June 19, 2024
You can expect Erin Brockovich will draw a big crowd to the Inspire Luncheon in Santa Clara this November.

The YWCA of Golden Gate/Silicon Valley never fails to line up a compelling speaker for its annual Inspire Luncheon, though some have a bit more name recognition than others. This year seems like it’ll be a popular one, as environmental activist Erin Brockovich will headline the Nov. 2 event at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Brockovich became a household name after Julia Roberts won an Oscar playing her in Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich” about her fight against PG&E on behalf of a small town. Today, she’s president of her own research and consulting company and remains involved in environmental causes around the world.

The YWCA Inspire Luncheon would regularly draw more than 1,000 people, with speakers including Gloria Steinem, Alfre Woodard, Janet Reno, Geena Davis and Anita Hill. And while numbers dipped a bit after two virtual years, when it came back in person from COVID-19, it would be a good bet that Brockovich draws a strong crowd. The fundraiser is a non-ticketed event, but attendees are expected to make a donation to help support YWCA programs. You can get more information at yourywca.org/annual-events/inspire-luncheon.

MUTED MARIO?: Nintendo sent a shockwave through the gaming world this week when it announced Charles Martinet, the San Jose native who has voiced Mario (and brother Luigi) for three decades, would be retiring from voicework in the video game series. Martinet started voicing the Brooklyn plumber with an Italian accent starting with Super Mario 64 and has continued to do so through many iterations (not in “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” though, where Chris Pratt got the “plumb” role).

Nintendo says Martinet, who was also a founding member of the San Jose Rep and performed in productions with other local companies, would jump into the new role of Mario Ambassador, spreading love for the franchise around the world.

“My new Adventure begins! You are all Numba One in my heart!” Martinet posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, after the announcement.

MAI TAIS FOR MAUI: It’s wonderful to see Bay Area businesses, nonprofits and people stepping up with fundraisers and benefits to help the people (and pets) of Maui going on right now. My small part to help out will be Aug. 23 at Dr. Funk Rum House in downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square, where I’ll be handling microphone duties during a fundraiser. The tiki bar will feature music by Tanoa “Samoaboy,” Danny Santos and Otto van Stroheim, and food from Dr. Funk and guest vendors Hula Bar & Kitchen and Hapa Bowls by Konjoe Burger.

The full event runs from 6 p.m. to midnight, and there’ll be guest bartenders and a raffle, with 100 percent of food and drink proceeds going to the Maui Strong Fund.

MOVING RIGHT ALONG: Palo Alto Players is on the hunt for a new artistic director after announcing that Patrick Klein, who has been with the company for 14 years (including 10 in that role), is stepping down at the end of this month.

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“While it’s tremendously bittersweet to be departing from what has become my second home over the last 14 years, I step away knowing the future is incredibly bright for Palo Alto Players,” Klein said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the trust, love and boundless support I have received from our family of patrons and participants during my tenure, and I will forever hold dear my time leading the artistic vision of this storied organization.”

Klein — who has a yet-to-be-announced next opportunity already in place — will stick around in an advisory capacity for the next few months as Managing Director Elizabeth Santana and the company’s board, led by President Jessica Christie, undergoes the transition. “Matilda,” Palo Alto Players’ next show, opens Sept. 8, and I guess Klein will be able to catch that one as an audience member. If you want to join him, tickets are available at paplayers.org.