The Crowd: Star Gala benefits musical theater programs

The Musical Theatre Academy of Orange County welcomed an enthusiastic crowd supporting its work with youth in the community.

More than 125 guests converged upon the OASIS Senior Center in Corona del Mar for a pre-holiday dinner and show billed as "Star Gala 2011." It raised $15,000 in funding for musical theater programs.

Producers transformed the OASIS auditorium into a winter wonderland replete with a forest of snow-covered lighted trees. Band leader Richard "Bugsy" Abraham welcomed the crowd with Christmas standards, as the staff of Blueberry Hill prepared and served a seasonal holiday dinner.

Following dinner, a troupe of 30 talented young performers entertained the crowd with a fully produced show directed by the Musical Theatre's Artistic Director Jimmy Hippenstiel.

MTA Board Chairman Sebastian Gutierrez and his wife, Amy, were front and center, joining guests Reva Kamins-Anderson, Martin and Margie Hubbard, Steven and Marian Fink, Neil Hinshaw, Phil Lisle and the John Link family.

Also supporting the evening were Alan and Karen Brutman, Tom and Cheryl Brooks and Newport's indefatigable community activist Jan Landstrom.

Special kudos go to co-chairwomen Amy Gutierrez and Suzi Lyons for their dedicated efforts producing the event for the MTA. They were joined by a committee of volunteers, including Jennifer Bussell, Jamie Mills, Karen Brutman, Barbara Morris, Cheryl Brooks, Karen Nagy, Pat Widin, Michele Trogovac, Ruth Gottuso and Michael Lopez, who all helped make the event a success.

For more than 25 years the Musical Theatre Academy of Orange County has been providing local youth with performing arts education programs.

Their message: "Every child deserves a chance to shine."

To date, more than 2,000 boys and girls ages 4 to 18 have participated in MTA programs, founded by a low-cost tuition base in large part and supported by both private and public donations.

To learn more about MTA, go to, or call (949) 955-3737.

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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