The McCallum Theatre Hosts International Sensations PINK MARTINI and DAME EDNA for Annual Fundraising Gala

The McCallum Theatre announced today that the international sensation and Valley audience favorite band Pink Martini will headline its annual fundraising gala to be held on Wednesday, November 30th, with a special appearance by the "global gigastar," Dame Edna.

Pink Martini returns to the McCallum for this special evening following a sold-out run of five performances in the 2015-2016 season. Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world - brilliantly combining elements of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop - Pink Martini's diverse repertoire is a blend influenced by Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, Tito Puente and Xavier Cugat, as well as Argentine tango, Brazilian samba, Italian folk, Asian and romantic Hollywood musicals of the 1940s and '50s. According to bandleader/pianist Thomas Lauderdale, "If the United Nations had a house band in 1962, Pink Martini would be that band."

Thomas Lauderdale was raised on a plant nursery in rural Indiana. He began piano lessons at age six. He has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras and ensembles, including the Oregon Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Chamber Music Northwest and Oregon Ballet Theatre. Thomas graduated with honors from Harvard with a degree in History and Literature in 1992. He spent most of his collegiate years, however, in cocktail dresses, taking on the role of "cruise director"...throwing waltzes with live orchestras and ice sculptures, disco masquerades with gigantic pineapples on wheels, midnight swimming parties , and operating a Tuesday night coffeehouse called Café Mardi.

Lauderdale founded the "little orchestra" called Pink Martini in 1994 to play political fundraisers for progressive causes such as civil rights, the environment, affordable housing and public broadcasting. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Barry Humphries (Dame Edna Everage) was educated at the University of Melbourne in Australia where he studied law, philosophy and fine arts. After writing and performing songs and sketches in university revues, he joined the newly formed Melbourne Theatre Company. In 1955, he channeled the character of Mrs. Everage, a Melbourne housewife who has since become the internationally celebrated megastar, Dame Edna.

During the 1960s, after moving to London, Mr. Humphries appeared in numerous West End productions, including the musicals Oliver! and Maggie May, and stage/radio productions by his friend Spike Milligan. Mr. Humphries gained particular notoriety when he first brought Mrs. Everage to the British stage at the Fortune Theatre in 1969 for his one man show. In the mid-70s, he starred at the Apollo Theatre in Housewife, Superstar! Since then, Dame Edna has been featured in four more London stage offerings, including A Night with Dame Edna (1979), for which he won the Society of West End Theatre Award; An Evening's Intercourse (1982); two seasons of Back with a Vengeance (1987 and 1988); and Look at Me When I'm Talking to You (1996), culminating in Edna, The Spectacle (1998) at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Mr. Humphries has made theatrical tours in Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, the U.S. and in the Far and Middle East. He won a Special Tony Award for his 2000 Broadway offering Dame Edna: The Royal Tour and a Tony nomination in 2004 for Back with a Vengeance. Dame Edna has also made numerous television appearances in Australia, the U.K. and the U.S., and these popular programs have since been repeated all over North America and Europe, winning Mr. Humphries the Golden Rose of Montreux in 1991.

Barry Humphries is the author of several books, novels, autobiographies and plays. His autobiography won the J.R.Ackerley prize for biography in 1993 and he is the subject of three critical and biographical studies: The Real Barry Humphries by Peter Coleman, Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilisation by John Lahr and One Man Show: The Stages of Barry Humphries by Anne Pender. Mr. Humphries' most recent book is Handling Edna (2009, Hachette Australia/Orion UK 2010). Mr. Humphries is also one of Australia's most admired landscape painters. His paintings are in many private and public collections both in his homeland and abroad.

He was given the Order of Australia in 1982, was endowed with an Honorary Doctorate of Griffith University (Australia) in 1994, and a Doctorate of Law at his Alma Mater, Melbourne University in 2003. In 2007, Mr. Humphries was awarded the CBE by The Queen for his contribution to the arts and, most recently, presented with the Australian of the Year award at Australia House, London (2012) as well as being the recipient of the 2012 Sydney Theatre awards Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Annual Gala will also pay tribute to the extraordinary JoAnn McGrath, who has committed her life to making the world a better place, particularly for children and families. A quiet but impassioned visionary, JoAnn has been an integral part of the McCallum Theatre's success since its earliest days, issuing challenge grants, helping to found its sponsorship program and supporting a variety of education initiatives. Her philanthropy in Massachusetts and California is near legendary and has supported such organizations as Eisenhower Medical Center Auxiliary, LaQuinta Arts Foundation, Palm Springs Art Museum, Barbara Sinatra Children's Center, Jewish Family Services of the Desert and so many more. Fittingly named Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year at the 2015 National Philanthropy Day, JoAnn McGrath is, without question, one of the finest examples of a focused and compassionate major donor. The Valley and the McCallum are far better places because of her deeply charitable spirit.The co-chairs of the McCallum Theatre Annual Gala are Helene Galen and Jan Salta.

Proceeds from this annual fundraising event help fund McCallum Theatre operations as well as arts education programs that bring training in theatre, dance, music and visual arts to 40,000 schoolchildren and educators each year, in more than 300 classrooms. These funds also make it possible to continue to bring world-class performances to over 150,000 residents and visitors to the Coachella Valley annually.

Additional invitations and sponsorships are available now and may be obtained by contacting Judi Cohen, Manager of Special Events at (760) 776-6186 or Tickets for the full evening are available for $500 and up by contacting Ms. Cohen.

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From This Author David Green