...PLUS ART INSTITUTE’S DOUBLE BLOW-OUTS, STEPPENWOLF’S STAR-STUDDED NIGHT, LINCOLN PARK ZOO’S PENTHOUSE PARTY, THE LOCAL TOURIST CELEBRATES 10, HUBBARD STREET DANCE'S SPOTLIGHT BALL, BRIAN ATWOOD, SMITHE FAMILY’S “RUN HOME CHICAGO” PARTY, WOMEN’S BOARD OF FIELD MUSEUM’S “SPARKLY” LUNCHEON AND SO MUCH MORE!
It was a night filled with celebration, hope and inspiration for the second Annual Ladybug Bash held this year at Grossinger City Autoplex on Thursday night. Host and organization founder Dina Manzo greeted each and every guest on the red carpet in a stunning champagne colored gown by Rivini. Dina, as I’m sure you know is filming the second season of HGTV’s “Dina’s Party,” which is about Dina’s many event planning adventures. She is also a former star of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” This one-woman powerhouse founded Project Ladybug in New Jersey in 2007 with the wish to bring financial and emotional support to children undergoing rigorous cancer treatments and their families. Atia Lutarewych, the four-year-old pint-size namesake for Atia’s Project Ladybug Fund, was there on this night, in full remission after battling cancer for two years beginning at the tender age of 17 months. WGN Morning News’ “Around Town” reporter Ana Belaval was one of the hosts for the evening that also included Alpana Singh, host of WTTW’s “Check, Please!” (BTW, Alpana will become a restaurateur this summer when she and her partners open The Boarding House restaurant at 720 N. Wells!) This year’s Ladybug Bash, themed “Stars & Cars,” also included Ms. Illinois 2012 Amber Podell, Miss Illinois 2012 Nancy To and Mrs. Illinois 2012 Jennifer Cruz. There were a lot of crowns and gowns in that room! The food stations were never ending with something delectable on all three floors from restaurants that included Bistronomic, Orso’s Italian, Sunda, Uncle Julio’s, Wildfire, Market, D’s Sweet Berries, D’Casa, Burger Bar, Currents on the River, Hubbard Inn, Le Chocolat, Paradise Cantina and Punky’s Pizza & Pasta. There were also dazzling vintage GM cars illustrating automobile luxury over the years that included a 1937, 1958 and 1973 Cadillac plus a 1927 Buick. Entertainer Angelo “Packy” Ciarvino performed “A Tribute to Dean Martin” that included funny impersonations of Jerry Lewis, too. All throughout the venue, Ford models showcased chic designs from AKIRA, one of Chicago’s premier fashion houses, while guests perused the extensive silent auction. Dan Colantone of Tone Productions DJ Services donated his musical talents as well as the Mike Jeffers Trio/Jazz Band and singer/songwriter Erica Iozzo. Celebrity impersonator Debborah Hopkins was stunning as Marilyn Monroe! Grace Melon, a young cancer survivor, gave a riveting account of her long and arduous journey with a Broadway-worthy performance following. Grace’s first round with leukemia began at the age of two. She was treated for two and a half years and was cancer free from age 5-12 when the cancer returned in July of 2008. She is now cancer-free, a freshman in high school and a professional actress, having signed on with Gray Talent Group at age 13. She has also initiated her own project to help kids with cancer. It was a wonderful night of fun for a great cause with proceeds benefitting the mission and ongoing programs offered by Atia’s Project Ladybug Fund at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. (To view more pics, please click here!)
The Art Institute's Women's Board ALWAYS plans spectacular and creative events but on Friday, May 11th, they hosted TWO back-to-back parties at the Modern Wing! The night began with a gala for 600, co-chaired by Caryn Harris and Stephanie Field Harris, celebrating the opening of the largest exhibition of artist Roy Lichtenstein's works to date. The colorfully clad, creative, black-tie crowd had a first look at the 160 works in the exhibition that included never-before-seen drawings, paintings and sculpture. Stunning decor by Bill Heffernan transformed the place into a pop-art explosion with many guests dressing the part in polka dots to echo the Ben-Day dots in some of the artwork. Following dinner, guests moved upstairs to Terzo Piano where the Crash the Gala after-party was already in full swing with more than 400 guests taking advantage of the “after-party only” ticket pricing. Internationally renowned DJ Jesse De La Pena (who, coincidentally, played at Ikram's big 10th anniversary party at the Hudson Club last year) had everyone on the dance floor. Here, decadent decor by Tom Kehoe delighted the partygoers along with fun food from Bon Appetit that included hot dogs, popcorn, platters of bacon, pizza, ice cream and more! Lucky guests were also treated to special performances by burlesque dancer Ray Ray Sunshine and cross-dressing entertainers Paul and Dan. (To see ALL photos by Bob Carl and Dan Rest, please click here! ("Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective" runs through September 3rd.)
