March 28, 2010 - The Long Center’s Second Anniversary Party
    The Long Center's purple-themed Second Anniversary Party came off with out a hitch - thanks to party planners and uber-hostesses Bobbi Topfer and Patty Huffines.  The crowd seethed with local star power, as the well-heeled and recently elected mingled with live entertainment fans of every stripe on Saturday, March 28th.
    At the tented VIP pre-party, the open bars pumped out the drinks while Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel held court on the stage, joined by special guests that included Rick Trevino and W.C.Clark.  The never-ending trays of delicious morsels - including foie gras canapes, bacon-wrapped quail, and lobster-and-grilled-cheese sandwiches - were deftly executed by the staff of the Four Seasons.
    At 8 p.m., the show started in Dell Hall with a weird opening tableau featuring local theatre legend Judy Arnold - suspended from the stage framed by Russian silk acrobats and ballet dancers - singing Prince's "Purple Rain."  I got the idea, but the execution was very strange.
   Then after a welcome from Executive
Director Cliff Redd, Hall & Oates took the stage for a hit-filled show that had the entire sold-out crowd on its feet.  I saw Hall & Oates perform at the Frank Erwin Center back when I was in college - when their H2O album was topping the charts - and I most remember how little they interacted with the audience, as if they were afraid to speak directly to their fans.  That hasn't changed, but I realize now they don't need to utter an extra word - their age-defying music and vocal prowess spoke volumes.
    After three standing ovations and two encores, it was off to the after-parties: food and entertainment and more open bars, scattered across the Long Center complex.  Asleep at the Wheel returned to the big tent, W.C. Clark took over one lounge, and the Grooveline Horns held sway with DJ Manny in the other.
    I got a kick out of all the middle-aged folks lining up 100+ deep to get a free slice of Roppollo's Pizza from the truck parked on the terrace.  I guess when you get too old to go down to 6th Street or the Warehouse District, you have to get your Roppollo's fix any time the
opportunity presents itself.
   Trust me folks - the Frito pie and entertainment was much better in the Rollins Theatre, without the ridiculous line.  It was there that Matt Wilson - sometimes-Austinites and star of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Movin' Out - held the crowd transfixed, seated behind the baby grand piano and backed by a five piece swing band, belting out rock and blues.  And when Austin legend Kat Edmondson joined him on the mic, the night became sublime.  
    A huge "thank you" to Shaady, Cliff, and all the Long Center staff for making the evening so memorable.  FYI - Mark Truett, Marketing Director for the Long Center, told me that the 2010-11 season will be announced in two weeks - we'll have it first for you the minute all the shows are finalized.

(- Long Center photo by Jerry Hayes, courtesy of Champion Printing;
 - Hall and Oates photo by Mark Maglio;
 - Matt Wilson photo by Angela Gomez.)