The Crowd: Getting a jump on the fall-winter social season

"I get the feeling of being on Cape Cod from the vantage point of my window here in Newport Beach," Wylie Aitken shared with a broad grin.

Wylie and Bette Aitken recently completed a classic remodel and handsome blue and white beach-themed interior decoration of a shingle-style oceanfront residence on the Balboa Peninsula.

The philanthropic and civic-minded couple last week opened their slice of Cape Cod on the Pacific Rim for a cocktail at sunset on behalf of South Coast Repertory Theatre. It was a prelude for SCR donors and patrons supporting the upcoming Sept. 10 annual gala, billed as "Theatre Magic: The Black & White Ball."

Traditionally in Orange County, the SCR ball is the unofficial inauguration of the fall-winter social season on the coast. Bette Aitken, who has twice served SCR as annual gala chairwoman, greeted the arriving crush of guests. They were thrilled to support the acclaimed theatrical company and be in the presence of long-time cherished friends and associates, many of whom have offered their unwavering financial assistance to SCR projects year after year.

Former SCR board President and host Wylie Aitken greeted present Board President Thomas B. Phelps and co-founding Artistic Director David Emmes. SCR's new artistic director, Marc Masterson, and his wife Patricia Melvin, recent transplants to O.C. from Louisville, Ky., charmed the crowd, who sampled delicacies prepared and served by popular Mark's Catering of Laguna Beach.

Masterson will join Managing Director Paula Tomei leading SCR into the future. The pair addressed the crowd, sharing thoughts on SCR's educational programs as well as the vital significance of funds raised at the annual gala.

Tomei offered, "Proceeds from the event represented the first and the largest gift to SCR's annual fund."

This season's success is in the hands of two most dynamic women: the mother-daughter team of Elaine Weinberg and Nancy Dahan. Elaine and her late husband, Martin Weinberg, set a standard of excellence serving as SCR trustees, honorary producers, major donors and fundraisers.

Nancy Dahan and her husband Victor are also significant SCR donors, members of SCR's "Golden Circle." Under the stewardship of Weinberg and Dahan, the 2011 gala at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Laguna Niguel, promises to be the best ever.

For more information, contact SCR Development Director Susan Reeder at (714) 708-5518.


With the SCR gala launching the fall-winter social season, is it fair to say that summer 2011 vanished on the wings of a Back Bay egret? But summer has not left us so fast.

The absolute summer social hot spot has to be the Ritz Garden Tuesday night summer dinner fest. It features the remarkable talents of the musical Baker Boys, the fantastic Southern-style barbecue and a full Ritz menu supervised by restaurateur Ray Jacobi and his culinary team.

Each and every Tuesday, The Ritz is the place to be and be seen. With atmosphere that is uniquely Newport with a bit of European flair, spotted in the crowd this week were O.C. VIPs Twyla and Chuck Martin, Patricia and Bill O'Desky, Ann and John Wortmann with son John Jr., oilman Jay Magness holding court with marketing guru Sandy Keedy and Doug Keedy, custom home builder extraordinaire Chuck and Susan Van Cleve, the ultra glamorous Yolanda Bieweres, Jean Warren, Maralou and Jerry Harrington, Grace Thelen, Sally and Bob Griffith and Lynn and Greg George.

The good news is that summer at The Ritz has been extended until October per Jacobi. It's all about the great life on the Orange Coast, and it doesn't get any better than this.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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