ketelsen and Robert Sakowitz, Mady and Ken Kades, Christina and Stephen C. Morse, Angela and Craig Jarchow, Jane and Daniel Zilkha, Valerie Jalufka, and Linda and Willie Chiang.


About Alley Theatre

The Alley Theatre is a nationally recognized performing arts company. Led by Artistic Director, Bob Melrose, and Managing Director, Dean R. Gladden, it is home to a resident company of actors. The Alley Theatre’s diverse repertoire features innovative productions of the classics, neglected modern plays, and premieres.

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