Around Town: This year’s FurBall a Bolly Good Time!

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From left, Rina Gavai, wife of India's high commissioner, and Julie Jacobson, wife of the US Ambassador, at the Ottawa Humane Society's Bollywood-themed FurBall, held Saturday, March 24, 2012, at the National Gallery of Canada. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

It was so long Hollywood and namaste Bollywood as gala-goers arrived in exotic and colourful attire for the Ottawa Humane Society’s 2012 FurBall, held Saturday at the National Gallery of Canada.

Last year’s Tinseltown theme was replaced by a Bollywood night embraced by such guests as honorary chair Laureen Harper, who wore an elegant Tory-blue sari imported from India.

Harper arrived with Canadian actress Lisa Ray and her fiancé, Jason Dehni. Ray is the host of the Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada.

WCPD president Peter Nicholson was back as event chair. Also present were the humane society’s executive director, Bruce Roney, and board president, Rob Cameron, V-P of corporate development for Genband.

Returning MC Sandy Sharkey of BOB FM was seen chatting during the cocktail reception with Senator Marjory LeBreton, who recently adopted her cat, Miss Dolly, from the humane society.

Julie Jacobson, wife of the U.S. ambassador, was grateful to have received wardrobe assistance from Rina Gavai, who expertly wrapped and pinned the sari worn by Jacobson. Gavai, wife of India’s high commissioner, was particularly pleased about this year’s theme. “I’m putting bindis on everybody,” she told Around Town, referring to the ornamental dots worn on foreheads.

Veterinarian Nigel Gumley’s Bollywood attire was lent to him by pet-owning clients while Byblos hairstylist Kenneth Malone’s Indianinspired headgear came from Chapeaux de Madeleine.

Nearly 300 people attended the dinner, held in the Great Hall overlooking Parliament Hill. The evening included Bollywood dancing and live bidding on such items as a Bahamas trip, an original Philip Craig, and a dinner for eight prepared by the evening’s caterer, Chef Johnny Leung of K.W. Catering.

Organizers were hoping to raise $175,000 and surpass last year’s total of $170,000.

GCTC OPENING

The things an actor must do: dye his hair, take up smoking and spend his waking hours memorizing 72 pages worth of lines, Around Town learned at the opening night party for The GCTC’s East of Berlin.

Simon Bradshaw, who does much of the talking in the 100-minute holocaust play written by Ottawa native Hannah Moscovitch, learned his lines by recording them onto his BlackBerry and then repeatedly listening to them in the weeks leading up to the start of rehearsals.

As for his character’s chainsmoking habit – that’s something the non-smoker suffers through while convincing the audience it’s enjoyable (at least his cigarettes are herbal).

The play also stars local talents Catherine Boutin and Pierre-Antoine Lafon Simard under the direction of Joel Beddows, who was smartly dressed for the opening in his Scotland Forever tartan.

Seen mingling at the party were GCTC artistic director Lise Ann Johnson and the GCTC’s board chair, Nhanci Wright, and vice-chair, Brian Toller, talking with entrepreneur Jeff Westeinde.

Visual artist Paula Mitas Zoubek, whose coinciding exhibit is on display at the Fritzi Gallery in the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, was there. Also sighted were Councillor Katherine Hobbs and Susannah Dalfen, who’s heading a GCTC fund to help playwrights. It’s named after her late husband, former CRTC chairman Charles Dalfen.

ICON BACK IN TOWN

Guests may never wash their arms again after rubbing elbows with Gordon Pinsent at a benefit party he was part of Wednesday to promote the upcoming Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival.

Some 100 classical music lovers headed to the Gordon Harrison Gallery on Sussex Drive, where they had the opportunity to meet the legendary actor.

He’ll be making his debut at the festival by narrating Ogden Nash’s poetry to The Carnival of the Animals and Tennyson’s Enoch Arden, set to Strauss’ music. Pinsent performed the latter years ago at the Stephenville Festival in his native province of Newfoundland.

“It’s an extraordinary piece, so I’m just delighted to get another crack at it,” said Pin-sent, 81, who starred in Away from Her and The Shipping News and also turned himself into a YouTube sensation over his satirical reading from Justin Bieber’s memoirs.

More recently, Pinsent has been shooting a 3D IMAX film, Flight of the Butterflies as well as writing a book with George Anthony and collaborating on a CD with Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor and The Sadies’ Travis Good.

Pinsent’s connection to OTown dates back to the late 1960s, when he spent several years filming the CBC TV series Quentin Durgens, M.P. on Parliament Hill. He spoke fondly of Ottawa (and his favourite haunt, the nowclosed Friday’s Roast Beef House).

Chamberfest artistic director and cellist Roman Borys was on hand, as were gallery co-owner Phil Emond and Ottawa Chamber Music Society executive director Glenn Hodgins, who shared the good news of the festival’s $350,000 Celebrate Ontario Grant.

Guests included Mayor Jim Watson, Ontario Arts Council board member Harvey Slack, Julie Jacobson and CBC Radio Two host and mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah.

The crowd was wowed by a live performance from violinist Carissa Klopoushak. Also working up a sweat were The Whalesbone Oyster House’s Jessie Papastavros (shucking 250 oysters), and real estate agents Julie Teskey and Stephanie Cartwright, who helped with food, flowers and champagne.

PLAYING THE BAR SCENE

Full-house crowds took to bar stools instead of church pews for a two-night chamber music concert at Maxwell’s Bistro, featuring the world première of works by Ottawa composers.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, music promoter Harvey Glatt and journalist Hugh Winsor were among the attendees of the Monday and Tuesday concerts hosted by The Chamber Players of Canada.

Hauled up to the second floor of the Elgin Street bistro was a 1910 Steinway piano belonging to artistic director and cellist Julian Armour.

He performed with 10 other musicians while singer Kellylee Evans helped with hosting duties Tuesday.

Ottawa composer and pianist Daniel Mehdizadeh enjoyed hearing his piece brought to life by a string quintet. Another of the 10 composers, sax player Victor Herbiet, performed his rhapsody alongside Kimball Sykes (clarinet) and Jean Desmarais (piano).

“It feels great being surrounded by such quality musicians, and for them to be able to play my work is just a fantastic feeling,” said Herbiet, who teaches at the University of Ottawa.

Carolyn001@sympatico.ca

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