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On the town

Musical's opening night brings spirited crowd

By MARY JANE PARK
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 23, 2003

Long the scene of many a festive occasion, the Coliseum in St. Petersburg played a new role Thursday evening as the site of the premiere of Manhattan Casino: The New 22nd Street South Musical.

Outside, collector Lester Wolff exhibited his claret 1934 Chrysler Airflow.

You'll read more about the production in other sections of the newspaper. In brief, it is a portrait of the African-American community in segregated St. Petersburg.

The opening-night audience was enthusiastic and supportive of the home-grown effort, which was presented by the LiveArts Peninsula Foundation.

Key architects of the production are Bob Devin Jones, Bill Leavengood, Michele Lamar Richards, Rick Steuart, Danny Hamilton and Paulette Walker Johnson.

Monica Raymund, a junior at Shorecrest Preparatory School, is extroardinary in her lead performance as Althea. I was seated with her parents, Tech Data's chief executive Steve and Sonia Raymund, who beamed justifiably throughout the evening, and with Monica's grandmother Annette Raymund and a cousin, Mae Yates of Delray Beach.

Jones' sisters, Ranea Warren and JoAnn Alexander, came in from Los Angeles; Don and Ann Howell, from Manlius, N.Y., and Sheila Pires and Kathy Lazear from Washington, D.C.

Also in the crowd were Michele and Shay Routh, Jim Howell, Eleanor Bailey, Hugh Ann Cason Kelly, Emma Williams, Rose Payne, Faith Williams, Stephanie Williams, Leslie Ann Curry, Mary Christian, Ann Foster, Barry McIntosh, Betty Bassett, Terri Lipsey Scott, Dr. Earl and Jacqueline Cotman, Janice Lockridge-Williams, Eddie Williams, Emily Redman, Dar Webb and Clint Page, JoEllen Schilke, Marilyn Armstrong and Hitch Roney, Brian Reale, Mary Booker, Lillian Nelson, Sheila Mutchler, Bruce and Mary Ann Marger, Anne Shamas, David and Astrid Ellis, Ira and Beverly Mitlin, Lizzie Smith, Janet Atwater, Ann and Sheldon Wykell, Vyrle and Mozell Davis and Norman Jones II.

Carl Lavender, executive director of Boys & Girls of the Suncoast, introduced me to members Jon Stone and Janelle Smith.

The Royal Theater club was a community partner for the evening and is raising money for a theater.

* * *

Mayor Rick Baker gave a presentation before the musical. We greeted each other in passing as he left the Coliseum to head to the Renaissance Vinoy Resort for the Grand Prix Drivers' and Ambassadors' Ball. He and his wife, Joyce, were on the list of about 300 guests supplied by Champion Auto Racing Teams and the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Others were Bud and Fran Risser, Roy and Mary Kaplan, David and Teddi Robbins, Dr. Richard and Kathy Karl of Tampa, Don and Connie Whitehead, John and Kimberley Lovato, John and Diane Wetherell, former St. Petersburg mayor Bob and Barbara Ulrich, Eckerd College president Donald and Chris Eastman, Dr. Jim and Sunny Endicott, Dr. Lawrence and Carole Merritt, John and Nancy Beisinger, Tom and Mary Lou DeVoe, Jim and Jeannine Hascall, Joe and Kathy Lukason, Doug and Barbara DeMaire, Anje and Tim Bogott, Jim and Suzanne MacDougald, Tony and Carolyn Bond, Al and Nancy Karnavicius, and Vinoy general manager Russ and Nancy Bond.

I did visit briefly with University of South Florida St. Petersburg's Bill and Jeanne Heller, Mary Wyatt Allen, Bill Stover and Terry and Kanika Tomalin.

Jim and Linda Cassell co-chaired the gala, and were at the VIP reception along with Chris Pook, CART's president and chief executive; Tom Begley, general manager of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg; Adam Saal, CART's vice president of communications; and drivers Bruno Junqueira, Sebastien Bourdais and Roberto Moreno.

Jabil chief executive Tim Main and Donna Tyler, Jeff Gonzalez and Melonie Wilkerson of Tampa filled in for Don and Erika Wallace of Tampa; he is recuperating from surgery.

Proceeds from the evening will go to the Salvation Army's Job Merit Program, the Bayfront Health Foundation's expansion of the emergency department at Bayfron Medical Center, and the National Conference for Community and Justice's Anytown program.

* * *

Every spring, members of the Stuart Society of the Museum of Fine Arts present Tea in the Garden at the museum, serving tiny sweets and savories and, of course, tea in the courtyard outside the galleries.

Last week, I joined Stuart Society members and provisionals (members in training) as they brought in little pimiento cheese, ham salad and watercress sandwiches and lemon squares meringues and other goodies. Out came the silver trays, and veterans Joann Barger, Ruth Bissett and Ruth Stenger offered tips for presentation: pressing the sides of the crustless sandwiches into greenery such as chopped parsley and cilantro, no lighting of candles during the day.

Kitchen workers the day I stopped included Fran Davis, Keith Tulloch, Jane Randall Kirby, Virginia Puryear, Mary Wheeler, Glenn Mosby, Fay Nielsen, Esther Shaver and Janis Albritton.

Christine Joyal and Jane Black are co-chairwomen of the series, Tuesdays through March 18, the grand finale. Admission to that smorgasbord is $15; otherwise, the fee is $5 in addition to the museum admission ($8 adults). Reservations: 896-2667.

LOOKING AHEAD

March 7

AS TIME GOES BY: Fundraiser for Florida Blood Services Foundation features 1940s Casablanca theme. Cocktails, buffet, entertainment. 5:30-8 p.m. Private home. $65. Reservations received until Friday. 568-2231.

* * *

TASTING WITH A TWIST: Record stories about living in St. Petersburg. Appetizers, beverages, music. 6 p.m. St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. NE. $20 members; $25 nonmembers; 894-1052, ext. 205.

* * *

SOIREE ON THE BAY: Florida Orchestra Guild Designers' ShowHouse Gala. Cocktail buffet, dancing. Black tie optional. $50. Reservations received until Friday. 344-5404.

* * *

March 8

SHORECREST PREPARATORY SCHOOL BENEFIT: Gaming tables, dinner, live, silent auctions. 7 p.m. Ballroom, TradeWinds Island Resort, 5500 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. $125. 522-2111, ext. 114.

* * *

A PROGRESSIVE ADVENTURE: Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, dinner tour of private homes with art collections. Benefit for the Arts Center. $150. Reservations received through Saturday. 822-7872.

-- Mary Jane Park can be reached at (727) 893-8267; fax (727) 893-8675; e-mail park@sptimes.com; P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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