In an evening far removed from its humble beginnings in a repurposed Main Street dance studio, the Alley Theatre raised a record-breaking $1.2 million at its 2018 gala hosted in the grand ballroom of the newly built Post Oak Hotel and chaired by Oscar Brown and Sarah Morgan. The evening honored longtime patron Lynn Wyatt, who received the inaugural Nina Vance Visionary in Arts Award, named for the theater's founder.
More than 500 guests gathered for the Picasso-themed party that coincides with the Alley's May 11 opening of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile (plot summary: Einstein and Picasso meet at a bar). A pre-dinner silent auction offered trips to wine country, Costa Rica, and Argentina alongside fancy bourbon, art, Broadway tickets, and more. Another post-dinner live auction hawked live experiences with Elton John at the Toyota Center and "the Ultimate Houston Astros package."
Company members Jay Sullivan, Elizabeth Bunch, and Todd Waite performed a tribute to Wyatt before she accepted her award, and both Better Midler and opera star Renee Fleming offered their congratulations via letter and video, respectively. Wyatt was presented with a recreation of Nina Vance’s 1947 penny postcard set in crystal before she thanked the crowd and praised the achievements of the Alley, recognized as one of the country's leading regional theaters.
“The soul of any city is the quality of its arts," Wyatt said.