Party Staged for Playhouse Was a Smash Hit

Charmaine Kaplan breathed more easily Monday thanks to a sedentary impulse on the part of Vice President Dan Quayle, who arrived in San Diego earlier that day and decided to have an early supper at the University Club with his wife, Marilyn, and then spend a quiet evening at his hotel with the kids.

Kaplan said she had been a tad worried that local Republicans might feel moved to entertain Quayle in high style that night, which might have siphoned off more than a few of the guests at her “Monday Night Live” gala for La Jolla Playhouse.

“I’m glad he’s a family man,” she said. “As it is, we’re sold out anyway. We couldn’t fit in another table or even another person if we wanted to.” The attendance totaled 320, a figure a good bit higher than at any other Playhouse fund-raiser in recent years.

Monday usually is a treasured night off on the fund-raising circuit, but was chosen since it also is the theater’s “dark” night, an occasion that freed back-stage technicians as well as performers to join in the cabaret headlined by comedian Robert Klein. Playhouse artistic director Des McAnuff said he liked the date for several reasons, including the fact that the gala came in the middle of the theater’s performance schedule.


‘Sold to the Rafters’

“This is the first time we’ve done a soiree during our season,” he said. “We’re sold to the rafters, so it looks like San Diego loves to party on a Monday night.”

That part of San Diego in attendance certainly gave every evidence of a partiality to partying on the first day of the work week. The gala’s underlying motif was that of a summer garden party, and the cocktail hour percolated on the lawns next to the Stonehenge-like “La Jolla Project” sculpture garden on the UC-San Diego campus. The dinner and show were given under a clear plastic tent, and the scene looked like nothing so much as a nightclub under the stars, a semi-alfresco Stork Club in which towering Lucite epergnes held fragile orchid bouquets suspended in mid-air.

Caterer John Baylin served a Southwestern-style “quilted” salad and chicken in jalapeno cream sauce as a kind of intermezzo between the reception and the program. As guests snapped up the chocolate terrine that finished the meal, McAnuff took the stage to congratulate the audience on its support of his theater.


“The existence of La Jolla Playhouse is a miracle,” he said. “The ‘80s have not been a decade conducive to the creation of new arts institutions. Even though we bring artists from around the world, the La Jolla Playhouse exists only because of the support of the San Diego community.”

McAnuff then introduced an octet of major benefactors, including Dorothy Johnston, Roger and Ellen Revelle, Sally and John Thornton, Ed Herman, David Copley and philanthropist Mandell Weiss, for whom the theater center is named. Weiss, who is 98, provoked chuckles when he climbed the stage to say: “I want to welcome you to ‘Monday Night Live.’ I like the word ‘live!”’

Lively Entertainment

A full chorus line of performers from previous Playhouse productions took turns on stage during the cabaret, including Leilani Jones of “Shout Up a Morning,” who offered up “Sophisticated Swank” and other top titles from the cafe society hit parade, and Stephen Bogardus of “80 Days,” who ran up and down the register while swinging through Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle.”


Comedian Klein, who styled himself as the ultimate New Yorker but seemed to be pleased to be out of town, opened his act by informing the crowd that it was his first experience performing beneath a “plastic circus tent.” “It was like the greenhouse effect during rehearsals, but at least they got the elephant smell out,” he teased.

Klein kept up the same tone through his act and concluded with a witty song--sung in surprisingly good voice--about the joys of airplane travel. He concluded just in time for guests to snatch up the calculator key chain and Tiffany perfume souvenirs and head home, where they opened their front doors just in time to be greeted by Tuesday morning.

Co-chair Kaplan ran the show in the absence of general chairman Peggy Preuss, who was in Europe; the committee also included Liz Smith, Martha Chatelain, Rita Bronowski, Barbara Bry, Bea Epsten, Anne Otterson and Pam Allison.

Among the guests were Joan and Irwin Jacobs, Colette and Ivor Royston, Arthur and Sandy Levinson, Mary Moeller and Floyd Andrews, Marie and Merrel Olesen, Geri and Joseph Kennedy, Carol and Mark Yorston, Liz and Mason Phelps, Susanne Angelucci, Martha and George Gafford, Rita Rae Gittes, Eileen and Willard VanderLaan, B. J. and Hal Williams, and Dagmar and Steve Brezzo.


UCSD Chancellor Richard Atkinson held out a glad hand Saturday to about 380 members of his Chancellor’s Associates support group and of the university’s Board of Overseers.

The two groups converged upon the new Price Center for the dinner dance given annually in their honor; the event always is a thank-you party rather than a fund-raiser, though at a Chancellor’s Associates annual membership fee of $1,500, the guests could be said to have already paid their dues.

Dinner chairman Dottie Garfield planned a light-hearted summer formal for the guests, who browsed the buffets of jet black caviar and rosy steak tartare with looks of complete satisfaction.

“I’ve been an Associate for 18 years, or almost since the group was founded,” said Garfield. “It’s fun to chair the dinner after so many years, especially since I didn’t have to spend my own money and I didn’t have to sell any tickets. What more could a chairman ask?”


Atkinson explained that membership dues paid by the Associates provide discretionary funding for use on any number of projects.

“These people are wonderful spokesmen and bridges to the community for the university, and that’s very important to us,” he said. “This is private giving, and it permits us to pursue certain opportunities that are important to the university, but not funded by the state. For example, private gifts made it possible for us to compete successfully to get our new graduate school in foreign relations and international studies.”

A Time for Honors

Although the guests largely spent their time dancing to the Bill Green Orchestra and dining on smoked trout and truffled beef filet, they also took time to honor some of their own. In addition to the recognition of members of five, 10 and 15 years standing, distinguished service medals were presented to Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation trustees Rose and Patrick Patek, and to UCSD Medical Center Auxiliary past president Dixie Unruh.


The Pateks received the special award for directing funding to the Stephen Birch Aquarium and Museum at the UCSD’S Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which is expected to open to the public in 1991. Unruh, a founding member of the School of Medicine Associates and a 20-year member of the Chancellor’s Associates, also has served as chairman of the Arts and Humanities committee of the UCSD Board of Overseers, and is a board member of the Institute for Research on Aging.

Unruh said she regarded the medal as an accolade to volunteerism in general.

“The spirit of volunteerism and of the professional volunteer needs emphasis,” she said. “When you give your time, energy and money, it’s nice to see it appreciated. When you give your time, you give your most valuable resource.”

The guest list included Associates chairman Murray Galinson and his wife, Elaine, and Board of Overseers chairman Hugh Carter and his wife, Pat. Others were menu coordinator Harriet Levi and her husband, Dick; Shirley and David Rubel; Audrey Geisel; Joseph Hibben; Darlene and Donald Shiley; Margaret and Laird Landon; Barbara Baehr; Cheryl and Joseph Paolucci; Peggy and K.C. Chan; Lee and Larry Cox, and Marie and Dean Dunphy.