The Montecito Country Club was the place to be on Thursday, April 19 as the Lobero Theatre Associates held their annual “Hats Off” Luncheon. It gave attendees the chance to show off their fanciest of hats while also honoring special guest, Emmy award winning writer and producer Cheri Steinkellner. Steinkellner, a film and media studies professor at UCSB, is mostly known for her work with the classic television show “Cheers,” as well as “Sister Act” and the animated feature film “Teacher’s Pet.”

The event, sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust as well as Janet and John McCann, was attended by a flurry of people who love and support the Lobero Theatre, and avidly attend the shows they put on, which range from jazz to film to singer-songwriter showcases and even opera.

Guests spoke enthusiastically of these events while adorned in fantastic hats layered with ribbons and flowers. Not only do these productions bring joy to those who can afford to regularly attend, but the proceeds from fundraising events such as the luncheon also provide free tickets for children who love the arts but may not have the opportunities to attend shows with their families.

There were also a lot of opportunities to win several exquisite prizes at the pre-show raffle, including a wine collection from The Liquor & Wine Grotto, a party basket, jewelry from Coast 2 Coast Collection and a voucher to Beautiful You’s rejuvenation center. Guests were also invited to buy the luncheon’s beautiful centerpieces for 10 dollars apiece.

The ceremony began with an introductory speech by Marti Bell and the president of the Lobero Theatre associates, Annie Williams, before lunch was served. Next came delicious chicken, served by Tamara’s Catering, accented with red and white wine (iced teas for those of us who aren’t quite “of age”) followed by a perfectly crisp crème brûlée.

When lunch was over, Jane Litchfield, the committee chairperson of the luncheon, introduced Cheri’s husband Bill onto the stage. He had the crowd roaring with laughter as he told stories about how he and Cheri met and their life together as husband and wife as well as co-workers.

Next, the much-awaited guest of honor took the stage and explained how she came into the business and how she began working with her husband, along with some amusing anecdotes of her children and her workplace on the set of “Cheers.” She then spoke about her new musical called “Hello! My Baby,” which will play at the Lobero Theatre on May 5 and 6. She also invited the two leadsd from the cast to perform a few songs, onet of which she took part in, which were delightful. p

This event was a great opportunityr for people to whip out that oversized hats they’ve kept away in their closets all yearc and to showcase them while meeting newr people, talking about the theater andp raising money for a great cause. And,p after the sneak peek of “Hello! My Baby,”a I am sure I will see many of the luncheonb attendees at the Lobero Theatre nexth weekend, ready for the full show.