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Stella Foster was honored by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans with the coveted Dante Award at Galleria Marchetti on May 17th. There were so many in attendance that the valet parkers had to close up shop for lack of space! Every year, the Human Relations Committee presents the Dante Award to a member of the local news media who fulfills Italian philosopher Dante Alighieri's call to be “no timid friend to truth.” And we sure know our Stella is NOT afraid of the truth! I love her column (who doesn't?) with her tagline “Yeah, I said it!” Past recipients include her old boss/mentor Irv Kupcinet, Walter Jacobson, John Madigan, Hugh Hill, Dick Kay, Joan Esposito, Emily Barr, Larry Wert, Joe Ahern, Merri Dee, Dominic Mancuso, Frank Mathie, Vince Gerasole, Janet Davies, George Caputo, Mark Giangreco, Allison Rosati and Ron Magers. JCCIA's illustrious members include Dominic DiFrisco (President Emeritus), Antonio Romanucci (President) and Jo Ann Serpico (Executive Director). Stella's column has been appearing in the Sun-Times since 2003 every Tuesday and Thursday and we just love her! Congrats on this much-deserved honor Stella! (To view ALL great pics by Steve Starr, please click here!)
The Women’s Board of the Lincoln Park Zoo recently held a Preview Party in the Hilton Chicago’s penthouse to celebrate its upcoming Zoo Ball, which is planned for July 13th. It was hosted by Zoo Ball co-chairs Suzanne Meder and Cynthia Ross Polayes. Mark Walter, CEO of Guggenheim Partners (the presenting sponsor of Zoo Ball 2012) and new controlling owner of the LA Dodgers, was in attendance with his wife, Kimbra. Guests sipped on cocktails and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres while taking in the spectacular view and toasting to this year’s Zoo Ball, themed “The Great Gatsby.” Guests seen on the scene included John Alexander, Kevin Bell, John Fornengo, Gale Gottlieb, Michaela Parrillo, Gayle Anthony, Windy Krimins and Abby Zanarini. This is always a fabulous party with great people watching to benefit Lincoln Park Zoo, the oldest zoo in the country and one of the last free public institutions in America. (For more details, please visit www.lpzoo.org and to view more pics, please click here!)
To celebrate a decade online, The Local Tourist is inviting visitors and residents to tour Chicago like a Local Tourist with Passport To Chicago. On June 3, you can enjoy exclusive events and deals at destinations all over Chicago, getting your pages stamped at each place you visit. Each Passport comes complete with a CTA day pass and one free ride from Uber, the new car service that’s taking Chicago by storm. Those who purchase their Passports in advance will also get an “I’m A Local Tourist” sling bag for free! Passport To Chicago provides exclusive access to the Official After Party at local hot spot Public House but the celebration doesn’t end there: There are so many places to go and things to do that there's no way to do them all in one day - that's why the Passport To Chicago is good for a whole year! From June 4, 2012 to May 31, 2013, these businesses are offering even more special discounts. All of this exploring is for a good cause since The Local Tourist is donating a portion of every Passport to participating local charities! This all-inclusive package is just $35. For more information on TLTen and Passport To Chicago, including beneficiary charities and businesses, visit www.passporttochicago.com.
The 21st annual Facing History and Ourselves benefit dinner welcomed more than 750 civic and corporate leaders to the Hyatt Regency on May 1st. The event raised over $1.95 million in support of Facing History’s wide-reaching educational programs and marked the Chicago kick-off of the organization’s nationally acclaimed multimedia exhibition, Choosing to Participate, which will be mounted at the Harold Washington Public Library, located at 400 S. State, from August 27th to November 11th. Co-chairs for the initiative are AON President/CEO Greg Case and Loop Capital Markets CEO Jim Reynolds. Guests enjoyed an evening that began with a reception and cocktails, followed by dinner and a presentation by acclaimed novelist Erik Larson, author of “The Devil in the White City” and “In the Garden of Beasts.” The speaking program also included remarks from Facing History Director Bonnie Oberman and Loop Capital Markets Pres/co-founder, Albert R. Grace, Jr. Facing History and Ourselves, which was originally founded in Boston by Margot Stern Strom, established a Chicago office 21 years ago. Co-founded by Judy Wise and Karen Harrison, the Chicago office has trained more than 3,000 local educators through its programs since 1990. These teachers annually reach more than 300,000 middle and high school students in over 175 public, religious and independent Chicago schools. (For more info, visit www.facinghistory.org and for additional pics, click here.)
