Archive for the ‘Events’ category

Birthday Party in Orange – 60′s Theme!

April 18, 2014

60′s Theme Birthday Party

A fabulous 60′s theme Birthday Party was produced by Essence Entertainment last Sunday in Orange.

The groovy affair was totally decked out with 60′s Theme decor, food and entertainment.  Even most of the 125 guests dressed the part, wearing mod 60′s theme rags.  Tie die, peace signs, and fringe was the name of the game!

60's theme birthday party

Birthday Girl Valerie

60′s theme Birthday Girl Valerie especially enjoyed the groovy happening!  The 2,400 photos taken at the event showed Valerie having a blast in every shot!

60's theme party

Judy with Jeff and Eric


This boss event was possible due to the many excellent vendors working together.  Designed and produced by Essence Entertainment’s Judy Kuri, all of the participating vendors contributed to the party’s success.


Birthday Party 60's theme

DJ Eric



DJ/MC Eric Miles held things together with his 60′s theme music and karaoke – many performers took hold of the microphone and enhanced the birthday party with their singing!




Comedy, Juggling and Close Up Magic were provided by Jeff Abbitt, Abbitt the Average .  He’s a big ham and was another one of those people who were having a great time in every photo.

Birthday Party 60's theme

Jeff Abbit the Average

Catering was brought in by Spectacular Catering – complete with cupcakes covered in peace signs. 60's theme party


Birthday 60's theme

Ice Luge



The Ice Luge serving martini’s was one of Valerie’s favorite parts, created and served by Carving Ice.


All of the props and decor were brought in by BTB – Best of the Best Event Productions and Party Rentals.  They provided just the right effect for this 60′s theme birthday party.

Even a Flash Mob came in and did their thing – so much fun!

Birthday party 60's theme

“Otis Day”


What was the highlight of the 60′s theme birthday party?   Why, it was when “Otis Day” (Dewayne Jessie) of “Otis Day and the Knights” arrived to wish Valerie a Happy Birthday!  The Otis Day and the Knights band was originally created as a fictional band to perform in the movie “National Lampoon’s Animal House”.  The band is best known of course for their versions of “Shout” and “Shama Lama Ding Dong”.

theme party 60's party 60's theme 60's theme party


Valerie and her friends had a ball dancing and singing along as Otis entertained all of the guests with his terrific 60′s theme renditions.

Unici Casa Bastille Day Event VIDEO

July 25, 2012

As promised, here’s a peek into the fabulous event in which we participated on Saturday, July 14th, 2012.

Thanks to John at Godfather Films for putting this together!

Please help support all of the fabulous vendors who made this event such a success!  (See List with Links to Websites on previous Post; see Credits at end of film.)

(Essence Entertainment had the great pleasure and honor in providing all live and costumed entertainment for this event!)


Unici Casa Bastille Day Celebration Event

July 18, 2012

Mike at Unici Casa Event

It’s so nice when someone takes the time to write a note of appreciation…

Roger Hampton, General Manager, Unici Casa, just sent Mike a ‘thank you’ regarding Essence Entertainment’s contribution to the Unici Casa Bastille Day Celebration event held on Saturday, July 14, 2012, at their property in Culver City, CA.  It’s nice to hear when a production team like Roger and Michael Foroutan, Artistic Director/Founder/CEO, of a fabulous site like Unici Casa have confidence in what you do!

Mike, you are the wizard of entertainment.  It’s no wonder you have 18 gigs a weekend!  The mime with his fabulous vintage costume, chico the stilt walker was perfect with his harlequin costume and little umbrella, the accordion player was awesome.  Your band kept the majority of the attention and they were so gracious for the changes of announcements, totally won everyone over!  The live table and her court…seriously?  Beyond what I expected…always stayed in character and so entertaining and gorgeous!  The girl on our bed in Casa Murano…(thank you to Michael Foroutan for this idea and especially to Mike Steffens from Essence for making it happen in the final hours) she was a major hit!  Sean your DJ kept them pumping and was so gracious about our guest DJ’s appearance.  You never cease to amaze me with the arsenal of entertainment at your finger tips!                    - Roger Hampton, Unici Casa

Wow – you can’t buy, beg, borrow or steal that kind of endorsement!

Thank you, Roger, and thanks to the rest of your terrific team at Unici Casa!

(See list of all participating vendors below slide show.)

Other people are talking:

Christina Logan,, RoK Events, Unici Casa. Lloyd Klein.

