BOSTON The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s second annual gala channeled 1940s Americana with a radio show theme—accompanied by song and dance performances and Broadway star and Rent alum Anthony Rapp playing host—in the Ritz-Carlton ballroom Saturday night.
“We've taken it to another level this year, because we're making it a real production,” said Kelly Boullet, a member of the gala planning committee and a television producer, who also worked on last year’s speakeasy-themed gala. “No sad, sad video telling you why you should give,” she said, noting the incorporation of the company’s talents into the event, so attendees can see firsthand what they’re supporting. “We have actors, singers, and a full performance of a 1940s radio show, so the audience is along for the ride.”
The gala’s 150 guests sipped cocktails and sampled hors d’oeurves by the Ritz-Carlton and placed bids in a silent auction for jewelry, home decor, hotel accommodations, and spa treatments during the pre-dinner cocktail hour. Performers outfitted in period-perfect jackets, skirts, and fishnet stockings sold raffle tickets from bright yellow trays, paying homage to the era’s cigarette girls, while a photographer in a fedora snapped shots of guests in their black-tie attire. Boston City Council president Mike Ross gave a collective thanks from Boston residents, calling the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company a resource that sets the city apart from others.
Dinner, dancing, and a live auction followed, as did big-band swing tunes from the Beantown Swing Orchestra. The live auction was woven throughout the show, with auction items serving as “commercials” between song performances by the likes of an Andrews Sisters cover trio and Broadway star Kerry O’Malley.
The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company produces the “Shakespeare on the Common” performances each summer on Boston Common, a free series of public theater. “Our goal is to make enough money to put on another great performance this year,” she said. “This event makes the difference between us performing or not.” This year’s production of Othello is slated to run July 28 through August 15.