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I told event planner Mitchell Crosby I wouldn't tell this, so of course I will. When Mitchell first began planning the after party for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, he went to Nigel Redden and said, "I want to have it at the top of The Citadel Stadium." Nigel replied, 'WHERE--how does one get there?'"
Well, apparently some got there by being beamed down from other galaxies and some by spaceship, while us more pedestrian sorts simply drove. I understand that deserves some explanation, but first I should say, "Amazing venue choice, Mitchell."
I suspected things were going to be a little out of this world after arriving at the stadium when I jumped on the elevator with Matthew Brockbank, who happened to arrive about the same time, and an otherworldly young lady asked us, "Champagne for the ride up?" Well, who would dare risk offending a lovely alien, so yes, we took her up on it.
After greeting a few guests once we landed at our destination in the skybox atop the stadium, which, by the way is beautifully appointed in a very minimalist sort of way, I decided to step outside into the stadium itself to check out the perspective. Below, the field was alight with what seemed a galaxy of stars, and at regular intervals, these lighted spheres of various colors slowly ascended from the field into the night sky and drifted out of sight into the atmosphere.
Back inside, waiters in spacesuits passed hors d'oeuvres. At one point, two of them held up each end of a long table filled with very down-to-earth biscuits. Oddly, a few steps away I ran into Callie White, who was talking to Mitchell, and asked her, "are these biscuits from your kitchen?" "No!" she replied while looking at Mitchell with mock insult. Turns out all the catering was done by Iron Gate Events, the resident event planner at The Citadel who Mitchell teamed up with on all the party planning.
Stepping outside another door at one side of the skybox, I encountered another full bar (in addition to the two at each end inside). A good crowd had spilled out onto the spacious patio. Against one side of the building, a very realistic representation of the planet Saturn was projected in huge scale. There I ran into Spoleto associate producer Stacy Johnson and Cedar Lake dancer Ana-Maria Lucaciu. The native Romanian trained in Canada and danced all over Europe before coming to the states to join Cedar Lake. She raved about Charleston and the city's famous hospitality, and swore she wanted to return soon under more relaxed circumstances.
Back inside again, I noticed a grand commotion against a back wall. A crowd had gathered with their eyes all diverted towards a black curtain. Suddenly, the veil dropped, revealing...a girl in a huge bubble. Music started, and she began dancing inside her strange cocoon (you don't see that everyday-at least not in Charleston). I asked Randall Felkel, who was standing nearby, "Can we roll her down the stadium stairs in that thing?" He replied, "Well, at first Mitchell was going to roll her down the field, but he didn't take into account the 'stars' down there." I guess the more intriguing question was how in the world she breathed in that thing (she certainly wasn't turning blue, so I assume she was breathing).
Mitchell took the opportunity to lead us all in toasting our honored guests, whom he had gathered all around him. He also explained his inspiration for the theme of the evening: "We thought it would be appropriate, since we were throwing a party for stars from the stage, that we also bring you stars from the heavens."
Well, the party was still going strong at 12:30 when I headed out, but I must say, there are Spoleto parties, then there are Spoleto parties. In my opinion, this one tops the field--in more ways than one.