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago hosted its annual Spotlight Ball at the Hilton Chicago with more than 450 of Chicago’s movers and shakers, including the Mayor who served as Honorary Chair. Co-chaired by Craig Duchossois (CEO of the Duchossois Group) and Don Thompson (President/COO of McDonald’s Corp.), this event raised more than $700,000 to support the dance company’s education, community and artistic programming. Emceed by longtime supporter, ABC 7’s Ron Magers, the evening kicked off with cocktails and a silent auction that featured a seven-night trip to Brazil. Guests were also treated to a unique performance choreographed by some of Hubbard Street’s most prominent talents: resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo and Taryn Kaschock Russell, director of Hubbard Street 2, followed by a three-course dinner prepared by Hilton Executive Chef Mario Garcia. Don Thompson presented the Spotlight Award to Jeanne and John Rowe, who delivered a powerful speech about the importance of supporting the arts. Target Group VP Mary Farrell-Tarbox accepted a Spotlight Award for her company’s commitment to improving access to the arts. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, under artistic director Glenn Edgerton, celebrates 34 years as one of the most original forces in contemporary dance. (Photos by Bob Carl.)
Walter Smithe, son Tim Smithe and family recently hosted a Kick-Off party at their Lincoln Park showroom to launch the 30-day countdown for “Run Home Chicago,” a race to end homelessness, that will take place in Soldier Field on June 10th beginning at 7 a.m. Tim’s fabulous wife, Mary Astor Smithe, was on hand to offer her delicious Chicago Butter Cookies (with a chocolate fountain, no less!) to guests who included Chicago Bears Earl Bennett and Israel Idonije, Eda Davidman, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and his daughter Kyla, Quentin Primo III, Ravi Baichwal and Susanna Negovan, among many others. Everyone enjoyed lively music, food and drinks donated from local Chicago businesses including Tavern on Rush, Swirlz Cupcakes, Tito’s Vodka, Four Roses Bourbon and PRP Wine. “Run Home Chicago” is hosted by the Primo Center for Women and Children, a shelter on Chicago’s West Side that provides transitional housing, counseling and support services to homeless women and their children. The event will honor the Mayor and his wife, Amy Rule, as chairs of the race. Participating in the race will help to raise funds for facilities such as PCWC that provide essential social services to Chicagoans hardest hit by homelessness. (To see ALL fab fotos by Mila Samokhina, please click here and for more info, please visit www.runhomechicago.com.)
Steppenwolf Theatre Company hosted more than 500 guests for its annual star-studded gala on May 5th. The event kicked off with a showcase of scenes inspired by the world-premiere production of “The March,” based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, adapted for the stage and directed by ensemble member Frank Galati, and featuring ensemble members Alana Arenas, Ian Barford, Martha Lavey, Mariann Mayberry, James Vincent Meredith and Alan Wilder. Following the performance, the party moved two blocks south to Blackhawk on Halsted, a 15,000-square-foot space featuring theatrically-inspired décor by Event Creative and a breathtaking view of Chicago’s skyline. There, guests enjoyed a cocktail reception, a gourmet dinner prepared by Food for Thought Catering and the awesome, annual live auction led by auctioneer Michael Davis of Hart Davis Wine Co. It featured once-in-a-lifetime adventures with Steppenwolf ensemble members and artists and included an on-set visit to the hit Starz original drama “Boss,” filmed here in Chicago starring Kelsey Grammer, plus autographed scripts as a memento of the day; exclusive dinner with comedian Jeff Garlin (star and executive producer of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) with dinner prepared by five-time James Beard Award nominee Chef Michael Kornick; four tickets to the NY opening of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (the 50th anniversary of the original Broadway production premiere) plus hotel and airfare; and an exclusive evening on the Steppenwolf stage with co-founder Gary Sinise and ensemble member Moira Harris with a gourmet dinner prepared by Chef Charlie Trotter! The evening wrapped up with dancing and live music by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band. Gala 2012 co-chairs included Richard and Margery Feitler, Rita and Scott George and Carol and John Walter while Liz and Eric Lefkofsky were the Live Auction Sponsors. This year's Gala raised more than $1 million! (To view ALL event pics by Joan Hackett and Kyle Flubacker, please click here!)
