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Photography: Wilson Parish

The Celebration

The Wortham Theater Center welcomed over 220 guests to the Houston Ballet Opening Night Onstage Dinner on Friday, September 8, 2023. Elise and Russell Joseph and Jennifer and Christopher Laporte cochaired the event, which honored Stanton Welch, Member of the Order of Australia, (AM) for his twentieth anniversary with Houston Ballet. The evening was a joyful celebration of the opening of the company’s 2023-2024 season and benefited the Houston Ballet.


The Story

Dressed in chic cocktail attire, the onstage dinner guests were in attendance for the captivating performance of John Neumeier’s reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as for the sold-out post-performance dinner. Both events took place on the Wortham Theater Center Stage. When the curtain rose a second time revealing the Onstage Dinner décor created by Bergner and Johnson, guests found themselves entering a star-filled enchanted forest overflowing with substantial arrangements of jewel-toned hydrangeas, dahlias, and roses. The sapphire, emerald, and amethyst hues were reflected in taller arrangements of similar flowers. Suspended from their bewitching branches were shimmering votive candles on stands entwined with greenery and vines. Exquisitely prepared by Jackson and Company, dinner was a sumptuous feast crowned with a fanciful dessert of creamy orange and phyllo bread pudding accompanied by cardamom yogurt ice cream drizzled with carrot gastrique and garnished with goat milk salted caramel and candied rose petals.


The Moments

Directly after the performance, and just prior to dinner, attendees gathered in the Orchestra. While the stage was being miraculously transformed behind the red curtain, Houston Ballet Executive Director, Jim Nelson recognized Stanton Welch AM for his twentieth anniversary with Houston Ballet.


Welch was also presented with an official Proclamation from The City of Houston by Houston Ballet trustee and Vice President of Development, Jesse “Jay” H. Jones II, and Artistic Director, Julie Kent.


The record-breaking event raised over $250,000 for Houston Ballet.


Guests: Cochairs Elise and Russell Joseph and Jennifer and Christopher Laporte; Honoree Stanton Welch AM; Artistic Director, Julie Kent; Executive Director, Jim Nelson; Leslie and Shannon Sasser; Linda and Walter McReynolds; Jenny Elkins; Hallie Vanderhider; Kristy Bradshaw; Laura and Brannon Robertson; Macey and Harry Reasoner; Kent and Shara Schaffer; Marguerite Swartz; Margaret Alkek Williams; Yana and Warren McFatter; Zoe Cadore; Lynn Wyatt; Jay Jones and Terry Wayne Jones; Duyen and Marc Nguyen; Cabrina Owsley; Margaret Vaughan Cox; Dannika Simpson; Beth Zdeblick; Elizabeth Leykum; Victoria Gutierrez and Nick Pierce; Melza and Ted Barr; Kelley and Stephen Lubanko; Allison and Troy Thacker; Richard Flowers and Angel Rios; Gary and Marian Beauchamp; Ann Trammell; Jo Furr; Elisa Stude Pye; Carolyn Sabat; Jean and Henry May; Beth Muecke; Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin; Erika and John Toussaint; Melissa Juneau; Rini and Edward Ziegler; Tammy and Wayne Nguyen; Sandy Godfrey; Rose Cullen; Ginni and Richard Mithoff; Sasha Davis and Joe Matulevich; Martha and Marvin McMurrey; Liliana Soltero and Michael Hawkins; Susan and Gary Binney; Jamie and Mark Loveland; and Jayne and Garrett Johnston.


About Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet is committed to maintaining and enhancing its status as: A classically trained company with a diverse repertory whose range includes the classics as well as contemporary works; A company that attracts the world's best dancers and choreographers and provides them with an environment where they can thrive and further develop the art form; An international company that is accessible to broad and growing local, national, and international audiences; A company with a world-class Academy that provides first rate instruction for professional dancers and meaningful programs for non-professional dancers; A company with state-of-the-art facilities for performances, rehearsals, and ongoing operations.

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