Malibu Seen

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Executive Director Michelle Danner with Martin Sheen at the Edgemar Center for the Arts. Photo by Zadran Wali

CUTTING EDGE

It’s been a labor of love for Michelle Danner, and on a late October night the Edgemar Center for the Arts executive director had cause to celebrate. The Center for the Arts pulled out all the stops for its third anniversary bash and Michelle’s Malibu pals turned out in force to join in the festivities.

The evening began with a lively cocktail party and a look at the latest photo exhibit by Lyndie Benson, the snap-happy local shutterbug and wife of smooth jazz musician Kenny G.

Benson’s recent show at the center was a walk on the wild side with a collection of dramatic portraits taken during their recent trip to Africa. As for her next exotic adventure? “We’re going to China,” she told The Malibu Times. “Kenny’s the biggest popular recording artist there and we’re really looking forward to it.”

A handful of guests-including Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Sharon Lawrence and Jason Alexander-joined Michelle next door at Rockenwagner Restaurant for an intimate VIP dinner. Over a seasonal feast of butternut squash soup, spinach salad and grilled salmon, they talked travel, politics, art and of course, Edgemar.

The center offers a variety of theater productions, musical performances and revolving art exhibits. But it’s the center’s outreach programs for kids that make Michelle especially proud. “We know we are making a difference with kids,” she said. “Their arts programs have been cut so dramatically. We want to help out anyway we can. When I come in and hear the sound of children’s laughter, it’s very fulfilling for me.”

Soon, it was show time. Edgemar enthusiasts made their way into the theater, which was transformed into a turn-of-the-century cabaret club complete with leggy dancers in fishnet stockings, clarinet-playing showgirls, singers and poets.

Up first, Jason Alexander, who had a few tricks up his sleeve. “I’ve always loved magic,” the Seinfeld alumnus explained. “I even went to magic camp, but people told me I sucked, so I became an actor.”

With an upcoming show at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, Jason has apparently been brushing up on his act. He wowed the crowd with card, number and box tricks and got audience members like Sharon Lawrence to join in the fun. The evening ended on a musical note with selections from Edgemar’s current production, “The Night of the Black Cat.”

There were also words of praise for the center’s executive director. “Michelle is a dreamer and she made her dream come true,” said Michael Napoliello. “By giving disadvantaged kids the chance to come here and be exposed to this, she is giving a gift to us all.”