(Originally published 10.18.11 in BizBash Washington)
The Shakespeare Theatre Company and Harman Center for the Arts honored artistic director Michael Kahn’s 25th anniversary with the company Monday night with a star-studded performance, dinner, and after-party in Chinatown for 925 people. The fund-raiser began at Sidney Harman Hall with an array of performances and remarks from Broadway, television, opera, and movie stars, including Tony-winning playwright Terrance McNally and actor Patrick Stewart—all of whom have worked with Kahn during his time as a teacher at Juilliard or in their professional careers.
“We grew from truly a start-up organization 25 years ago to what others call one of the three great classical theaters in the world and it wouldn’t have happened without him leading us for 25 years,” said the company’s chief development officer, Ed Zakreski, who worked with associate director Alan Paul to secure the 45 performers connected to Kahn.
To accommodate the schedules of the performers, organizers set the gala on a Monday—the only day of the week most theatrical performers have free. “They usually perform or are rehearsing Tuesday through Sunday, so this allows them to come down [from New York] after their Sunday performances for the event and be back in time for Tuesday,” Zakreski said. Those without connections to the night’s honoree, including dancers from the Joffrey Ballet, the Broadway cast of West Side Story, and Grammy-winning jazz singer Diane Reeves, also took the stage—the latter of whom served as a surprise to Kahn.
Following the two-hour production, 650 of the 800 performance guests walked over to the National Building Museum for dinner and dancing. There, Syzygy Event Productions played off the colors of the company’s logo and used red, white, and gold draping, linens, and lighting to decorate the museum’s grand atrium. Occasions Caterers served a three-course meal to those who purchased tickets from the top two tiers—$750 and $1,000. For the remaining 125 guests who purchased the after-hours discounted ticket for $125, DJ Harry Dixon immediately got the dancing going in the lounge area at the far section of the hall.
**Photos: Kevin Allen (Celebrities), Margot Schulman (ballroom view of tables), Tony Brown/Imijination Photography