HughE Dillon: Philadelphia Theatre Company Gala

Suzanne Roberts, Sam Katz, Pat Ciarrocchi, Gary Steuer and more celebrated the annual event.

Last night, Brian Stokes Mitchell headlined Philadelphia Theatre Company’s annual gala at the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Singing “Some Enchanted Evening,” Stokes wasn’t far off, if he was describing the gala, which kicked off with a silent auction and cocktail party for the first part of the evening. After an hour, the party moved into the grand ballroom for dinner, where they honored Bala Cynwyd residents Marilyn and J. Robert Birnhak for their many years of support to both Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) and its home, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.

Below: Mistress of ceremonies CBS 3’s Pat Ciarrocchi shared the sentiments of Bob and Marilyn, stating the duo believes, “When good fortune comes your way, you should share it.” The Birnhaks have been involved in Philadelphia-area philanthropic endeavors for almost 50 years. Marilyn has been a 16-year member of the board of directors of PTC, as well as a board member of the Philadelphia Drama Club.

Below: J. Robert and Marilyn Birnhak recently dedicated the Birnhak Transitional Center to the Madelyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, where Bob serves on the board of directors. Marilyn and her late daughter, Tracey, who died after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer, founded the “I Have Strength Fund” associated with Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, and have endowed the Nutrition Center in the new cancer facility at the hospital. In 2005, the Birnhaks gave a leadership gift to PTC to name the lobby after Tracey. Mrs. Birnhak stated that while other families were off watching their kids play sports, their family was at the theater, in the front row enjoying art. The Birnhaks have also been the producers on many plays that have been performed in Philadelphia, as well as on Broadway.

Below: PTC producing artistic director Sara Garonzik, Suzanne Roberts, the PTC theater’s namesake, and actor Forrest McClendon. McClendon was just in the highly praised Scottsboro Boys—first on Broadway, and recently at PTC. Founded in 1974, PTC is a leading regional theater company whose mission is to produce, develop and present entertaining and imaginative contemporary theater.

Below: Judy Jutcovich and Louise Dabrow, avid theatergoers, were glad to support PTC.

Below: Toby Mazer, founder of the Delaware Valley Stroke Council (DVSC), and Helen Katz. Toby wants you to know that today the DVSC marks its fifth annual Stroke Alert Day (May 1, 2012). On Stroke Alert Day, medical professionals and volunteers will be stationed in various Delaware Valley hospitals, drug stores, supermarkets and malls, to provide visitors with free blood pressure screenings. The 18th Annual Dr. Howard Mazer Memorial Strides for Stroke 5K Race/Walk on Saturday, June 10th, named in her husband’s honor, will be held at the Art Museum.

Below: Michael Coleman, Ellen Singer Coleman, Jeanne Ruddy and Gary Steuer.

Below: Carol Saline and Paul Rathblott. Saline tells me that she has the most fun at the PTC gala: “It’s fun to see so many friends, and it’s always very entertaining.”

A few of the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Theatre Company were there to enjoy the festive event. Below: Julie Savitch, Brigitte Daniel, PTC board member, and Gennifer Miller and fiance Elijah Dornstreich.

Below: Pina and Salvatore J. Patti, senior vice president at PNC Financial Services Group, and Carol Tamburino, Turner Construction.

Below: Gregory Walker, managing director of the Brothers Network, Earl Harvey, Black Professionals News publisher, Rachel Keene, attorney at Ballard Spahr, and Kalonji Foreman, Kemlon Marketing LLC.

Below: Norman Zarwin, chairman at Zarwin, Baum, Marlene Zarwin, and Marvin and Davida Ginsberg. The Ginsberg’s niece is Sharon Pinkenson, of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office (GPFO). The GPFO sent out a notice yesterday stating that Walnut Street between 16th and 17th will be closed between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2 through Friday, May 4, and also on Monday, May 7, for the filming of the Colin Farrell thriller Dead Man Down.

Below: Sam Katz and Connie Katz. Recently, you may have caught a segment of Katz’s Philadelphia: The Great Experiment on 6 ABC. The multi-part film series is from his production company, History Making Productions. They are now working on the third part, about the period of 1944 to 1970, which includes the music (American Bandstand), and the cultural status of Philly from Ed Bacon to the revitalization of Philadelphia into a modern city. The working title is “Shakin, Bacon and Renovatin’.”