Riverside rolls out red carpet for glam Spring Gala

Wheatie Gibb, Cindy Rounsavall and Sandy McManus. PHOTO BY JOSHUA KODIS

The Riverside Theatre Spring Celebration Gala was a night of glamour and Broadway magic, hosted by the Friends Committee to raise critical resources for the theater. Since its inception in 1975, the Friends have spearheaded fundraising efforts to ensure Riverside’s ability to provide audiences with exceptional theatrical experiences.

A grand red-carpet welcome set the stage for an evening filled with elegance and sophistication, with guests given the star treatment throughout the night.

In her welcome address, Sandy McManus, executive committee member, shared that over the past five years, the Friends Committee has raised more than $4 million for the theater.

“The proceeds of our events go to general operating expenses, and that’s what keeps the doors of the theater open and all the magic happening. The 51st season of Riverside shows have been fantastic both for audiences and at the box office, but there are so many other things that happen at this theater all year long,” said McManus.

“Think about all the things that go on that make Riverside a treasure to this community.

There are other performances, comedy zones, free concerts, special events, strategic partnerships, educational programs and outreach programs,” she said, adding that there is never a slow day at the theater.

“Your dedication and your generosity at events like tonight is what keeps those doors open and keeps that magic happening,” said McManus.

Allen Cornell, producing artistic director and CEO, recalled receiving a vintage postcard from friend in the late 1970s entitled, “Moon over the Indian River,” which he kept.

After moving here, he was taken on a picnic to an island where he viewed Riverside Theatre against a similar backdrop, and thought how remarkable it was that the postcard had led him here.

“Today, as I stand here, I can’t tell you how proud I am of where this theater has come to and how remarkable it is that we get to live in one of God’s jewels and participate in the cultural activities that happen on this stage,” he added.

Highlighting the evening, Broadway stars Laura Benanti and Norm Lewis captivated the audience with their extraordinary talent and magnetic stage presence.

Afterward, guests indulged in a sumptuous dinner catered by Elizabeth D. Kennedy & Co., dining in one of two locales with different menus and vibes – the Riverside Club, enjoying passed dinner courses in living room-style seating areas, or the Riverside Room, with a more traditional plated dinner and seating arrangement, each filled with bright floral pops of color blooming with the promise of springtime and glorious future seasons.

For more information, visit riversidetheatre.com.

Photos by Joshua Kodis

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