As emcee for the REDCAT Gala on Saturday, Jack Black said he had always hoped his debut at the multidisciplinary theater would include a performance of his “special post, post-modern interpretive dance,” complete with a “big dynamic gymnastic finale.” He pointed out, however, that instead of the usual stage at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, the venue that night had tables filling the room wall to wall.
“I know that CalArts and REDCAT encourage artists to take risks,” Black said, “but I don’t think that injuring the gala patrons is what they had in mind.”
For those wondering how the star of “Bernie,” “School of Rock” and “Kung Fu Panda” came to host the gala, Black said he married into the CalArts family. Black’s wife Tanya Haden studied experimental animation at the California Institute of the Arts, and her father, jazz bassist Charlie Haden, founded the CalArts Jazz Program.
The celebration of REDCAT’s 10th anniversary honored artist Catherine Opie and the Walt Disney Co. Artist Lari Pittman and actor Tim Allen, respectively, made the introductions.
On taking the podium, Pittman praised Opie, not just for her power as an artist, but also for her social power, vulnerability and enjoyment in greeting new people.
“Lari made me cry,” Opie said from onstage. She went on to congratulate REDCAT for reaching “not just 10 years, but a decade,” which she called a marker of what is going to come in the next 10 years.
“A decade means that it’s been here,” she said. “It’s staying around. It’s proven itself. It’s continued to inspire us. It’s continued to bring the community together, to bring all these people together year after year, to give money to celebrate the arts and what the arts mean in Los Angeles.”
For his part, Allen mixed prepared notes with impromptu remarks. Having been named a Disney Legend once for his contributions to the company, he joked, “I know where my bread is buttered on. How else could they get me here?”
The star of “Home Improvement,” “Last Man Standing” and “The Santa Clause” films then applauded the Walt Disney Co. for its continued commitment to CalArts and REDCAT.
“As the voice of Buzz Lightyear, I’m a firsthand witness to the creative genius of some CalArts Alumni,” Allen said of the "Toy Story" movies from Pixar, the animation studio packed with CalArts grads.
Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman accepted the award on behalf of the company.
In keeping with the venue’s adventurous programming, for the night’s entertainment Cynthia Hopkins sang a bird song from her critically acclaimed show, “Must Don’t Whip ‘Em.” She ended by asking patrons to join in with bird calls, which most did with enthusiasm.
Thanking REDCAT for giving her the courage, motivation, energy and strength to continue with her work, she ended with a birthday tune, originally written for a boat’s 100th year.
“For a place like [REDCAT] to not only survive but thrive and flourish for 10 years, it’s more impressive than a boat lasting for 100 years,” she said. This time, she asked the audience to howl with her at her song’s finale, which they did.
Neda and Tim Disney and Cindy and Richard Grad chaired the gala, which raised $600,000.
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