La Jolla Playhouse Gala

La Jolla, CA – La Jolla Playhouse’s annual Gala was held on Saturday,  March 19,  2022, co-chaired by  longtime supporters and Playhouse Trustees  Debby Jacobs  and  Kay Gurtin. Proceeds from this stunning annual event support the Playhouse’s innovative New Play Development and Learning & Engagement programs.


The evening featured a series of performances by two Broadway powerhouses:  James Monroe Iglehart, Tony Award winner for his role as the “Genie” in Disney’s  Aladdin  and star of the Playhouse’s Broadway-bound musical  Memphis; and  Daphne Rubin-Vega, who recently starred in the film of  In the Heights, earned a Tony Award nomination for her role as “Mimi” in the original Broadway production of  Rent, and appeared in the Playhouse’s acclaimed productions of  Miss You Like Hell  and  Faust.  


The evening also included tributes to two Playhouse trailblazers, honoring the philanthropic contributions of Playhouse trustee  Sheri L. Jamieson, who launched the Sheri L. Jamieson New Work Development Fund for La Jolla Playhouse; and the artistic excellence of Tony Award-nominated actor and playwright  Charlayne Woodard, who has written and/or appeared in numerous Playhouse productions, including the 2021/2022 season opener,  The Garden.  


As an added highlight, Gala Underwriters with a qualifying gift were treated to an exclusive performance by Broadway icon and Tony Award winner Idina Menzel  (Broadway’s  Wicked, Rent, Frozen film) at the Underwriters’ Party on January 13, 2022 at a spectacular private residence. Menzel is developing the new musical  Redwood  with La Jolla Playhouse, which she is co-writing with Kate Diaz and Tina Landau.


The Gala began with a cocktail party in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre Lobby and Taper Plaza in the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theatre District. Guests were the welcomed  inside the Potiker Theatre, which was transformed into a beautiful cabaret space with luxury booth seating. A specially-prepared menu crafted by Chef  Jeffrey Strauss/Pamplemousse Grille  was paired with hand-selected wines to create an exquisite culinary experience.  

Throughout the evening, the Gala space came alive with musical performances by  Iglehart  and  Rubin-Vega. The event concluded with an after-party, where guests continued to mix, mingle, dance and enjoyed a special live performance by DJ and musician Alex Seaver, professionally known as  Mako, along with cocktails by Snake Oil Cocktail Co. and late night bites and desserts.


For guests at the Commanderie and Sommelier ticket levels, the Playhouse has lined up a group of  Wine Hosts  to curate a true sensory experience from the hosts’ private wine collections. Each host will take their Gala table on a journey of their choosing – be it by region, varietal or pairings.


In addition to Co-Chairs Debby Jacobs and Kay Gurtin, the  2022  Gala Committee  included Denise Bevers, David Bialis, Hope Carlson, Lisa Casey, Michelle Chereque, Annie Ellis, Luke Gulley, Laura Spielman, Susan Tousi and Katie Wynn.


Honoree Biographies

Sheri L. Jamieson  has served on the Board of Trustees at La Jolla Playhouse for nearly two decades. In 2019, her generous support helped establish the Sheri L. Jamieson New Work Development Fund for La Jolla Playhouse, an essential endowment fund that will help safeguard the resources to support the Playhouse’s longtime commitment to new work development in perpetuity, and secure its place as a vibrant and supportive home for artists to create the new and the next in American theatre. She is an alumna and longtime supporter of UC San Diego, including the Moores Cancer Center, Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, the University Art Gallery and the Jacobs Medical Center. In 2020 she was honored with UC San Diego’s True Triton Award. She also served as a founding member of the J. Paul Getty Villa Council and the Philodorai Society at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.


