Hip Hoedown Keeps Center Celebration on Track

“This is some chuck wagon isn’t it?”

When Pacific Symphony activist Marcy Mulville asked that question at Thursday’s “Boots & Black Tie” blast celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, she didn’t get the usual society response: polite applause.

She got hoots, howls, and ear-splitting whistles--unfamiliar sounds in Segerstrom Hall.

But this was the night the arts crowd was entertained by Western stars Roger Miller and Hal Ketchum. This was the night they got to get down in black tie and blue jeans.


Brioni and starched blue-jeans,” said Opera Pacific buff Richard Engel, taking a spin in his Italian-made silk tux jacket. (And rattlesnake-bedecked hat, diamond studs and boots with clip-on spurs.)

Engel, co-chair of the hoedown with Mulville and Ed Halvajian, arrived in style. “Tonight, the grill of my Bentley is wearing genuine Holstein longhorns,” he said.

“Boots & Black Tie” marked phase three of a series of birthday fests that began Sept. 20 with a fashion show, continued with a Saturday concert and ended Sunday with a free birthday party.

Guests arriving at the “Boots” affair were greeted by thunder claps and raindrops. So, instead of sipping libations al fresco (as guests did at Wednesday’s dressed-to-the-teeth “Starlight Expressions” gala attended by Gov. Pete Wilson), they moseyed into the lobby to sip bubbly and long-neck brewskies (20 cases of cool ones trucked to Costa Mesa from El Paso, courtesy arts-lover Wally Wolf).


The sit-down dinner catered by the Hyatt Regency Irvine, featured finger-lickers such as homemade sweet potato chips, hunks of tender choice beef and a dessert that will keep party-goers talking for months: edible sweets shaped like covered wagons, cacti, and bales of hay.

Also among guests were Jolene Engel (a rhinestone cowgirl in turquoise metallic Spandex); Erich Vollmer, executive director of Orange County Philharmonic Society; Lou Spisto, director of the Pacific Symphony; David DiChiera, artistic director of Opera Pacific; William Hall, director of Master Chorale of Orange County; John Alexander, director of the Pacific Chorale; Henry and Renee Segerstrom (who eschewed Western attire, preferring traditional theater-wear); Center President Thomas Kendrick with his wife, Center manager Judy Morr; Gayle and Bob Anderson (sartorial knockouts in silver Western ensembles); Bill and Elaine Redfield; Joyce and Tom Tucker; Roger and Janice Johnson (in a hot number from Mi Place); Kathryn Thompson (in a gold-rush gold ensemble) and Gus Owen; Deeann and Al Baldwin; Laila and Bill Conlin; Center architect Charles Lawrence and Richard Lippold, creator of the Center’s firebird sculpture.

Gala Concert: On Saturday night, arts society streamed into the new Plaza Tower across from the Center after hearing a history-making concert featuring the five regional groups that call Segerstrom Hall home--Opera Pacific, the Orange County Philharmonic Society, the Master Chorale of Orange County, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Chorale.

Waiting on the (as yet unfinished) 20th floor with its sweeping city view was a buffet table made of ice that displayed seafood and food stations offering everything from pasta to petit fours. The Westin South Coast Plaza catered.


Among guests were flutist James Galway, who called Segerstrom Hall “a wonderful place to perform”; soprano Ealynn Voss; Vincent Fanuele (music director of “City of Angels”); maestro Anton Coppola, (uncle of Francis Ford Coppola); mezzo-soprano Gail Dubinbaum; maestro Carl St. Clair; John Alexander; William Hall; Louis Spisto; Erich Vollmer; and violinist Angel Liu.

Also attending were Renee and Henry Segerstrom; Roger and Janice Johnson and post concert co-chairwomen Randi Larsen; Betsy Moulton; and Anne Nutt.