Executive director who helped Ridgefield Playhouse grow to step down after 21 years

Allison Stockel, executive director of the Ridgefield Playhouse. She is seen here seated in the audience.

Allison Stockel, executive director of the Ridgefield Playhouse. She is seen here seated in the audience.

Contributed Photo /

RIDGEFIELD — After 21 years as executive director of The Ridgefield Playhouse, Allison Stockel will be stepping down. There will be a November gala in her honor.

During Stockel’s time at the Playhouse, a 500-seat nonprofit performing arts center on 80 East Ridge Road, the venue went from producing 40 shows a year to more than 250 shows, a release said.

Stockel, a Ridgefield resident and mother of two, has continued to volunteer at the Playhouse throughout her time there.

“I pour my heart and soul into whatever I do, it’s not the money that makes me work, it’s the results and my belief that what I am doing makes a difference,” Stockel said in the release.

Recent developments at the Playhouse include a lobby expansion and upgrades to the backstage and audio improvements in the theater.

Taking over the reins of the venue will be two employees being promoted from within — Managing Director Ashley Paltauf and Artistic Director Jared Shahid.

Paultauf will become managing director of operations and development, and Shahid will be managing director of talent and marketing.

Shahid, who started out as Stockel’s assistant 17 years ago, started his own speaker’s bureau and worked for “Shark Tank’s” Daymond John for five years.

“Over the past 3 years Shahid has not only successfully navigated the moving of hundreds of shows but has shown his creativity by booking outdoor shows during the pandemic and successfully moving shows back inside,” the release said.

Paltauf joined The Ridgefield Playhouse in 2013 and “demonstrated her strong skill set as a manager during the pandemic by successfully steering the staff and working with patrons through the outdoor tent/field shows as well as transitioning back to indoor shows,” the release said.

Michael Shinall, president of the Playhouse Board of Directors, said in the release that “Allison certainly has made a difference — she has been the ‘face and voice’ of the Ridgefield Playhouse. The community, Playhouse patrons, artists, managers, and agents all know and respect Allison. But her legacy doesn’t stop when she leaves because she has assembled an exceptional staff, led by Paltauf and Shahid, that is fully capable of continuing the incredible work necessary to keep the Playhouse successful.”

In the release, Stockel said “The important thing is that the Ridgefield Playhouse is in a good place. We have a great team, strong leadership and a wonderful new venue to host many exciting new events. I am looking forward to seeing where the next 20 years take us….only now I’ll be watching from the audience.”

To pay tribute to Stockel, the Playhouse will is hosting a fall gala on Nov. 4. Tickets to the event, which will star actress, singer and children’s book author Bernadette Peters, go on sale to members Sept. 6 and to others Sep. 9.

For more information on the gala, visit www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org, call 203-438-5795 or visit Ridgefield Playhouse on Facebook.