All the Carnival whirl was a stage when the Mystic Club showed where there’s a Will, there’s a way. A quill, too! Drawing on the comedies of Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, the club presented Mrs. Edmund England Redd, Anne Flower Redd, as the 2023 queen during glorious gallivanting at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside. It was the club’s 101st anniversary. Years ago, her mother Mrs. Walter Chew Flower III, Ella, reigned.
Cast as Titania, Queen of the Fairies in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Mrs. Redd made a lovely picture in a mint-green organza gown that was highlighted at the shoulders with golden leaves. The jewel-highlighted mantle swept into a long train to represent fairy wings. As Prospero from “The Tempest,” the Mystic king wore a floor-length robe and held a staff topped with a lighted amethyst stone. Of course, Shakespeare had to make an appearance and did so by the Mystic captain in a black suede Elizabethan doublet with a white collar ruff.
The six ladies in waiting and their male counterparts were splendidly garbed as Shakespearian protagonists. Perdita of Sicilia of “The Winter’s Tale” was played by Mrs. Daniel Wait Dilzell, Claire, in a gold skirt and an intricately embroidered bodice. Florizel of Bohemia was her companion. Accompanied by Petruchio of Verona, Mrs. Paul Albert Bienvenu IV, Carol, portrayed Katerina Minola of Padua, from “The Taming of the Shrew,” in a royal blue gown embroidered in gold. In a handsome maroon dress with a gold underskirt, Mrs. David Cressend Schonberg, Kara, was Beatrice of Messina and her companion, Benedick of Padua, from “Much Ado About Nothing.”
From “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” came Valentine of Verona and Sylvia of Milan, Mrs. Timothy Justin Young, Helen, in a gown of beige and pale blue brocade. Orlando de Boys accompanied Rosalind, Mrs. Todd Carrere Thompson, Jennie, from “As You Like It,” who eschewed the masculine garb of Ganymede for a feminine frock of rich black and gold brocade. “Measure of Measure” featured the Viennese Vincentio and Isabella, Mrs. Eric Wayne Hoffman, Katie, in a lovely gown of pale blue. Mary Williams created all the exquisite garb.
The Mystic queen’s husband was dressed as a late-16th-century cleric and the six lieutenants appeared in rich tones of velvet.
White gowns were donned by the “Young Ladies to be Presented to Their Majesties.” Debutantes of the season – and half as 2023 queens – they were Misses Lucy Sawyer Bryan, Laura Morgan Butcher, Elizabeth Anne Charbonnet, Caroline Myra Marie Conwill, Margaret Ellis Epting Goff, Evaline Finlay Gomila, Eugenie Eustis McLeod, Julia Tyler Smith, Emily Clay Weinmann and Lauren Rose Wilkes.
To announce the formalities and major entrances after the reception, the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra struck up “Another Opening, Another Show,” followed by numbers related to works by Will. The tableau garnered much praise and applause. Then came dancing, as well as dinner and dancing. And people really did dance!
Dinner consisted of white and red French wines (“a cup of wine that’s brisk and fine”), as well as a roasted beet salad, braised beef short ribs, and for dessert, caramel crunch cheesecake and a chocolate decadence assortment. All the while the monarchs and their entourage reaped raves during an evening when the revels were duly blended and enchantment abounded.
Recipients of the fold-out invitation in burnished tones of gold, blue and vermillion were intrigued by the theme of the Krewe of Proteus: “Kalevala, Lore of Finland.” It was so-scripted on the invitation, along with related scenes of legend and heroism. More similar scenes were depicted on floats in the city’s oldest nighttime parading krewe.
The terminus for the parade was the Marriott Hotel, where his majesty Proteus assembled guests for the pre-ball royal reception and “Delicacies of the Deep by His Royal Chefs.” Earlier, photos of the lovely court were being taken nearby. At nine p.m., the bal masqué commenced under the direction of the krewe’s 11th captain.
Capturing every eye was her majesty, Miss Elizabeth Anne Charbonnet, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Denechaud Charbonnet Jr. Suzanne Perron St. Paul created her trumpet-silhouette gown of diamond white Italian double silk satin overlaid with jewel-encrusted lace. The fluid curves of the lace suggested motifs of the sea. Her majesty followed in the footsteps of Miss Adele Vance Reynoir, daughter of Mrs. Vance Greenslit Reynoir and the late Mr. Reynoir.
Maids in the Proteus court were Misses Cecilia Walshe Balart, Aimée Green Barousse (the Twelfth Night queen), Laura Morgan Butcher (Comus monarch), Cecilia Elizabeth Cook, Katherine Mills Ellis, Meghan Clare Farnsworth (Oberon queen), Margaret Ellis Epting Goff, Evaline Finlay Gomila (queen of Carnival, Rex), Anna Jamison Hardie (Atlanteans queen), Mason Ann Mentz, Eliza Hollis Nieset (Mithras queen), Madeline Prats Robert and Emily Clay Weinmann. Emily, Cecilia Balart, Kate Ellis and Evie Gomila reigned at sub-deb balls.
The pages were Masters Baldwin Carrere Beahm and William Craig Brewster, whose grandfather, Gary Hyder Brewster, was the general chairman of the ball. Among those assisting him was queen E.A.’s grandfather, John Denechaud Charbonnet.
After this year’s queen and her court were presented to the rapt audience, his majesty Proteus, in mortal form, stood in front of a giant pink seashell surrounded by aquatic ephemera. The Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra played “Over the Waves.”
Among those applauding the impressive grand march were Mmes. Gary Hyder Brewster, Lawrence Noel Johnson Jr., William Lorax Treadway III, Dustin Garrison, Raymond F. Kayser, William Henry Langenstein III, Edouard James Kock III, James Joseph Reiss III, St. Denis J. Villere III, Joseph Storey Charbonnet, William Joseph Goliwas Jr., John Denechaud Charbonnet Jr., Paul Carty, Adam Dalton, Christian Trousdale Brown, Alfred Whitney Brown III, William Hugh Hines, Devereux Parker Moring and Jr., Michael John Bell, Joseph Sanders Mann Jr., Bruce Henry Thompson, Jefferson Glenny Parker, Richard Bullard Montgomery IV, Cyril Paul Geary III, Blair F. Scanlon Jr., Robert J. Stumm Jr., Dudley Digges Morgan III, Kimberlin Price Butcher, Gerard W. Barousse Jr. and Moylan Feild Gomila Jr. Mrs. Morgan, as Lynn Smallpage, reigned 50 years ago. Her 2023 successor, queen E.A., was lauded for her royal role for which she expressed special thanks.
After the glorious gallivanting, the curtain closed on the organization’s 142nd year. But another figurative one opened at the Queen’s Supper, where food, glorious food beckoned with passed treats (cheeseburger sliders and mini grilled cheese sandwiches) and displayed ones. All relished the French Quarter beignets. Properly fueled, and in the “Lundi” spirit thanks to band BRW, scores headed to the floor to “Finnish” with some Gras gyrations.