Decadent, theatrical celebration

A devilishly good time at Centaur Theatre’s 15th annual Fundraising Gala

Montreal – On November 5, Centaur Theatre’s Artistic and Executive Director Eda Holmes and the Theatre’s Board of Directors, Chaired by Michael Baratta, hosted Party in Paradise, Centaur Theatre’s 2019 Gala. Those in attendance were regaled with a glorious night including a spirited auction guided by CJAD’s Aaron Rand; sold-out Treasure Chest prizes, this year’s game of chance inspired by the tree of knowledge and its tempting fruit, hosted by CTV’s Lori Graham; a fabulous silent auction that wrapped around the gallery; an outstanding cocktail dînatoire on the Centaur stage; and immersive entertainment taking place throughout the theatre, with live violin music, sinful songs, a smoking Adam & Eve tango performance, and a mirror-ball Dance Hall. The enchanting party raised $160,000 by the time all the angels went home.

Artistic and Executive Director of Centaur Theatre, Eda Holmes stands proud with Chairman of the Board, Michael Baratta and Gala Chair (and newest Board Member) Anna Giampa at the gates to theatrical paradise at Centaur’s 15th annual Gala.

The brisk night air disappeared as people made their way up the grand theatre steps. Inside, a lush wall of tropical cut-outs of gorgeous flowers and humongous green leaves (recyclable!) played host to red birds and butterflies. Overhead were floating puffy clouds. Decorator extraordinaire Roberto Menegati proved once again his imagination is unstoppable.

Winding vines, fresh flowers, lifelike parrots, flamingoes, and blue velvet completed the look throughout the main floor, as white papery butterflies led the way up the stairs, ending in a divine passage to the main theatre party space. Guests eagerly signed up for ‘Temptation’, a semi-private sitting with the Prince of Darkness, brilliantly performed by Nadia Verruci, and were led down to the bowels of the theatre to Satan’s Speakeasy, where soulful singing and Red Devil cocktails were flowing.

Canapes, cocktails and a paradise of offerings in an ongoing silent auction provided a funky space to mix and mingle.

In the beautifully decorated gallery, guests bid on 50 outstanding silent auctions packages. Items ranged in value from $85-$4,400 and included imaginative names like: Wine Me Up & Watch Me Go; The Shaw Must Go On; Saveur the Moment; and You’ll Be Shoe-ing Them Away. Special lots included piano lessons from Gregory Charles, party catering from Schwartz’ Deli, and a whisky tasting in Burgundy Lion’s Scotch room.

True to its name, Party in Paradise, featured themed areas Heaven, the Garden of Eden, and the Underworld; tying in to Centaur’s anticipated show of the season—an edgy and modern retelling of Paradise Lost. Gala attendees came together having taken a bite of the apple that is Montreal’s award-winning English-language theatre, opening their hearts and wallets to show their support. Speaking beneath a gorgeous painted backdrop of immense, celestial white wings, Holmes thanked everyone,

We are honoured to have tempted you here to join us tonight in our theatrical paradise. You see, temptation isn’t always a bad thing…” adding, “The proceeds from this heavenly event help us put great stories well told on stage year after year in the heart of Montreal. Your generosity means so much.

The large stage was beautifully set with delicious fare on offer from the chefs of LìOLà, including tender Quebec lamb chops, lobster ravioli with cream and saffron sauce, quinoa gnocchi with pesto sauce, and huge enticing meatballs, all paired with hand-picked wine from the SAQ. After dinner, Gala attendees were jovially cajoled by CJAD’s quick-witted Aaron Rand as the evening’s engaging live auctioneer. Notable big-ticket items were a 10-night British Isles Cruise for two with Cruise & Maritime Voyages; a 5-nights ocean-view stay at The Crane Resort, Barbados, with a flight voucher to anywhere in the world courtesy of Air Canada; a 30-minute flight simulation alongside a pilot from CAE; a Montreal-to-Vancouver luxury train ride from VIA Rail; and dinner and opera entertainment in your home with the swoon-worthy chef-tenor Davide Bazzali, who shared a sneak-peek of his vocal skills.

Martin Landry, VIA Rail’s Chief Commercial Officer stops for a sip and a snap in front of the colourful décor with Claudia Subiabre, Debra Rasinger and Edward Murphy

Over the course of the night, guests explored the beautiful, Old Montreal heritage building, capping off the evening with last-minute silent auction bids and decadent desserts from Brasserie 701. Every lucky devil went home with a bounty of offerings including two Centaur Theatre tickets, gift cards for Burgundy Lion’s new hip venture Wolf & Workman, gourmet Italian restaurant LìOLà, and Vieux-Port Steakhouse’s famously decadent buffet brunch; KIND snack bars; and rides on La Grande Roue de Montréal, Old Port’s observation wheel. Centaur’s Party in Paradise counted many esteemed guests in attendance, including Anne-Marie Jean, CEO, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec; and the two honourees of the evening, both long-serving former Chairman of the Board of Centaur Theatre, Hartland J. A. Paterson and Fergus V. Keyes. Also taking in the garden of delights were patrons and partners representing Air Canada, the Rossy Foundation, Groupe Canvar, and TD Securities.The indefatigable Anna Giampà was the Chair of the Gala Committee.People left Centaur’s inspired utopia-for-a-night eager for the rest of the theatrical season.

Ticket revenues cover less than half of the theatre’s annual expenses. Funds raised not only allow Centaur Theatre to produce high-quality professional theatre in the heart of the city, but also covers initiatives such as Theatre of Tomorrow and Saturday Morning Children’s Series. Contributions allow Centaur to employ over 200 local, national and international theatre artists each year and maintain a valuable heritage building.

Since 1969, Centaur Theatre has been telling great stories well told. This annual gala fundraiser is an occasion to celebrate the theatre’s rich legacy and guarantee its vital future.

Gala Committee


Anna Giampà

Michael Baratta**
Toni Bessner
Elisa Desoer
Susan Da Sie*
Silvia Galeone*
Belle Grivakis
Eda Holmes
Rose Mary Maida
Hugh W. McAdams
Roberto Menegati
Beth Noel
Vincent Prager
Nayan Saha
Charlene Todaschuk
Robert A. Walsh

Aaron Rand, CJAD

Lori Graham, CTV
Samantha Bitonti
Richard Young

Dr. Anthony G. Czaharyn*
Paola Farnesi*
Fergus V. Keyes*
Martin R Landry*
Richard Pan*
Hartland J.A. Paterson*
Caitlin Rose*
Robert M. Yalden*

* Member of the Board of Directors, Centaur Theatre Company
** Chairman of the Board of Directors, Centaur Theatre Company

Air Canada
Anna Giampà & Matteo Fiorilli
Cummings & Gold Families
Fednav Ltd.
Canvar Group Inc. 
Power Corporation of Canada
Reitmans (Canada) Ltd.
The Rossy Family Foundation
Systra Canada

Air Canada
Antonopoulos Group
CMV Cruise & Maritime Voyages
Menegati Design
La Grande Roue de Montréal
Pinkerton Flowers
The Crane Resort
VIA Rail Canada
Wolf & Workman

© Photos : Andrée Lanthier & Antoine Saito