Enjoy a few pics from Mike’s cell phone.  We’ll get the professional shots out soon!

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The fabulous Team that made it all happen:

Unici Casa
Essence Entertainment
24 Carrots Catering
RoK Events
BTB Event Production
Stretta Apparel
Line 204
Archive Vintage Rentals
Rayce PR and Marketing
Godfather Films
Gina Sabatella Photography
M&S Valet
Draken Security
Technical Event Partners
Eddie Zaratsian

More on all this to come!

EBS Executive Business Services Enjoys Wild West Event

June 29, 2012

Yee-haw!!  Gather ’round, y’all!!

(Enjoy slide show at bottom!)

EBS Party Line Dancing

EBS Party Yvonne Lambert

Client Yvonne Lambert (EBS) with Rick & Mike

Yvonne Lambert of EBS (Executive Business Services) treated her guests to a rootin’ tootin’ wild west evening held at the Marriott Laguna Cliffs in Dana Point, CA.  It was yet another beautiful day in sunny Southern California (we are SO spoiled!), over-looking Lantern Bay County Park and the Dana Point Harbor, as we unloaded and set up for this outdoor event on the hotel’s View Lawn.

As always, Jeanne Friedman, Senior Convention Services Director, was invaluable – she graciously arranged for all requests to be accommodated in excellent time, greeted challenges with a smile on her face, and really made everything run smoothly.  Jeanne and the Marriott Staff are always a pleasure to work with.  We appreciate you, Jeanne!

EBS party

EBS party

Bean Bag Toss

Guests were entertained with many activities – mechanical bull rides, horse shoe and bean bag toss games (lots of kids at this event!), caricature artist, photo station complete with western costumes & set producing sepia tone take home gifts, roper giving steer roping lessons, DJ playing Country Music, line dance instructors, casino tables, and of course, costumed ‘outlaws’ to crash the party!

EBS Party

She nailed four bean bag toss “Holes in One” in a row! Wow!!

EBS party

Client Yvonne getting dressed for photo

Marriott’s Catering outdid themselves with grilled steak & vegetables, ribs, chicken, chilli, beans, baked potatoes with all the fixin’s, numerous salads, and a dessert bar that included freshly flambeed Cherries Jubilee!  Wow!

EBS party

Mike & Roper Dave

EBS party

Mike & “Outlaws”

EBS party

Cactus Hat Toss

Robin and Mike were both there for the set-up, with Robin managing the arrival of performers and the flow of the event.

EBS party

Roper Dave struttin’ his stuff

EBS party

Tom Kelly – Caricature Artist

EBS party

Ride’m cowgirl!

Mike returned to assist with packing up…and the biggest ‘learn’ for the evening?  Dealing with the bales of hay – WARNING FOR ALL EVENT PLANNERS OUT THERE:  if your client wants bales of hay as decor for a future event, be very aware of the mess they make!  We spent hours trying to clean up bits of hay strewn all over the hotel’s beautiful lawn and flower beds.  It’s easy to get them delivered, but the mess they make is most likely not appropriate for many locations.  If your client does insist on it, and your event is any place other than a barn or farm, you’ll need to arrange for extra labor and/or cost to manage the clean-up.  Just saying…   :)

The Guests however had a fabulous time (many were dressed in appropriate Western attire), and kids of all ages had numerous activities to experience throughout the evening!

Enjoy the slide show!!

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OC Brides at Newport Harbor Nautical Museum

June 27, 2012

Main Entrance

Nautical Museum Patio

What a lovely evening!

The temperature and the breeze were perfect, the sail boats glided by out on the bay, everyone was in a good mood and we all enjoyed the libations and social community!

Mike and Robin became better acquainted with a few of the OC Brides Board Members, notably Founder Cindy Lieber, Debbie Christensen (The Wedding Guide), and Dave Greenwood (Dijital Engagement).  Dawn Harman (Portraits by Dawn) was busy taking photos to capture the event and its attendees.  Beth DeGiacomo (White Feathers Events) was busy at the Registration Table.

Mike being served

The libations were delightful and appropriate for the outdoor setting (see Caterers listed on Wednesday’s Blog).  Dave Greenwood provided an eclectic and very enjoyable selection of music.  All of the Vendor Tables looked fabulous!  (…again, see listing on Wednesday’s Blog.)

