Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life and Love

At The Angel Orensanz Foundation for WET presents LOVE, a benefit to support its 10th season.
The 5th annual Grace in Winter gala turned out at the Plaza to see the work of acclaimed choreographer/dancer Ronald K. Brown and Evidence, A Dance Company.

They honored legendary Essence Magazine editor Emerita Susan Taylor, her husband, author and producer Khephra Burns, and Noel Hankin of Moet Hennessy, a longtime corporate supporter of Brown’s work. Chaired this year by real estate and hotel magnate Don Peebles and his wife Katrina, which once again retained its status as the premiere African American cultural event of the season. Honorary Chair was Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, a fierce supporter of the arts and especially the Brooklyn based Evidence.
  
Thanks to Steve Johnson of Curacao Tourism, two lucky winners received trips to the magical island courtesy of Curacao Tourism and Air Jamaica. The crowd just loved a drawing for a gift for simply being in attendance.
Evidence board members and dancers
Reginald Van Lee, Rene Syler, Susan L. Taylor, and Khephra Burns
Evidence dancers
Among the crowd: Nigerian Prince Kunle Omilana with his American born wife Keisha, Joanne Hill,  LuAnn Moore,  Alicia and Daniel Bythwood, Peg Alston, Reginald Canal, Peggy Cafritz Cooper, Law & Order star Anthony Anderson, Marc Morial, The Honorable Bernard Jackson, Andrea Hoffman, Leslie A. Mays, Lisa B. Walker, Monica F. Azare, Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Zaid Abdul-Aleem, Debra Martin Chase, Baraka Sele, Lisa Walker, Charisma Dezonie, Dwayne Ashley, b michael, and James Sullivan.
Joyce Mullins-Jackson and Bernard Jackson
Reginald Canal and Gail Monroe Perry
James A 'Buff' Parham and Rene Syler
Reginald Van Lee and Ronald K. Brown
Vanessa Levy
Ashley and Emily Green
Alicia and Daniel Bythewood
Crystal Whaley
Patricia and Lloyd Howell
Evidence Board members
Brent Fosters and Mickey Klein
Jesse and Joanne Askew
Curtis Martin
Prince Kunle Omilana and Keisha Omilana
Jeanne Byrd and Crystal Mann
Kerry Ann Thompson and Dr. Neil Lowe
Jocelyn Taylor
Lynn Whitfield
Zaid Abdul-Aleem, Raven Thomas, and Phillip Alexander
Bree Bythewood
Nicole Brewer, Edward Callaghan, and Audrey Bernard
Susan L. Taylor and Khephra Burns
Timothy Wu and Pamela Joyner
Marc H. Morial and Michelle Miller
Nicole Brewer and Vanessa Leggard
Noel Hankin and Reginald Van Lee
Jocelyn Taylor and B Michael
Audrey Smaltz, Reginald Van Lee, and Harriet Cole
Jocelyn Taylor, LuAnn Moore, and Joyce Mullins-Jackson
Maurice and Andrea Dubois
Dr. Jeanine Downey and Michael Henningberg
Sharylnn Goins and Gregg Smith
Tony Award-winners Nathan Lane and Anika Noni Rose participated in The Vineyard Theatre's star-studded tribute to Tony Award-winning actress Marian Seldes and The Union Square Partnership at the theatre's annual gala Monday night at The Rainbow Room.

The Gala, which benefited the Vineyard Theatre, one of the nation's leading theatres devoted to producing new works, included salutations to Ms. Seldes -- who originated her role in Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning play in 1993, Three Tall Women, at The Vineyard. They also celebrated its theme of community spirit and neighborhood involvement by also honoring The Union Square Partnership. Nathan Lane, who hosted the evening, starred opposite Ms. Seldes Off-Broadway in Terrence McNally's Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams. Anika Noni Rose, who received an Obie Award for her work in the musical, Eli’s Comin’ at The Vineyard, won a Tony Award for her performance in Caroline, or Change and co-starred with Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson in the film version of "Dreamgirls," performed.

