Storybook Ball Channels "Batman for Grown-Ups," Showcases Sponsors Through Games

Photo: Aviran Levy for BizBash

Billows of fog, suspenseful orchestral music, and dozens of fake bats set the mood for more than 500 guests at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children's Storybook Ball at the Park Plaza Castle on Saturday. Though the event has typically taken on a whimsical look—from last year's Aladdin theme to the Jungle Book treatment in 2009—this year's event channeled the dark and brooding atmosphere of The Dark Knight.

“The design was inspired by the more recent Batman movies as opposed to the comic book,” said designer Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events. “Think dark, moody, sexy. This is Batman for grown-ups.” Rafanelli planned the function with Marion Kassler, the hospital's associate director of special events. The event raised more than $1 million toward  the hospital's $100 million campaign goal, of which $71 million has been raised to date.

Rafanelli brought his vision of Batman hero Bruce Wayne's manor to life in the raw space. The opulent, gothic-style setting included black candelabras, glass vases resembling funerary urns, and dusky gray calla lilies. Guests sipped wine out of glass goblets, and Max Ultimate Food's three-course meal began with a bat-shaped bite of raspberry gelée.

Entertainment followed the nighttime, for-adults vibe. After dinner, performers from Elan Artists did a dance number that combined modern jazz and burlesque styles. Dressed in black lace corsets and using quill feathers as props, the performers invited guests to the stage to dance to DJ Scott Durday's mix of rock and hip hop beats, all synchronized to swirling, pulsating lights.

Beneath the raised platforms, a candle-flecked area inspired by a bat cave was filled with carnival games. For $500, guests could purchase a bracelet that allowed them to participate in skeeball and milk can knockdown; they could also try to win plush bats with a claw machine. This year, planners added games inspired by the television show Minute to Win It. By participating in the games, guests could win prizes from sponsors such as Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Mario Russo, and Louis of Boston. Sleek, black-and-white sponsor signage hung prominently above each game.

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