2018 Rayne Grande Mardi Gras Court
Grande Court celebrates ‘Land of Oz’ during Mardi Gras Ball
RAYNE - The inside of the Rayne Civic Center was transformed into the Land of Oz Saturday night for the seventh annual Grande Court Mardi Gras Ball under the theme “Emerald City – There’s No Place Like Home.”
The annual Grande Court Mardi Gras Ball is a fundraiser for the Rayne Chamber of Commerce. Unlike traditional “krewe balls,” the Chamber-sponsored event is open to the general public
King Brian Mouton and Queen Cynthia Oliver reigned over the festivities which roughly followed the well-known story of Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion – and, of course, Toto – as they sought out the Wizard of Oz, each with their own special request.
Mouton grew up in Rayne and graduated from Rayne High School. He attended the University of New Orleans, where he earned his Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and a minor in Management. He is currently the Senior Division Manager for RAI Trade Marketing Services and is the president and CEO of BSM Investment LLC.
Mouton is the son of Shirley Mouton and Eddie Young Sr. of Rayne, the youngest of six children. He has a passion for the city of Rayne and compassion for its people. He has contributed to the young people of Rayne through his organizations and/or athletic work, made monetary contributions to Rayne where citizens, young and old, have benefitted, and has given his time to contribute toward the betterment of the community.
Oliver is the 53-year-old daughter of the late Calvin and Allie Caillier of Rayne. She was married to the late Chet Oliver for 27 years and they have two daughters, Morgan Kathryn, 19, and a sophomore at LSU – Baton Rouge majoring in Mass Communications; and Madeline Elise, 13 and an eighth grader at Rayne Catholic Elementary. Cynthia and her family make their home in Rayne.
Oliver is a graduate of LSU – Baton Rouge with a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Business. She is employed as Senior Vice President of Business Development for First National Bankers Bank for the past 10 years. Prior to that she was the Senior Account Manager for NCR Corp. for 22 years.
She is an active member of the Rayne Chamber of commerce board of directors, Notre Dame Advisory Council and the Rotary Club of Rayne, where she is a Paul Harris Fellow.
Following a special guest appearance by “Father Time” (Blake Alleman) from last year’s court and a call to “get this party started,” this year’s royal couple was introduced to the enthusiastic, standing-room-only crowd.
After taking their seats on the stage, King Mouton and Queen Oliver settled in for the introduction of their royal court, each entering to his or her own mix of music and dance “moves.” Most of the court members moved freely throughout the “kingdom” of the Civic Center before approaching the king and queen and taking a place on stage.
Hanna Granger, portraying “Dorothy,” was first to enter, followed by “Auntie Em” and “Uncle Henry, Crystal and Kevin Underwood.
Dorothy’s partners in her trek to the Emerald City were next to be called in, including Amanda Guilbeau as “Scarecrow,” Bobby Beller as “Tin Man” and Shane Trahan as “Lion.” And, of course, Dorothy could never expect to complete her mission to Oz without her pet “Toto,” who was enthusiastically portrayed – on all fours – by Jamie Breaux Fonseca.
With all the story’s “heroes and heroines” safely seated on stage, it was time to introduce the “darker” players of the night, beginning with a pair of “Flying Monkeys,” portrayed by Gabrielle Hanks and Tatum Comeaux.
Before the Wicked Witch would enter, she naturally sent her “Witch Guard” ahead to ensure her safety. Michele Veillon and Lisa Mooney were daunting when they entered the arena, but it wasn’t long before they dropped their antler-topped staffs to enjoy a quick dance with their fathers, Russell Meche and Warren McBride, respectively.
Amid chaos and mayhem, the “Wicked Witch of the West,” portrayed by Ashley Derise, entered the scene as the house crashed down upon the Wicked Witch of the East, Savannah Russell, first skirting around Henry and Em’s downed house before taking to the stage for a high-energy dance routine with her Flying Monkeys, Maddie Derise and Layne Autin.
The story wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by a group of “Munchkins” following the Yellow Brick Road to Oz. Those were portrayed by Sidney Soeseno, Ava Bourgeois, Addy Autin and Kade Savoy.
Now that it seemed all was lost for Dorothy and her entourage, enter “Glenda the good Witch,” portrayed by Ashley Russell, quickly and aptly disposed of The Wicked Witch of the West by Mayor of Munchkin Land Phoenix Russell before explaining to Dorothy the secret to returning to Kansas. However, in a slight “update” from the traditional “click you heels together three times” explanation, Glenda held up a giant cell phone and told Dorothy all she had to do was “punch the magic ‘home’ button three times.”
Before the program ended and Dorothy was sent back to Kansas, the “Wizard of Oz,” played by Blaine Dupont, granted Tin Man a heart; Scarecrow a brain; and Lion courage.
Following a Mardi Gras toast by the entire court and addresses by Mouton and Oliver, in which each expressed their appreciation for Michelle Autin, chair of this year’s ball, Karen Dupont, mistress of ceremonies, introduced the New Native Brass Band, which led the court in a Second Line promedade throughout the Civic Center to end the formal part of the night’s festivities.
The remainder of the night was spent dancing to music by DJ Dup.