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Media Release
CONTACT:  Robert Ross
August 17, 2015
(713) 807-4306/ 713-520-0055
For Immediate Release

The Ensemble Theatre Celebrated its 2015 Celebrity Gala
Mayor Annise Parker and Actress Irma P. Hall Receive Top Honors

HOUSTON (August 17, 2015) – The Ensemble Theatre celebrated its 2015 Annual Fundraiser and Black Tie Gala entitled: Follow the Dream: Celebrating the Empire at the Hilton Americas- Houston, Saturday, August 15, 2015. This year’s gala raised more than $350,000 thanks to top sponsors H-E-B, Schlumberger, Shell, BP America, Houston Fist, United Airlines, and a host of corporations and individuals who have invested greatly in the theatre’s growth and development.  The Gala serves as the theatre's major fundraiser supporting its annual $2 million operating budget that includes six mainstage season productions, and its educational initiatives directed toward youth. The theatre’s board of directors and staff were joined by more than 500 delighted donors and supporters.

Chairs:            Argentina James, Scott Minnix, and Jesse Tyson

Details:  This year’s honorees included: Mayor Annise Parker who received the Founders Award;   Irma P. Hall, Lifetime Achievement Award; Schlumberger, Corporate Partner of the Year represented by Dan Domeracki, VP Government & Industry Affairs; Attica Locke, Producer of the Year, received on her behalf by her mother Sherra Aguirre; and Katlynn Simone, Rising Star Award recipient.
The evening began with a Mayor’s dance reception and silent auction containing an array of elegant jewelry pieces, autographed sports memorabilia, Janet Jackson concert tickets, and first class United Airline tickets.  Guests hit the dance floor on the way to their tables with opening number of the song “You’re So Beautiful” from the FOX hit sitcom Empire.

Five stages took attendees to different destinations and aesthetics throughout the evening for performances and award presentations. A wide, purple Houston city skyline gave the backdrop to the main stage, and the four accompanying satellite performance stages included: 8’x 8’ black and white façade of The Ensemble Theatre’s original building with a life sized cut out image of founder George W. Hawkins; another stage held a suspended plasma screen with changing images; the next stage was an Ensemble MetroRail Stop; and on the last stage hung large red velvet drapes and a lighted sign “The Ensemble Theatre on Broadway.”
Gala decor included floor length table linens in black sequin, teal sateen, and turquoise taffeta paired and surrounded with silver chivari chairs. Immense crystal towers supported overflowing bouquets of hydrangea and purple roses, with cascading purple spotted dendrobium orchids.  Corresponding crystal chargers were surrounded by crystal beaded votives and tall crystal vessels with floating candles. The main stage was flanked by a veil of crystal beads with purple and lavender chandeliers suspended to provide sparkling echoes of the evening color scheme.

Guests enjoyed a three course meal with a mixed greens bundle with orange wedges, red beets, toasted pecans and a round of goal chees dressed with citrus vinaigrette, followed by a duo entrée of beef short rib with demi-glace and red onion marmalade, topped with a shrimp scampi garnished with sautéed plantain and roasted tomato, a twice baked potato with cheddar and chives in new read potato, and collard greens, and a swapper’s dessert served with chocolate mousse parfait – chocolate sponge caramel sauce, white chocolate crisp, white and milk chocolate straw, raspberry sauce, and purple macaroon garnish martini class, and an amaretto cheese cake with amaretto cook on vanilla sauce, raspberry sauces, estrusso, and pistachio garnish.

KHOU11 Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan enlivened the evening as mistress of ceremonies. Additional entertainment throughout the evening included a performance of The Ensemble Theatre’s upcoming season opener, romantic comedy, Platanos Y Collard Greens, and the song “Do You Hear What I Hear,” form the holiday musical Stepp Stewart’s A Soulful Christmas, was performed by Rising Star Katlynn Simone.

The Yvonne Washington Band, helped conclude the program with a packed dance floor. Guest stayed and continued the celebration well into the evening.

Guests:            Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee; Genora and Councilmember Dwight Boykins; Rachel and Councilmember Jerry Davis; Judge Clarease Rankin and Carey Yates; Kathy and Mayor Annise Parker; Diane and Judge John Peavy; Alaina K. Bendford; Mary Benton; Pearl and Tony Black; Mildred and Willie Bright; Debbie M. White and Frank Brown; Brenda Peters-Chase and John Chase, Jr.; Sallie Morian and Michael Clark;  Janette L. Cosley;  Ken Cowan; Amanda K. Edwards; Diedra and Terrance Fontaine; Mario Garner; Eleanor and Ben Gilbane; Carolyn and John L. Guess, III; Paula McCann and Dwayne Harris; Micheal J. Helm; Marsha and Richard Heubner; Bill King; Dr. Rhea Lawson; Drs. Elizabeth and Cesar Maldanado; Lynda House-McPeters; Eileen J. Morris; Dr. Bob Morrow; Jackie Phillips; John Rolfe; Ronald Ross; Sherra Aquirre and Abdoulaye Seck; Cheryl and Jesse Tyson; Dr. James W. Ward; Mary Williams;  Jocelyn and Terry Williams; Merele Yarborough.
The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team.

The Ensemble Theatre produces a main stage season of six contemporary and classic works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The theatre’s Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, Artist-in-Residence experiences and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre; and the Young Performers Program offers intensive summer training for children ages 6 to 17 encompassing instruction in all disciplines of the theatre arts.