Hollywood turns out for the Valley Performing Arts Center
How do you open a new arts center in the San Fernando Valley? Well, Monica Mancini, declaring herself "the original Valley girl,” launched into a haunting rendition of her late father’s classic "Moon River," accompanied by Dave Koz and Arturo Sandoval. They were all part of the crowd at Saturday's Inaugural Gala for the Valley Performing Arts Center at Cal State Northridge.
Although many of the 1,700 audience members called the San Fernando Valley their home, gala co-chair Sally Magaram said, “We have people here from all over Los Angeles.” Magaram was joined at the festivities by co-chairs Linda and Mike Curb, Jean and David Fleming, Carole Curb Nemoy and Norman Nemoy and Ginny Mancini.
Sel Kardan, president of the Colburn School, marveled at his short drive from Beverly Hills. "No traffic," he said.
Mancini said the song "Moon River" changed her life, and the lives of her family, when they lived three blocks from the college campus.
"The Valley's a happening place," Mancini continued, after filing into the party tent, along with the night’s other performers and 700 guests paying a minimum $1,000 each for dinner and dancing. She said that although her father, composer Henry Mancini, was already known for his theme from TV’s "Peter Gunn" and other compositions, after “Moon River” the family moved from the Valley "because that's what you did then." She said she has since moved back.
Another Valley resident, “City Island” star Andy Garcia, said, “A lot of people need this stage. It provides a great new opportunity for artists to show their work.” Earlier that evening, Garcia played bongos to Sandoval's trumpet.
“It’s a wonderful thing to open a new theater,” said Tyne Daly, adding that she came to help “put the mojo on the walls.”
Between the burrata-cheese course and the braised boneless short ribs, American Ballet Theatre principals Gillian Murphy and Jose Manuel Carreno helped party-goers pack the dance floor as the band blasted “Oh, What a Night.”
After welcoming all “to a new era for the arts in this part of Los Angeles,” CSUN President Jolene Koester joined celebrants, among them Davis Gaines, Benjamin Bratt, Jane Kaczmarek, Calista Flockhart, Keith David, Doris Roberts, Bart Simpson’s voice Nancy Cartwright, the show’s music director Richard Kaufman, and producers Robert Egan and Nicholas Goldsborough.
-- Ellen Olivier
Photo: Andy Garcia and gala co-chair Sally Magaram. Credit: RBRPHOTOGRAPHY