- Zandra Wolfgram
Beth Clavier: Sinfonia’s “Show” Girl
Updated: Sep 17, 2021
By Zandra Wolfgram
After “growing up in the theme parks,” this theater buff jumped on a membership position for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) when she was just 20. When 9/11 shuttered her SAG office, she segued into stage management for NBC Universal, where she worked for nearly 13 years.
Putting the “horror” in Halloween Horror Nights was just the beginning.
She managed production/stage management for virtually every marquee Universal concert series, show and event including the Grinchmas Holiday show, the Mardi Gras parade, the Macy’s parade (oh yeah, she worked on the “real” Macy’s parade in NYC, too!).
In 2009, her adventures continued when the VP of Entertainment tapped a select few to serve as consultants to open an expansive entertainment resort, inclusive of a Universal Studios theme park … in Singapore! During the next four and a half years, she was like a master juggler, deftly handling each ball as it landed in her palm. As the leading entertainment expert, it was her job to make the magic happen.
And that she did.
Casting out of Australia and a few other countries, her team was tasked with hiring and onboarding all the talent for a live theatrical shows and atmosphere performances; running rehearsals and launching two star-studded, A-list grand openings — complete with an illusionist who made a sculpture appear out of nowhere!
Her work turned heads and she was invited to join Resorts World Sentosa as entertainment operations director. Essential, she put the pizazz in all the attractions: a theater, casino, aquarium, waterpark, and a maritime museum.
And when the museum installation team, including the curator, left, she was tapped to do that, too!
“At one point, I was meeting with the Consulate General of Oman at the Omani embassy in Singapore, who was donating artifacts to the museum,” she says. “I was Googling the country on my laptop to try to understand something about their culture so that they would trust me with their precious offerings.”
Meet 41-year-old Niceville native Beth Clavier, director of events and patron services for Sinfonia Gulf Coast.
Crescendo! —Sinfonia’s largest annual “fun-raiser”— has become the “must-attend” social event of the season, attracting upwards of 300 guests to the main event alone. (There also is a kick-off lunch at Bijoux in The Market Shops in Miramar Beach and a series of intimate, high-end vintner dinners hosted in homes and restaurants along the coast.)
This year’s theme was Moulin [vin] Rouge and the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa was marvelously transformed into a turn-of-the century Parisian dance hall — complete with luscious “rouge” draping and décor, low-lit ambiance, velvet lounging sofas and flowing ruby red wine.
Ladies (and gents) in their finest red “dress” were more than eager to mix and mingle. But first, they were welcomed with chilled champagne served by sparkling drag queens.
And … just like that, the party of the season was off and running.
Sipping pink cocktails guests played plucky party games and bid on beautifully-displayed silent auction items before enjoying a delicious catered lunch. Dessert was delicious and so was the carrot cake. Yes, we’re talking about a high-brow burlesque show that warmed up the crowd for the fantastic finale — a cache of cheeky can-can dancers!
We were curious about what it takes to put on such an extravagant event. So, we spoke to the area’s event expert. Here are highlights from our “event-ful” conversation.
What makes a great event?
BC: It has a lot to do with your support system of staff, volunteers, and the expertise you are pulling from. Everyone’s contributions are a part of piecing the puzzle together. If the focus is entertainment, the atmosphere you create is essential. People want something out of that event. What do you want them to feel? Consider the lighting. Does it make them happy? Are you trying to create a theatrical or cultural experience? Should it be a party atmosphere? You start with creative direction, and the team builds the event with those key elements in mind.
How do you work with Demetrius Fuller?
BC: As the artistic director, he’s the visionary and so wonderful about welcoming the rest of the team to contribute ideas. It’s lovely. I have the utmost respect for his ability to create everything from events to concerts to fundraisers to programs for our youth in the area. He is always fervent in his mission, and after 15 years, remains a true inspiration.
You started in 2019. How is it going so far?
BC: On the event side of things, I am learning a whole new facet to my career. I have not worked for a non-profit before. I haven’t handled events with donations, auctions or paddle raises. I am excited to add new tools to my tool belt.
What would people be surprised to know about Crescendo?
BC: Probably, how quickly we physically pull it altogether! The event is created from the ground up every single year and installed about 22 hours before the doors open. We take a nap, and then we get our “fancy” on about five minutes before people walk in.
What is not surprising?
BC: The main job in producing events is learning grace under fire. There are always curveballs. Your plans should include A, B, C, and D. Your mind has to work that way. Always have Plan B, but you realize you may need a C and C and a half.
What do you love about your job?
BC: When the show is happening, I’m looking at the audience. It’s an adrenaline high. You can see people enjoying themselves. That’s my favorite thing, to see people having a good time. My job is to help people forget about anything else for however long the event is.
What do you love about working in the arts?
BC: We raise money for an incredibly good cause. I did corporate events, so working for a non-profit is invigorating. It makes you want to do even better.
What is the secret to success?
BC: Being humble. Being available to people. Helping, even when it’s not your job. When I was a manager, I’d tell people, if you get promoted, don’t forget who you were. No one is better than anyone else. The “show must go on” is a real thing. And attitude is everything.
As an events expert, is it hard to enjoy events?
BC: As an industry professional, I love attending events. I take mental notes, both the good and bad as there is always something to be learned. Our business requires us to constantly stay current and invigorate our “show” over and over so people keep coming.
What qualities are key for a good event producer?
BC: Problem-solving is number one. Communication. Organization. Humility — no one’s job is more important we are all a part of the puzzle.
What do you like to do in your free time?
BC: I’m a water person. I love being out on the water, on a boat. I’m a scuba diver and I enjoy kayaking and hiking. Being outdoors is where I find my peace. I also like to volunteer. I have worked with many different organizations from animal rescues to LGBTQ causes to child literacy to name a few. Here locally, I’ve worked with Habitat and Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance.
Tell us about your family.
BC: I love being back home and near family. My wife is Rio Clavier. She was an events manager at NBC Universal and taught me early in my career a great deal about what I know. She is now a branch manager of a bank and I could not be prouder. Haegen is our daughter. She’s 10 and a half months. We are totally enamored with our “lil roo.” She adores her Uncle Demetrius and the rest of our Sinfonia family as she has been an office baby since she was three months-old due to the pandemic. We recently traded our Destin address for a sweet little house on a big piece of land in Niceville where our daughter, pup Kiwi, and chickens (“The Golden Girls”) can roam and play.
Crescendo 2021 Fun Facts
· 450+ bottles of wine at the main event and vintner dinners
· More than 1,200 “rouge” ostrich feathers were used in centerpieces/decor
· Arrangements by Mingle featured more than 1,000 balloons
· 149 live candles
· 6 staff, 2 interns and 26 volunteers made the event happen
· 30 tables/300 chairs/300 swag bags/300 beautiful bracelets by Bijoux de Mer
· 4 burlesque dancers, 2 drag queens, 1 artist, 1 DJ and 2 aerialists
· 86 silent auction items
· 5 live auctions lots, including a painting that was painted live on the stage!
· 121 auction paddles raised and dropped to raise a record $85,250 for Sinfonia and its music education programs