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Attendees help serenade honorees at Pittsburgh CLO Guild Ball

Sunday, June 16, 2013, 7:33 p.m.

It isn't often that the audience manages to upstage a collection of seasoned performers, but when ReedSmith's Dan Booker appeared tableside of CLOE Awardees Helen and Stephen Casey during the Pittsburgh CLO Guild Ball on June 15 and started crooning the first few chords of “Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance!,” all bets were officially off.

As if that weren't enough, on cue, Linda and Tony Bucci, Christina O'Toole, Maryann Boehm and Suzanne Karlovich (she chaired the evening along with her husband, Ed) were out of their seats for a routine that involved the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera performers, ending with the aforementioned honorees being escorted center stage and put, literally, on a pedestal.

“I decided to keep my day job,” said board chair Patti Matty, who also had joined in. “I still don't have my breath. ... I don't know how these kids do it.”

Rock, Roll & Remember, the 58th annual ball hosted by the CLO Guild, won't soon be forgotten for a variety of reasons. Ambiance-wise, there was an 180-degree spiral from the chic, cocktail lounge settings of years past. Plastic table coverings, floral centerpieces meant to resemble giant ice cream cones, and Dixie Cups filled with party mix were used in the hopes of mimicking a juke joint. From an entertainment standpoint, however, the CLO students and seasoned pros showed an outstanding capacity to inject a jolt of energy into the ballroom of the Westin with a zippy rock 'n' roll-on-Broadway montage that oozed with vintage charm.

Earlier in the evening, CLO executive producer Van Kaplan (with Mary Jane Brennan) had hinted of “something sensational planned,” with regard to the performance, a promise that delivered for the likes of Pink Box co-chairs Anne Liparulo and Kristin Brennan, Kim and Curt Fleming, Bill and Sandy Lambert, Rich and Laurie Mushinsky, Janice and Ernie Meade, Wynne Fedele, Helen Wylie, Carol and Mike Bleier, and Tom and Chris Kobus.

On a bittersweet note, gone-but-not-forgotten friends of the Guild were remembered in touching fashion, the most recent being former prexy Norma Sobel, who passed away in April.

“Rather than mourn the loss, let's toast her,” Matty said to the crowd of 300. “She was never one to miss a party.”




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