Male Queen Elizabeth, Female Beatles Appear at Wonka Ball

By Jenny Berg April 27, 2011, 1:15 PM EDT

Photo: Kat Fitzgerald

“Kate Middleton and Prince William are tying the knot; Illinois recently passed civil unions. Join us as we celebrate our very own royal wedding,” said the invite to the About Face Theatre's Wonka Ball, which took place Thursday. Each year, “the event changes drastically based on our theme,” said executive director Jason L. Held.

While past Wonka Balls have taken over raw venues, this year's ball took place at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Ballroom, which was “chosen based on the luxurious and royal feel of the decor,” Held said. English influence appeared in everything from the food—which included shortbread cookies and hors d'oeuvres referred to as “Westminster tartlets"—to the entertainment. 

Dressed in a corset and feathered cap, a herald announced the arrival of each guest at the event's onset. A male performer dressed as Queen Elizabeth posed with guests for photos, and four female singers wore Beatles costumes and lip-synched along with “All My Lovin'.” (Later, the queen sang her own rendition of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.") To give the event a bit of wedding-inspired flavor, Berghoff Catering prepared a multitiered white cake with lemon curd and lavender filling.

“We see Wonka Ball as an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the theater's activities, including our main-stage shows and our education programs,” Held said. Drawing more than 350 guests, this year's event raked in $82,000. Theater staffers were on hand to deliver short speeches that updated the crowd on current productions, and guests could purchase season subscriptions on site.

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