Fashion, Footlights and Lots of Fabulous!
Written By Joan Lerch
Prepare to welcome spring on a perfectly delivered high note this month, when St. Louis welcomes an internationally acclaimed soprano, as well as the brilliant young vocalist who brought Jennifer Hudson to her feet on NBC’s “The Voice.” The excitement continues the second week of April, beginning with a fashion show straight from a New York design house, and concluding with a black-tie gala at the Stifel Theatre.
It all begins March 29, when multi-Grammy winner soprano Christine Brewer is the special guest host at the 10th annual Sing for Siteman concert at John Burroughs School. Proceeds from the concert, chaired by Pat Burkhart and Kim Eberlein, benefit the Siteman Cancer Center’s Discovery Fund in support of cancer research projects.
Brewer will be joined on stage by four artists from Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: Teresa Castillo, Rehanna Thelwell, Edward Graves, and Robert Mellon, accompanied by pianist Timothy Cheung. Soprano Susannah Biller will also be part of the concert’s 10th anniversary celebration.
The Burroughs Performing Arts Center will also welcome back one of its own, Kennedy Holmes, described by singer Blake Shelton as “the greatest artist of all time” after her spectacular performance on “The Voice.” Her special guest appearance will be a first for Sing for Siteman, but the Burroughs stage is familiar territory to the current eighth grader.
Presented by Centene Charitable Foundation and hosted by Edward Jones, the evening begins with a cocktail reception, followed by the concert and then an opportunity to meet the artists. “We are forever grateful for the artists who offer their time and talents to make this event possible, the volunteers who help make it happen each year, and of course all of the supporters who come out to enjoy a great concert for an important cause,” says Timothy J. Eberlein, MD, director of the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.
If you need further proof that winter is well and truly banished, look no further than the second week of April, when Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis launches Variety Week, their pillar fundraising campaign to benefit children with physical and developmental disabilities. The highly anticipated events begin with a glamorous fashion show, wrapping up with a can’t-miss-it evening described as “St. Louis’ premier black-tie gala.”
The curtain opens with the Runway Lights Fashion Show at Union Station on April 6. The perennial favorite, which includes an elegant gourmet luncheon, has showcased Ralph Lauren, St. John, Carmen Marc Valvo, and other notable names through the years. This year’s runway models will be dressed in the Spring 2019 collection by Lafayette 148, the New York-based fashion house known for sophisticated, clean-lined designs and luxury fabrics. No matter which pieces you decide you must have, you’ll be in stellar company — fans of the groundbreaking brand include Helen Mirren, Glenn Close, Michelle Obama, Drew Barrymore and Oprah Winfrey.
Runway Lights will once again be chaired by Thelma Steward, the vice president of Variety’s Board of Directors and a much-loved supporter of the Variety kids. “Thelma is just a beautiful soul,” says Jean Larson Steck, Variety’s director of communications. “She’s so genuine, she really relates to the kids and knows how to reach them.” Although Steward has been an integral part of Variety’s mission for many years, Steck says she sometimes hesitates to speak at events because she’s prone to emotional tears. “That really speaks to her genuineness.”
If the Runway Lights Fashion Show whets your appetite for a wardrobe re-do, why not start with a new evening gown for Dinner With the Stars? The glamorous night of dining and entertainment closes out Variety Week on April 13, in the Art Deco splendor of the Stifel Theatre (formerly the Peabody Opera House). This year’s headliner is Grammy-award winning musician Sting.
Dinner With the Stars will also celebrate Variety’s 2019 Man and Woman of the Year, chosen for their contributions to the St. Louis community. Past years have honored some of the city’s most prominent citizens, including Thelma Steward in 2012, and her husband David Steward, in 2006. This year the charity has chosen media executive Spencer Koch and civic leader Carol Staenberg to be Variety’s 2019 Man and Woman of the Year.
For 23 years, Variety Week has all come together under the guidance of chair Marilyn Fox. When her husband Sam (Variety’s 2002 Man of the Year) was US Ambassador to Belgium, the St. Louis native returned to her hometown to continue her leadership role. “She is just a delightful person and they both do so much for the community,” Steck says. And thanks to the generous support of the Centene Charitable Foundation, the Steward Family Foundation, and World Wide Technology, all proceeds from the fundraising events directly benefit Variety.
An opportunity to support cancer research and children with disabilities— Can you think of a better reason to get dressed up and have a fabulous time?