Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Folino Theatre Center to be Renamed in Honor of David Emmes, Martin Benson

Founding Artistic Directors David Emmes, left, and Martin Benson, right, with Paul Folino.
Thank You, Julianne and George!

At SCR’s “Theatrical Gold” Gala Ball, Julianne Argyros announced a surprise $2 million gift from the Argyros Family Foundation to South Coast Repertory. We are speechless beyond an inadequate and heartfelt “Thank You”!

Julianne and George Argyros with Taittinger Champagne aerialists.
At South Coast Repertory’s landmark 50th Season Gala Ball, Orange County arts supporter Paul Folino announced the re-naming of SCR’s Folino Theatre Center to honor the company’s founders. Its new name will be the David Emmes and Martin Benson Theatre Center.

In 2000, Folino was SCR’s board president who made public “SCR: The “Next Stage,” the company’s historic campaign to greatly expand the theatre complex and support educational and artistic programs as well as SCR’s endowment.  In 2002—with his donation of $10 million, at that time the largest individual gift to a regional theatre—the complex was named the Folino Theatre Center.

“I wanted to thank David and Martin by renaming this theatre center so that people will remember not only their amazing accomplishments over the last 50 years at SCR,  but the legacy  they have created that will  serve this community for decades to come,” said Folino, who is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Emulex Corporation. “These two men truly are legends in repertory theatre history.”

Damien M. Jordan, president of SCR’s Board of Trustees, also noted the regional and national impact of Emmes and Benson.

“This is an incredible gesture that recognizes the role that David and Martin have played, not only in the arts in Orange County but in American theatre,” said Jordan. “On behalf of SCR’s Board of Trustees, Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei, I convey our deepest gratitude and appreciation to Paul for this tremendous way of acknowledging our founders.”

Folino made the announcement before an audience of 420 supporters, who reacted with a standing ovation.

“We are certainly overwhelmed—and humbled—by Paul’s extraordinary generosity tonight,” said Benson.

“Paul’s gesture speaks profoundly to his deep belief in our vision for SCR,” added Emmes. “His support of SCR, along with that of countless other donors through our 50 years, has helped make SCR a creative force in our community.”

Founding Artistic Directors Emmes and Benson were fresh out of San Francisco State College in the early 1960s when they founded a fledgling theatre company that would become South Coast Repertory. They are the recipients of numerous awards, including LADCC Lifetime Achievement Awards and the Margo Jones Award for Lifetime Achievement. SCR has received accolades for artistic excellence, including a Tony Award, 87 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, and two SCR-developed works have won Pulitzer Prizes, while another eight were named Pulitzer finalists.

SCR’s historic “Theatrical Gold” Gala, held onsite for the first time, included dining and dancing al fresco on Ela’s Terrace, a surprise performance from Chicago’s famed Second City and Club Argyros—the Julianne Argyros Stage, transformed for one night only.

“Theatrical Gold” raised a record $1 million to support the artistic work of the 50th Season, as well as SCR’s award-winning education programs, which this year will serve more than 40,000 members of the local community. A portion of the proceeds also will go to the Emmes/Benson Founders Endowment, a special fund dedicated to continuing—in perpetuity—the founding directors’ legacy of artistic excellence.

The theatre center complex houses three stages—Segerstrom, Julianne Argyros and the Nicholas Studio—as well as conservatory classrooms, rehearsal spaces, scenic, props and costume shops, and administrative offices.

The theatre center complex houses three stages—Segerstrom, Julianne Argyros and the Nicholas Studio—as well as conservatory classrooms, rehearsal spaces, scenic, props and costume shops, and administrative offices.

The Beauty of Theatrical Gold

Gala co-chairs Yvonne Jordan, Sophie Cripe, Julianne Argyros, and Bette Aitken enjoy watching the aerialist pour George Argyros a glass of champagne.
SCR’s Gala Ball, “Theatrical Gold,” began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on a dramatically altered Ela’s Terrace.  Partygoers strolled to the party along a gold carpet, where they were greeted by Julianne and George Argyros, Board President Damien Jordan, Artistic Director Marc Masterson, Managing Director Paula Tomei and the three Vice Chairs Bette Aitken, Sophie Cripe and Yvonne Jordan. This hard-working trio, whose months of planning led to the glorious evening, happily shared their excitement with SCR supporters.

For the party, the beautifully converted terrace was curtained with billowing sheer white effervescent drapes which created an intimate space for the reception.  A sense of whimsy also prevailed as aerialists twirled above the guests, pouring Taittinger Champagne into gold-trimmed flutes.  The evening’s signature drink was Bluewater Grill’s “Golden Fiftini,” a 50th Season martini, complete with floating gold dust.

Following the cocktail hour, guests were ushered into the Segerstrom Stage for formal greetings and thank-yous to everyone who helped make the evening possible, including 50th Season Golden Elite Sponsor South Coast Plaza and Gala Corporate Sponsor Mikimoto. This was followed by a surprise show, “The Second City’s Salute to South Coast Repertory,” a specially commissioned comedy in which actors from Chicago’s famed Second City jumped in and out of vignettes and musical moments inspired by SCR’s long and celebrated history.

Dinner and dancing followed on tiered platforms specially constructed for the evening and carpeted in gold.  Tables were draped in ivory cloths with gold embroidered whirls and topped with elegant orchid centerpieces in low, mirrored vases.

During the evening, a video created for the 50th Season played on two large screens.  Through stunning images, the video told the story of South Coast Repertory through the years, highlighting productions and donors who made it all possible.

Finally, the 50th Season Gala saw the Julianne Argyros Stage transformed for the evening into Club Argyros, a swinging after-hours cabaret, where they continued the best party ever in celebration of SCR.

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