Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2014

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Columnist Elizabeth Foyt: NDT’s Nutcracker Holiday Market a seasonal joy

SIGNALING THE BEGINNING of the gala holiday season in the eyes of many Southern Nevadans is the Nevada Dance Theater Guild's weekend for the Nutcracker Holiday Market. A treasure to behold, once again it held a trove of offerings certain to please all supporters, including splendid shopping from specialty vendors to elegant fashion designs, as presented by Neiman-Marcus at "The Art of Fashion" luncheon.

The "Top Hat and Evening Glove" gala, a much celebrated dinner dance held on Saturday evening, found Nevada Dance supporters, including Bill and Norma Land, Barbara and Stan Jones, Francine Pulliam and Terry Graves with Veda and Jimmy Costello, as well as Jan and Owen Nitz and their extended family, in the throng, strolling and shopping the Nutcracker Holiday Market prior to dinner.

An annual event, produced by the NDT Guild to benefit the ballet and dance company, the gala was co-chaired by Jennifer Tuttle and Helene Walker, with stellar efforts from co-chairs including Linda Richardson, Jodie Tarkanian, Jane Bell, Christine Shaw-Taylor and Leslie Trayer, to name just a few.

Making their way to the holiday-embellished tables for dinner were Deborah and Steven Shaiken, who later jetted off to Orlando for a surprise birthday party honoring Universal Studio's president. Nearby were Tom and Ann Lynch, Colette and Sydney Saltz, Andrea Thomas with Bob Spinelli, Ken Walker, Wendy and Richard Plaster, Jack London and Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Dushman.

Volunteers, including Sonie MacAuley, Barbara Stout, Tove Allen and Debbie Swissman, helped keep the spirited evening lively as they greeted Dr. Rob and Lynn Hunter, Jim and Sandee Comito, Mike and Rhonda Mona, Danilu and Jack Coskey and Denise and Marc LeMoine, as well as Albert and Angela Guida and table hosts Andrew and Jodi Fonfaa.

Settling down to enjoy the ever-so-romantic exhibition of ballroom dancing during dinner were Ann Evans, Dr. Tom Wright with Marjorie Barrick, Larry Finuf and Toni Clark and Elizabeth and Ron Kopf, as well as Diana and Jay Moss. Nearby, in the corporate sponsor circle, were Jenny Des Vaux Oakes and Helena Brus of Sierra Health Services, joined by executives Dina Pirrone, Audrey Boyer, Donna Hines and Susan Brown.

Nevada Dance Theater, whose work is furthered by such events, will present the holiday classic "The Nutcracker," Dec. 13-28. This year, special Sunday matinees for the younger patrons will include "Sugar Plum Parties," hosted by the NDT Guild and featuring cookies and fruit punch. Reservations for all performances go fast and are best made immediately by calling 895-3801.

Opera luncheon

Nevada Opera Theater Guild members have again created a special offering with their annual Holiday Luncheon, slated for Dec. 14 at Caesars Palace. Opening at 11:30 a.m. with a champagne reception, followed by a gourmet luncheon in the Emperors Ballroom in the new Caesars Tower, this event truly combines all the musical beauty of the season with the spirit of sharing and mutual regard for the fine arts. Tove Allen is chair of the luncheon and has helped to arrange a program featuring European opera star Judy Moore with Nevada Opera Theater artists Ben Litvinoff and Suzanne Vinnik. Also appearing will be members of the Nevada Opera Theater Chorus, as well as harpists Caryn and Michelle Gott. Tickets are $50 per person, with reservations by calling 436-7140.

Showroom opening

Villeroy and Boch ushered in a new level of design service with the opening of its Southern Nevada showroom on West Russell Road. Rarely seen under a single roof together, the showroom and adjoining warehouse offer the full line of Villeroy and Boch crystal, china and flatware, with designs ranging from classic to contemporary, as befitting a 250-year-old company with a strong German heritage. Showcased as well are the hand-painted coordinating fabrics and custom furniture by Soleil Design, joined by Villeroy and Boch's most elegant ceramic tile and stone pieces.

Hosting the opening party for select clients and designers was Stephen Leon, president of Soleil, and his wife, fellow interior designer Barbara Woolf. Attendees included Marty Resnick, Michelle Gibbons, Steve Edwards, Mark Curtis, Daria Ochoa and Steve Key.

