Friday, February 13, 2009

Girlfriends enjoy secret garden of delights

Express Staff Writer

Abby Chase, 9, sings "Ainít We Got Fun" during the St. Thomas Playhouse Girlfriend Cabaret Luncheon on Wednesday. Photo by Dana DuGan

Open up some champagne, serve up the fou-fou salads. When ladies gather for a luncheon with their pals, anything goes. That certainly held true on Wednesday when St. Thomas Playhouse held its second annual Secret Garden of Eden Girlfriend Cabaret Luncheon at the Elkhorn Springs Restaurant.

The gathering was attended by a diverse group of about 100 women, some associated with St. Thomas Episcopal Church and some with the theater world in the Wood River Valley. The purpose was to raise money for the efforts of St. Thomas Playhouse, which aims to explore the human experience in plays, musicals, readings and summer camp programs for children.

Hosted by playhouse artistic directors Anna Johnson and Sara Gorby, the event was co-hosted by Tim Eagan and Page Klune.

"It's such a special event that I hope will go on for years," Klune said. "The ladies love an excuse to get together for a luncheon, especially with all the great entertainment."

Karen Dickens of Primavera designed the amazing and creative "Secret Garden" table decorations and a still life with several large toy deer in a woods near the stage area. St. Thomas Choir director Dick Brown provided music with accompanist Dorinda Rendahl on piano. Some 10 performances by young singers included tunes from past and future St. Thomas Playhouse productions.

"I marvel at the gift they give the community and the opportunity for so many children to express their creative voices," said Denise Simone, a member of Company of Fools, the Hailey-based theater company.

The playhouse's upcoming season includes productions of "Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs" on tour, "Fiddler on the Roof Junior" and "The Pirates of Penzance Junior" in June, Eric Bogosian's "Suburbia" in June and "The Secret Garden" in September. The Summer Performing Arts Conservatory Camp at Camp Perkins will begin in late June.

The luncheon was served by a passel of waiters, culled from the St. Thomas congregation and jauntily attired in "Secret Garden"-styled fig-leaf aprons.

Proceeds from this event will benefit St. Thomas Playhouse programs for children and youth, including scholarships and underwriting.

Dana DuGan:

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