We met a few folks we haven’t seen in a while – Rick Rosen (Rosen & Associates Photography) is someone we used to see regularly at ABC Events – it was great to see him again and get caught up.

Jim “Woody” Woods & Mike

Jim “Woody” Woods is someone Robin went to school with (CSU Long Beach) who is developing his photography career.  Always great to see Woody!

Janis Dinwiddie of Dinwiddie

Janis Dinwiddie of Dinwiddie Events was a gracious Hostess and warmly Welcomed everyone.

A member that Robin met at last month’s event was also there…again with her beautiful Vendor Table – Kristy von Waldburg ( – an Arbonne Rep.  It was great to see Kristy again and chat…share ideas about other women’s networking events, etc.

The Nautical Museum was welcoming and interactive.  If you haven’t had an excuse lately to visit Balboa’s Fun Zone…enjoy the Bay, have lunch…then I encourage you to plan a visit to Balboa Peninsula!  Be sure to bring the kids, as the Museum has a lot of ‘kid friendly’ exhibits and events.

New Member of OC Brides

June 20, 2012

Essence Entertainment Talent Agency is a new Member of OC Brides!

OC Brides caters to both Brides and Wedding Vendors.  They have monthly Networking Events that we look forward to attending!

This evening we will be attending an OC Brides networking event at Newport Harbor Nautical Museum – I’ve never been…have you?

Mike and I will both be attending and we look forward to meeting other vendors and brides!  Be sure to introduce yourself to us if you see one of us walk by!  :)

For more information, visit

Below is information about the event:

OC Brides Bridal Networking Event

June 20

 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM (PT)

Our networking events are a fantastic way to meet new business prospects, potential partners, and leverage relationships within your existing network for referrals. The thought of networking can be intimidating, awkward and unpleasant. Yet connecting with other professionals and making a positive impression is not only important for your business, it can be fun and exciting if approached with the right attitude. Join us and see this new unique wedding venue on the bay in the Fun Zone, try some fabulous food, meet your peers, and connect with some brides!

ExplorOcean Newport Harbor Nautical Museum
in the Balboa Village Fun Zone

600 East Bay Ave.
Newport Beach, CA 92661-1347

The Balboa Fun Zone as seen from the water. Ne...

The Balboa Fun Zone as seen from the water. Newport Beach, CA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking for a unique location for your next event?

ExplorOcean/Newport Harbor Nautical Museum, located on the historic Balboa waterfront, offers a variety of settings for groups of 10 to 250.

Overlooking the beautiful Newport harbor and just steps to the ocean, ExplorOcean/Newport Harbor Nautical Museum connects visitors to the adventure, inspiration and mystery of the sea. Its galleries and waterfront courtyard provide an atmosphere that will create a unique and memorable occasion.

 Raffle prizes welcome (from OCBrides Members) for Vendors and Brides

If you donate a raffle prize your company is listed in the program as well as announced at the mixer!

Taste some International Creations from a variety of Orange County Caterers including Jason’s Catered Events, Bedazzled Catering and Events, Simply Sweet Apple Treats, and Amazing Cake Creations

 Enjoy some Music and Lighting with DiJital Engagement

Make Memories with Portraits by Dawn

Smell what’s in bloom by Irises Designs and Flower Child Floral Designs

See the beauty of Wonderland Dream Weddings, Elegant Wind Waves, and White Feathers Events

Special deals from Diana & Company Jewelry Designs, Arbonne, Beauty by Genesis, Premier Bridal Shows,  Send Out Cards, Tan n Go, and Best DD Solutions

Pick up your complimentary copy of The Wedding Guide

Latisha’s Graduation Party a Huge Success!

May 31, 2012

Latisha Casas and a few of her “guests”!



Latisha Casas threw herself a terrific Graduation Party to celebrate her accomplishment of receiving her Bachelor of Science in Business Degree from the University of Redlands.  Essence Entertainment was there in all its colors to provide a memorable experience for Latisha and her guests.  We received a big thank you from Latisha for putting the event together so quickly.


The ‘Welcome’ Entourage

A red carpet and stanchions aided the initial experience provided by 14…yes, 14Paparazzi and Crazed Fans, as well as ‘Joan Rivers’ interviewing guests as they approached the front door, and Bouncers to ‘Check the Guest List’.    ‘Angelina Jolie’, ‘Samuel Jackson’ and ‘John Travolta’ (a la Pulp Fiction) greeted guests just inside the door.


