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Applause from the Segerstrom Concert Hall, Laguna Playhouse and South Coast Repertory

Mirga Grazinte-Tyla, Rita Rudner and Sandra Tsing Loh

Richard T. Bryant, Paul Musco and William D. Hall

Let’s hear it for the lively performing  arts’ reception, a mini-bash fueled by bubbly, delectable fare, and animated gab about the performance at hand. Not to mention the frequent opportunity to rub elbows with the performing artists themselves.

When The Philharmonic Society presented the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, it staged two receptions – the first at intermission honoring volunteers; the other after the performance, saluting major donors.

Members of The Committees of the Philharmonic Society were welcomed into a roped-off area to sip Champagne and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Philharmonic’s youth programs, which have served more than 6 million children since 1956. Composed of an 800-strong membership, the committees gave 90,000 hours during the Philharmonic Society’s 2014-15 season, staging youth concerts and bringing  musical programs to area schoolchildren, most of whom are economically disadvantaged.

After the concert, which featured Grammy award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn playing Henri Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto  No. 4, major donors met up for a reception in the same locale, buzzing about the orchestra’s dynamic new assistant conductor, Mirga Graz╠îinyte-Tyla, and the prolonged standing ovation given her interpretation of  Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. “She’s going places – no doubt about that!” said Don Evarts, past board president. “That’s the best 4th I’ve heard in a long time!”

‘Act’ out: Flutes of fizzing pink Champagne were offered to theatergoers as they filed out of the premiere of “Act 3 ...” starring comedian Rita Rudner and Charles Shaughnessy (“The Nanny”) at the Laguna Playhouse. Fitting. “This show was fun, lively, energetic, uplifting!” said playhouse board member Heidi Miller, joining the play-going throng as it cruised a buffet of sweets ranging from cake pops to chocolates. Rudner’s trademark deadpan delivery had the crowd roaring throughout the light-hearted tale about a duo’s experience with cyberinfidelity. One line especially hit home: “You know how your husband looks when you tell him you want to have a talk – somewhere between stun gun and colonoscopy,” Rudner piped. When the curtain went down, Rudner thanked management for staging the play, directed by her husband, Martin Bergman. “A new play is always a risk, and I’m so glad you had confidence in us,” Rudner said. “My husband and I didn’t have one fight. Well, OK. One.”

‘Mad’ fun:  Buzzing theatergoers poured into Seasons 52 restaurant after the world premiere of Sandra Tsing Loh’s “The Madwoman in the Volvo” at South Coast Repertory. With its zany – and often poignant – takes on the perils of being a member of Loh’s self-proclaimed “M Generation” – menopausal, middle-age and a mother – the autobiographical, one-act play starring Loh, Shannon Holt and Caroline Aaron had guests identifying and then some.
“I loved it – I could relate!” said Rose Guesman. “And the show made me think of my mother, grabbing a fan, a newspaper – anything – to cool her red face!”

With its transparent offerings on Loh’s marriage, children, divorce and tortured love affair, the play demonstrates great courage on Loh’s part, said her longtime friend, political consultant Jimmy Camp. “It was very emotional for me because I watched it all happen,” he said. “To express all of that was really brave.”

Loh herself was thrilled with the first nighters’ response to her “warts and all” telling of her life story. “The show got more laughs than we thought it would and in places that we didn’t know were that funny. In that way, the audience was telling us who they are.”


Richard T. Bryant is counting the days until the gala launch on March 19 of the Musco Center for the Arts.

“I’m very excited about hearing the room speak for the first time. That’s where the magic is!” said Bryant, interim executive director of the center, located on the campus of Chapman University in Orange.

And what magic it will be: Accompanied by the LA Opera Orchestra, world-class opera divo Placido Domingo will perform a fan favorite, “Granada,” under the baton of maestro John DeMain. Also on Domingo’s playlist: “Di Provenza” from Verdi’s “La Traviata” and selections from “West Side Story.”

Joining Domingo on a stage fitted with a set from a LA Opera production of “La Rondine” will be opera singer Milena Kitic and the famed dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt, a voice student in 1978 of William D. Hall, the center’s founding dean and artistic director. The black-tie celebration will also feature vocal performances by seven Chapman alums. “People will be blown away by the beautiful music,” Hall said. “Our last piece for the evening will be ‘Make Our Garden Grow’ (from Bernstein’s ‘Candide’), and I’m inviting 150 to 200 alums to join in, sing all over the house. The Musco is staggeringly beautiful, stunning; I am in awe of the way it has turned out.”

Observed Bryant, head of a national practice that specializes in transitions in the performing and visual arts: “The Musco is so capable, muscular, advanced that it will take its place as one of the finest performing arts facilities associated with a university in the country.”

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