Broadway’s Bernadette Peters headlines Ridgefield Playhouse gala

With three Tony Award wins, several Drama Desk honors, a Golden Globe victory, four Grammy Award nominations and four Emmy Award nods, Bernadette Peters is one of the most celebrated stars of stage, screen and music today.

Throughout her renowned career, Peters has astonished audiences and critics with her performances, whether it was on stage as the Witch in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” playing opposite Steve Martin in films like “The Jerk” and “Pennies From Heaven” or popping up as a guest on television in shows such as “The Muppet Show” and most recently, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.

On Nov. 4, the Ridgefield Playhouse will host its annual fall fundraising gala with Peters headlining the special event.

“I’m always supportive of performing arts centers and theaters, and it’s my pleasure to work close to home,” said Peters, who lives in New York City. “I have lots of friends who will go and see the show.”

During her performance, Peters will work with a trio, which she doesn’t do very often, so she’s excited about that.

“It’s an intimate space, which is nice, and I have beautiful musicians,” she said. “I’ll do all kinds of music because I love all different kinds of music — things like Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever’ and standards like ‘The Way You Look Tonight.”

Guests can also expect tunes from some of Peters’ biggest Broadway shows, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Song and Dance,” Sam Mendes’ critically acclaimed revival of “Gypsy” and “Annie Get Your Gun.” But she doesn’t always do the songs she sang in the show.

“I end up singing other characters’ songs from the show, because when I’m in the wings, listening, I fall in love with that music,” Peters said. “I will do ‘Children Will Listen,’ a song I introduced in ‘Into the Woods.’ ”

Peters noted she’ll also do some Stephen Sondheim songs, in honor of the legendary composer who died last November.

“I’ve always sung a lot of his songs because I feel like I connect to them,” Peters said. “Because he writes the music and the lyrics, he really says what he wants to say. If there’s a quarter note, there’s a reason; it’s saying what the song is trying to say. It’s really a wonderful map of music that he creates.”

The gala starts at 5:30 p.m., with a sit-down dinner provided by Bernard’s, Gallo and TerraSole Ristorante, followed by a silent auction. Allison Stockel, longtime executive director of Ridgefield Playhouse, who is stepping down after two decades, will be honored.

“This is a very special celebration for Allison Stockel, who after 20-plus years of unwavering dedication, is retiring,” Jared Shahid, the Playhouse’s managing director of talent and marketing said. “We have some very special programming—and some surprises—to shine a spotlight on how much she’s done for this venue and this community. It’s going to be a fantastic event – we’re all excited.”

At 8 p.m., Peters will hit the stage and perform songs from throughout her illustrious career.

In addition to appearing on numerous Broadway cast albums, Peters has also recorded six solo albums, including the Grammy-nominated “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” “Sondheim, Etc.: Bernadette Peters Live at Carnegie Hall” and “Bernadette Peters Loves Rodgers & Hammerstein.”

Peters will soon be back on the TV screen, working with Patricia Arquette in Apple TV’s new comedy, “High Desert,” which is expected to premiere early next year. She’s also tapped to sing at the opening of the new Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center on Oct. 26 and will finish out the year singing with symphonies around the U.S.

For now, she’s looking forward to coming to Ridgefield and being part of the gala.

“My basic reason to be at these sort of events is to entertain, and that could be dramatic, it could be fun, it could be intimate, and hopefully the audience just goes on this journey with me and feels satisfied by the end of the night,” Peters said. “Live theater is important because it’s an experience that only you will have that night. I sing through emotions, so I sing them differently every time. That’s what’s so beautiful about the live experience.”

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