CHARITY: It’s gotten more competitive. The Man and Woman of the Year contest to see who can raise the most money in a 10-month period for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has always encouraged friendly rivalries. Yet as the Austin edition of the national event has grown in size and stature, it has pitted energized teams of friends and colleagues to give ever more generously in the name of their standard bearers. At the AT&T Center, they filled the banquet hall with kinetic energy. What followed might have been the longest live auction on local record. The winners? Of course we were going to tell you: Shannon Wolfson and Rylan Reed. “He’s a survivor,” reports nonprofit ambassador Lisa O’Neill, “She did it for Dad.” Altogether, the 11 candidates (five women, four men) raised a respectable $622,172.
ARTS 1: For the 23rd time, the Austin Critics Table, an informal club of arts writers, bestowed armfuls of laurels on Austin’s creative class, the part associated theater, dance, visual art and classical music. At Capitol City Comedy Club, the three previously announced inductees into the Austin Arts Hall of fame — Heloise Gold, Fidencio Duran and Allen Robertson were warmly cheered. The critics, headed by Robert Faires and Jeanne Claire van Ryzin clearly explained the group’s consensus choices for, well, a lot of awards. (Which reminds me, the Tony Awards are this Sunday.) For a complete list of Critics Table winners, go here to the Statesman’s arts blog.
ARTS 2: I realized while driving to the Hyde Park Theatre this week, that I always perked up for the work of its producers Vicky Boone and, later, Ken Webster. Then along came Mark Pickell to complement Webster’s in-house style, mostly with short, sometimes brutally dark comedies. For “The Strangerer,” an absurdist mashup of Jean-Paul Sartre and the 2004 presidential debate between Sen. John Kerry and President George Bush, Pickell picked three outstanding actors: Webster, Jason Phelps (one of Boone’s muses) and veteran Robert Pierson, making his debut with Pickell’s Capital T Theatre. Here’s Cate Blouke‘s sharp review, published in the Statesman.