Photo courtesy the Baton Rouge Symphony League.

Hold on to your hats, this popular BR Symphony League event is hitting the stage for a sparkling evening

The Register founder Orene Muse and Elise Rosenthal couldn’t have predicted a global pandemic all those years ago when they launched the Mad Hatters charity benefit that gave back to the community and rekindled interest in millinery at the same time. But with every pillbox, fascinator and derby donned since 1956, the Baton Rouge Symphony League’s Mad Hatters Lunch & Fashion Show has faced obstacles with the same grace used to hold its headpieces high.

This year, as its fundraising effort to support the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and Louisiana Youth Orchestra, the League is hosting its first Mad Hatters dinner and Broadway musical-themed production on Friday, May 7. To discover what people can expect from this year’s unique evening event, we spoke to the event’s sponsorship chair, Shannon Hultberg.

A typical Mad Hatters Luncheon & Fashion show featured an array of outrageous headware, as shown in this shot from 2017’s event.

“The annual Mad Hatters Luncheon & Fashion Show is a longstanding Baton Rouge Symphony League tradition,” says Hultberg. “It’s one of our most anticipated events we host each year, though this year is a little bit different in terms of time and theme. We took inspiration from COVID-19 shutting down New York’s Broadway productions until May 2021—if no one can go to a show in real life, we thought we’d bring the thrill of Broadway to Baton Rouge ourselves! We hope that the costumes, songs, choreography and cast will grab everyone’s attention and make for a wonderful and entertaining evening.”

In the past, attendees would be transfixed by the elaborate headpieces waltzing down the runway, but this year, in place of a fashion show, guests will be entertained by performances from some of Broadway’s most notable productions like CabaretHairspray and Chicago. Throughout the night, a silent auction will take place, showcasing items like a fur coat from Raffaele Furs & Boutique, a Lee Michaels 18-karat yellow gold bracelet and dozens of items up for bidding that can be done online or in person.

With new features being introduced at this year’s event, Mad Hatters’ time-honored tradition of hat judging remains a constant. Whether these new elements are traditions in the making, only time (and the Mad Hatters, of course) will tell.

“If this does as well as we’re hoping, then we’d like to start hosting an additional soiree night like this once a year,” says Hultberg. ” Even so, we definitely don’t want to break from our tradition of the daytime luncheon, because it’s just too near and dear to everyone’s hearts.”

The event will be held on Friday, May 7, at the Renaissance Hotel. Click here to purchase tickets.