Stars and Sparkles Illuminate UCB Gala

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Although the big-name stars arrived fashionably late, yesterday's season-opening celebration of Cal Performances still managed to create a stir in a big tent on Lower Sproul Plaza.

Actress Sharon Stone and her husband, San Francisco Examiner executive editor Phil Bronstein, served as honorary chairs of the night's events, which included dinner, a celebrity auction, a performance of the Mark Morris Dance Company and a dessert reception.

The gala benefitted Cal Performances and honored Dean Earl F. Cheit, the founding chair of Cal Performances Board of Trustees and former dean of the Haas School of Business.

"This is all somewhat overwhelming," Cheit said. "But I'm pleased so many people want to support the education of Cal Performances. I'm just the incidental honoree."

Tickets for the event cost up to $500 and included such perks as free cocktails, complimentary parking and a meal with such savory fare as smoked salmon napolean and herb-crusted lamb medallions.

A red carpet ushered all the guests into the tent, flanked with waiters offering platters of hors d'oeuvres and wine. A string quartet serenaded the partygoers already inside.

As the night went on, guests had the chance to take part in an auction that included a holiday dinner with Mark Morris at an opening bid of $800 and a tour of Napa Valley with Merce Cunningham, the choreographer, starting at $1500.

"This is all so beautiful to me," said Cal Performances Director Robert Cole. "We have a fun night ahead of us and a sold-out performance to attend."

In true diva form, the pink-clad Stone arrived with her husband two hours into the event.

This year's fundraiser was the first to take place on Lower Sproul. The giant canopy took over most of the plaza, confusing students who were walking home from a day of classes. Many managed to sneak a peek of the goings-on inside.

"I don't think it looks good on the outside, but on the inside it looks beautiful," said sophomore Kelly Conley.


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