The Ensemble Theatre Celebrated A Night To 'Elevate The Arts'
The Ensemble Theatre celebrated its 2018 Celebrity Black Tie Gala - Elevating the Arts! at the Hilton Americas-Houston, Saturday, August 18, 2018. Lead sponsors: H-E-B; Shell, BP America, Inc, United, Bracewell LLP, Frost Bank, Andrea and Jarvis Hollingsworth, Wendy and Vince Armstrong, were joined by a host of devoted corporations and individuals who continue to invest in the advancement of the theatre's mission to enlighten, entertain, and enrich diverse audiences. The Gala serves as the theatre's major fundraiser supporting its annual $2 million operating budget that includes six mainstage season productions, and its educational initiatives directed toward youth. The theatre's board of directors and staff welcomed more than 400 esteemed donors and supporters.
Chairs: Andrea and Jarvis Hollingsworth, Honorary Chairs; James T. Campbell and Laurie Vignaud Gala Dinner Co-Chairs
This year's honorees included: Crystal Fox, Actress of the Year; Lamman Rucker, Actor of the Year; Wendy Armstrong, Rising Star Award; The Creuzot Family, Community Partner of the Year; and United Airlines, Corporate Partner of the Year. A special honor was given to David Bray for more than 15 years of volunteer service as the theatre's photographer.
Actress Crystal Fox, known by many through her most visible work to date, starring as Hanna Young in (the ONE and ONLY) Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots, shared a personal testimony of why she chose acting as her career and made a declaration for attendees to continue to support the arts.
"I took this career path because I wanted to give voice to the voiceless," said Fox. "If we can be this fabulous at a gala, we have to be this fabulous in producing our work...continue to put your money behind The Ensemble Theatre so they may continue to be place where voices can be heard."
Lamman Rucker, who is currently recognized for his starring role in the OWN TV Network show Greenleaf as Jacob Greenleaf, paid homage to ancestors and living elders who paved the way for today's actors before sharing a personal story of his parents' work as artists, and how they influenced his commitment to the arts.
"Thank you to God, our ancestors, and our living elders who fought so we could all gather in a place like this," said Rucker. "It is now our responsibility and our focus on having the vehicle to liberate us through the authenticity of our stories."
The evening began with a Mayor's reception and silent auction including VIP sporting event tickets, exotic travel packages, and autographed sports memorabilia.
An elegant jubilee was the essence of this luxurious styled gala. Blushing orange and warm red infused with gold was the palette for the tablescape décor with lush floral arrangements. The room was accented by multi-height mirror tower ensembles holding billows of colorful blooms.
Two oversized HD movie screens displayed a pictorial tribute to Aretha Franklin as attendees watched and applauded. A photo montage filled with highlights of productions from the previous season showed throughout the evening.
Guests enjoyed a three-course meal with a hearty caprese salad with mixed field greens, grape tomatoes, burrata cheese, and kalamata olives drizzled with balsamic glaze and chervil oil; an entrée of Cajun marinated chicken breast with crab stuffed colossal shrimp over parmesan risotto, steamed asparagus, herb roasted tomato, and asparagus mousse; and for dessert a white chocolate lemon chiffon pave with mango pineapple salsa.
Damali Keith (FOX26) and Melanie Lawson (ABC13) kept the energy high as the evening emcees.
Board President Jesse Tyson shared closing remarks by thanking the honorees, sponsors, board members, actors, staff, and volunteers for their support in making the evening a success.
"We thank you and we invite you to join us this entire season as we continue Elevating the Arts," said Tyson.
The Collector's Item Band helped conclude the program with a packed dance floor. Guests stayed and continued the celebration well into the evening.
Guests: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee; Mayor Sylvester Turner; Council Member Amanda Edwards; Jackye Alton, Anita Bates; Leonard Baynes, Mary Benton; Mildred and Willie Bright; Michael Clark, Cindy Clifford, Cheryl and Percy "King" Creuzot, Sallie Creuzot, Iris Cross; Carolyn Hall, Judge Ursala Hall, Anthony Hall Jr; Karen Labat; Dr. Rhea Lawson, Elizabeth and Dr. Cesar Maldonado, Diane and Judge John Peavy, Sharon Samuel; Lynda House-McPeters; Jackie Phillips; Mirron Willis; Joycelyn and Terry Williams; Gerald Womack, and Merele Yarborough
The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community. In addition to being hailed as the oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team.
The Ensemble Theatre produces a main stage season of six contemporary and classic works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The theatre's Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, Artist-in-Residence experiences and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre; and the Young Performers Program offers intensive summer training for children ages 6 to 17 encompassing instruction in all disciplines of the theatre arts.