Guests enjoyed tours of the facility and lingered on to enjoy a sumptuous feast prepared by Rainbow Catering. Serving islands offered freshly cooked roast tenderloin of pork, pasta with Alfredo and pesto sauces, cashew chicken and assorted Asian side dishes and hearty bouillabaisse served with crusty French bread. Helping with hostess duties was Tracy Tylman-Bressan, who explained the business also caries a full line of products necessary to care for the luxury stone, tile and fabrics.

Sam's Christmas

Christmas a la country-western has arrived at Sam's Town, just in time to be enjoyed by National Finals Rodeo fans and locals alike. A recent gathering on the private balcony overlook above the resort's Mystic Falls Park provided a perfect vantage of the wonderland below. While gilded horseshoes, snow-dappled cowboy hats, festive boots and other accents are used in the seasonal decor, the really charming touches are in the Santa hats and tiny mufflers of mittens worn by the animated woodland creatures who inhabit Mystic Falls Park inside Sam's Town. Entrancing adults and children alike, these animals and the surrounding glow of twinkling lights make ideal photo shots, greatly adding to the excitement of the season for all.

Our evening was jointly hosted by Sam's Town Vice President and Assistant General Manager Blake Cumbers and Vine Manfredi, vice president for marketing and public relations. Under their direction, chefs and staff, representing the resort's four major restaurants, prepared and served specialties from their extensive menus. The balcony, with candles and tablecloths, became a tiny bistro with the most tempting dishes offered from Papamio's, Billy Bob's, Diamond Lil's and Willy and Jose's.

Executive Chef Kiko Granado, who opened Willy and Jose's 16 years ago, chatted genially while serving guests Pauline Bell, Myram Borders, Cathy Bittinger, Kay and Bruce Spotleson, Judy Robinson, Henry Harris and a host of others. Lynn Plummer, advertising coordinator, assisted with the dinner party and helped to distribute the fanciful wolves, deer, beavers and other stuffed animals that are part of the collection of woodland creatures from Mystic Falls Park.

Magical event

With a sparkle and glory reflective of the many hearts and hands which helped create it, the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, 6300 W. Oakey Blvd., opened its season. Designed for the child in all of us, this truly magical offering is filled with tiny treasures, hand-wrought decorations, unexpected fairyland scenes and generous evidence of support for the mentally challenged clients served so well by Opportunity Village.

Opening night festivities were splendid, from our welcome by costumed knights and their ladies to the leisurely tour of the forest with its uniquely decorated trees and scenes from many lands and religions. A tented pavilion was the stopping point for many as we enjoyed the gingerbread village, the handiwork of top chefs from the Rio, Frontier, Costco, the Vo-Tech culinary arts program, Fitzgeralds and other supporters. With us in the huge crowd were guests Steve and Denny Conrad with Jean Nidetch, Blake and Commissioner Lorraine Hunt, Pat and Charlie Cavagnaro, state Sen. Kathy Augustine, Dr. Aug and Louise Orci and Jack and Nancy Winston, with Judge Fran Fine, Helen Sax, UNLV Rebel Football Coach Jeff Horton and Joe Scott also glimpsed in the congenial crowd.

A processional was formed as guests moved from the cocktail reception area into the ballroom for dinner. Awaiting them was a superb meal with each splendid course, sponsored by donors, resorts and restaurants, served by an army of professionals who volunteered their services for this worthy cause. Trumpeters heralded the beginning of the evening's program and the arrival of Camelot's honorary co-chairs Larry Ruvo and Sig Rogich. With them were the royal knights and ladies, each an elected official, including Harry Reid, Mary Kincaid, Lorraine Hunt, Richard Bryan, Jim Gibbons, John Ensign, Bruce Woodbury, Michael McDonald, Larry Brown, Arena Adams and Jan Jones.

Rino Armeni lent his grace and elegance to the program as master of ceremonies and directed much of the pageantry which followed. Gifts for the evening given each for the guests included Neiman-Marcus silver keychains embossed with "Magical Forest 1997" and bottles of Godiva liqueur from Southern Wine and Spirits. The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village opens at dusk every evening through Dec. 27, with the help of volunteers, and provides families with a special mood of celebration for a nominal donation.

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