The Crowd: Philharmonic Society hosts benefit in Samueli Theater

The Philharmonic Society of Orange County transformed the Samueli Theater into a New York supper club for a very special "Night of Broadway."

Two of the Orange Coast's most dynamic women, Marsha Anderson and Marta Bhathal, co-chaired the Irvine-based nonprofit's annual benefit gala.

The duo produced an evening around the musical performance of composer-lyricist Neil Berg, creator of "100 Years of Broadway." Berg's showcase was backed by a concert band and a Broadway-caliber cast of performers who shared with the crowd legendary songs from memorable shows, such as "Phantom of the Opera", "Chicago" and "South Pacific."

The Philharmonic Society gala committee went to great lengths creating the "supper club" theme. Designers draped the walls of the Samueli and covered the dining tables with deep burgundy cloths. Candles on the tables were topped with lampshades in classic old-world nightclub style.

Chef Ross Pangilinan of Leatherby's Café Rouge supervised the gourmet dinner presentation under the Patina banner. The crowd dined on three courses that began with a warm spinach salad followed by an entrée of beef tenderloin over a forest mushroom risotto.

Dessert was a fan favorite: chocolate cake served with chocolate sorbet, milk and white chocolate sauce, and crunchy chocolate tuile. It was death by chocolate, to be sure. Wines for the celebration were provided by Heitz Wine Cellars of Napa Valley. Guests raved over the 2009 Heitz chardonnay and the 2006 cabernet sauvignon.

Following the performance and dinner, a live auction raised the financial bar of the evening, with all proceeds benefiting the youth music education programs sponsored by the Philharmonic Society.

A who's-who crowd supported the annual affair.

Among the glitterati were Deborah and Larry Bridges, Victoria and David Collins, Carmela and Ben Du, RuthAnn and John Evans, Marie Gray, Dee and Larry Higby, Margaret and Tom Larkin, Eve and Michael Ruffatto, and Terry and George Schreyer.

Also supporting the Philharmonic Society were Sharon McNalley, Bobbitt Williams, Pat and Dick Allen, Kathy and Cliff Fleming, Joan and Walter Gayner, Ellie and Michael Gordon, Mary Roosevelt, Michele Rohé, and Mary Ann and George Wentworth.

Founded in 1954, the Philharmonic Society is Orange County's oldest and most recognized music organization, which offers both performance and educational opportunities to the community at large.

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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