This year’s Arena Stage Gala was full of glamor, good times, and, yes, even a little bit of gold, as we celebrated our new artistic director, Hana S. Sharif, and a sublime season of storytelling. In a nod to the opulent 1870s high society portrayed in Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer-winning novel, The Age of Innocence, our Gala embraced the elegance of the Gilded Age—a tribute to the brilliant and beautiful stage adaptation by Karen Zacarías that will be part of our bold 2024/25 Season. Guests dazzled in period-inspired outfits (ball gowns, jewel-toned ensembles, and even cravats), perfectly setting the stage for a themed night. 

Kicking off the evening, attendees were welcomed to a lively reception featuring an electric violinist, dueling pianists, and an aerialist. The excitement built up quite an appetite as guests gathered for a delicious dinner, sharing space and engaging in conversation.

Continuing the warm welcome for Sharif, Trustees and Gala Co-Chairs Nicholas Goad and Alethia Jackson shared, “We both served on the committee that led the year-long search to find Hana, and it’s safe to say it was love at first sight. We are honored to celebrate her and this new chapter for Arena Stage with you tonight.”

Following the lavish meal, Sharif introduced the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, celebrated author, political strategist, and television host Symone Sanders-Townsend, who led a philanthropic paddle raise to support Arena’s acclaimed productions and community programs. Sanders-Townsend praised the invaluable care and support provided to local young people through initiatives like the D.C. Ticket Partnership student matinee program, Moving Stories early childhood literacy program, and Camp Arena Stage multi-arts summer day camp—of which she is a proud Camp parent. Throughout the night, nearly 100 supporters united to raise over $80,000 for these impactful arts education efforts.

The evening’s centerpiece was the presentation of the Beth Newburger Schwartz Award to the Honorable Marcia L. Fudge in recognition of her outstanding public service. The award celebrates a female leader who betters her community through her own unique strengths and talents. In her acceptance, she praised Arena’s community efforts and emphasized the importance of service. Fudge joins a long list of distinguished award recipients, including Arena’s own Molly Smith

The evening crescendoed with a spellbinding musical performance by Tony® and GRAMMY® Award winner Patina Miller, who weaved a tapestry of Broadway classics and Great American Songbook favorites. The festivities continued into the night with an unforgettable after-party.

Thanks to our generous donors, Arena Stage can continue producing groundbreaking stage works and providing vital community programs. We couldn’t do it without their support!

Be sure to join us next spring for our 2025 Gala, which will herald in our 75th Anniversary Season!

Photos of the 2024 Gala by Cameron Whitman.