- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2002

Dreams became reality at the Studio Theatre gala Saturday night.With all the good news about recent expansion plans, it was hardly surprising that Joy Zinoman , the theater's founder and artistic director, was "in heaven" as she greeted guests in elegant blue silk pajamas that were in keeping with the evening's "concrete dreams" theme.
No wonder. As Serge Seiden , Studio's production and literary manager, pointed out, the theater's ambitious plans to expand are now merely a matter of "bricks and mortar."
In October, the nonprofit theater announced the $2.75 million purchase of two adjacent buildings at 1507 and 1509 14th St. NW, now occupied by an auto repair shop and Ace Electric Co. The additions, which effectively triple the current physical plant, include space for a new theater, offices, costume shops and classrooms.
Susan L. Butler, chairwoman of the theater's board of trustees, announced that about $5.5 million already has been raised for the $9.5 million purchase-and-renovation campaign, including approximately $1 million since October. (The gala raised about $200,000 for the cause.
"People have been very generous," Mrs. Butler said, adding that she remains optimistic the board will be successful in raising the rest of the money in the next two years.
It certainly didn't hurt that trustees Gilbert and Jaylee Mead jump-started the project with a hefty $1 million donation.
With such lofty numbers floating about, there was much to celebrate as guests proceeded from cocktails to a seated dinner for 400 (divided between the main theater and the third-floor administrative space) and then to a choice of an early or late cabaret-style musical revue in the second-floor stage area. Despite the request for pajamas or other "dreamy" attire, most guests predictably opted for traditional black-tie. This is conservative Washington, after all.
There were a few exceptions, especially among the benefit committee and some unsuspecting out-of-towners.
Mailet Ahlbeck and her husband, Jay , from Plainfield, N.J., took the invitation seriously enough to dress in their nightclothes.
"Pajamas, or a black dress with heels; what would you choose?" Mrs. Ahlbeck asked while showing off her ivory ensemble with leopard-print slippers.
MicroStrategy chief Michael Saylo r and pal John Mason Jr . wore tuxedoes but didn't hang around for after-dinner dancing on the main stage with the other guests, who included Victor Shargai, Norman and Winnie Portenoy, Karon Cullen , Democratic pollster Jim Lauer and Susan Levine, Sanju Bansal, Richard and Lois England and writer Sophy Burnham . And pajama-clad Ruth Noble Groom , "Baba" to her many friends, certainly didn't leave without a few go-rounds to favorite '60s tunes with Robin Johnson .
Jen Waters



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