ACT of CT in Ridgefield unveils season lineup

Photo of Alyssa Seidman

RIDGEFIELD — Four shows will comprise A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut’s fourth season as it prepares to fully reopen its doors to live audiences once again.

It all kicks off on Sept. 30 with a rendition of one of Broadway’s most enduring hits, “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” followed by the professional theater premiere of “Nickle Mines” in January. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” will take center stage next March, with the pop-culture phenomenon “Rent” rounding out the season in June.

“We are incredibly excited and grateful and over the moon (to have) a real season,” Artistic Director Daniel C. Levine said. “We’re really proud of all the (remote) work we did during the pandemic ... but there’s nothing like ... performing to a full audience, which is something we haven't done for 16 months.”

While other venues temporarily bowed out of the industry due to COVID-related restrictions last year, ACT never closed. For its third season, the nonprofit pivoted its entire production schedule to meet audiences in their homes.

For its annual gala in May, ACT debuted an in-person production of “Into The Woods: In Concert” with the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. Within a week, tickets sold out.

Each performance seated 90 people to comply with the 50 percent capacity limit at the time, and health screenings were administered to patrons before they entered the building.

Season lineup

"Smokey Joe's Cafe"

Sept. 30 - Oct. 24, 2021

"Nickle Mines"

Jan. 20-30, 2022 (10 performances only)

"Jesus Christ Superstar"

March 24 - April 17, 2022


May 26 - June 19, 2022

For the 2021-22 season, the theater will be open to full capacity. Shows will go on as normal, but as of now all audience members must wear masks during performances whether they’re fully vaccinated or not.

“That’s likely to change in a month,” Levine said, noting that union guidelines are changing from “week to week.” “Because we’re a union theater, there are specific requirements we have to follow that may be different from state regulations.”

One of those, he added, is that ACT can only hire actors and stage managers who are vaccinated.

Mainstage productions

ACT’s Resident Music Supervisor Bryan Perri described the upcoming season as a celebration of rock music.

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe” features nearly 40 songs written and recorded by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller during the early days of rock n’ roll. The revue-style musical will be directed by veteran Broadway performer Stephanie Pope Lofgren, who was cast in “Smokey Joe’s” original West End production.

“She knows the show and has really great ideas of how she wants (it) to feel and look,” Levine said. “It’s just 90 minutes of pure entertainment, and the perfect show to (welcome) an audience back.”

ACT was deep in rehearsals for “Nickle Mines” when the pandemic hit last March. Levine admits he wasn’t sure if it would ever see the light of day.

The musical focuses on the 2006 Amish schoolhouse shooting in Lancaster, Pa., in which a lone gunman shot 10 girls — five fatally — before taking his own life. Combining spoken dialogue, movement and original music, “Nickle Mines” explores the viewpoints and perspectives from that fateful day.

“It’s a story about forgiveness, hope and a community coming together in a time of tragedy and how they heal and move forward,” Levine explained. “For the subject matter it’s actually really uplifting.”

“Jesus Christ Superstar” will be ACT’s largest show to date with the most actors ever cast in a production. Since he’s done a number of “Superstar” iterations over the years, including a performance at the Tony Awards, Levine envisions clever storytelling and creative staging for his version.

“I’m convinced it’s going to be the best production of ‘Superstar’ there has ever been,” he said.

As the musical that revolutionized the Broadway landscape, ACT’s “Rent” will revisit Jonathan Larson’s tale of struggle, survival and creation in New York City’s Lower East Side with an “interesting” approach to casting, Levine said.

To purchase subscriptions for the 2021-22 season, visit or call the Box Office at 475-215-5497.