Darren Criss, Bill Irwin, Betsy Wolfe Set for A.C.T.'s 2012 Gala, 4/15

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Darren-Criss-20010101

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) and Gala Chair Patti Rueff just announced Expect the Unexpected!, A.C.T.'s 2012 Season Gala, starring A.C.T. Young Conservatory alumnus Darren Criss (TV's Glee, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway), two-time Tony Award winner Bill Irwin (Scapin at A.C.T., Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on Broadway), A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program graduate Patrick Lane (Brian Hawkins in A.C.T.'s world premiere production of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City), and Betsy Wolfe (Mary Ann Singleton in A.C.T.'s world premiere production of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, 110 in the Shade and Everyday Rapture on Broadway). Proceeds from the Gala support A.C.T.'s acclaimed actor training and arts education programs. The Gala will be held on Sunday, April 15, 2012, at the historic Regency Center (1300 Van Ness Avenue) in San Francisco.

Individual tickets range in price from $1,000 to $2,500, with patron levels ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. An extremely limited number of $500 tickets are available online only. For more information or to purchase tables or tickets, please visit www.act-sf.org/gala or contact Luz Perez, A.C.T. Special Events Manager, at 415.439.2470 or lperez@act-sf.org.

The "black tie with a twist" event (guests are encouraged to be theatrical and add their own flair and props to their outfits) begins at 5 p.m. with a cocktail reception, followed by a lavish dinner and star-studded original musical production titled Tales of A.C.T.!, written exclusively for the Gala by Dan Rubin and directed by A.C.T. Associate Artistic Director Mark Rucker, who most recently directed Higher at A.C.T. The production will feature Darren Criss, Bill Irwin, Patrick Lane, and Betsy Wolfe alongside students from the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program and Young Conservatory and members of A.C.T.'s Board of Trustees, many of whom will be making their stage debuts.

Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff: "Over the years, A.C.T. has been committed to telling San Francisco stories-from our luminous production of Philip Kan Gotanda's After the War, to the glorious experience of bringing to life The Tosca Project, to last season's monumental world premiere production of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. At this year's Gala, in which we celebrate our remarkable conservatory, raise funds for our education programs, and support the next generation of theater artists, we are shining the spotlight on our process as we seek out the next great San Francisco story. We're thrilled to present, for the very first time, an outrageous original production that will showcase the inimitable talents of Darren Criss, Bill Irwin, Patrick Lane, and Betsy Wolfe alongside our masterful M.F.A. Program students, Young Conservatory artists, and-in something completely unprecedented-A.C.T.'s Board of Trustees, making their theatrical debut! It is truly going to be a unique and unforgettable evening!"

Gala Chair Patti Rueff adds: "We are stepping out of the box with this event and doing something completely different from anything A.C.T. has ever done before. I assure you, it won't be your run-of-the-mill fundraiser! We are honored and thrilled that Darren, Bill, Patrick, and Betsy will be lending their talent and support to raise money for our conservatory and A.C.T.'s arts education programs in Bay Area schools. In addition to our guests being able to experience the talents of these incredible artists in such an intimate setting, 180 Bay Area schoolchildren with a passion for the arts will be sponsored to attend this event as part of the Gala Fan Club. What an incredible opportunity for them to see stars of Broadway and TV performing alongside our remarkable conservatory students and experience the art of live theater."

The Gala Committee, led by Rueff, includes Lynn Brinton, Mollie Ricker, Carla Riemer, Anne Shonk, and Michelle Shonk. Gala sponsors include Electronic Arts, Fiduciary Trust, Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shops, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Pacific Gas and Electric, Shutterfly, and Wells Fargo Bank. The Gala dinner is provided by McCalls Catering & Events.

Led by Melissa Smith, the A.C.T. Conservatory serves more than 2,200 students through its acclaimed actor-training programs and represents an integral part of A.C.T.'s mission. Ranked as one of the top programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program functions as the cornerstone of the A.C.T. Conservatory, which also includes the Summer Training Congress, Studio A.C.T., and the Young Conservatory. Elizabeth Banks, Benjamin Bratt, Annette Bening, Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, and Denzel Washington are among the conservatory's distinguished former students. With its commitment to excellence in actor training and to the relationship between training, performance, and audience, the A.C.T. Conservatory has moved to the forefront of America's actor training programs, while serving as the creative engine of the company at large. For more information, please visit www.act-sf.org/conservatory.

In addition to the actor-training programs provided in our conservatory, A.C.T. brings the benefits of theater-based arts education to the wider community-reaching more than 8,000 students a year. Central to A.C.T.'s education programs is the longstanding Student Matinee (SMAT) series, which over the past three decades has brought thousands of students each year to A.C.T. performances with low-cost tickets, Words on Plays teacher guides, and lively postshow discussions. A.C.T.'s intensive ArtReach program provides free SMAT tickets, teaching artist residencies, in-school workshops, and in-depth study materials to Bay Area public schools and after-school programs, bringing the experience of live theater directly into the classroom. In addition, each spring students in the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program take a Shakespeare production on tour with Will on Wheels, transporting the words of the Bard to school auditoriums and public spaces in and around San Francisco. With the recent adoption of a new ten-year strategic plan that includes an ambitious arts education component, and the appointment of Elizabeth Brodersen as A.C.T.'s first director of education, A.C.T. is committed to nurturing the artists and audiences of the future while helping the diverse members of our extended community find inspiration in great works of classical and contemporary dramatic literature.

American Conservatory Theater is a Tony Award–winning theater and educational institution dedicated to nurturing the art of live theater through Dynamic Productions, intensive actor training in its conservatory, and an ongoing engagement with its community. A.C.T. embraces its responsibility to conserve, renew, and reinvent its relationship to the rich theatrical traditions and literatures that are our collective legacy, while exploring new artistic forms and new communities. A commitment to the highest standards informs every aspect of A.C.T.'s creative work. Founded in 1965, A.C.T. opened its first San Francisco season at the historic Geary Theater in 1967; more than 320 productions have since been performed to a combined audience of more than seven million people. Today A.C.T. is recognized nationally for its groundbreaking productions of classical works and bold explorations of contemporary playwriting, honored with a Tony Award for outstanding theater performance and training (1979) and the prestigious Jujamcyn Theaters Award (1996). The first actor training program in the United States not affiliated with a college or university accredited to award a master of fine arts degree, A.C.T.'s conservatory has moved to the forefront of America's actor training programs, while serving as the creative engine of the company at large.

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