A Welcome-Home Party for the Joffrey

The Music Center's resident dance company, the Joffrey Ballet, came home Wednesday night with a premiere performance (first for Los Angeles) of John Cranko's "Romeo and Juliet" and the applause and the bravos were loud and long. Robert Joffrey, the company's artistic director and founder, dedicated the opening night performance to the memory of Gabriele Murdock. Standing before Tony Duquette's sunburst curtain on the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Joffrey spoke about Mrs. Murdock. "She was a member of my board and the wife of the chairman (David Murdock) of my board. She was a devoted friend and will be greatly missed." (David Murdock was in the audience with two of their sons, David Jr. and Justin.)

Friends of the Joffrey and some of their friends began their evening with cocktails in the Pavilion's Eldorado Room and a buffet supper in the Blue Ribbon Room. The jovial receiving line included Lockheed Chairman Roy A. Anderson, who is chairman of the Music Center's Unified Fund '85; Harry Wetzel, chairman of the Performing Arts Council's board of governors; and Maggie Wetzel, executive chairman of the Music Center support group, the Amazing Blue Ribbon. "We're 240 tonight," Mrs. Wetzel said, counting the early birds who stopped by to shake hands.

A Nice Welcome After coffee and before the performance, Performing Arts Council president Michael Newton delivered a nice welcome and then introduced Anderson, who talked about the '85 goal--$8.5 million. "This is the second year of a three-year plan," he said, "and as of Jan. 10 the cash received and the pledges due by June are already at $4.9 million. That's the good part. The hard part is that we still have to raise $3.6 million." Listening to Anderson speak, Maggie Wetzel whispered, "This is a whole new facet (fund raising) for Roy and he's enjoying it."

Later as the company took its last bows, Mrs. Nick Vanoff talked about money, too. A former dancer who had applauded so hard her palms were red and hurting, she mentioned that "ballet was for the czars. They used to toss emeralds (to the dancers)." The point she was making is that it takes a lot of money to support a ballet company and she was hoping that soon a few big, corporate sponsors would pitch in and help. Philip Morris Inc. has already answered the call by sponsoring the Joffrey's 1984-85 national tour. "But don't say we don't need money," she urged, "because we do."

Felisa Vanoff was in the Founders Circle with her husband, the producer, and Jill Cartter and David Keller and a few other friends with whom they played musical chairs between acts.

Gerald Arpino, the Joffrey's associate artistic director and choreographer, sat in the Circle's front row across the aisle from Olive Behrendt, Rupert Allan, Dwight and Dona Kendall (they were leaving the next morning for Paris on business), Gerald and Virginia Oppenheimer, Nancy and Alan Livingston, Marco and Joan Weiss, Tom and Esther Wachtell, and Barbara and Charles Schneider.

A few rows behind Arpino were Sherry Lansing, the movie producer, with Jim Aubrey, Bill and Keith Kieschnick, Dr. Joseph and Suzanne Marx, Margaret and Willard Carr, Sheldon Ausman, Mrs. Robert Sides.

Refreshment Time During intermissions, members rushed to The Founders for refreshments. Douglas Cramer kept a bottle of champagne chilled for his guests, Shirlee Fonda, Ames Cushing and Craig Johnson. Cramer was sporting an Acapulco tan and talking about "Love Boat's" 200th show (in March) and its 1,000th guest star. And around the room we spotted Councilman Joel Wachs, George and Barbi (Benton) Gradow, Lea Romonek with Mark C. Bloom, Alathena Miller, Michael Newton with Lyn Kienholz.

After the performance everyone in the audience was invited to the Grand Hall for a champagne celebration of the Joffrey's season in Los Angeles, which will run through Feb. 3.

The Social Scramble: A few nights back, Edward Feldman hosted a little dinner party in the Siamese Princess' private party room and among his more famous guests were Jacqueline Bisset and Alexander Godunov.

The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of L.A. and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation previewed an exhibition of posters, part of the national fund-raising "Facades of America," at the Coca-Cola "flagship" building on South Central Avenue on Monday. The local show includes posters from the series, "Facades of Los Angeles" and "Facades of New York."

There's something about the Bistro Garden that seems to attract romantic couples. The other afternoon they included Joan Collins with Peter Holm, and Jean and Bob Eaton who seem to have reconciled. That day Kurt Niklas, the BG's owner, was wearing his new navy blue cashmere sweater and pointing out a few of the highlights--Farrah Fawcett; Carol Burnett with Martha Luttrell; Anna Lee celebrating her birthday with Matilda Barnett; New York's Ellis Amburn; Contessa Cohn with Prince Nicky Toumanoff, Arthur Spitzer and L'Orangerie's Virginie Ferry.

Grace and Merrill Lowell have just signed the lease for their new Edwards-Lowell (luxury furs) headquarters, which will include a showroom plus work rooms. It's on Camden where the Lowells' neighbors will be Frances Orr, the stationer; Mr. Chow's, the restaurant, and Shaxted's, the linen shop. After some extensive remodeling, the new place should be ready to open in the spring. Meanwhile, business goes on as usual at the old location on Rodeo.

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