Charlayne Woodard  has written and performed four acclaimed solo plays: the Playhouse-developed  Pretty Fire  (LA Drama Critics and NAACP Awards) and  The Night Watcher  (LA Drama Critics Award), as well as  Neat  (Irving and Blanche Laurie Theatre Vision Award),  In Real Life  (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, Audelco, Backstage West Garland and NAACP Awards), and the Playhouse-commissioned  The Garden, which kicked off the theatre’s 2021/22 season. Her multi-character plays are  Flight  and  Phenom. Charlayne’s recent acting credits include  Daddy  by Jeremy O. Harris;  Hamlet  (Gertrude), dir. By Sam Gold;  The Substance of Fire  (2ST revival) by Jon Robin Baitz;  The Witch of Edmonton  (Obie Award);  In the Blood  by Suzan-Lori Parks (Obie Award);  Fabulation  by Lynn Nottage and  Stunning  by David Adjmi. She has also appeared in  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shout Up a Morning, The Good Person of Setzuan  and  The Nightingale  at La Jolla Playhouse. On Broadway, she was in the original company of  Ain’t Misbehavin’  (Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations). She is a regular on the FX series  Pose  and recurs on both  Prodigal Son  and  Sneaky Pete. She trained at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from DePaul University, and is a member of The Actor’s Studio.

 Gala Artist Biographies

Tony Award winner  James Monroe Iglehart  is a native of the San Francisco Bay area. He most recently appeared on Broadway in two productions simultaneously – in the smash-hit  Hamilton, playing Lafayette/Jefferson, and with  Freestyle Love Supreme  as their special guest star. He made his Broadway debut in  The 25th  Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Iglehart then originated the role of Bobby in  Memphis  on Broadway before landing the role of Genie in  Aladdin. For his work as the Genie, James won both the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. James made his sold-out solo debut at 54 Below in a show entitled "How the Heck Did I Get Here?"  He was brought back for a sold-out return engagement shortly thereafter. James has brought his act to concert venues across the country. He recurred on the Netflix series  Maniac  opposite Jonah Hill and Emma Stone  and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt  as Coriolanus Burt, the rival of male protagonist Titus Andromedon, played by Tituss Burgess. James also guest-starred on  At Home with Amy Sedaris, the Fox television shows  Perfect Harmony  and  Gotham  and on CBS'  Elementary  and  The Good Wife. He voices the role of Lance Strongbow on all three seasons of the hit Disney animated television show  Tangled. He made his feature debut opposite Richard Gere, Peter Dinklage and Julianna Margulies in the  Three Christs and next up will be seen in a supporting role in the  Enchanted  sequel  Disenchanted, as part of “Robert’s” (Patrick Dempsey) crew. This, and all things, for his perfect wife Dawn.

Daphne Rubin-Vega  is a two-time Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee and recipient of the Theater World, Obie and Blockbuster Awards. She starred in the Playhouse’s productions of  Miss You Like Hell  and  Faust. She is perhaps best known for originating the roles of Mimi in  Rent  and Conchita in  Anna in the Tropics, both Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway shows for which she was nominated for the Tony Award. She also originated the roles of Inez in Quiara Alegría Hudes’  Daphne’s Dive  at Signature Theatre, Rahmi in  Gum, Sofia in Nilo Cruz's  Two Sisters and a Piano, Canary Mary in Suzan-Lori Parks'  Fucking A  (Lucille Lortel nomination) and Lucy inJack Goes Boating  at the Public Theater, as well as starred in the Broadway revivals of  A Streetcar Named Desire,  The Rocky Horror Picture Show  (Magenta) and  Les Miserables  (Fantine). Film credits include Daniela in the recent film of Lin Manuel Miranda’s  In the Heights, Gloria Perez in  Wild Things, starring Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon (Blockbuster Award for Best Supporting Actress),Tia in  Flawless, opposite Robert De Niro, and reprising the role of Lucy in the film version of  Jack Goes Boating. Other screen credits include  Smash,  Justice, Skeleton Woman  (New York Independent Film award),  Virgin, Sex and the City  and  I Like It Like That. Rubin-Vega was a member of the girl group Pajama Party, whose single "Yo No Se" was #1 on the Billboard dance charts. They made two albums on Atlantic Records before she began writing and recording solo singles for the indie dance label Maxi. In 1997, she cut her first album of original music, "Souvenirs" on the subsequently defunct Mercury label and in 2006, she produced, performed, and primarily wrote "Redemption Songs" (Sh-K-Boom).  


