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HOUSTON -- Antoinette Maywald admits she has never been good at asking for money -- she's much better at spending it. As chairman of this year's Alley Theatre Ball, Maywald had the opportunity to do both."I've learned a lot about how to ask...

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HOUSTON -- Antoinette Maywald admits she has never been good at asking for money -- she's much better at spending it. As chairman of this year's Alley Theatre Ball, Maywald had the opportunity to do both.

"I've learned a lot about how to ask people for money," Maywald says. "This experience has gotten my confidence up without ever having to be pushy. If people said no, then I left them alone. If they said maybe, then I called them back."

The tactic paid off. Maywald estimates this year's annual charity ball will raise approximately $200,000 for Houston's most prominent resident theater organization. The gala paid tribute to playwright Tennessee Williams and included dinner, dancing and a silent auction. One of the most unusual items auctioned was a walk-on part in an upcoming Alley production and tickets for 20 friends.

Most women donned black for the benefit, held at the Houston Country Club. Many of the young socialites chose full-length black gowns, while a few chose gold, ivory or red dresses. At least one formal pantsuit made an appearance -- Cina Alexander wore a chocolate-brown lacy suit with brightly colored wooden earrings and necklace.