Our Laguna: A busy weekend for community events

As Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson has often said, "There is never a dull moment in Laguna Beach. If you can't find a nonprofit to support or an event to attend, you are not paying attention."

Never truer than last weekend.

On Feb. 3, No Square Theatre presented a "reading" and singing of "My Funny Valentine," a musical by Chris Quilter at the Veteran's Memorial Center and No Square Theatre headquarters.

On Saturday, folks had a choice: the second night of Quilter's play; a tribute to Toni Iseman as outgoing mayor coupled with a fundraiser for the Community Clinic and the Laguna Beach Woman's Club, where the event was held; or the annual Laguna Art Museum auction (see full story on page B1).

Sunday morning, the Patriots Day Parade brunch was held at Tivoli Terrace. Later that afternoon, Councilman Kelly Boyd hosted a Super Bowl potluck at the Marine Room.

Matt and Mary Lawson were among those who attended all five weekend events.

Quilter's play was sold out Feb. 3 and Saturday. He began writing the play as an antidote to his job of "business theater." Quilter wanted to adapt a play into a musical comedy. He chose George Bernard Shaw's "You Never Can Tell," the tale of young Mr. Valentine and ingénue Gloria. The burned-out Quilter was fiddling with the play, when he happened to hear Ella Fitzgerald on the radio singing "My Funny Valentine."

Almost without trying he had a score of other Rodgers and Hart songs that fit the bill.

The weekend performances featured narrator Nancy Miller, who set the storyline and locations, and singer-actors Carol Robinson, Ella Wyatt, Joe Lauderdale, Bree Burgess, Natalie Powers, Steve McIntosh and Joey Sims.

It was the culmination of years of tinkering, which probably would have continued for another decade or so had Burgess and Lauderdale not intervened. With their feedback, the script was given a final rewrite. Roxanna Ward worked on the score.


In the audience Feb. 3: Mayor Jane Egly, Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger, council members Pearson and Iseman; City Treasurer Laura Parisi, Friends of the Library President Martha Anderson, Pat and Jim Kollenda, Carolyn and Dr. Tom Bent, Stephany Skenderian and her mother, Shirley Griffin, and Sande St. John, still recovering from leg surgery.

All of the above also attended the tribute to Iseman. Burgess and Quilter, whose show didn't start till later, made their presence felt.

Burgess sang Quilter's adaptation of "My Funny Valentine:"

"Behold today, I honor a friend

With heartfelt accolade.

Your term is done. I'm here to commend

The mayor you have made.

With your know-how and that curly hair

You could be president.

But I have had a better idea.

I hope that you'll consent

(For Oh Yes)

By running one more time,

For Council one more time,

I'll get to vote with my heart.

The pay is laughable,

But you are affable

And there are projects to kick start.

The Village Entrance is so bleak

And what's with Aliso Creek?

Plus the sewers still could leak

And fall apart.

So hear my prayer and be

Once more the mayor of me.

Stay, be a pal of mine, stay.

Each day will be a fine day."

The event featured a silent auction, music by Jason Feddy and "nummies" from Ivan Spiers of Mozambique, Nancy Wilhelm of Tabu and Starfish and Rose and Scott McIntosh of Asada. Wine was partially underwritten by Nancy Milby of Laguna Culinary Arts. Servers included John Thomas, Steve Miller and Mike Beanan.

Among the donations to the silent auction: tickets to the Laguna Playhouse and the Pageant of the Masters; a handbag by Michelle Boyd; Hobie Sports and Tuvalu gift certificates from Mark Christie; consultation with landscape architect Peter Weisbrod; a pizza a month from Zpizza; a homestead map of Laguna from Carol Lloyd; and a Tom Swimm oil, a Scott Moore giclee and a Tom Lamb photograph.

John Madison donated a fountain. Susan Neely contributed a Sharry Falcon painting. Carmen Kaczor, Leah Cano and Liz Malloy donated pieces of their jewelry. Christine Fugate gave quartz jewelry by Sumiko Alexander.

Event committee volunteers included Eileen Algaze, Peggie Thomas, Anita Mangels, Anderson, Barbara Hamalko, Anne Johnson, Jaime Nappi, Monica Prado, Frances Scinto, Woman's Club President Andrea Miller, Wendy Potter, Dede Pike, Elsa Brizi, David Schaar, Evonne Kane, Kim Salter and Gayle Waite.

"It was Toni's idea to benefit the clinic — a new tradition and a wonderful one," said Egly, before reading the "whereases" in the city proclamation honoring Iseman's third term as mayor.

"It is magical that we have the town we have," Iseman said.

"But I would like to talk about some things we take for granted. Look around this room. It needed TLC and a group got together to bring it back to its glory.

"And what would we do without the clinic? They save lives and keep our town healthy."

She lauded people or groups she said don't want to change Laguna, just make it better.

"The Heisler Building is the same — only better," Iseman said.

She also expressed admiration for the Old Pottery Place and Hotel Del Camino, the museum, three local newspapers, the Laguna Canyon Conservancy, Greenbelt Inc., No Square, the new city manager and spoke of the importance of friendships, including gal pals from her home state of Nebraska and college chums who attended the event, and people in town.

Sunday's brunch for Patriots Day Parade honorees at Tivoli Terrace was the largest ever, according to Sandi Werthe, parade committee secretary.

For 45 years, the parade has reminded us to honor country, flag and those who preserve our freedom at great personal cost. "Never Forget" is the theme of the 46th parade, which will be March 3.

Parade President Ed Hanke commended the 2012 all-volunteer committee: Charles Quilter II, vice president; Werthe; Kathy Hanke, secretary; Michael Lyons, 2011 president; Diz d'Isabella, program ad salesman, reviewing stand organizer and driver of the Seagraves; John Kountz and Jim Rue, parade announcers; Karen Ford, school liaison; Sande St. John, hospitality chairwoman, assisted by Jean Law and Elizabeth Tomlin; Don Black, VIP car wrangler; Doug Miller, photographer; and Howard Levin, parade starter.

Black and Marv Johnson work with Boy Scout Troop 35 to set up no-parking signs. Marshals include Deborah and Dylan Bryant, Ellie Levin, Pam and Perry Valantine, Natalie Kunkle-Wilson and Anne Wood.

Patrick Quilter of QSC Audio and Jerry Ford work with Larson Lighting and Audio to set up the public address system. Cox Communications videotapes and airs the parade.

"Thanks to all of you — the citizens and businesses of Laguna Beach — for your wonderful support through the years," Hanke said. "You are either in the parade or you are watching it."

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 302-1469 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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