WASHINGTON The exotic notes of the sitar set the tone forthe Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 20th anniversary gala, inspired by thetroupe’s 1960s India-infused take on Love’sLabor’s Lost. Held in the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on Sunday, March 4,the event incorporated elements from the production, including colors,costumes, props, and set pieces.
ForShakespeare Theatre Company special events manager Joanne Coutts and public relationsmanager Liza Lorenz, the trickiest part of planning the gala was making surethe numerous honorees could attend. “These are working actors who haveshows—coordinating their schedules with our schedule [and] making sure theydidn’t miss a performance” were the biggest challenges, Lorenz said. With 400guests, the event was slightly downsized this year (a result of having beenmoved from May to March) but still raised more money than in past years for theannual Free for All, a two-week run of free Shakespeare performances in theCarter Barron Amphitheatre.
After cocktails, guests were seated and the program got off to a fast start, with co-chair Kathleen Matthews, former anchor for ABC 7 News, riding to the stage on an electric-powered yellow Vespa. On stage, Matthews refereed a live auction, which included a customized Vespa that garnered a bid from the auctioneer’s husband, Hardball’s Chris Matthews. Later in the evening, 15 company members received the Will award, honoring their years of commitment to classical theater. (Past honorees include Kevin Spacey and Judi Dench.)
Indian flavors permeated Design Cuisine’s meal, which included saffron couscous, crisp papadums, and lamb medallions. Post-dessert, actor Robert Cuccioli took the stage to sing a medley of ’60s tunes.