ACT’s Broadway Unplugged series promises a firecracker

A Contemporary Theater (ACT) of Connecticut will host an intimate and red-hot production with the latest performance in its Broadway Unplugged series featuring Broadway star Kate Baldwin, who recently played Irene Molloy in Broadway’s revival of “Hello Dolly!” joining ACT’s resident music supervisor Bryan Perri on ACT’s stage in Ridgefield on July 20.

A Tony Award nominee, Baldwin was dubbed “the redheaded firecracker” by a New York Times writer and has also starred on Broadway in “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Big Fish” for which she was nominated for several Drama Desk Awards and other prestigious theater awards.

Harnessing ACT’s and his extensive connections with the Broadway community, Perri conceived Broadway Unplugged as an intimate evening, bringing Broadway performers and artists to ACT for a night of songs, conversation and stories with him at the piano. “We draw on our extensive experience on Broadway to create theater here in Ridgefield. We also take great pride in bringing our talented friends and colleagues to ACT; whether they are performing or helping us to create live theater in other ways,” he said.

When choosing artists for this series, Perri always looks to bring in interesting artists whose work he admires. The audience can expect an intimate look into the life and experiences of Baldwin, who worked with Perri recently in the off-Broadway production of “Superhero.” Perri recently concluded a five-year stint as music director and conductor of the Broadway’s “Wicked” and is music director of “Jagged Little Pill,” which opens this fall on Broadway.

“Broadway Unplugged is meant to be an evening that is filled with beautiful singing and spontaneously told stories about what it’s like to be an artist in today’s world,” he said. “Kate has worked with so many incredible artists and has given so many breathtaking performances in a wide variety of shows. I’m ecstatic to share her with our Ridgefield audience!”

Baldwin is excited to be making her ACT debut and said her set list will feature songs written or arranged for her or ones she reintroduced to audience. “They belong to me and I belong to them: songs from ‘Finian’s Rainbow,’ ‘Big Fish, Giant,’ ‘Hello Dolly!’ and ‘Superhero,’ among others,” she said. Asked what she is most looking forward to about the evening, she said, “Maybe getting to sing a duet with Bryan!”

Perri said he is most looking forward to hearing Baldwin sing. “I’m (of course) looking forward to hearing that golden voice on our stage! I’m also looking forward to some juicy backstage stories from her time at “Hello Dolly!” [where she starred opposite Bette Midler],” he added.

Without giving away too many spoilers, Baldwin did share one story before her show. “I will likely talk about growing up in Chicago and moving to New York to pursue a career onstage. When I moved to New York, I brought only two duffel bags. I think they were the ones I used for summer camp, and they had my name on them in embossed leather. I moved into a sublet on the upper East Side,” she said. “Throughout the year, I sublet two more apartments, never signing a lease of my own. I temped. I auditioned. I lived off of Balance Bars and the money earned from the sale of my 1995 navy blue Saturn. In the family Christmas card that year, my father referred to me as ‘jobless and homeless.’ My dad has a fun sense of humor.”

Perri said the event will have widespread appeal. “This concert is for everyone. You don’t have to be a theater fan to enjoy the evening. At ACT, we believe art is for all people and that theater matters. Artists live such unique lives, and I’m thrilled to share this on the ACT stage.”

“Kate is one of the most generous performers that I know and gives so much of herself at every performance,” he added. “It is rare to find a performer who is both an exceptional singer and actress who is also a fantastic musician. I hope anyone who attends will be as inspired by Kate as I am!”

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