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Bmore Social: Baltimore Center Stage Gala

A visual recap of the theater's 61st annual fundraiser, which took on a "Baltimore Renaissance" theme this year.
By Sloane Brown

Baltimore Center Stage Annual Gala: A Baltimore Renaissance
June 1, 2024
6 p.m.-12 a.m.
Baltimore Center Stage

Many plays may have three acts, but the 2024 annual gala for Baltimore Center Stage—which raises funds to produce many of such plays—went one better for its 350+ attendees. Here’s how the “Baltimore Renaissance”-themed evening progressed:

Act I: Guests arrived for the cocktail hour, greeted by a variety of pop-up performances.

Act II: Folks were ushered into the Pearlstone Theatre for performances and the evening’s program.

Act III: The crowd was dispersed to several behind-the-scenes spaces for a seated dinner.

Act IV: The evening commenced with a dance party and entertainment adventures around the building.

Left to right: Chris Jeffries, event co-chair/board member/Kramon & Graham principal; Wendy Jeffries, event co-chair/Spark Solutions Consulting CEO; Sandy Liotta, board chair/Merrill Lynch wealth management advisor; Carl Osterman, Merrill Lynch wealth management advisor
Left to right: Robert Daniels, board member/Maryland assistant attorney general; Brad Kurland, Bridgeway Benefit Technologies vice president
Left to right: Darryl Davis, Truist senior vice president; Nicole Martin, financial advisor; Dr. Tyrone Stanley, Morgan State University director of musical theatre
Left to right: Jesse Baxter, Dramatic Adventure Theatre artistic director; Mary K. Baxter, Howard County Arts Council deputy director; Ken Lundeen, board member emeritus/retired executive; Coleen West, Howard County Arts Council executive director
Left to right: Jade Jones, federal employee; Bob Guth, Columbia-based attorney; Cheryl Guth, board member/retired attorney; Anna Horevay, board member/McGuireWoods attorney
Left to right: Sharonne Bonardi, event co-chair/Federation of Tax Administrators executive director/Maryland deputy comptroller; Jason Bonardi, event co-chair/Travelers Insurance regional director
As a member of the Center Stage Gala host committee, for Chrissy Thornton, planning the right theme for the party also meant planning just the right outfit for it.
“We talked about what the words ‘Baltimore Renaissance’ meant,”  said Thornton, the CEO of the Associated Black Charities (ABC). “Some people were saying Harlem Renaissance. Other people liked the idea of the Renaissance Festival. But I was like, no, it’s the year of Beyonce’s [album] ‘Renaissance’ and we’re looking at Baltimore and its future. So, we should take [the theme] as futuristic.
“Everyone wore silver at Beyonce’s concerts. So, I convinced several other host committee members to use silver in their outfits, too. I found my silver dress on a Chinese website. It cost $59 but took two and a half months to get here.”
The dress itself also underwent its own renaissance. It originally came with big poufy sleeves and a loose-fitting bodice. Thornton cut off the sleeves–using the material for her belt–and refashioned the top to become more form-fitting, using spirit of the party itself as inspiration.
“The Center Stage Gala is where you can be the quirkiest,” she said, “where you don’t have to be so traditional.”
Is this just a warm-up for the ABC CEO? With her own organization’s annual gala less than a week away, we can’t wait to see what look she’s put together.
Left to right: Dionne Spencer, Franklin Templeton vice president; Rob Burks, board member/Brown Capital Management chief compliance officer
Left to right: Adam Frank, Baltimore Center Stage managing director; Kate Berman, Google conversation designer
Left to right: Stevie Walker-Webb, Baltimore Center Stage artistic director; Ken-Matt Martin, Baltimore Center Stage senior producer and artist-in-residence
Left to right: Jason Murphy, Murphy Enterprise CEO; Robyn Murphy, JRM Consultancy CEO