Isaak set an ace

The tennis pros were great, but the best performance at last weekend’s Ritz-Carlton Cayman Classic was served up off the court, by American crooner Chris Isaak.

Isaak was the main star at the Residences at the Ritz Carlton’s lavish ‘Tennis Ball’, on Saturday night. A crowd of over 250 – who shelled out $450 per ticket – had come expecting big things, and they weren’t disappointed.

Dressed in a trademark aqua rockabilly suit, Isaak started out early with what is probably his second best known song, Somebody’s Crying. It brought the previously decorous crowd to its feet, where they remained for much of the night.

He was joined on stage by a full complement from his long-time band, Silvertone, who soon treated the crowd to Isaak’s trademark tune, the haunting Wicked Game.

Other highlights included faithful covers of Roy Orbison’s Only the Lonely, Elvis Presley’s I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You and Cheap Trick’s classic, I Want You To Want Me.

While the music was faultless (and the quality of sound delivered by the Ritz’s sound engineers perfect), it was Isaak’s ability as a charismatic entertainer that seemed to most many in attendance the most.

At one point, after descending into the crowd to weave through tables and dance with guests, Isaac reminded everyone why they were at the charity ball: ‘Because you are rich, now open them wallets.’

Earlier they had, with guests betting on a range of flashy items in a silent auction hosted by E! Entertainment presenter Juliana Rancic and her husband, Bill Rancic of The Apprentice fame.

Items sold off in the name of charity included an 2006 S-Type Jaguar; an all inclusive trip to a luxury resort and Spa in Arizona; a hot-tub donated by Pool Patrol; Furniture from Interior Design Concepts; jewellery from Balaclava, Magnum Jewellers, Island Companies, Kirk Freeport and the Jewellery Company; and also a table tennis set from Noah’s Ark.

The celebrity couple were not the only stars smattered throughout the audience; Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle), Jason Biggs (American Pie), Elizabeth Rohm (Law and Order), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24) and Master of Ceremonies Alan Thicke (Growing Pains) were also on hand for Isaak’s stellar set, and the top-notch food and wines that preceded it.

The whole weekend – which also included a celebrity Tennis Pro Am and a Friday night Tennis Whites Party – raised $77,000 for the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, which runs a 24 hour shelter for abused women and children.

It was the fifth year in a row that the Ritz-Carlton had donated all proceeds from the Cayman Classic to the CICS, which also runs a 24 hour crisis phone line and is heavily involved in community outreach work raising awareness of domestic violence and child sexual abuse.

Ritz-Carlton developer Michael Ryan told the audience he is often surprised to hear people ask him why the Ritz-Carlton supports the CICS so strongly.

‘It’s very simple,’ Mr. Ryan told the audience. ‘I have a wife and three young girls.’

After the event, CICS Executive Director Anne Hodge explained just how important the Ritz’s support is to the centre’s operations:

‘This event the Ritz-Carlton puts on is our biggest fundraiser for the year. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to keep our doors open. This event enables the centre to keep its doors open and provide services to women and children who are fleeing violence.’

With other support throughout the year, she said the Ritz-Carlton is also helping to bring attention to a commonplace, but often taboo subject in the Cayman Islands.

Brooke Clarke, director of marketing with the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, said the night – and the weekend at large – was a stunning success.

‘It was truly phenomenal. Chris Isaak in particular; he didn’t just stand up and sing, he truly put on a performance. He came out into the audience, he had cool dance routines. At some points in the night he even channelled legends like Roy Orbison and Elvis. It was really fantastic.’