Party Line: Valentine's Gala benefits Tennessee Shakespeare

Members of the recent Tennessee Shakespeare Company production of “Romeo and Juliet” — Slade Kyle (from left), who played Nurse, Tybalt; Isaac Anderson (Mercutio); Guillermo Jemmott (Benvolio) and Jamie Mann (Friar) — assisted at the company’s Valentine’s Gala.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Members of the recent Tennessee Shakespeare Company production of “Romeo and Juliet” — Slade Kyle (from left), who played Nurse, Tybalt; Isaac Anderson (Mercutio); Guillermo Jemmott (Benvolio) and Jamie Mann (Friar) — assisted at the company’s Valentine’s Gala.

Howard McGillin (right) of “Phantom of the Opera” fame, was the featured performer at Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s Valentine’s Gala at GPAC. With him are Dan McCleary (left), Joseph Thalken and Stephanie Shine.

Photo by Michael Donahue

Howard McGillin (right) of “Phantom of the Opera” fame, was the featured performer at Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s Valentine’s Gala at GPAC. With him are Dan McCleary (left), Joseph Thalken and Stephanie Shine.

Maxwell Varner and Mary Catherine Brennan were at the U. S. National Indoor Championships at the Racquet Club of Memphis. Feb. 11 2014

Photo by Michael Donahue

Maxwell Varner and Mary Catherine Brennan were at the U. S. National Indoor Championships at the Racquet Club of Memphis. Feb. 11 2014

Actor Boris Kodjoe (center) was the special guest at a reception at The Racquet Club of Memphis. With him are U. S. National Indoor Championships tournament director Peter Lebedevs (from left), Stormy Taylor from Clear Channel Radio Memphis, former University of Memphis tennis player Bob Leopold and U of M tennis player Johnny Grimal.

Photo by Michael Donahue

Actor Boris Kodjoe (center) was the special guest at a reception at The Racquet Club of Memphis. With him are U. S. National Indoor Championships tournament director Peter Lebedevs (from left), Stormy Taylor from Clear Channel Radio Memphis, former University of Memphis tennis player Bob Leopold and U of M tennis player Johnny Grimal.

Bartender Craig Denkler (left) and Jake Schneider man the Svedka Party Deck at the U.S. National Indoor Championships at The Racquet Club.

Photo by Micihael Donahue

Bartender Craig Denkler (left) and Jake Schneider man the Svedka Party Deck at the U.S. National Indoor Championships at The Racquet Club.

Real-life couple Joey Shaw and Rachel Brun, who played the title characters in Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” were on hand at the company’s Valentine’s Gala Friday at Germantown Performing Arts Center.
Photos by Michael Donahue/ The Commercial Appeal

Photo by Michael Donahue

Real-life couple Joey Shaw and Rachel Brun, who played the title characters in Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” were on hand at the company’s Valentine’s Gala Friday at Germantown Performing Arts Center. Photos by Michael Donahue/ The Commercial Appeal

Royalty for the Grand Krewe of Sphinx are Keri Taylor (from left), Annie Taylor, Kim Flynn, Eleanor Grace Flynn, king Brad Flynn, chairman Jack Conway, Felicia Diprizio, Kayla Diprizio, queen Chrisann Conway, Theresa Diprizio, Laura Alexander-Dodd, Jeni Diprizio and Gloria Dodd.

Photo by Michael Donahue

Royalty for the Grand Krewe of Sphinx are Keri Taylor (from left), Annie Taylor, Kim Flynn, Eleanor Grace Flynn, king Brad Flynn, chairman Jack Conway, Felicia Diprizio, Kayla Diprizio, queen Chrisann Conway, Theresa Diprizio, Laura Alexander-Dodd, Jeni Diprizio and Gloria Dodd.

Roland Valliere, Memphis Symphony Orchestra CEO and president, joined Billie Jean Graham (left) and Lura Turner at “Music from the Heart.”

Photo by Michael Donahue

Roland Valliere, Memphis Symphony Orchestra CEO and president, joined Billie Jean Graham (left) and Lura Turner at “Music from the Heart.”

ATP player Ryan Harrison (left) and Bobby Hudson chatted in The Pub during the U.S. Indoor Championships at The Racquet Club.

Photo by Michael Donahue

ATP player Ryan Harrison (left) and Bobby Hudson chatted in The Pub during the U.S. Indoor Championships at The Racquet Club.

