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Michelle Obama Headlines Gala... Dekkers Closing...

At Tuesday’s “Welcome to Washington” tribute, Michelle Obama was billed... Marlies Dekkers closed its first U.S. boutique...

PUTTING EGOS ASIDE: “We want everyone in the [Obama] administration to know that they are welcome to be part of our artistic community,” said Victor Shargai, chairman of the Helen Hayes Awards, who was one of dozens of leading Washington theatrical patrons at Tuesday’s “Welcome to Washington” tribute. The party and show at the 775-seat Harman Center was organized by Michael Kahn, artistic director of The Shakespeare Theatre Company, and was a command performance for a theater scene used to snatching success out from often harrowing jaws of political gamesmanship. The gala proved the community’s mettle. Not only was First Lady Michelle Obama billed as the headliner, but the inviting committee featured a powerhouse lineup of Supreme Court justices — Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito; Sens. Susan Collins and Dianne Feinstein; Washington Post Co. chairman Donald Graham, and British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald and his wife, Julia. Such muscle was utilized in an 11th hour push to fill the hall. “I got my invitation yesterday,” said one prominent guest, who was excited to be included. “This White House needs to give invitees more than 24 hours advance notice,” groused another, who never got the word. Tuesday’s event seemed to have come together at the last minute, even though it had been in the works for more than a month. Just a week ago, at the gathering of actors, producers, directors and patrons for the 25th Helen Hayes Award, no one breathed a word about the upcoming tribute. Then, at an April 15 private party in Georgetown for leaders of the city’s burgeoning theatrical community, White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers appeared to help ratchet up the tribute’s profile. Shortly afterward, the buzz began to build: Rogers was bringing the First Lady. In the end, Tuesday’s event turned out to be an example of the kind of collaboration the new administration hopes to foster in the nation’s capital. “The idea was to bring together communities that haven’t always worked together,” said one guest of the theatrical groups appearing on stage, which included The Washington National Opera, the Arena Stage, Signature Theater, Step Africa, Synetic Theater, the Shakespeare Theater, the Washington Performing Arts Society, the Washington Ballet and the Washington Bach Consort. A moment’s peace, at least on stage.

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