Encore Ball Turns Into 'Galactic Gala' : Out-of-This-World Event Raises Funds for Hospital

Fame and Fortune came easily to the 600 guests attending the third annual Encore Ball Saturday night at the Anaheim Marriott. In fact, Fame and Fortune talked to almost everyone and personally escorted members of the mostly physician crowd into the "space bar" where a jazz quintet entertained. Dutifully, the two remote-controlled robots raised their metallic arms to shake hands with guests at the Galactic Gala which raised $15,000 for the cancer treatment program at Anaheim Memorial Hospital.

The futuristic festivities actually began when the Anaheim Memorial Hospital Foundation mailed out invitations that included 3-D glasses. It took a matching set of glasses at each table setting to read the menu/program which bore the definitely futuristic title " 103rd Annual Encore Ball."

Event chairman Dr. Dennis Riff and his wife, Millie, also greeted guests for what Riff was calling a "spaced-out evening." In the course of conversation, the Anaheim gastroenterologist confided that he himself was carrying around a "futuristic approach to an age-old problem": weight control. A member of a medical group that uses the new "gastric bubble"--a small plastic balloon that is inserted into the stomach, making the wearer feel full and presumably eat less--Riff himself received one recently in order to "lose 50 pounds, and I've already lost 30," he said.

Guest of the evening and easily star of the show was composer/arranger/conductor Richard Hayman, who flew in from New York to lead the 44-piece Ron Rubin orchestra in an after-dinner music and laser light-show extravaganza.

Space-age spirit set in as soon as the guests checked in at the reservation table. "Glow-in-the-dark" freon-filled rings handed out by the committee became bracelets, headbands and necklaces. Leah Kazarian of Anaheim rested the ring on her hair for a halo effect. Foundation treasurer Bob Hutchison looped his into an oversized bow tie, such a popular effect that it immediately was copied by a host of male guests.

The doors leading to the grand ballroom, normally closed during pre-dinner mingling, were open but no one dared to enter. The deterrent was a wildly flashing green laser beam, which created an illusionary tunnel filled with synthetic green fog.

It was turned off for dinner, but Pete Gray, chief executive officer of Anaheim Memorial Hospital, was heard to quip, "Anyone making long speeches gets zapped with a laser."

Hayman was given a dramatic introduction: From out of darkness he appeared in a cone of light amid billowing clouds of more green fog and wearing a one-piece, silver-and-blue metallic Martian-like costume.

Better known for compositions and arrangements such as "Always in My Heart" and "Sweet Rosie O'Grady," Hayman opened the program with Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet," which he playfully "dedicated to the City of Long Beach."

Hayman also conducted laser-coordinated renditions from the films "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Star Wars," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Superman." A virtuoso harmonica player, Hayman delighted the crowd with "Ruby," which he wrote for the movie "Elmer Gantry." He also donned a Dolly Parton wig to play "9 to 5."

Following the performance, Hayman praised the musicians. "There were tiny microphones attached to all the instruments," he explained. "They (the players) couldn't tell the true sound. And I have to give them a lot of credit for adjusting to lights flashing off and on and having to look at this (outfit)."

Ball committee members also used space-age terminology to describe courses on the menu: "Interstellar Launchings," "Galactic Grains," "Interplanetary Plant Life" and "Meteoric Mainstays," but it was the dessert, labeled "Halley's Comet" that transported the diners into orbit. Chef Michael Baranyay's creation featured raspberry mousse in a white chocolate "spaceship" on chocolate sauce. A sliver of chocolate depicting the moon rested against a green grape sun and, with white stars piped onto the sauce, the plate resembled a galaxy.

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