Chenoweth taking part in ACT’s virtual gala
For those who ever wondered whether actress Kristin Chenoweth and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi would appear in the same production, here are two responses.
One: You have too much free time.
Two: Yes, they will.
Chenoweth and Marconi are among the brew of Broadway performers, movie and television actors, and Ridgefield residents who are participating in the ACT (A Contemporary Theater) of CT’s virtual gala next Friday, June 26, at 7 p.m. The 70-minute program, entitled Extended Intermission Edition, replaces an in-person gala that was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event is a major fund-raiser for ACT of CT, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Last year’s gala — held inside ACT’s theater in Ridgefield — raised more than $200,000.
“It’s going to feel like a big party, not your typical gala,” said artistic director Daniel C. Levine, one of ACT of CT’s three founders along with executive director Katie Diamond and resident music supervisor Bryan Perri. “It will feel like you’re watching a sitcom.”
While Chenoweth (an actress, singer and Tony Award winner) and Carol Kane (an Academy Award nominee known for her roles in the films Annie Hall and The Princess Bride and the TV shows Taxi and the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) might be the most recognizable performers taking part, the virtual gala also features Broadway actresses Elizabeth Stanley, Lauren Patten and Kathryn Gallagher (all in Jagged Little Pill); Tony Award winner Tom Kitt; Tony nominee Kate Baldwin; and TV actors K. Todd Freeman (Lemony Snicket) and Colin Donnell (Chicago Med).
Cast members from ACT’s past productions of Godspell, Little Shop of Horrors, and Mamma Mia! are also participating.
“People that know theater will say ‘I can’t believe they got these performers,’ and people who don’t know theater will say ‘Yeah, I recognize that person,’ ” Levine said.
Ridgefield viewers will likely recognize many of the local celebrities: In addition to Marconi and his wife, Peggy, the group includes Ridgefield Playhouse executive director Alison Stockel and Adam Broderick, the founder and owner of Adam Broderick Salon & Spa.
“We spent four days recording the Ridgefield people for a skit that turned out to be hilarious,” Levine said. “They all did a great job.”
Chenoweth, Kane and the other stage and screen performers recorded their segments with equipment sent by ACT of CT.
“It sounds like a Broadway production,” said Levine, who is co-hosting the event live with fellow founders Diamond and Perri. “The quality is really incredible.”
Several ticket packages are available: Those donating either $400 (for four people) or $200 (for two people), will pick up a pre-gala dinner June 26 (4 to 5 p.m.) at Gallo Ristorante (delivered to their cars by Levine, Diamond and Perri — dressed in their gala outfits), receive a gift bag and raffle tickets, and get a link to live stream the gala that night; those donating $40 get a link to watch the production.
Levine and the other founders are hoping that the virtual gala can offset some of the financial losses resulting from the coronavirus: With the theater closed since mid-March, the final two plays of the 2019-20 season (Nickel Mines and Freaky Friday) and summer camps were canceled.
“Everybody understands how challenging it is for theaters,” Levine said. “We are holding our breath that we can reopen in August and begin our third season in October, with actors on the stage and people in the audience.”