Sometimes the universe throws a little serendipity your way. Case in point: I needed to research an event at a catering hall, the setting for my new series. (Here Comes the Body, Catering Hall Mystery #1 by “Maria DiRico,” coming your way from Kensington in March 2020!) Lucky for me, my friend Kristen Sagona is the Senior Event Planner at Pickwick Gardens, a popular party venue in Burbank, CA. Here’s where serendipity comes in: Pickwick just so happened to be hosting an event called “A Night of Magic,” which was a fundraiser for the acclaimed, award-winning Burbank High School Vocal Music Association. BHS VMA is an amazing show choir program that along with its sister high school, Burroughs, inspired the hit TV series, Glee. Burbank High School also happens to be my daughter’s alma mater, so I got to research and party with some friends.
I arrived before the event began and Kristen walked me through the pre-party prep. The main meal was a version of Surf ‘n Turf, with a pasta dish as a veggie alternative. I took notes, learned the hierarchy of Pickwick employees, then joined the gala to experience the event in action, which of course involved purchasing several glasses of wine to see how the bar “worked.”
The event had a Middle Eastern theme, replete with a belly dancer.
Oh, how I wish I was good at belly dancing. Sadly, I’m not.
An entire ballroom was dedicated to a killer silent auction.
Great stuff! I didn’t win anything. 😦
The Night Of Magic also featured actual magic, courtesy of superstar magician, Johnny Wu. There was a great moment at the event when he was introduced – and there was silence. No Johnny. It was a bit like that moment in The Sound of Music where they announce the winners are the Von Trapp Family and a spotlight shines on an empty stage. It was also a potential plotline for Catering Hall Mystery #2 (Did the magician make himself disappear or was he disappeared? Hmmm…) As it turned out, there were no nefarious circumstances; Johnny was just busy doing magic for a small group who had bought a fifteen-minute private show with him.
Then it was time for the most magical part of the evening… performances by the 150 incredibly talented students who make up the half-dozen or so BHS show choir groups.
Out of the Blue, the girls’ choir
I cannot begin to tell you how great each performance was. The energy was infectious. It took my last ounce of will power not to jump on stage with the kids. Since I can’t share my personal videos here, I’ll share the show-stopping number that won In Sync, its premiere group, the title of Grand Champions at the 2017 Show Choir Nationals.
Not only did I gather invaluable research for my series and even come up with a few story ideas, the evening gave me a chance to socialize with people I like but rarely get to see now that my kid has graduated high school. And I got to watch an amazing show.
In the end, the BHS VMA “Night of Magic” turned out to be a night of magic for me. And a delicious one, at that.
Readers, have you ever been to a great gala? Or enjoyed a show choir performance?