Myla Azar has never been able to sing or dance, but she loves to sit in the audience and watch other people use their talents to entertain a crowd.
“I’ve always been very musical in my head, but I don’t have any abilities to sing or dance or perform,” said Azar. “I like to stay in the background and help with props backstage and whatever else needs to be done.”
Her father Canuto Ciocon was a traditional Filipino sarsuwela performer, Azar said, and had quite a voice.
“When he died at 86 he could still sing at the top of his lungs,” said Azar. “My brothers and sisters also sang very well, but I just cannot sing. I won’t even sing to myself… But I‘ve never had a family gathering when there’s no singing or dancing. We always have a good time.”
For Azar, the Norris Center for Performing Arts in Palos Verdes can always be relied upon to stage entertaining plays. Due to Azar’s and other volunteer’s fundraising efforts throughout the years, the Norris Center continues to entertain the community.
“They’re producing wonderful shows at the theatre,” said Azar.
Because of her infectious enthusiasm for the theatre, on Feb. 1, Azar will be honored with the Kenneth T. Norris, Jr. “Key to our Heart Award” at the 25th Annual Valentine Ball at Terranea Resort. This year’s gala, chaired by Tracey Cloud, will feature, “Music of the Night,” a Phantom of the Opera theme, and will also feature celebrity honoree Davis Gaines — L.A’s longest running Phantom.
“I’ll be the sweetheart of the ball,” said Azar, who has been hosting fundraising dinners at her Palos Verdes home for many years and is also a generous donor. “I’ve been the Valentine’s Ball chairman four times, more than anybody else… I guess the time came that they had nobody else to choose but me. That’s not true, I’m just kidding. I’m sure it’s very tough for them to choose. You have to be popular, I think.”
Azar was born in the Philippines and came to Palos Verdes after living in New York, Ohio and Iowa with her former husband. She was a medical student, and eventually became an operating room nurse. When she moved to Iowa City after living in New York, she was surprised to see that there were only two theatres in the small town.
“Most people in the city were so friendly because there’s not much to do, so they entertain each other and have dinner parties at home,” Azar said. “That’s how I learned to be a housewife and dinner party giver.”
Seven years ago she split from her husband, and was “single and ready to mingle,” she said.
“I got myself affiliated with the Norris Center, where most of my friends are,” said Azar, who also has a home in the Pasadena area that she bought after her divorce. “My home in Palos Verdes is so big, it’s my party home. I go back and forth, but I’m happy in Pasadena too. I’m like the new girl in town. Nobody knows me. I walk around in Palos Verdes and on every block I walk I see somebody I know.”
Azar said that getting involved in the Norris Center after her divorce was very important to her, and her biggest skill is getting people to donate items for fundraising auctions. She is also often asked to host donor parties at her home.
“It was nice to get involved again with my friends and work with a good cause, because I love the theatre. It’s a great jewel to have in the Palos Verdes Peninsula,” said Azar. “…The Norris Center is right here, it’s wonderful. It’s nice not to drive two hours back and forth [to L.A.] to see a play.”
Raising money to put on productions is a fun challenge for Azar.
“I love to do it,” said Azar. “I also give of myself when they ask, and really all the people that are involved in the theatre give money. Whenever they have a new production we all look at one another and go, ‘Oh here we go again.’ But it’s for the theatre, it’s fun.”
To purchase tickets and pre-register for a bidder number visit www.NorrisCenter.com or call 310-544-0403. PEN