‘I just got this out of my mother’s closet,” says Pamela Morandi of her orange polka dot cocktail dress. Morandi was one of 600 guests at McCarter Theater’s “Swinging’ 60s” gala benefit on Saturday, May 5, many of whom came dressed in ’60s garb — including tie-died t-shirts and fishnet stockings (not necessarily on the same person).
The evening’s retro tone was set at the Berlind Theater entrance, where University Place had been renamed Abbey Road. Prior to the 8 p.m. performance of the Fab Faux, named “the greatest Beatles cover band” by Rolling Stone Magazine, guests enjoyed cocktails and dinner by caterer Jimmy Duffy and Sons. Serving as table centerpieces were life-size guitars, hand-painted or decorated by theater VIPS and luminaries. For example, the “In the Jungle” guitar was created by Eugene Lee, the production designer of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, who has designed several shows for McCarter, including “Mrs. Packard,” currently running in the Berlind Theater. Lee is currently represented on Broadway by “The Pirate Queen” and “Wicked,” for which he won his most recent Tony. Other guitars were created by film and televison actor John Amos, bestselling author David Sedaris, actor John Lithgow, and Princeton resident and internationally-known photographer Ernestine Ruben.
The Duffy catering clan really kicked it up a notch with its 60s-themed desserts: Apple Records’ blown sugar apples with passionfruit mousse and creme Anglaise; Strawberry Fields mini strawberry tiramisu; peace symbol chocolate and orange tarts; phyllo and chocolate joints (yes, that’s not a typo); maharishis chai spiced creme caramel with pistachio crisp and seasonal berries; While My Guitar Gently Weeps chocolate and pistachio tear drops; and lemon beehives.
After the concert, the Guitar Project auction brought in about $12,000, and the dance floor was packed until midnight — the crowd loved Dr. K’s Motown Revue, back by popular demand this year. Another item in the silent auction — a pair of sapphire and pearl earrings that retail for about $2,000, donated by Hamilton Jeweler — were worn during the gala by Piper Huggins, director of corporate and foundation for McCarter.