In the rarefied world of entertaining New York’s elite in the arts, fashion, media and politics it is a daunting task to impress such an audience. Carnegie Hall knocked it out of the park last month when they presented the Medal of Excellence to businesswoman, philanthropist and champion of the arts to Adrienne Arsht. To accomplish such a feet they choose the Grand Ballroom at The Plaza Hotel with food catered by Great Performances. They hired the talented team of Cait & Jules to create a summer garden among the gilded gold walls. As guests enter it was as the French say, Ton-Sur-Ton of different shades of green. To round off the evening and bring it to a whole different level, an A-list of Broadway talent including Liz Calloway belting a Sondheim classic, “Losing my mind,” Mexican pianist Daniela Libman and Canadian singer and trumpeter Bria Skonberg were among the many talented performers that demanded a standing ovation.
According to designer, Cait who transformed the turn of the century ballroom into a summer garden with the help of 10 foot tall green lattice towers holding huge urns of bamboo. Cait continued to explain her design concepts were conceived by “representing the message of resilience in Adrienne’s “show must go on” attitude, two of natures notably prolific plant varieties will be used—fast growing and adaptable, bamboo and mint. Adrienne and bamboo have two things in common-- strength and flexibility. And not to be forgotten a nod to Adrienne’s sweet tooth, bowls of minted malted balls and green M&M’s were enjoyed by guests during the performances. Actually, I caught entertainment personality, Deborah Norville jokingly pouring malted mint balls in her pocketbook as Adrienne looked on.
The opening number to accompany the green motif in the room was the delicious and mouthwatering watercress soup which was the perfect shade of French green to compliment the tabletop design.
What I learned, and am still learning after many years of producing events is there are five elements to a successful and memorable event. First is great food, spectacular venue, amazing guests, beautiful design, and incredible talent to entertain your guests. With all five, it’s a home run! Further, if you’re lucky enough to work with Ginger Vallen, Director of Special Events at Carnegie Hall, or Robert Pullen, Executive Producer of Nouveau Productions, every event will truly be a walk in the park.