As the spring social season gets underway, make no mistake: Angelenos are generous with their support of good causes, and they certainly enjoy a good party. But nowadays, it takes more than a fancy dinner to attract a crowd.
The watchword for today’s fundraisers is “fun” — with “fresh” and “original” also part of the lexicon. This is especially true if the objective is to reach the up-and-coming younger demographic. The good news is that much of what’s ahead on L.A.’s social scene handily fits the bill.
Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller, planning an event April 25 to raise their generation’s awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, realized that they needed to raise the fun factor by multiples. The result: “Hilarity for Charity,” conceived as an “anti-gala” filled with comedy, magic and music performances and with proceeds going to the Alzheimer's Assn.
Rogen thought of it as a house party, thrown while his parents were away. “Tell everyone you want,” says the invitation. “Just don't tell my parents.”
“A lot of us have been to charity events that have been run of the mill, nothing out of the ordinary,” Miller said. “They’re all nice, but we thought it was important to do the opposite to get young people involved.”
Fun is also on the program for Saturday's “REDCAT Gala,” marking the venue’s 10th anniversary. Jack Black is slated to emcee at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater. Executive director Mark Murphy called himself “a huge fan” of Black’s comedic, musical and acting talents, adding, “He fits the REDCAT mold; he has wide-ranging interests, and an appreciation for what makes REDCAT unique.”
For musical theater fans, there may be no better bash than the March 20 “A Night at Sardi’s,” which raises funds for the Alzheimer’s Assn. Stars of TV, film and theater don’t merely show up. They sing.
“So many celebrities don’t get a chance to sing, and they have beautiful voices,” said event co-chair Laurie Burrows Grad. Already scheduled to belt out Broadway tunes are Jason Alexander, Emmy Rossum, Beth Behrs, Christine Ebersole, Jennifer Coolidge, Zachary Levi, Joey McIntyre, Scott Porter, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Dick Van Dyke and the entire cast of “The Big Bang Theory.”
City Year’s "Spring Break: Destination Education" draws whole families. Celebrating City Year Los Angeles corps members who donate a year to keep at-risk students in school, the April 20 shindig is to feature carnival-style booths operated by sponsors including JC Penney, Microsoft and People magazine.
Not only are Skylar Grey and DJ Sky Blu of LMFAO set to perform, but there is also an A-list of celebrity hosts. Among others on the host committee list are Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Vince Vaughn, Julie Bowen, Justin Bartha, Jason Bateman, Hill Harper, Octavia Spencer, Liam Hemsworth, Megan Hilty, Joel McHale, Adam Levine, Anne Hathaway and Adam Shulman.
And for dance fans, Los Angeles Ballet’s “Rubies Gala” April 20 will offer a preview performance of the company’s Balanchine Festival RED, along with cocktails, dinner and dancing to a 34-piece band.
Likewise, the Museum of Contemporary Art will center its “MOCA Gala” on April 20 around this spring’s show: a major 65,000-square-foot exhibition of artist Urs Fischer’s work. A cocktail reception at MOCA Grand Avenue will precede a festive dinner at the Geffen Contemporary.
For the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the big event is the May 9 “PreCognito,” marking its 25th anniversary, which allows guests to peruse the art that will be for sale two days later at its annual “InCognito” blockbuster.
“InCognito” offers artworks from emerging, mid-career and big-name artists. Each work is priced at $350, but signatures are hidden until after the work is purchased. Museum executive director Elsa Longhauser says, “We always try to think of things in an original way and to create something new and different from what other people are doing.”
May 3 is the date for the 20th “Race to Erase MS” to benefit the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis. Event co-chair Nancy Davis called “newness” vital. “You have to reinvent yourself each year,” she said. “You have to give [the event] a new personality. You want people to be excited when they get the invitation.”
So for this year, the theme is “Love to Erase MS” with honorees Sharon Osbourne and her son, Jack. And besides ensuring plenty of new items in the event’s 500-item silent auction, new faces in the annual celebrity fashion show and a new lineup of top-notch entertainment, Davis said this 20th anniversary year will include a blend of the old too.
During dinner, Davis said, video projections will show gala highlights from previous years, which have included performances by Stevie Wonder, Joan Jett, Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne, Michael Bolton, The Eagles, Donna Summer, Clay Walker and many more.
If “new” counts most, that prize goes to L.A.’s oldest museum, the Natural History Museum, celebrating its 100th birthday June 8.
The party will preview the new 3.5-acre nature garden of living wildlife and adjacent Nature Lab, which opens onto the garden. For the finale, a sound and light spectacular will precede the unveiling of the Otis Booth Pavilion, the museum’s brand new entrance.
“We’re calling it ‘the party of the century’ and it will be an extravaganza,” said NHM’s Danielle Lacharite Brown.