Magician Carl Wilson entertaining guests

Magician Carl Wilson traveled table to table/group to group astounding guests with his mastery of prestidigitation.


JLo gets the dancing going!

As the evening evolved, ‘Johnny Depp’ joined the party, then ‘Jack Nicholson’, and finally ‘JLo’ (‘Jennifer Lopez’) got everyone dancing on the dance floor with her latest hits!


We provided a Photo Booth that kept the guests entertained, especially when the Look Alikes strolled over to participate in the Photo Booth activity.  Rustin (Suite-M Photography) was there to catch all the excitement for future reference and fond memories.


The Management and Staff of the Sports Watch Bar & Grill (Highland,CA) was very accommodating and extremely focused on providing a special experience for all of the guests.  Our appreciation goes out to Don Lear and his entire Staff who really made us all feel welcome and appreciated.

Don Lear (Rest. Mgr.) with Johnny Depp

All of the performers reported to me numerous times throughout the evening how nice and responsive the guests were, and how accommodating the staff was.  Everyone…and I mean, everyone (including the Chef who was out taking photos of the Look Alikes!) had a truly wonderful time!

Congratulations, Latisha!!

Guests with Travolta & Jackson

Don Lear and JLo

The Welcome Entourage

Joan Rivers, Interviewer and Bouncers

Jack Nicholson and happy Guest

Paul Williams performs for Anthony Lienau’s Birthday

May 9, 2012

Wow!  What a treat!

Robin Kelly with Paul Williams

Robin Kelly with Paul Williams

Paul Williams, Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winning Hall of Fame songwriter, performed by special request with his accompanist, Chris Caswell, on Sunday, May 6th, for Anthony Lienau’s Birthday Party hosted by his lovely wife, Holly.  Held at the Lienau home in Rancho Santa Fe, Anthony was surrounded by 50 of his closest friends and family for this special evening.

Guests arrived at 5:30pm and enjoyed 90 minutes of cocktails & hors d’oeuvres on the back patio, enjoying music provided by Sean Tayco (Essence Entertainment DJ).  At 7:00pm, Sean encouraged guests to refresh their beverages as they were invited into the living room, which had been transformed into “Anthony’s Supper Club”.  Champagne was poured and anticipation grew as the guests awaited the entrance of Paul Williams.

Anthony's "Supper Club"

Anthony’s ‘Supper Club’

Lienau Event PosterFollowing a warm standing ovation upon his introduction (which I had the honor to present), Chris (who has been working with Paul since 1976) played the beautiful baby grand piano and Paul sang and shared fabulous stories of his life and career.  Paul made the show very personal, intimate, and customized, including a last-minute special request of Anthony’s, “Loneliness”, which I thought was one of the best numbers of the show!

Following the show, Paul very graciously stayed for a short meet & greet and photo op, the highlight of which was when he autographed a piece of  sheet music brought be one of the guests.

Paul Williams autographs sheet music for guest

The guests loved the show and both Paul and Chris said they enjoyed themselves very much!

Robin Kelly with Chris Caswell

Robin Kelly with Chris Caswell

I had the pleasure of being Event Manager and thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know Paul and Chris – SO nice…genuine…easy going…truly lovely people.

Bryan Wagstaff (Essence Entertainment DJ & A/V Tech) provided sound for the show, as well as perfect stage lighting which created an intimate ‘supper club’ ambiance.

The show was followed by a beautiful dinner buffet, and DJ Sean had the guests out on the dance floor enjoying the music in no time!!

Essence Entertainment is very pleased to provide, once again, elite, customized entertainment for this returning client (Holly has used Essence Entertainment numerous times for her philanthropic fund raisers).

Thanks again to Paul and Chris for being so accommodating and gracious – they went out of their way to make Anthony’s evening truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Paul Williams performs at Anthony Lienau's Birthday

Paul Williams performs for Anthony’s Birthday

Can Jazz Trios play ‘other’ styles of music?

April 26, 2012

Traditionally, Jazz Trios play…well, Jazz.  They might add some light pop, easy listening…but given the instrumentation of a typical Jazz Trio (be it Guitar, Upright Bass, Sax or Keyboards, Upright Bass, Female Vocal, to name a couple), the Trio will generally play the music appropriate for the instrumentation, the event, and the client’s requested ambiance (usually ‘background’ music).

