The passengers arrived, the conductor punched their tickets, the train left the station, and Countess Constantina Chattington welcomed her guests on board the Orient Express for Palm Beach Dramaworks’ (PBD) 18
Anniversary Gala. Nancy & Gene Beard, the Gala Chairs, were there, as were Honorary Chairs Karin & John Strasswimmer, Congresswoman Lois Frankel, Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio & Mr. Charles Muoio, and legendary actor Christopher Plummer. Also along for the ride was the brilliant Hercule Poirot, and a good thing, too: shortly after the Countess introduced those “near and dear” to her heart, one of them murdered her – much to the delight of the revelers, as it gave them the opportunity to help Poirot solve the crime.
That was the scene on March 24 at the Kravis Center’s Cohen Pavilion, which was decorated to suggest the dining car of the fabled train celebrated in fiction and film. The theme of the evening was, of course, “Murder on the Orient Express,” and the nearly 240 guests could hear ambient train sounds as they tried to figure out whodunit, danced to the music of The Rich Switzer Trio, and feasted on herb crusted filet of beef, pearl onion-tomato jam, potato confit, blackberry port reduction, rainbow carrots, creamed kale and baby parsnips, followed by black forest molten cake, brandied cherries, milk chocolate ganache, and raspberry sorbet.
PBD’s biggest fund-raising event of the season was packed with highlights. Resident Director J. Barry Lewis was the recipient of the 12
annual Shelly Award, which is named after the late theatre impresario Shelly Gross and honors an outstanding individual in recognition of his or her exceptional commitment, support, and advocacy on behalf of the company. Producing Artistic Director William Hayes presented Lewis with the award and spoke warmly of his artistry and his tremendous contributions to PBD.
“The award was richly deserved and long overdue,” said Hayes. “Barry’s wonderful work helped us get to where we are today and will continue to enrich us as we move forward.”
Guests were also treated to the song stylings of Jill & Rich Switzer, co-hosts of
The Morning Lounge
on Legends 100.3 FM and “jazz royalty in Palm Beach County,” who wowed them with music from the Great American Songbook.
Central to the evening was the clever, elaborately staged mystery with Poirot (Gary Cadwallader) calling each suspect to the floor and exposing his or her motive for killing the Countess (Hayes). The suspects were the Nurse (Managing Director Sue Ellen Beryl), the Spiritual Advisor (Irene Adjan), the Childhood Lover (Lewis), the Baron and Baroness (Barry & Louise Snyder), the Private Secretary (Elizabeth Dimon), Boris and Natasha (Esther & Sid Dinerstein), the Granddaughter (Lara Wagener), Charlottina and Her Husband (Marlene & Marty Silver), the Doctor (Dennis Creaghan), the Favorite Actress (Patti Gardner), and the Blackbeard of Wall Street and His Wife (Gene & Nancy Beard). Also participating in the show was Bruce Linser, who portrayed the Conductor. After the guests had all the facts, they voted to determine the killer.
Generous supporters included Dinner sponsors Stephen Brown & Jamie Stern, Nancy & Gene Beard; Decoration sponsors Esther & Sid Dinerstein; Entertainment sponsors Don Brown & The Honorable Ann Brown, Louise & Barry Snyder; Table sponsors Penny Bank, Susan Bloom, Julie & Phil Geier, Susan & Larry Goldfein, Roe Green & Priscilla Heublein, Sherry & Stephen Jacobs, Judith & Lew Kramer, Marilyn Meyerhoff & Sam Feldman, Oasis -- Diane & Mark Perlberg, Marlene & Martin Silver, Karin & John Strasswimmer, Mimi & Frank Walsh; Cocktail sponsors Citi Private Bank, First Republic Bank, K.C. & John Halpern, Beverly & Stuart Halpert, Helga & John Klein, Priscilla Leslie, Emily & Naj Pervez, US Trust, MARC USA LLC – Anthony Bucci; Gift Bag sponsors Nancy & Gene Beard, Esther & Sid Dinerstein.
The Gala Committee was made up of Penny Bank, Susan Bloom, Stephen Brown, Steven Caras, Esther Dinerstein, Sherry Jacobs, Priscilla Leslie, Sid Lesowitz & Peter Rogers, Pamela McIver, Marilyn Meyerhoff, Carlton Moody, Marlene Silver, and Louise Snyder.
“It was a terrific evening and we are so grateful to everyone who came to support PBD,” said Beryl. “Revenue from the event goes a long way to help sustain the company. I want to send a special thanks to our gala chairs, our honorary chairs, our sponsors, and the gala committee, whose hard work and steadfast commitment made the evening such a great success.”