While energetic young valets ran up and down the block parking the arriving BMW’s and Jaguars, a professional photographer kept busy inside snapping shots of the fashionably dressed guests. It would not have surprised me to see a camera crew from “Entertainment Tonight,” because this was an elegant evening with all the glamour of a Hollywood party. The scene was the palatial West Isle lakeside home of gracious hosts, Bill and Claudia Wilson in The Woodlands. The occasion, last Saturday evening, was the gala launching cocktail party and fundraiser for the new music and theatrical company, DLP Productions, which voice teacher and founder, Deanna L. Peden, has aptly titled, “Houston on Broadway in The Woodlands.” As my guest and I walked through the grand entrance gate, the imposing home reminded me of the lavish Long Island compound of the Corleone family that one might recall from “The Godfather” film. Just inside, guests found themselves first in a rotunda-style salon (with a hip modern flavor in both furnishings and artwork), while a spiral staircase beckoned to a surrounding upper balcony off the rooms above. And that was just the beginning.
Guests were directed to freely roam the lovely and rambling home, which, for this special occasion, had countless silent auction displays throughout the house, and out onto the pool deck and many patio areas that surrounded the property and gently sloped down to the private dock on the starlit cove below. The weather gods were cooperating with a pleasantly mild evening, and while shopping for their auction selections, visitors were kept busy by the courteous catering staff that circulated with a delicious array of hors d’oeuvres. At one end of the house the bartenders on a secluded patio served up first-class Martinis and Cosmopolitans while Woodlands High School freshman, Sam Cashion, (one of Ms. Peden’s young protégés) served up lively music with some of his original songs for guitar, backed by synthesized accompaniments of his own design. At the other end of the house the bartenders catered to those preferring beer, wine, or soft drinks. On that patio there was a generous buffet of assorted hot appetizers and elegant cheese spreads, while just inside, in a foyer off the spacious kitchen, there was a many-tiered pyramid of martini glasses containing delicious shrimp cocktail. Not far from there, in yet another living room, could be found a dessert bar that had no shortage of chocolate treats. And everywhere were more of the countless silent auction opportunities that included such items as conducting lessons from The Woodlands Symphony‘s own musical director, Dagang Chen, assorted celebrity-autographed memorabilia, works of art, a registered Cocker Spaniel puppy, a golf bag with Woodlands Country Club golf privileges included, and week-long vacations in Maryland or the North Carolina mountains, just to name a few of the auction offerings.
The happy throng was then addressed by Ms. Peden who spoke with infectious enthusiasm about her hopes for the new theatre company (DLP is a 501c(3) not-for-profit organization), as well as the need for an intimate new theatre building that would allow performers to more directly convey their artistic energy by singing without amplification while showcasing both the rich possibilities of the human voice and the ever-growing pool of talent in Montgomery County and The Woodlands . She envisions a theatre company that will cross generational lines so young and old performers can “learn from one another.” An experienced singer herself, Peden has not only taught voice throughout the country, she also performed leading roles in NYC, Boston, Los Angeles, and Miami, prior to opening her Woodlands vocal studio in 2003 and working with countless area students, including many from TWHS and the John Cooper School.
A highlight of the evening was a performance by a group of Peden’s young stars now rehearsing for DLP’s forthcoming production of the musical, “Grease,” which will feature young performers from a dozen area schools. The song, “Summer Nights,” seemed most appropriate on such a lovely balmy evening, and the energetic young cast was rewarded with enthusiastic cheers and applause from the assembled. Then it was time for the last minute bidding in support of a wonderful new organization.
Those wishing to support DLP may send check contributions made out to: DLP Productions. The address is DLP, 63 Ivory Moon Place, The Woodlands, TX. 77381. Website: http://www.dlpproductions.org.
Grease will be performed June 19th-22nd, 2008, at the Nancy Bock Performing Arts Center, with 7:30 performances each night, and additional 2.p.m. matinees both Saturday and Sunday.
(The Courier 4.4.08)