Caroline Phillips’ Around Town: Stars shine for mental health
What can we say about One Nite Wonders, except that it was “a really big shew.”
The evening, held Wednesday at the Shenkman Arts Centre, showcased a Ed Sullivan Show-type live variety show, complete with band and enthusiastic studio audience with well-known broadcaster Valerie Pringle as host.
The musical acts consisted of dozens of brave souls, all of whom were willing to sing publicly to help raise big bucks for mental health.
Police Chief Chuck Bordeleau, who’d be the first to admit he’s no national anthem-singing Lyndon Slewidge, left his comfort zone to croon away with Ottawa Paramedics Chief Anthony Di Monte and Ottawa Fire Deputy Chief Kim Ayotte as the fedora-wearing, tux-attired “Rat Pack.”
Good sport Henrietta Southam sang solo as Annie Lennox, earning her the shared title of People’s Choice Award winner with chanteuse Jamilah Murray, who rode the soul train that night in her red sequin dress and beehive wig. She nailed it as Diana Ross.
The event was chaired by Lisa Zed, a founding member of the Royal Ottawa’s Women for Mental Health. George Weber, CEO of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, and its foundation CEO, Andrée Steel, were among the 425 attendees. So was spokeswoman Natalie Holmes, who delivered a powerful message.
On hand was Zed’s husband, Gary Zed, with Graham Macmillan. They, along with John Ruddy, are founders of the philanthropic Lift Foundation. It presented the Royal Ottawa with a $250,000 ceremonial cheque.
Musical acts also included a rousing number performed by the 20-women Royal Princesses, Scotia McLeod as ABBA, and TD Waterhouse as Four Divas and a Dude.
The fundraiser, now in its second year, is gaining momentum. No word yet on who will perform next time, but early indications suggest developer Bill Malhotra may go Bollywood.
Hottest Ticket in Town
It’s gosh darn near impossible to snag a ticket to the Politics and the Pen literary gala these days, unless you’re up to the challenge of writing a book or getting elected to Parliament.
Canada’s political and literary elite, along with foreign diplomats and corporate sponsors, filled the ballroom of the Château Laurier on Wednesday for the sold-out dinner. The evening raised $300,000 for the Writers’ Trust of Canada.
Spotted at the reception was Conrad Black’s glamorous journalist wife, Barbara Amiel, in conversation with publisher and novelist Anna Porter. Laureen Harper was heard praising Richard Gwyn, author of the Sir John A. Macdonald bio, His Life, Our Times, published by Random House Canada. She’s not the only one to dig his book — he won the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing that night.
Also seen were: National Post columnist Andrew Coyne conversing with Michael Ignatieff; NDP leader Thomas Mulcair socializing with journalists Wendy Mesley and Don Newman; Immigration Minister Jason Kenney yakking away with author Andrew Cohen; and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird arriving with his sexy hair dresser, Stefania Capovilla.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae’s wife, Arlene Perly Rae, was part of the 16-person gala committee led by Julie Jacobson and Susan Lightstone. “It’s been a real honour to be involved with this group of volunteers,” Lightstone, a lawyer and freelance writer, told Around Town. “They are a collection of worker bees.”
The dinner was MCed by Jacobson’s husband, U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson, and his Canadian counterpart, Gary Doer, who entertained the 500-person crowd with a boxing match skit.
Lawyers Acting Out
In the legal field, Borden Ladner Gervais partner Peter Doody is a formidable foe. That’s something associate lawyer Steve Kennedy was all too aware of when calling Doody, to his face, a square-toed, pimple-headed Nazi spy in the 13th Annual Lawyer Play fundraiser.
His main character also insulted the character played by Nelligan O’Brien Payne senior partner Janice Payne.
“I have to call them some pretty horrible things on stage,” acknowledged Kennedy at Thursday’s opening night for His Girl Friday, a romantic screwball comedy. Kennedy’s job is still safe, though (even if it wasn’t, he could probably have a career in theatre).
Playing feisty reporter Hildy Johnson was talented newcomer Ashley Deathe, who grew up doing musical theatre in London, Ont.
The annual production, which has grossed more than $1 million since 1999, raises funds for the Great Canadian Theatre Company and its partner charity. This year, it’s the Lawyers’ Zambia School Project created in memory of lawyer Iain Beaudoin. His father, Justice Robert Beaudoin, was part of the cast.
The 22-lawyer cast also included Fasken Martineau partner Stephen Acker, who, along with Doody, is on the GCTC board. Thursday’s cameos saw Justice Douglas Rutherford play a police officer and MP Paul Dewar a camera-clicking paparazzo.
Returning to the director’s chair was the award-winning Patrick Gauthier, who met with the cast after regular work hours and on weekends. “It was so fun to work with them,” he said. “They’re a great, dedicated group.”
Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner?
Could it really be that film star Richard Gere and renowned violinist Pinchas Zukerman are brothers? That was the joke as the pair of “silver foxes” stood side by side at a reception held Friday by former mayor Larry O’Brien and his wife, Colleen McBride-O’Brien.
“He’s my brother from another mother,” Gere quipped, sending the crowd into laughter.
The O’Briens held an intimate gathering at their 700 Sussex condo in support of the Canada Tibet Committee. O’Brien established some connections with Dalai Lama supporters during the spiritual leader’s visit to Ottawa in 2007.
Gere, who’s a devout Buddhist and longtime activist on Tibet, attended with the Harvard-educated Tibetan prime minister-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay. Gere proved he’s more than a handsome face by impressing the room with his humble, charming and peaceful ways.
“He is a very good role-model,” said O’Brien.
Guests included philanthropist Michael Potter, who, coincidentally, was involved in a movie in which Gere starred with Hilary Swank — the 2009 Amelia Earhart biopic, Amelia. A couple of Potter’s Vintage Wings aircrafts were used in the filming. As well, Potter did some flight sequence work in the flick.
Also seen were Zukerman’s cellist wife, Amanda Forsyth, and other such lucky, lucky women as Debbie O’Brien, Lee-Ann Lacroix and Afrodity Aliferis.