Peeping Showtunes

Music Academy of the West’s Cabaret

Text and photos by Shannon Kelley Gould

While I’d never turn down an invitation to a function taking place at the Doubletree’s Plaza del Sol on a perfectly beautiful, late-summer evening, I was especially excited about last Thursday’s affair. Put on by the Music Academy of the West, the event, Cabaret: A Sea of Shining Stars, marked my first Music Academy experience, and featured several Music Academy superstars performing Irving Berlin’s music, all in honor of the legendary Marilyn Horne. The invitation’s sartorial suggestion was “Cabaret Chic.” Fresh out of any duds that might qualify, I settled on a trusty LBD, and went on my way.

Atop the rotunda, the cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and mingling were plentiful, and the crowd was loving the perfect party trifecta, made all the more fabulous with the blue skies and even bluer ocean lingering in the background. I peeped, chatted, and peeped some more, catching shots of Hal Laster, the dean of the Music Academy, sporting a daring Scottish kilt, and later, the evening’s honoree, Marilyn Horne. I asked her if we might be treated to a performance; she said it wasn’t likely. Can’t blame a girl for trying.

Satisfied with my shots, I headed for the bar, where I was asked if I was a singer. I managed not to choke on my cocktail, thanked the clueless fellow for the laugh, and followed the crowd downstairs for dinner. I’d been assigned table number 13, and while I don’t consider myself terribly superstitious, I had to wonder what kind of out-of-the-ordinary antics might occur.

I found out soon enough. My tablemates James, Mindy, and Kristy were all Saks employees. Upon hearing this, I tried to tune them out in the interests of self- (and bank account) preservation, but couldn’t. They’re having a sale; there’s a fantastic Marni suit in my size that I simply must have; they’re having a sale. “No!” I cried, visions of an inflated Visa bill floating in my head. Remi Lauvand, the founding chef at Bacara’s incredible Miro restaurant and former chef at New York’s famed Le Cirque, was seated with us as well. I couldn’t resist pumping him for info, either. While he wouldn’t tell me his favorite restaurant in town, he did break my heart a bit, when he let on that, while at one of my most favorite dining haunts, after being led through the kitchen to be seated on the back patio, he vowed never to go back again. Ouch. Thankfully, the evening’s entertainment kicked in just in time to save my mood. The revue was top-notch, featuring some of the most outstanding vocal talents in town, but when, to the crowd’s delight, Marilyn Horne took the stage to sing, my gastronomic bad news was entirely forgotten. All in all, the night was a smashing success.

And now, I’ve got some shopping to do.

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