Oct. 17: André De Shields, Kate Baldwin, Britney Coleman, Tina Fabrique, The Naughton Family, featuring James Naughton, Greg Naughton, Kelli O’Hara, and Keira Naughton; Brenda Pressley, Amanda Robles and More Set for Westport Country Playhouse’s PLAYHOUSE AT THE DRIVE-IN Benefit 

Westport Country Playhouse will present “Playhouse at the Drive-in,” a one-night-only benefit event and screening of special filmed performances and a short-form documentary celebrating the theater’s 90-season history, on Saturday, October 17, at the Remarkable Theater Drive-in, 47 Imperial Ave., Westport.

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

The event is also available for online screening at home. Gates open at 5 p.m. for a cocktail hour and picnic dinner. The screening from attendees’ own cars and online begins at 6:30 p.m. Due to the pandemic, “Playhouse at the Drive-in” is in lieu of the theater’s annual Fall Gala fundraiser.

“In these extraordinary times, our usually extraordinary annual gala is going to be more extraordinary than ever!,” said Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse artistic director. “In fact, it’s turning into an extraordinary virtual (at least partially) and brand new kind of fundraising event that we think is going to be extraordinarily enjoyable.”

The benefit evening will be highlighted by a short-form documentary saluting the Playhouse, its history, and many of the artists who have lit up the stage. It is created exclusively for this event by Playhouse artistic director Mark Lamos and filmmaker Douglas Tirola, who is also the director. Tirola was raised in Westport and is a current resident. One of his first jobs as a teenager was as a Westport Country Playhouse beautifier. Tirola’s films have premiered at festivals around the world including Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca, and SXSW. His movies have also been released on HBO, Netflix, PBS, and Showtime. He is president of New York-based 4th Row Films.

The evening will include filmed performances by Playhouse alumni and friends Kate Baldwin; Britney Coleman; Tina Fabrique; The Naughton Family, featuring James Naughton, Greg Naughton, Kelli O’Hara, and Keira Naughton; Brenda Pressley; Amanda Robles; and a special performance by André De Shields. Filmed appearances will be made by Jane Alexander, Lissy Newman, Christopher Plummer, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Thomas, and many more who have been associated with the historic theater.

Lamos noted, “Though you can’t be in the Playhouse proper right now, you can relive favorite memories and hear behind-the-scenes tales from stars and stagehands, staff, donors, trustees, and longtime audience members – people who have made a difference to the life and the ongoing health of the Playhouse over its extraordinary history.

“Our survival now depends more than ever on your belief in the Playhouse and your generosity,” said Lamos. “Please join me (I won’t be virtual, I’ll be there) at the Remarkable Theater for a really fun evening. It’s a completely unique event, and you won’t want to miss it.”

On-site benefit tickets are limited, starting at $500 per car (maximum car occupancy five people). Online film screening from home is $25 for a non-shareable link.

The benefit event’s Executive Producers are Judy and Scott Phares, and Barbara and John Streicker. Producers are Athena and Daniel Adamson, Paige and Jodi Couture, Ellen Petrino, Kerry and Maggie Lehnerd-Reilly, and Marietta White. Event Corporate Producer is BNY Mellon Wealth Management, and Corporate Sponsor is RDM Financial Group. Event Leadership includes Paige Couture, Maggie Lehnerd-Reilly, Judy Phares, Barbara Streicker, Joanna Romberg, and 3wishesevents.

In-Kind Support and Community Partners include Teresa Nardozzi and Dr. Pietro Marghella, Judy and Scott Phares, Balducci’s, Castle Wine & Spirits, The Fresh Market, and Remarkable Theater.

Special thanks to Playhouse donors Maureen and Edwin Schloss, Roz and Bud Siegel, The Streicker Family, Stacy and Howard Bass, and Yvette and David Waldman (in memory of Jessica Waldman).

For the safety of guests and staff, complimentary treats and beverages at the event will be pre-packaged, sealed, and handled by Playhouse staff wearing gloves and masks. Parking spots will be marked with at least six feet of distance between each vehicle.

Westport Country Playhouse is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization; contributions are tax-deductible as provided by law.

For more information, to purchase tickets, or to become a sponsor, please contact Gretchen Wright, Playhouse director of development, at (858) 945-0493 or gwright@westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to the Playhouse at westportplayhouse.org, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields is the triple-crown winner of the 2019 awards season, having won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Tony A wards for best featured actor in a musical for his critically acclaimed performance as Hermes in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, honoring veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. Mr. De Shields recently received the 2020 Grammy Award for Musical Theater Album for Hadestown, an honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Boston Conservatory at Berklee, the 2019 Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2019 SAGE Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award, The York Theatre Company’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre, and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. He received the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young in August, 2019. Prior to his Tony Award win, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz , Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On! (Tony Nomination), and The Full Monty (Tony Nomination). In a career spanning fifty one years, he has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator, receiving in 2018 the 8th Annual Off Broadway Alliance Legend Award, and the 33rd Annual Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award. Among his other accolades are the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. De Shields can currently be seen on Netflix as the Algebra Tutor in “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch” and on The CW as Chubby in “Katy Keene.” De Shields is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC. www.andredeshields.com/

Broadwayworld.com: Westport Country Playhouse Presents PLAYHOUSE AT THE DRIVE-IN Benefit Event

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2020 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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