However, that isn’t to say there aren’t exceptions…!!  :)

A perfect example is the Robin Kelly Jazz Trio (…yes, my Trio…).  With the instrumentation of Keyboards, Upright Bass, and Female Vocals, we were hired to play at a corporate awards dinner for the Council of Academic Programs last Thursday evening at the Newport Beach Marriott.   Don French (Keyboards), Dave Eastly (Upright Bass) and I were ready to play Jazz Favorites (i.e., It Had to Be You, My Funny Valentine, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Route 66…you get the idea).  The evening started off just as we expected – we played nice background music while guests mingled and socialized following their Awards Presentation.

About 45 minutes in to our 3-hour playing time, things started to evolve…people started to dance a little (though there was no dance floor), they started pulling chairs around and sitting in theater formation to ‘watch’ the Trio…and then the requests started coming in…

“Play some R&B!”

“Do you know any 80′s?”

“How about Nora Jones?”

“Can you do I Will Survive?”

Well, hmmm…let’s see…Disco…with Keyboards, Upright Bass…no drum machine…I didn’t even have a tambourine!

As always, it’s our aim to please, so with the good humor and terrific talents of Don and Dave we played the guest’s requests to the best of our ability.  Dave added his vocals and we sang back-up vocals for each other.  During a break, Don hooked up a vocal mic so he could add his vocal talents to the mix.  Then, to my great amazement and delight, during that same break Dave found a ‘Drum Machine’ app on his mobile phone.  He and Don hooked up his phone to Don’s keyboards to amplify the sound…and for our last set, we played to a mobile phone app Drum Machine!!  Now, this Drum Machine had only basic types of rhythms to choose from, at whatever tempo was set at the factory.  So, it was…find a rhythm/beat/tempo we liked, listen to it for a few seconds, think of what song might go well with it…then we were off and running!

Robin Kelly Jazz Trio

Robin Kelly Jazz Trio

The crowd loved it!  They continued to dance and sing along, and shout out more requests.  We had a ball!

Thanks again to the exceptional talents of Don & Dave, The Robin Kelly Jazz Trio was able to change hats and accommodate the requests of the guests.  Frances Laven, Executive Director of C.A.P., our Client representative, was very appreciative, and acknowledged that the crowd had taken us down a different road than originally intended.  I just smiled…and encouraged her to hire a full dance band next year!  :)

Salute to Chevrolet’s 100 Years!

February 28, 2012

The Cast for “Salute to Chevrolet’s 100 Years” Production Show

Essence Entertainment had the honor of producing “Salute to Chevrolet’s 100 Years” for Jeff Boand, President, and the Southern California Chevy Dealers Association.  The event was held at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, on Saturday, February 25th, 2012.

Our clients say it best – here is what Jeff Boand had to say:

What a great job you did for us – could not have been better!   The videos of old cars / ads etc were truly inspired.   Everyone was commenting on the show…………we have had several over the years of the SCCDA but not as clever and professional.  In fact – one long time dealer (over 40 years) told me that it was the best SCCDA event he had ever attended. 
Needless to say I will be getting calls and inquiries for your talents and services.   Darlene and I look forward to working with you again.   Please let everyone know they helped make our event truly memorable.

Mike with Choreographer Tatiana Turan


Mike had the assistance of Choreographer Tatiana Turan, Technical Director Tony Sandoval (TS Productions), Brad Powell Band,  Barbara Wallace, Event Coordinator, and Stage Manager (& Performer) Robin Kelly.  Laura Reynolds accommodated our every need at The Langham and is very much appreciated.




Barbara Wallace wrote:

Hi Mike,
Everyone seems to have been ecstatic about the production on Saturday night.  I certainly was and Jeff and Darlene said they felt it was a flawless evening.  Thanks for making it so memorable for all the guests.  Comments we heard were that they loved the old Chevy footage a lot (“where did they get it?”) and everyone had their favorite decade and song to identify with. I can’t imagine how it could have had any broader appeal to all age groups than the way you wrote it.  I am so glad that we got to work together…

Please let your cast members know that they and their hard work are very appreciated.
We loved Erika (“Holly Golightly”, Breakfast at Tiffany’s) so much, too. She was perfect and added a wonderful touch to the whole weekend.

“As always, I am flattered that Barbara Wallace once again had the confidence in Essence Entertainment to recommend us to Jeff, SCCDA, and I’m delighted that Jeff had faith that we would create a one-of-a-kind experience for his guests.”  –  Mike Steffens

"Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Chevrolet sells its One Millionth car!"



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