The Women’s Board of The Field Museum is raising funds for its annual Women in Science Fellowship with a program and luncheon at the Museum on Wednesday, May 30th. To kick-off this event, members gathered in early April at Harry Winston in Chicago with its VP Diana Hall to view A.V. Shinde’s iconic designs. This year’s event, co-chaired by Liz Sharp and Susan Clark McBride, will showcase the remarkable designs of Shinde, renowned jewelry designer for Harry Winston from the 1960’s through the end of the century. The event will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the James Simpson Theatre with the viewing of a variety of rarely seen Indian artifacts from the Museum’s collections. Program speakers include Reema Keswani (expert on Indian jewelry and the only authorized biographer of A.V. Shinde) and Anthony Ledru (Global VP of Sales at Harry Winston). An Indian-themed luncheon will follow in Stanley Field Hall. This year’s Women in Science Fellowship winner is Field Museum researcher Charlene “Charlie” McCord. (Photos by Steve Starr.) Individual tickets are $125, tables of 10 are $1,250. (For more info, please call 312.665.7135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Chicago Sinfonietta will kick off its 25th anniversary with an UnMasked Ball on Saturday, June 2nd, celebrating the Colors of Sounds at the Fairmont Chicago, located 200 N. Columbus Dr. The event will be co-chaired by civic leader Sandra Rand and Maria Green, V.P. General Counsel and Secretary of Ill. Tool Works. The evening will begin with cocktails and an array of one-of-a-kind masks from productions of other Chicago arts organizations including Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, National Museum of Mexican Art, Red Moon Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Muntu Dance and more. The Ball will also feature a full performance of the Chicago Sinfonietta under the baton of Maestro Mei-Ann Chen; Eric Goldberg and Shuya Gong will join the orchestra as featured soloists. (Tickets begin at $400 and are available by calling 312.236.3681, ext. 1559 or by clicking here.)
Mark your calendars now for one of the most anticipated fashion events of the year – Glamorama! Coming on Friday, August 10th to the Chicago Theatre at 175 N. State St., this year’s theme is “British Invasion: The Music Then. The Fashion Now!” From the Beatles to the Rolling Stones, Macy’s Glamorama 2012 pays homage to some of the world’s most well-known and respected British pop icons from the past 50 years. Macy’s Glamorama is an hour-long, high end fashion show and musical production that unveils Macy’s latest fashions but also showcases heart-stopping dance, lush visuals, staging as well as exciting musical performances – I will let you know WHO shortly! The event will once again benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Be the first to get your tickets with the American Express Exclusive Pre-Sale from May 30th through June 7th. Ticket prices are $50 and $75 for show only; $175 and $285 for show and after-party; $1,000 for VIP show and after-party. BUT FIRST, join me and our dynamic Host Committee for another fabulous GLAM LAUNCH PARTY on Friday, June 8th at Greenhouse Loft, located at 2545 W. Diversey Ave. We will have a surprise musical guest, Rosemary Fanti illustrations, fun food, fashion presentations by Elda de la Rosa, Borris Powell, Anna Fong, M2F and Azeeza, photo booth, fabulous Glam guests and so much more!! Please purchase tickets here but to see what you missed at LAST year's Launch Party, please click here.
The Chicago International Film Festival presents CineYouth Festival beginning on May 31st and running through June 2nd. The opening night presentation will be at AMC River East 21, on Thursday, May 31st beginning at 7 p.m. and featuring director Jonathan Levine (“The Wackness,” “50/50”). There will be a screening of selected clips followed by a Q & A with a reception following at Lucky Strike Lanes. (For tickets and more info, please visit www.cinemachicago.org/cineyouth.)
This has been the busiest month I’ve ever seen on my calendar! From May 4th to May 12th alone, there were more than 15 gala events!! As you can see, I tried to bring the best pics and info from MOST of them to you this week! I hope you enjoyed it and I hope your gardens are flourishing! Our wisteria has never looked lovelier! Happy Spring!
P.S. Under the “It’s About Time!” category, proud mom Dusty (Yolanda) Stemer reports that her super handsome, hunky shoe designer son, Brian Atwood, will have his first stand-alone store coming to New York’s Madison Avenue in the fall. I can only imagine the lines! Congrats Brian – we all love you and hope Chicago is NEXT!!! :)