Evolving into dancers

The Baltimore Sun

SEVERAL HUNDRED BEJEWELED, gowned and black-tied guests mingled in the mezzanine at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel. However, a few in the crowd seemed a little on edge. Soon, 11 would be putting on quite a show for the crowd at the Alzheimer's Association gala, thanks to this year's theme - "Dancing with the Stars." Each had been rehearsing a specific dance style, and would soon be competing on the ballroom dance floor, in front of guests like party chairs Hannah Rodewald and Ellen Yankellow, P.J. Mitchell, Renee Wooding, Michael and Inez Eicher, Sylvia Mackey, Michael and Julia Keelty, Chris and Andrea Taylor, and Meryl Comer.

The night's performers included well-known folks about town, including: Smith Barney senior vice president Allen Robinson; Maryland Art Place chair Suzi Cordish; Superior Financial Group advisory board chair Melanie Sabelhaus; and Laura Mackey, daughter of former Baltimore Colt John Mackey.

Just like the TV show, none of the competitors had any real dancing experience. Some would be dancing with professionals, and some were going it alone.

"We have never done this before," said WJZ TV anchor Denise Koch nervously.

"I don't know," commented husband and dancing partner Jackson Phippen. "I did something in the Rendezvous Ballroom in Newport Beach, to the Safaris," he said, referring to a 1960s teenage experience.

When asked how she was doing, fellow dancer psychotherapist Meadowlark Washington responded, "Ask me in an hour and a half." She and husband, former Baltimore Colt and Washington Redskin were slated to be the last on the dance floor.

Meanwhile, ballroom dance instructor Helmut Licht proudly beamed over Koch and Phippen and the Washingtons whom he had coached.

"They're like raw clay. You work with them and they become beautiful sculptures. I now have beautiful sculptures," he said.

His work paid off. The Washingtons won for their fancy footwork.

A Drink With Terry Morgenthaler

Investing in fun, and her passions

You could call Terry Morgenthaler, 51, a song-and-dance woman. If there's an arts organization in Baltimore that involves either or both, chances are this very active community volunteer is -- or has been -- involved.

A self-described "military brat," she attended 13 schools before going to college at the Boston Conservatory of Music. Morgenthaler moved to Baltimore in 1985, when she took a job as associate development director at Center Stage.

Today, she is vice president of the Center Stage Board and a member of the Peabody Institute National Advisory Board.

In two days, she'll be on Broadway, in a manner of speaking. Morgenthaler is one of the backers of the new Broadway musical, Legally Blonde, which opens April 29.

She lives in Ruxton with husband Patrick Kerins, a venture capitalist; son Henry, 19; daughter Helene, 12, and Ollie, the beagle.

You sound busy.

I am. I'm real busy. I study flamenco and I'm passionate about it. I've always danced. When I was at the conservatory and was a voice major, my voice teacher told me, "Honey, you gotta lose weight." She said I moved like a man. And I've been studying dance ever since. So, even though I have an opera degree, my life is all about dance. ... And now I'm investing in a Broadway show.

How did that happen?

I've always felt passionately about identifying talent and trying to get talent on stage. ... I had read about [Baltimore native and Broadway producer of Hairspray] Margo Lion. About how you don't have to have a whole lot of money to get into the Broadway game. So, I'm spilling this to [Center Stage managing director] H. Michael Ross. And he says to me, "Don't do anything until you hear from me. There are good people, and there are bad people." So, last summer, I got a call. I hear Michael's voice, "Legally Blonde." ... I'm in the smallest tier of investor.

So, are you calling yourself a Broadway producer?

I can't call myself that. I'm not allowed. My friends call me that. But, I do know all the songs.

You'll be there for opening night?

Oh, yeah. And at the cast party at Cipriani, and I'll be wearing hot pink Jimmy Choo [shoes].

You already have your outfit picked out?

I do. It was a choice between two outfits, serious or fun. And I thought, 'I gotta go fun.'

You operate your life based on your passions.

One thing about being a military kid. You're very independent. You have got to be independent to survive that. So, the things you hold onto are your passions. ... Music, theater, dance, fashion. I love fashion. When I learned I couldn't afford clothes I saw in magazines, I learned how to sew.

And now that you can afford the fashion you love?

I know. It's wonderful. But I still sew. I just sewed a pair of black capris for my daughter. We couldn't find them in the store.

You have a life many people dream of. Is it hard to stay grounded?

I grew up in a very disciplined family. Our family is very, very close. And my husband is one of five Irish boys. So, I think we try to replicate that kind of closeness. ... Patrick and I feel very lucky and grateful for our lives.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

When I first meet people, they assume I'm a lawyer. I think it's because I talk a lot.

What's a pet peeve?

I really believe in being on time. To me, it's showing respect for the other person. I respect your time as much as I would like you to respect my time.

What's your favorite color?

Orange. Really. I just love it.

Tell me a secret.

[Constellation Energy CEO] Mayo Shattuck is as old as I am.

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