Kelli O’Hara to headline Westport Country Playhouse Gala

A night of Cole Porter music is every theatergoer’s dream and the Westport Country Playhouse has planned a special night to celebrate the music of the famed composer’s well known standards. The playhouse’s annual fall gala, “Black & White Ball: A De-Lovely Evening,” will take place Saturday, Sept. 14, headlined by Tony Award-winning Broadway star Kelli O’Hara and Sirius/XM radio personality Seth Rudetsky.

The choice of O’Hara, who now calls Westport home, is especially apropos as she recently starred on Broadway in a revival of Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate.” The event kicks off with a cocktail party, followed by dinner, the gala performance, live and silent auctions. The after-party features live music by Cutting Edge Dueling Pianos.

While not a lifelong resident of Westport, Kelli made a deep connection with the playhouse in short order after moving there and was thrilled to be asked to headline the gala.

“The playhouse has been such a special place for my husband’s family for many years and, therefore, it has become one for me,” she said. “I have seen many productions there and loved them. I have performed there many times and love the family-feel of it. It will be the theater where I take my children for years to come because the theater is a huge part of our lives. I think a theater like this can bring a community together with special plays, musicals, programs and events.”

Besides hearing American standards and show tunes, audiences at the gala can expect sparkling conversation and witty repartee between two good friends. “Seth and I like to do an ‘interview and song’ style of show where he asks me questions, and we tell stories or funny anecdotes about the songs we sing to lead us into the singing,” Kelli said. “I think it’s quite entertaining because we are good friends (we have known each other for 20 years), and he is very funny and one of the best piano players I know.”

With Rudetsky at the piano providing musical accompaniment, O’Hara will tackle a varied medley of Broadway tunes and some of Porter’s most iconic songs, no doubt including her favorite, “So in Love.”

“Our Black and White gala promises to be the most elegant and fun night of any gala yet,” said Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse artistic director. “How could it not be, with the music of Cole Porter and the presence of Kelli, who was honored here when she and her family moved to Westport? This time she returns with a difference, in an evening with Broadway legend and insider Seth Rudetsky.”

Ania Czekaj-Farber of Westport will be honored at the gala with the playhouse’s 2019 Leadership Award for her vision and philanthropy.

“Ania is a very special trustee and a very special friend,” said Lamos. “Her ebullient and passionate support of our work comes from a place of deep understanding and knowledge about music, theater and the arts. Combined with her acumen and her boundless good humor, the generosity of her nature and her financial and spiritual support makes all of us value her without measure — and with great joy.”

Lamos added, “Our gala committee is dedicated to making the whole evening a complete delight, and all I can hear when I think about it is that great Cole Porter song, ‘What a Swell Party It Is!’” he said, saying all are welcome to attend and support the nonprofit community organization. “Your presence helps assure the continued prosperity of the playhouse, which has been a part of our community for almost a century.”

In its 89th season, the playhouse presented a carefully-curated mix of musicals and dramas that ran the gamut from poetic and stirring to deeply moving. It concludes its season this fall with Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage’s “Mlima’s Tale,” Oct. 1-19, centering on a Kenyan elephant Mlima, killed by poachers for his tusks. The season ends with Moliére’s classic comedy “Don Juan,” Nov. 5-23.

For gala information or tickets, contact the playhouse box office at or call at 203-227-4177.