LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
Preparing and staging “A Night with the Stars” in line with the Oscars was a herculean and delicate high-wire act with a great deal of planning and fine tuning in the works as groups relegated with the task of different aspects of the event worked night and day to make the impossible pipe dream a reality, not just through a flash of inspiration but from the discovery of new truths. As Nelson Mandela put it, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”
The different committees under the guidance of the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Fredrick D’Souza, the driving force Fr. Gaspar Fernandes who inspired others to see their true potential, along with the organizational skills of eminent Committee Chairman Mr. Mark Fernandes came together, pooling their resources and talents to make it a night to truly remember. This year there was a dual purpose towards the Dinner for a Cause besides the construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia. With the current economic situation, it was discovered that several needy individuals and families were in dire distress and could not make ends meet. Thus the decision was taken to donate the proceeds raised during the month of May towards assisting the less fortunate of the parish in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
On Thursday, 26th May 2016, as the gates opened at 7:00 pm, time stopped and everything fell into place and came together in one piece. Despite the underlying worry that something may have been forgotten at the last minute, there was an air of excitement and pride in the accomplishment of such an achievement. What is more, there was a real, deep sense of camaraderie and unity.
Several parishioners and guests donned their movie star best and arrived as early as possible to walk the red carpet. With the surreal feeling of being in the midst of all the glitz and glamour, many of them felt as though they were being carried in gently on the wings of angels.
As they entered the foyer, they were greeted with the sight of more than twenty five-pointed coral pink terrazzo stars rimmed with brass, bearing the names of the Bishop, the clergy, nuns and Dinner for a Cause members, similar to the Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard. The first comers were in for a treat as special gifts were presented to the early birds.
At various points, there were imaginative posters mashups, combining true creativity and love of all things Hollywood. Upon entering the hall, one was immediately transported back to Tinseltown with virtual stars streaming down the chiffon curtains around the hall.
The theme songs of long forgotten classics rung a dormant bell in the minds of movie buffs everywhere as tunes of the Godfather and the Sound of Music delicately echoed around the hall, melodic, seductive and dense. A shimmering centerpiece consisting of two orbs with suspended stars around a lit floral bouquet adorned each table, created a magical, mystical glowing aura.
As the star-studded countdown began, all held their breath in nervous expectation as the night got underway. With his usual flair for the dramatic, the International Man of Mystery, Master of Ceremonies Russell Fernandes who had flown from Kuwait for this special cause made his grand entrance to the theme song of Austin Powers. Ten lucky female recipients of luscious red roses swooned as he made his way around the dance floor. Meeting the high expectations the build-up engendered, MC Russell brilliantly threaded the needle with his continuous interactive dialogue, changing outfits and themes during the course of the evening. He was the perfect host of the night, getting the ball rolling without turning the event into the usual dance – no small feat, under the circumstances.
After the display of the video on the status of the new Cathedral, His Lordship Bishop Camillo Ballin a.k.a. The Godfather made his way on the floor to deliver his welcome address, thanking all the attendees for their wholehearted support towards the realization of this project in the Kingdom of Bahrain. This was then followed by a brief yet concise Vote of Thanks by the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Frederick D’Souza a.k.a. James Bond.
After a touching message by Committee Chairman Mr. Mark Fernandes who exercised a compelling charm that inspired others, he went on to introduce his DFC team with the performance of a choreographed dance medley. More than twenty men and women performed a lively and entertaining rendition from “Better When I’m Dancing”, “Put Your Hands Up In The Air” and concluding with “Fireball.”
As the essence of all beautiful art is gratitude, His Lordship Bishop Camillo Ballin presented mementos, thanking the supporters who made the evening possible. This was then followed by the Inauguration of the Souvenir “Starstruck” which was then distributed to all attendees.
One of the most memorable moments of the night, one which I am sure will go down in history is the unforgettable, priceless surprise dance presented by the clergy which got the audience roaring in approval as all the priests and brothers came on the dance floor.
This year, the element that stood out were the two bands performing live. One was Music Touch from Kuwait and the other a local band from Bahrain, The Nightshades, who had generously volunteered their services towards a worthy cause. These two groups with their own unique individual style kept the crowd moving long into the wee hours of the morning.
An added attraction was the special community dances put up by the Zimbabwean and Spanish community which revealed that only where there is true unity in diversity, there is beauty and strength.
The highlight of the evening was the Awards Ceremony where a photo competition had been announced prior to the event, inviting participants to create a Parody Movie Poster with the added incentive of amazing prizes up for grabs. An impartial panel of judges, consisting of Fr. Franco Pereira and Fr. Xavier Fernandes from Kuwait had an extremely hard time determining the winners and it was an extremely close call but as there can only be one who takes it all, “Highway to Heaven” directed by Malaika Fernandes was declared the winner. The First and Second Runners-up were “Thumbinators” and “Black Dynamite” respectively. The imagination and creativity displayed by several individuals and family in producing such a wide array of posters is to be commended and highly appreciated.
It was touching and motivating to see so many of our friends from neighbouring countries willing to show their support by attending and being a part of such an amazing evening.
Ultimately, by the end of the evening (or should I say morning) fatigue had set in, but this was overshadowed by the elation at the overall unmitigated success of the Dinner For A Cause Season 2. Our sincere thanks and warmest gratitude goes out to our supporters, benefactors, volunteers and parishioners who all played a part in making this event a glowing, glittering, sparkling, dazzling Night with the Stars!
May God bless you all!
— Ms Chris Noronha