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REP toasts Big Apple

Posted: January 5, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 5, 2012 1:55 a.m.

From left, Jena Minassian, Ransom Boynton, Erin Rivlin with Mikee and Amber Schwinn at the Carnivale di Venezia NYC celebration at the REP East Playhouse.

It was New York, New York all the way as the Repertory East Playhouse rang in 2012 with a traditional Times Square celebration, including a crystal ball drop outside at the stroke of midnight .

The REP’s Carnivale di Venezia N.Y.C. transformed the entire theater into New York City, with its lobby as Central Park complete with real trees, benches and a phone booth.

In the hall, the design crew recreated subways complete with tile walls where guests were encouraged to write their own hilarious graffiti, which they did throughout the evening.

Onstage, it was Times Square in all its glory, complete with theater signs, streaming video and flashing lights.

Upstage there was a cool “private club” where short skirts, high heels, snappy hats and skinny black ties were strictly de rigueur.

Throughout the evening, the guests enjoyed wine and a sumptuous New York pasta bar and buffet by Jill Jackson of RSVP Catering.

Once again, up in the tiny sound booth, the inimitable Peter Goosens spun the soundtrack for the evening with a great mix of oldies, standards, 1980s pop, dance numbers and rock ‘n’ roll.

 “It’s a smaller crowd, but different- we have brought more real people into the REP and many new supporters,” said REP co-Artistic Director Mikee Schwinn.

Yet, at the REP gala, old friends always meet new friends and this year was no exception.

After usually spending her New Year’s Eve celebrations with her siblings, Jaycee Jena Menassian found her way to the REP this year and immediately ran into loyal theatre patrons Drs. Lee and Joyce Shulman, whom she knew from volunteering at their Project Angel Flight.

Menassian will be the 2012 honoree for the Arthritis Foundation Walk at Magic Mountain on June 3.

Among the other loyal supporters again this year were patrons Ed and Dawn Hovhannisyan, who enjoyed the festivities with Jackson and adorable REP actors Kristin and Phillip Pehacek, who poured the champagne toasts for all to enjoy. 

“This is our destination spot,” said Dawn Hovhannisyan, who wore a beautiful gown and had cute diamond sparkles on her face.

“We love to celebrate with our friends, who are like our family,” Hovhannisyan continued.

“This is exciting, fabulous, dynamic, energetic and fun,” Joyce Shulman exulted as she and her husband crammed into the phone booth for a photo. “This is a great way to celebrate any occasion,” she said.

Also seen in the group are some of the REP’s ‘usual suspects’ who always help organize the event and make it such a fun evening.

In Central Park, the REP’s resident lighting designer Tim Christianson was spotted with his sweetie Casey Rock and resident sound manager Steven “Nanook” Burkholder.

After yet another successful year, Mikee Schwinn toasted the New Year with his bride, Amber Schwinn, co-artistic director of the Repertory East Playhouse who will help carry it into its 2012 season with a production of “Sherlock Holmes, The Final Adventure” in September.

“We have great food, great wine and a wonderful group,” said Bill Quinn, president of the REP. “We always want to do something classy and elegant for the New Year.”

At midnight, Shawneen Rubay took over as REP board president for the coming year.

The REP opens, its new season with “Jewtopia” on Jan 20.

The Repertory East Playhouse, 24266 San Fernando Road, Newhall. For ticket information call (661) 288-0000 or


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