The city’s flossiest shelled out $7,500 to $10,000 per table at the sold-out 25th annual Canadian Stage Theatre Ball Thursday night, where attendees included lawyers like Jerome Morse of law firm Adair Morse LLP and John Tory (who played host with Canadian Stage artistic and general director Matthew Jocelyn), philanthropist Helen Burstyn, board member Adrian Lang, Walrus publisher Shelley Ambrose, St. Joseph Media president Doug Knight and a slew of corporate sponsors. The theme was Romance and Roulette, borrowed from the company’s latest production, The Game of Love and Chance, and guests stayed on message in extravagant red dresses and boas—even many of the staid dudes sported red ties under their tuxedos. The Royal York Hotel was decked out like a Vegas showroom, with roulette wheels (we spotted marketing director Collette Currin placing a big bet) and blackjack tables, raffle ticket girls in elaborate headdresses and playing-card centerpieces on the tables. With the setting already so flashy, it was only fitting to see a burlesque show with a sequin-decked singer crooning to the strains of “Big Spender” and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” while girls in corsets and garters (and later, nipple pasties) shimmied behind her.
Before we entered the room, we were scared to see two hulking police officers in full gear (it’s not like they were filming an episode of Flashpoint that night), but we learned they were there as part of the live auction, selling an “action-packed day with the police force,” which includes gun range training and repelling down a four-storey building—the package went for a whopping $14,500. Tory, who rushed to Front and York straight from his CFRB radio hosting duties, was jovial, joking that he was “better known as Barb Hackett’s husband,” and he even got a dig in at city council after last week’s stripper pole debacle, noting that “if there’s one group that doesn’t need that demonstration, it’s city council.” He also made reference to the federal budget’s axe of the penny, laughing, “They’ve abolished the penny, so those of you who are penny pinchers are going to have to dig a little deeper.” And after all the speeches ended and the bidding on auction items closed, the night kept going with the kind of boisterous dancing we’d expect at a Casa Loma wedding. The DJ played Top 40 hits like “Sexy and I Know It” and “Moves Like Jagger” while guests like Knight, Ambrose, Monahan and RBC Capitol Markets vice-chairman Stewart Burton cut a rug. We’ve been to a lot of these things, and we can report that it’s the most dancing we’ve ever seen.