Meet the Chairs of the 2019 Gala, “Play Your Part”

Tania Thompson
 | Jun 24, 2019
Gala Ball
Steve and Laurie Duncan

201​​9 Gala Chairs ​Steve and Laurie Duncan.

The Gala Committee

Bette Aitken • Sally Anderson • Julianne Argyros • Kathryn Cenci • Sophia Hall Cripe • Carla Furuno • Maralou Harrington • Olivia Johnson • Deirdre Kelly • Sarah McElroy • Stacey Nicholas • Talya Nevo-Hacohen • Bill Schenker • Susan Shieldkret • Tammy Tang • Elaine Weinberg

Sept. 7 Event Raises Funds to Support SCR

Steve and Laurie Duncan had already been seeing shows at South Coast Repertory when they attended the theatre’s annual Gala; it was roughly a decade ago and they were guests of another couple.

“It was refreshingly different from other organization’s Galas that we had attended over the years because there was no financial ask—no silent or live auction,” Steve recalls. “It was just a chance to celebrate the success of SCR in a special context with people who appreciate and respect good theatre.”

The couple is actively involved in the life and work of SCR—they have underwritten six productions over the past six years (including Once and The Siegel), they subscribe to First Nights (what SCR calls its opening nights) and are Platinum Circle donors. Steve is also a member of the theatre’s Board of Trustees.

They’re excited for the opportunity to chair the Gala this year, with a theme of "Play Your Part" (Sept. 7, The Westin South Coast Plaza). In this Q&A, they talk about the Gala and what they enjoy most about SCR.

What are you bringing to the creation and development of this year’s Gala?
We are simply trying to uphold the standards and quality of past SCR Galas. We have incredible staff and Gala Committee volunteers making it happen. We have the advantage of it being the first time many of the Gala attendees will get to meet and hear the passion and enthusiasm that resonate within new Artistic Director David Ivers. We simply want people to come, relax and have fun!

What does the theme “Play Your Part” mean to you—and how will we see it come alive?
Everyone has a role in ensuring we continue to have the finest theatre in America here in Orange County. The cast, crew and staff, of course, are required, but volunteers and patrons are also necessary. When we all join together, doing our part as individuals, something magical and extraordinary happens! All nonprofit theatres are experiencing significant changes in subscription purchases and corporate giving. And, while we are blessed to have a strong base of supporters, we want to help the future stay bright by paying attention, attending plays and supporting the theatre. “Play Your Part”, whether on or off stage, means it takes the positive contribution of each individual for a successful group production.

What is it about SCR that keeps you both so engaged?
We appreciate the chance to have a shared experience with other theatre fans and get an up-close look at what it takes to create great art and the finest theatre in America. Each night in the theatre, we get to have an experience that cannot be exactly replicated. In a world that increasingly values having new and great experiences, we think everyone will benefit by embracing live theatre, in general, and SCR, in particular.

Also, the chance to experience fantastic set and lighting designs, costumes, acting, often times singing and dancing, and directing is always exciting. Even ​if the play is less to our taste, we always walk away impressed with several of the components required to produce the show.

Let’s come back to the Gala. What will the experience be and why should people plan on attending?
If you’ve attended ​SCR's Gala in the past, many things will feel the same: a great venue, good food and wine, and entertainment. We will have people from in and around the area attending what feels like a party with cocktails, dinner and dancing. Also, as in the past, there will be no auction or programmatic “ask” for support. We will hear from Artistic Director David Ivers about his vision for the theatre and we hope you will find his enthusiasm as contagious and exciting as we do.

Whether it’s your first Gala, or your 41st, plan to dress up a bit—this is an evening of celebration, with family and friends, food and fun! We want this night to be about supporting all that is good about SCR and extending appreciation for everyone’s contributions, on and off stage, and being thankful that SCR is here, in our very own Orange County.

Thank you for joining us, thank you for supporting SCR and thank you to everyone for PLAYING YOUR PART!

Learn more about 2019’s “Play Your Part” Gala.