The Gala Chairs for the event were Rick Dean and Gretchen Shugart. The Vineyard Board Chair is Jill S. Gabbe and President is Ken Greiner. The Gala Committee included Terry Agriss, Celine Armstrong, Kevin Bacon, Kathleen Chalfant, Patricia Clarkson, Bart Freundlich, Barbara Zinn Krieger, Judy Kuhn, Nathan Lane, Craig Lucas, Richard McCune, Julianne Moore, Joe Morton, Tim Robbins, Jane Chesnutt, Norma Rosenberg, Susan Sarandon, Kyra Sedgewick, David Schwartz, Frank Selvaggi, Jeffrey Steinman, and Annette Stover.
Alex Fischetti and Charles Grodin
Marcia Gay Harden, Marian Seldes, and Kate Mulgrew
Douglas Aibel and Jane Chestnut
Anika Noni Rose
Annie Parisse and Paul Spark
Marian Seldes and Jennifer Falk
Susan Blackwell
Michael Grieff, Judy Kuhm, and Douglas Aibel
Marcia Gay Harden, Marian Seldes, and Kate Mulgrew
Marsha Stephanie Blake, Stephen Plunkett, and Emily Ackerman
Adam Rapp
Gina Gionfriddo
Patrick Bell and Jeff Cohen
Jill Gabbe and Erica Berg
Nathan Lane
Michael Grieff, Kate Mulgrew, and Marcia Gay Harden
Ryan Murray
WET presented LOVE A Benefit to support WET's 10th Season, at the Angel Orensanz foundation this past Monday in New York.
Ann and Perrey Reeves
Debra Messing and Alysia Reine
Caroline Murphy and Heather Matarazzo
Andre Royo, Sabine Singh, and Maulik Pancholy
Sasha Eden and Alex Frost
Andre Royo and Tracie Thoms
Blythe Danner, Debra Messing, David Alan Basche, and Alysia Reiner
Emmanuelle Chriqui
Tracie Thoms and J.D. Williams
John Lloyd Young
Sasha Eden and Victoria Pettibone
Sasha Eden, Blythe Danner, Debra Messing, David Alan Basche, Alysia Reiner, and Victoria Pettibone
Miriam (Mickey) Wechsler's 99th Birthday Party was hosted by Nicole Blumenstein, Goldie Blankstein, Edward Maloney and Deborah Barber in Ms Wechsler's apartment. Humility and appreciation brought Mickey (and me) to tears with gratitude when her "dearest friends in the whole world" came together to celebrate Mickey's very special day.

Mickey Wechsler on her 99th birthday
Born in Toronto on February 17, 1910, the youngest of nine children, Miriam Pullan moved to the United States in 1929 and married Gabriel Wechsler, a commissioner of the City of New York. They had one son, Bert Wechsler, a dance and music critic and editor of Music Journal, who passed away in 1997. Gabriel Wechsler passed away in 1977.

Mickey worked for the Katz Advertising Agency from 1942 till 1965 and followed with a second career working in the library at CUNY City University for twenty-one years. Always the volunteer, Mickey volunteered as a nurse's aide with the Red Cross at St John's hospital in Brooklyn after her brother's plane was shot down during WWII. Both of her brothers were with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Volunteering and serving others is Mickey's calling. Forty-five years of reading for the Lighthouse for the Blind, Mickey is now inflicted with macular degeneration. What can she do to continue to help others? Mickey has crocheted over 200 scarves for the Harlem Hospital and various churches and is receiving letters and photos with thanks for her "Warm Scarves for Cool Kids." Mickey says she has to keep busy helping others and suggests that we all do the same.

Mickey's passion for reading and traveling has introduced her to people and places all over the world. Thirty years ago Nicole Blumenstein (a jeweler at the time) met Mickey. A close friendship came to pass after their second meeting when they met again on vacation in Spain – and they have become life-long friends ever since. Camilla Galluzzo met on a trip to St Petersberg, Russia when Mickey was either 93 or 94 years old. Goldie and David Blankstein met Mickey on one of her many trips to India and I met Mickey during my vacation in Israel.

Happy 99th birthday
Other local friends include Lester Bower (Lester and Mickey worked together at Borough of Manhattan Community College for fifteen years), Dr. John W Kleinlin and his wife Zapora and Dr. Dana Frisch, a 5th generation relative.

Edward Maloney shared, "I will tell you how I met Mickey one evening unexpectedly about two years ago at the Metropolitan Opera House to hear La Traviata. I overheard a distinctive voice behind me, turned around and there was Mickey in a full-length coat, by herself at the Opera. She was waltzing to her seat, the seat she has held for sixty years."

Co-hostess Deborah Baber shared that she met Mickey thru Dr. Richard and Ina Warnoff. Richard's mother, Sofie Warnoff, was Mickey's very good friend. Deborah met Mickey at a Passover dinner about 15 years ago and Mickey has provided inspiration and good friendship ever since. Newest best friend is Peggy Dingilian, former modern dancer who studied dance with Prima Ballerina Sally Wilson (a dear friend who recently lost her fight with cancer).

The cocktail conversation transitioned from how each of us met Mickey to ... SHOPPING. Here's a bit of exclusive and helpful information I was told ... Bergdorf Goodman is having an event every Wednesday called "Private Nights." They are inviting their top clients to the "doors closed-to-the-public" evening of shopping. Bergdorf's will be providing a catered dinner and cocktails from 6-8 PM and private shopping between 8-10PM. They are inviting only 100 clients per Wednesday evening. There will be a raffle and a gift cards ... all very exclusive, very private. The first night to indulge in this shopping spree is Wednesday, February 11th. You can't just come and have a cocktail! You have to spend money!

I asked Mickey if she would like something from Bergdorf's and she smiled and said, "I have everything I need, I have my friends." We're all invited back for Mickey's 100th birthday next year. Same time. Same place. Happy Birthday Mickey!!

— Ann Watt
Deborah Barber and Peggy Dingilian
Dr. Dana Frisch and Micky Wechsler
/David Blankstein
Edward Malloney and Nicole Blumenstein
Ina and Richard Warnoff
Camilla Galluzzo
Lester Bower
John Kleinig
Edward Malloney and Dr. Richard Warnoff
Peggy Dingilian and Zapora Kleinig

Photographs by Ann Watt (Evidence & Mickey) & PatrickMcMullan.com.

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