I love a gala, where the dress code is "cocktail attire." I attended at the lowest donation level ($100), so I missed out on the fancy pre-show dinner and cocktail party events. But I arrived in time for the gala performance, which began with a taped package of recorded interviews with current and past Guthrie artists, including Morgan Freeman, Peter Michael Goetz, and Laila Robins, who said "if you want to have your heart broken, be a Minnesota sports fan; if you want to have your heart filled, come to the Guthrie" (as a lifelong Twins fan, I concur). It was a delight to see so many favorites talk about what the Guthrie has meant to them. The live portion of the performance was presided over by Queen Gertrude herself, Regina Marie Williams. She introduced Artistic Director Joseph Haj, who listed some of the Guthrie's accomplishments, such as commissioning the play Clyde's (originally titled Floyd's) by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, which was the most produced play in American this season. He also talked about the student programs, both to attend live performances, and the recording of such classics as last year's Raisin in the Sun and this year's Hamlet to be provided to teachers along with curriculum.
Next, the current Joe presented the inaugural Tyrone Guthrie Distinguished Artist Award to Joe Dowling, the Guthrie's Artistic Director for 20 years who shepherded the theater's expansion into the new building on the Mississippi River. The previous Joe began his acceptance speech by saying "it's good to be home," and went on to call the #TCTheater audience "the best audience I've ever worked for."
A live auction of four fantastic experiences raised money to help fund the aforementioned programs, with the biggest price going for dinner with esteemed local playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (whose adaptation of Dial M for Murder is part of the Guthrie's 2023-2024 season), after which he will write the winner their own play (a steal at $11,000). After another round of donating, it was on to the concert event.
|Santino Fontana (with Andrew Bourgoin on piano)|
(photo credit: @cherryandspoon Instagram)
The post-show party began after the concert, with food and drinks and party favors and a dance floor complete with disco balls. I didn't stay long, but went home once again feeling grateful for this amazing theater community, of which the Guthrie has been the cornerstone for 60 years. I look forward to what the next decades will bring, and hope to be there to celebrate 70, 80, and more.