“Fully taxable donation” wasn’t one of Romeo’s lines in the Shakespeare play, but Romeo aka Joey Shaw uttered those words on stage during the live auction at Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s Valentine’s Gala on Friday night at Germantown Performing Arts Center.

Joey, who played Romeo in the company’s recent production of “Romeo and Juliet,” and Rachel Brun, who played Juliet, were in costume as they assisted auctioneer Stephanie Shine, gala coordinator and the company’s education director, on stage during the live auction. Joey and Rachel also are a real-life couple who live in Seattle.

“The Music of the Night” was the theme of this year’s gala to benefit the company’s education program. Howard McGillin, the longest-running “Phantom” in the history of the “Phantom of the Opera” musical, headlined the event. He told the audience he enacted the role 2,550 times over 10 years, mostly at New York’s Majestic Theatre on Broadway.

Howard, who was accompanied by music director Joseph Thalken on piano, gave a nod to Shakespeare when he performed “Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story,” the contemporary version of “Romeo and Juliet.”

The evening also included a silent auction, cuisine from Just for Lunch and red roses donated by Pat Smith for the buffet tables.

Dan McCleary, the company’s founder and producing artistic director, told the audience he heard from more than one male guest who was pleased the event was held on Valentine’s Day evening. He said they told him, “Hey, thanks, Dan. You got me off the hook.”

So, what did Romeo give Juliet for Valentine’s Day? Joey said he gave Rachel a hardcover copy of “Pride and Prejudice.”

Anne Hamer McCarroll was gala chairman.

Celebrity exhibition

Actor Boris Kodjoe, who was named one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” by People magazine, was the special guest at a reception Monday during the U.S. National Indoor Championships at The Racquet Club of Memphis.

Asked what she thought of Boris, who played Damon Carter in TV’s “Soul Food,” Belinda Anderson said, “Can you say ‘gorgeous’? He was absolutely gorgeous.”

He also was “very open,” said Belinda, who attended the reception with her daughter, Lauren Anderson, and Gina Neely. “He allowed people to come up and talk to him, ask questions.”

Following the reception, Boris and Mike Bryan played Mike’s brother, Bob Bryan, and Memphis car dealer Mark Goodfellow in a Celebrity Doubles Exhibition Match.

Having a celebrity meet and greet and match was one of the new additions to the tournament, said tournament director Peter Lebedevs.

Another addition was the Svedka Party Deck, which Peter admitted was “a little on the edge.” The “deck” was the unenclosed top level above the seats on the west side of the stadium court. Bars were set up on either end and guests could order drinks, stand up and walk around while tennis was in play.

Jake Schneider, a tournament employee stationed at the deck, said he was “constantly doing crowd control.” He told people, “You really have to whisper as quietly as you can.”

And, he said, “Our bartender is having to shake drinks under the bar.”

Bartender Craig Denkler said their most popular drink was the “Orange Push,” which included Svedka vodkas “Orange Cream Pop” and “Citron” and orange, pineapple and cranberry juices with a cherry on top.

Josh Prince, who ordered an Orange Push, said (not too loudly during a Bryan brothers vs. Santiago Gonzalez/Scott Lipsky match Saturday night), “It’s awesome.”

Musical luncheon

Memphis Symphony League presented its “Music from the Heart” Valentine’s Luncheon Thursday at Chickasaw Country Club.

Guests viewed fashions from Seriously Fun and furs by Bella Viaggia, dined on a lunch that included chocolate ganache-filled beignets and listened to musical selections performed by Lura Turner, who was accompanied by pianist Mary Lawrence Flinn, and Memphis University School’s Beg to Differ.

Billie Jean Graham was the recipient of the Hebe Award.

Sphinx royalty

Chrisann Conway is queen and Brad Flynn is king of the Grand Krewe of Sphinx for Carnival Memphis. They were presented Saturday night at Chickasaw Country Club.

The duchesses are Keri Taylor, Annie Taylor, Kim Flynn, Laura Alexander-Dodd, Jeni Diprizio and Gloria Dodd. Pages are Eleanor Grace Flynn, Felicia Diprizio, Kayla Diprizio and Theresa Diprizio. Rob Straub is flagman. “My Fair Lady” was the event theme. Front & Beale performed. Jack Conway is Sphinx chairman.

On the cover: Maxwell Varner and Mary Catherine Brennan at the U.S. National Indoor Championships.

To see more photos and videos, go to gomemphis.com/donahue

donahue@commercialappeal.com; 901-529-2797.

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