Los Angeles-based composer, songwriter and record producer  Alex Seaver  has made an immediate mark with a unique and versatile approach spanning genres and influences of music. The Juilliard-trained artist has earned 150-million combined streams to date as frontman for Pop/Electronic project  Mako,  while contributing music across film, television, video games, radio, and streaming services. As a performer, he has toured internationally with artist David Guetta, performed at the Coachella and Lollapalooza music festivals, in addition to headlining tours across North America and orchestral appearances at Carnegie Hall. Seaver’s work as a pop songwriter has earned him credits with Avicii, Steve Angello, Alan Walker, Madison Beer, R3hab, and Against The Current.


Underwriters’ Party Artist Biography

Idina Menzel  is a powerhouse multi-hyphenate: a singer, an actress in film and TV, a songwriter, a Broadway star, and a philanthropist. She rose to fame for her role as Maureen in the hit Broadway musical Rent, and her career took off when she won a Tony Award for her role as Elphaba in the smash musical  Wicked. Her voice can be heard as Elsa in Disney’s Oscar®- winning Frozen, the second highest grossing animated film of all time. The film’s song “Let It Go,” voiced by Menzel, became an instant international phenomenon, winning the Oscar® for Best Original Song and the Grammy® Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. The track reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Menzel the first artist with both a Billboard Top 10 hit and a Tony Award for acting. She later reprised her leading role as Elsa in Disney’s  Frozen 2, which broke records to become the highest grossing animated movie of all time. Menzel can currently be seen in Amazon Studios’ smash hit  Cinderella  and recently wrapped production for the  Enchanted  sequel, Enchanted 2: Disenchanted, alongside Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and Susan Sarandon. She also joined Adam Sandler in the Safdie Brothers’ critically acclaimed and Film Independent Spirit Award-winning A24 film Uncut Gems. A skillful songwriter, Menzel’s prolific recording career includes multiple cast albums and the solo albums: Still I Can’t Be Still, Here, I Stand, idina, and her latest album,  Christmas: A Season of Love, which was released October 2019 via Schoolboy Records/Decca Records. Her first holiday album,  Holiday Wishes, was released in October 2014 and debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Holiday Albums chart. Her third studio LP of original songs, idina, landed in the Top 30 on Billboard’s Top 200 charts upon its release in 2016.  Menzel received the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award at Billboard’s annual Women in Music event in 2014 and performed the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLIX. In January 2017, Menzel was seen in Lifetime’s remake of Beaches, in which she portrays the role of CC, made famous by Bette Midler. Her other film credits include Disney’s Enchanted, opposite Susan Sarandon, Patrick Dempsey and Amy Adams; Maureen in Chris Columbus’ film version of Rent and Robert Towne’s Ask the Dust, opposite Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell.  On television, Menzel appeared in the recurring role of Shelby Corcoran on Fox’s Glee. Menzel was previously seen on Broadway in the original production  If/Then, for which she earned her third Tony nomination. In London, she premiered the Broadway hit Wicked and received the Theatregoers Choice Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She also starred in Michael John LaChiusa's musical, See What I Wanna See,  and in the West Coast premiere of Joshua Harmon’s  Skintight.  Philanthropy is also important to Menzel, who co-founded the A BroaderWay Foundation in 2010, an organization dedicated to offering girls from underserved communities an outlet for self-expression and creativity through arts-centered programs. In 2014, Menzel was recognized as one of Variety’s Power of Women honorees for her work with the organization.


La Jolla Playhouse  is a place where artists and audiences come together to create what’s new and next in the American theatre, from Tony Award-winning productions, to imaginative programs for young audiences, to interactive experiences outside our theatre walls. Founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, the Playhouse is currently led by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse, and Managing Director Debby Buchholz. The Playhouse is internationally renowned for the development of new plays and musicals, including mounting 105 world premieres, commissioning 60 new works, and sending 33 productions to Broadway – including the hit musical  Come From Away  – garnering a total of 38 Tony Awards, as well as the 1993 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.


Photography by Bryan Dahl