Opening night

Former Czech president and playwright Vaclav Havel, and his wife, Dagmar Veskrnova, were in town Wednesday to attend the Wilma Theater's opening night of Leaving, Havel's first play in 20 years. Directed by Prague native Jiri Zizka, the Wilma's co-artistic director, the play stars David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) as ex-chancellor Vilem Rieger. Also attending the sold-out performance of the play's U.S. premiere was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. After the performance, a reception was held in the lobby of the theater.

TV dinner

WHYY held its ninth annual President's Dinner May 17, the first event to be held in its new $12 million, 13,000-square-foot addition, the Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons, which will be used to expand WHYY's programs in video shooting, audio recording, and editing for high school students, teachers, senior citizens, and WHYY members. Dorrance H. "Dodo" Hamilton, who contributed $4 million to the project, was among the 300 guests who attended the fund-raiser. During dinner NPR broadcaster Carl Kasell received WHYY's Lifelong Learning Award. The event raised $250,000 for the station.

Art star

The Institute of Contemporary Art held its annual Spring Benefit May 5 at ICA. The evening honored New York artist Lisa Yuskavage, a Philadelphia native who is a graduate of Temple University's Tyler School of Art. Yuskavage was recognized for her contribution to the arts and for making ICA the site in 2000 of her first solo museum exhibition. Yuskavage's paintings are in a number of museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The event for 150 raised more than $275,000 for ICA.


The Walnut Street Theatre held its 201st Anniversary Gala May 14 at the theater. The evening began with the theater's first Gala Concert, which featured a program of Broadway songs performed by local actors Mary Martello, Jennie Eisenhower, and Ben Dibble, among others, and selections from the Walnut's current production of Fiddler on the Roof, performed by Fiddler cast members. Actor and director Charles Abbott and Citizens Bank received the Edwin Forrest Award. Following the concert, a VIP after-party for 300 was held at Thomas Jefferson University's Dorrance H. Hamilton Building. The gala raised more than $110,000.

Flower power

The Pennsylvania's Horticultural Society's annual Azalea Garden Party & Silent Auction, chaired by Mark and Liz Ward, was held May 5 in the Azalea Garden on Kelly Drive. More than 500 guests attended the Cinco de Mayo-themed event, which featured magicians, horse-drawn carriages, and a full-bloom garden. The party raised more than $50,000 to support year-round pruning, planting, and nurturing of the four-acre garden, which is tended by Friends of the Azalea Garden and Fairmount Park.