Speakers Table

A night to remember

October 19, 2011

On Monday night the lights were ablaze and the stars shined at the Shakespeare Theatre GALA honoring Michael Kahn’s 25 years as artistic director.

Michael was hired when they were struggling to stay alive at the Folger Library. Michael’s vision not only built the Shakespeare Theatre into the world renowned company it is today but also importantly helped lead the renaissance of downtown D.C. He moved the company to the Lansburgh theatre before hardly anyone else saw the potential of that area and today its home is also the glittering Harman Hall.

Governor William Weld and Leslie Marshall (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Governor William Weld and Leslie Marshall

Tributes from Edward Albee to Terrance McNally told of his brilliance and contributions to the arts and to them. McNally told stories about he and Michael’s time at Columbia University including the plays they did there and Michael finding this young first time set designer to work with them by the name of Andy Warhol. Watching Michael take a play and work with actors to mold it to perfection is quite a thrill.

Michael was head of the drama department at Julliard and still returns to New York to teach master classes. He has directed productions around the world including Elizabeth Ashley on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and a recent Dallas Opera Company production of Romeoand Juliet.

Beautiful Harman Hall was aglow with the stars who saluted Michael. They included Stacy Keach, Pat Carroll, Rene Auberjonois, Nancy Robinette, Denyse Graves, Harry Hamlin, Patrick Stewart, Kelly McGillis, Floyd King, Richard Thomas, Bradley Whitford, and a favorite of mine the hot Jeffrey Carlson who played Hamlet at the Shakespeare in 2007. There were a host of other celebrities including Chelsea Clinton who spoke movingly of what Michael and the Shakespeare Theatre meant to her during her high school years in D.C. and still today. Donald Graham, chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Company spoke and then read a proclamation from Mayor Vincent Gray declaring October 17th Michael Kahn Day in the District of Columbia. Former Congresswoman Jane Harman spoke of what the theatre meant to her late husband Sidney, and how he loved Harman Hall, and there was a short film of Sidney himself talking about his love of the Arts.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and Williams and Connolly Partner Dan Katz (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and Williams and Connolly Partner Dan Katz

The actors performed in a 90 minute production which included Joffrey Ballet leading dancers Fabrice Calmals and April Daly who did a breathtakingly beautiful piece from Othello, A Dance in Three Acts. The entire performance was directed by the talented Alan Paul.

Seen at the reception prior to the show, and at the dinner dance afterwards held at the spectacular building museum were Supreme Court Justices, Alito, Scalia, Kagan and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Also there were former Congressman Phil Sharp (D-IN), Tom Downey (D-NY) and his wife the Hon. Carol Browner (former Clinton Administration EPA Administrator and Environmental Czar for President Obama), Williams and Connolly senior partner Dan Katz, Orrick Attorney and Shakespeare Theatre board member Pauline Schneider, former Mayor Anthony Williams, Governor William Weld and Leslie Marshall, and D.C. City Councilmembers  Jack Evans and Tommy Wells. The GALA is the theatre’s biggest benefit of the year and supports their education programs. It was chaired by Miguel and Patricia Estrada and Anita Antenucci.

It was truly a night to remember.


Written by Peter Rosenstein

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Dinner with the President on N Street

October 4, 2011

Last Friday night my good friend, Georgetown resident Dr. Jim D’Orta, hosted a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at his home in Georgetown. An emergency room physician by training and a successful businessman, Dr. D’Orta lives in the house formerly owned by Pamela and Averell Harriman. This was the house from which Pamela Harriman ran what was colloquially called ‘Pam PAC’ in the 1980s when the Democrats were out of office and out of power. It was where Bill Clinton first met many of those who would later support him in his race for the White House in 1992. He rewarded Harriman with the position of Ambassador to France. She later died in Paris of a stroke while swimming in the Ritz Hotel pool. Harriman is known as the premier courtesan of the 20th century. An amazing woman who I first had the pleasure of meeting  when she and her last husband, former Governor of New York Averell Harriman, co-chaired a fundraising roast for Bella S. Abzug (D-NY) to retire the debt from her losing 1976 Senate race. The roast was held at Window’s on the World atop the World Trade Center.

President Obama speaking to the guests (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) President Obama speaking to the guests

Official co-host for the evening was Jim’s cousin Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond movies. The attendees were a mix of people from the theater community, business community, and were a mix of gay and straight. There were actually two events in one. There was a reception upstairs for those contributing $10,000 and a reception and dinner for 50 at tables of ten downstairs where guests were asked to anti-up $35,800 a couple. Each guest got the opportunity to have a picture taken with the President. The President then spent time with the dinner guests and was both gracious and eloquent. He talked of what he has accomplished in the first three years and what he hopes to do in the next five. The President spoke for about 15 minutes and then had an easy give and take conversation with topics ranging from finance, bringing our troops home, to healthcare and campaign strategy. The President quoted Mario Cuomo, “You campaign in poetry but govern in prose” as he talked about the difference between campaigning and the more difficult role of governing a nation with two wars and a financial crisis. The partisan crowd was easy to charm and the President did that as he spoke about the need for Democrats to join together in this crucial election which he believes is a fight for the future of America.

