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Press Release: Play On! Gala


Part of SCR’s 60th Season Festivities Featured Celebrated Entertainer Hershey Felder

COSTA MESA, Calif. (Nov. 27, 2023)—South Coast Repertory (Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei) celebrated its 60th Season Gala—Play On! by raising more than $367,000. Those proceeds provide vital support to everything from on-stage artistry to educational programs that this year, included providing 4,000 free tickets to students from elementary school to college to see SCR productions, with a goal of cultivating the next generation of theatre lovers and theatre artists in our community.

With a “Creative Black Tie” dress code, the night began at SCR, with a lively reception on Ela’s Terrace, where specialty cocktails from Batch 22 flowed and actors from SCR’s Conservatory represented the history of the theatre, donning costumes from the 1960s to today. The design included storyboards with collages of photos from productions over the decades.

The Gala designer for all design elements was Angela Calin.

Celebrated actor/playwright/pianist Hershey Felder headlined the evening as the featured entertainer. He performed his Great American Songbook Sing-Along on the Julianne Argyros Stage, where he took guests through 100 years of music. Felder treated the nearly 200 guests to music from such American icons as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and George and Ira Gershwin, along with songs from The Sound of Music, Showboat, Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific and other noteworthy pieces.

The special performance gave Gala patrons a sneak peek at Felder’s artistry. Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone will have a limited engagement Jan. 18-28, 2024. This special offering for SCR’s 60th season is part of the farewell tour for this production.

After the performance, Gala guests moved to the Westin South Coast Plaza, where they entered a ballroom designed to honor SCR’s 60th season—complete with prominent storyboards representing the season’s plays—then dined on a three-course meal from Westin Executive Chef Antonio De La Torre that included a stacked tomato and mozzarella salad with pesto sauce, pink Hawaiian sea salt, chiffonade of basil and balsamic reduction. The main course was a duet of Filet Mignon in a Merlot reduction sauce and jumbo shrimp scampi with parmesan risotto and seasonal vegetables. The dessert was the Westin’s signature chocolate decadent cake.

Shortly before dinner, Orange County Fifth District Supervisor Katrina Foley presented Ivers and Tomei with a proclamation recognizing SCR for 60 years of presenting world-class theatre artistry in Orange County. In addition to a previous three-year commitment, she also announced a surprise $60,000 donation to the theatre.

Foley was one of several luminaries attending the Gala. She was joined by California State Senator Josh Newman, SCR Founding Artistic Directors David Emmes and Martin Benson, current Board of Trustees President Talya Nevo-Hacohen, and several former Board of Trustees Presidents, including Sophie Cripe, Samuel Tang and Tom Sutton. Other special guests included Emeritus Trustees Socorro Vasquez and Catherine Thyen. Also present were SCR Founding Members Hal Landon Jr. and Richard Doyle, and longtime SCR actor/director John-David Keller.

The evening also featured a raffle, which offered the unique prizes SCR’s Galas are known for. Those prizes included a South Coast Plaza dining and shopping package containing a $2,000 gift certificate, a one-year ACCESS VIP Hospitality Suite pass, a two-hour styling session and a meal at Populaire, one of South Coast Plaza’s newest restaurants. Other prizes included a Chloé handbag, a David Yurman luxury chain necklace, an Anaheim Ducks package that included four tickets to a game, dinner at the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club, seats in the penalty box to watch the pre-game warmup, a photo with a Ducks’ player and an autographed hockey stick, and an ice cream party catered by Atomic Creamery.

Elite Show Band/ESB Entertainment provided the after-dinner entertainment, bringing guests to the dance floor with a medley of songs from across the decades. The evening concluded with a lounge-style after-party and sundae bar in the Westin’s Terrace Pavilion. Guests took home delicious treats courtesy of Läderach, South Coast Plaza.

Adrian and Kristen Griggs served as Gala Chairs.

“This year’s Gala was a huge success, with lots of philanthropists providing their support for SCR’s mission of creating the finest theatre in America through collaboration and education,” Adrian Griggs said. “As Chairs of the Gala, we were fortunate to work with an exceptional committee and we were able to see the dedication from the SCR staff. We really appreciate the impact that SCR has on the Orange County community.”

Joining Adrian and Kristen Griggs on the Gala Committee were Sophie and Larry Cripe, Wendy Hales, Michael Hards, Mariam Khosravani, Talya Nevo-Hacohen and Bill Schenker, Giulia Newton, Stacey Nicholas, Regina Oswald, Stephanie Rogers, Susan Shieldkret and Tammy Tang.

The Gala Underwriters were Diamond Underwriter South Coast Plaza, Gold Underwriters Apriem Advisors, Argyros Family Foundation, Steve and Laurie Duncan, Office of Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, Talya Nevo-Hacohen and Bill Schenker, Pacific Life Foundation, Michael Ray, Sabra Health Care REIT, Inc., Elizabeth Segerstrom, Sandy Segerstrom Daniels and Samuel and Tammy Tang. The Silver Underwriters were Leona Aronoff-Sadacca, Sophie and Larry Cripe, Geoff and Valerie Fearns, Mariam Khosravani/IAW Foundation, Stacey Nicholas, Stephen G. and Regina Oswald Foundation, Tom and Marilyn Sutton and Jean and Tim Weiss.

Upcoming 2023-24 Productions: A Christmas Carol, Nov. 25-Dec. 24; Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone, Jan. 18-28, 2024; (Theatre for Young Audiences) Alice’s Wonderland, Feb. 10-25; Prelude to a Kiss, The Musical, April 5-May 4; Galilee, 34, April 21-May 12. Outside SCR at Mission San Juan Capistrano, July 20-Aug. 11. The annual showcase of new works, the Pacific Playwrights Festival, runs May 3-5, 2024.

Complete information is available at

ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY:  Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964, is led by Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei. SCR is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern plays and musicals, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program—The Lab@SCR—which includes one of the nation’s largest commissioning programs for emerging, mid-career and established writers. Of SCR’s more than 500 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio.

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