The invitational soiree after the opening performance of Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo was almost as surreal as the show itself. Following the final curtain call, a bevy of leggy “angels” in diaphanous gowns and marabou wings shepherded the crowd from the Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) over to the Forum. Inside, the seats were completely swathed in sky blue cloth. A winged harpist serenaded guests as they descended the steps to a fantasy heaven on the arena floor, where blue-tattooed seraphim in mini-tutus served Bombay Sapphire cocktails and cotton candy. The Little Door caterers manned food stations that included a chiffon-draped gurney, where a scantily clad angel languished among an array of shrimp canap s. Why all this heavenly hokum? The party scheme was a spin-off of the show’s theme. Corteo, which means “cortege” in Italian, is a tumultuous procession, imagined in a clown’s dreams. He envisions his own funeral taking place in a Brechtian celestial circus – somewhere between heaven and earth – watched over by soaring angels and a ringmaster who whistles Mozart. Lots of celebs were on the red carpet for the Aug. 23 opener. Among those spotted: Florence Henderson, Sharon Lawrence, Rosemarie, Michele Lee, Gina Gershon, Rikki Lake, Camryn Manheim, Doris Roberts, Donna Mills, Paula Abdul, Lindsay Wagner, Sara Ramirez, Bill Fitchner, Ross “the intern” Matthews, Carl Weathers, Ray Liotta, Criss Angel and Allison Arngrim. This production is an incredible theatrical experience, which brings together 61 artists – some are former Olympians – from 16 countries. It’s ensconced in its trademark blue and yellow tent-village in Inglewood through Oct. 14. Tickets are $55 – $90 for adults. Caveat: Bring cash. Self-parking is $22 and the popcorn is pricey too. DRIVERS FOR DOLLARS Celebrating this year’s Longest Day of Golf, the 11th annual fundraiser for Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, participants gathered at the La Canada Flintridge home of Julie and David Battaglia for an evening garden party catered by Lawry’s Prime Rib. Jennifer Leal Gowen and Jack MacKenzie, co-chairmen of the tournament, played at Pasadena’s Brookside Golf Course, reported that 356 golfers who played 2,335 holes in one day – or an average of 64 holes of golf each – raised nearly $180,000 . Funds are raised by golfers securing pledges, and event organizers selling sponsorships, (this year’s sponsor, Fremont Investment & Loan, was joined by 40 other sponsors, a record for the event) as well as raffle tickets for a golf ball drop. For the past three years, Commander Chuck Street, KIIS-FM and KTLA-TV traffic reporter, has piloted his helicopter from which numbered golf balls are dropped near a pre-selected hole on the course on tournament day. The lucky ticket holder whose ball lands closest to the hole wins a cash prize. Since its inception in 1996, the Longest Day of Golf has raised approximately $1.8 million to send Hathaway-Sycamores youngsters to summer camp and to fund other specialized children’s programs throughout the year. AUTISM: THE MUSICAL Most of us have known someone affected by autism. The statistics are staggering. One in 150 children is diagnosed with the puzzling disability that afflicts four times more boys than girls. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. So far, little is known about it and there is no medical detection or cure for it. Those depressing facts and her long friendship with producer Janet Grillo, the mother of an autistic child, were the incentives for director Tricia Regan to tackle the subject of autism in a new film documentary, “Autism: the Musical,” which has been receiving praise from critics since its premiere at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival in April. Regan was in Pasadena last week for a weeklong run of the film at One Colorado, where I caught up with her at a pre-screening reception hosted by Autism Speaks at Il Fornaio. When first approached about the subject, Regan admitted she was a hard sell. “I told them, `No one wants to sit through an hour-and-a-half movie on autism,”‘ she said. “I think you want to make a movie about people and autism is the obstacle in the way of their accomplishing something else, which is a very basic three-act movie structure.” That’s how she was introduced to Elaine Hall, the driving force behind the Miracle Project, a live musical production featuring autistic children. Hall is one of the parents in the film along with musician Steven Sills and his wife Kristen, and Roseann Katon Walden, Playboy Magazine’s first African-American Playmate of the Month (1978). Shot entirely in Los Angeles, the film chronicles several children and their families, over a six-month period, as they create, rehearse and perform a live musical on stage, led by Hall, the determined coach. “I was blown away by the evolution of the kids during the project,” said Hall. “There are some who started out who could not walk into the room. They ended up being front and center on the day of the show!” “Autism: the Musical” will continue to play around the country in order to qualify for an Academy Award nomination with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for Autism Speaks. Regan said she was delighted with the Pasadena run. “We had a marvelous response – filling the house all week long – with absolutely no advertising dollars; relying only on word of mouth and an e-mail campaign. There is obviously a big need for this movie and a big audience.” HBO has acquired the film for an April broadcast premiere. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!