Liz Calloway (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Liz Calloway

Guests at the dinner included Broadway Producer Bill Haber and his wife Carol, asset manager Jim Roumell, tech CEO and politico Rick Stamberger, and Human Rights Campaign activists Barry Karas, Dana Perlman and Terry Bean. Guests were treated to entertainment before and after dinner from the incredibly talented Liz Calloway who sang the best version of the song ‘Memory’ that I have ever heard. Liz sang this for years on Broadway in CATS. The dinner was catered by Café Milano with an impressive chocolate dessert with the Presidential Seal in white chocolate. It definitely was an evening all attendees will long remember.



Written by Peter Rosenstein

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The kickoff with the Tour de France

October 2, 2011

Skip the bikes, add five glasses of wine, and you’ll have the Tour de France for a sophisticated palate without the physical exertion. On Friday night, wine lovers, wine enthusiasts, and those new to the wine game gathered at La Maison Française (in The Embassy of France) to attend the first of four tasting classes offered by Le Studio this season. The program’s leader and renowned wine journalist Claire Morin-Gibourg, along with educator Vincent Morin and sommelier  and  wine connoisseur Philippe Marchal, presented five wines.

The group enjoying the Tour de France one region at a time (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The group enjoying the Tour de France one region at a time

The trio kicked off the evening with a glass of delicate Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française. Spoiler alert: this was definitely the table favorite. With its heavy Chardonnay presence (over 40%, twice the normal amount used in a standard cuvee), the buttery notes, and the light and dry mouth feel started the tasting with a bang. 

We then continued onto Bourgogne/Mâconnais where we sampled a 2008 white Burgundy from Pouilly Fuissé Domaine Ferret. The Domaine’s location is set in one of the most diverse appellations with a wide spectrum of rocks and soil. The mineral and chalky overtones of this terroir in the wine were a true representation of a southern Burgundy.

Chris Addison of Georgetown’s Addison-Ripley gallery enjoys a glass of the Savigny les Beaunes 1er Cru la Dominode Louis Jadot 2007 (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Chris Addison of Georgetown’s Addison-Ripley gallery enjoys a glass of the Savigny les Beaunes 1er Cru la Dominode Louis Jadot 2007

We stayed in the Burgundy region with our next wine, but traveled to the Côte de Beaune province to Savigny lès Beaunes. The vineyard is set between Beaune and Pernand, and third in production of red wine in the Côte de Beaune area. We sampled the 2007 1er Cru la Dominode Louis Jadot. The wine had a true Pinot taste with a black pepper finish, a perfect spicy end to our Burgundy stop.

What’s a wine tour without hitting Bordeaux? The Pomerol Christian Moueix 2006, while not the best year (admitted by Vincent Morin), was deep in color, and rich in nose. While we were slightly disappointed with the flavor, we were assured that we would not be disappointed with a change of year.

Our tour ended in Rhône at the Châteauneuf-du-Pape to sample the 2007 Château Mont Redon. The wine consisted of four different grape varieties that each brought out a different feature of the wine. The Cinsault grape emphasized the fruitiness, the Grenache spiced up the wine, Syrah added the structure, and Counoise (not found in any other blend) enhanced the alcohol and added a degree of acidity.

Georgetown Smile’s Dr. Peretz enjoyed the tasting with Emilia Pawlowski (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Georgetown Smile’s Dr. Peretz enjoyed the tasting with Emilia Pawlowski

The wine experts were thorough in their presentation of each wine, and passionate about their subject giving us pairing suggestions and tasting techniques to enhance our wine experience. After the tasting, guests were invited to indulge in the cheese and charcuterie buffet, and try some our own pairing creations.

The program has four classes remaining. October 18th will be all about Burgundy, November 10th will consist of wines from the Loire Valley, and the last class on December 1st will indulge in Cognac Hennessy.

Marie-Helene Zavala pictured here with the assortment of cheese and charcuterie available after the tasting (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Marie-Helene Zavala pictured here with the assortment of cheese and charcuterie available after the tasting

“The great thing we are doing this year, is inviting actual winemakers from these regions,” says Vincent Morin. “We are hoping this will add an extra element to these classes so participants can interact and talk with the people who actually make the wine.”

All the wines tasted were made available at a discount through Bassin's Mac Arthur Beverages.

Classes are $75 per person and can be purchased at La Maison Francaise.


Written by Hillary Leeb

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