People Watch: Channing says ‘hello’ at Chapman
There was no mistaking that killer smile, mop of hair and deep-throated voice.
The 85-year-old Broadway legend, with over six decades of show business under her belt, sang the songs that launched her career, from “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” to her signature songs from “Hello Dolly,” and chatted about her life.
The effervescent chanteuse/comedian had a lot to say in her one-woman show, “The First 80 Years Are the Hardest,” which she is taking to 24 public universities throughout California to promote the arts (Chapman is her only performance for a private university).
Myron Yeager, dean of Chapman’s School of Communication Arts, under whose auspices she appeared, said, “Her appearance here is part of her passionate ongoing effort to use her career to promote support for students who aspire to professional careers in the arts.”
According to Yeager, Channing had a nonstop day, beginning at 8 a.m. with a rehearsal, TV show taping, lunch with students, a Q&A with students, press conference, a pre-performance reception and dinner for 170 guests, and her 1.5-hour performance. Her energy was evident on stage, as she stated she had performed over 5,000 performances of “Hello Dolly” over 30 years without missing a performance. She did, however, miss one-half of a performance in Kalamazoo, Mich., with food poisoning. “I finally had to leave the stage after throwing up all over it,” she laughed. “I was told if you’re going to miss a performance, Kalamazoo is the place to do it!”
Baritone Matthew McCray, graduate of Chapman’s class of ’98 and founding artistic director of the Ovation Award-winning Son of Semele Ensemble in Los Angeles, entertained with Whitney Kaufman, a theater performance major, singing songs from “Hello Dolly.”
As the curtain opened, with the duo singing the famous “Hello Dolly” chorus, Channing was ushered on stage by Yeager and Chapman President Jim Doti to a standing ovation. When Doti presented a surprised Channing with a Doctor of Arts honorary degree, the audience exploded, with Channing saying, “I’m just beginning. We want to expose these students to the arts. This is far more important than anything I’ve ever done.” And then, in pure Channing comic release, “I make house calls. Just call me. I’ll be there!”
The $100,000 net proceeds benefit the new Carol Channing/Harry Kullijian Scholarship in the Arts, named for Channing and her husband, to be presented to a Chapman student annually.
Best quote, from School of Communication Arts’ Blue Ribbon Committee Chairwoman Leslie Cancellieri: “Watching Miss Channing on stage, I can only conclude that she is more amazing today than ever. I was truly moved by her performance.”
Back at Chapman University on Saturday night, this time in Beckman Hall’s Bush Conference Center, The Community Foundation of Orange held its third annual fundraiser, “Black & White & Orange All Over.” The event netted $180,000 for the foundation’s 2006 programs and honored First American Corp. President and CEO Parker Kennedy as its first Community Champion.
CFO Board Chairman Roger Hobbs was all smiles as he greeted many of the 250 guests. “What makes this group really special is the partnership between the community and the city,” Hobbs said. He said the foundation, formed in 2002, is dedicated to supporting community programs in Orange and Villa Park. It has contributed more than $500,000 in partnership with the Orange Unified School District and the city of Orange to make major renovations to Fred Kelly Stadium. It also has partnered with the city of Orange to raise $4 million to build the Grijalva Park Sports Center and Gymnasium. “We’re within $200,000 of reaching our goal,” he said.
The conference center’s walls featured huge blow-up pictures of Orange in the ’40s, thanks to the historical collections of the Orange Public Library and First American Corp., and guest favors were framed replicas of the same. Dinner highlighted a yummy baked Alaska finale, while velvet-voiced Judy Chamberlain performed jazz and swing standards throughout the evening with her talented six-member back-up.
CFO Board President Tim Paone and Chapman University President Jim Doti, who shared master of ceremonies duties, presided over a lively live auction, with winners of dinner in Sacramento with Assemblymen Todd Spitzer and Bob Huff upping their bids after bidding closed to outdo the other. CFO board member Bill Steiner won the Air Combat USA Fighter Pilot Day for his son Scott, and a stunned Robyn Tunstall won the $1,000 opportunity prize. “I’ve never won anything in my life!” she exclaimed.
Kennedy, an Orange resident with wife Sherry, was born at St. Joseph Hospital, went to school in Orange, and raised his children in the Orange public schools. Honored for his efforts in bettering the greater Orange community through his time, talents and treasure, he said, tongue in cheek, in accepting, “I couldn’t be a philanthropist without Sherry’s love, support and signature.”
A special auction raised more than $10,000 to meet a matching grant from the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation to fund CFO’s newly formed KidsPlay program for 100-plus kids to play sports in the Orange community. The remaining funds raised will be used for the Hobbs Community Scholarship Program for students transferring from Santiago Canyon College to Chapman University and to launch The Foundation Games, a citywide track meet for youth through junior high school age scheduled for April 29 at Kelly stadium.
Representing CFO, Paone presented Hobbs with a “Community Partner for Life” engraved crystal award for his untiring efforts for the foundation.
Halfway through the second set, the quartet was joined by singer Judy Chamberlain. Always an intriguing interpreter of standards, she added a strong dose of rhythmic spunk to the music. Singing a catalytic exchange of phrases with Flory on “You and the Night and the Music,” her participation affirmed the pleasures of straight-ahead, bebop-drenched jazz at its best.
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