Westport Country Playhouse to Honor A. R. Gurney and Arthur Levitt at A PERFECT PARTY Gala, 9/22

Westport Country Playhouse to Honor A. R. Gurney and Arthur Levitt at A PERFECT PARTY Gala, 9/22

Playwright A. R. ("Pete") Gurney, who has had 14 of his plays staged at Westport Country Playhouse, will be celebrated at the Playhouse's annual fundraiser, "A Perfect Party: A Gala Evening Honoring A. R. Gurney," on the evening of Monday, September 22. Westport's Arthur Levitt, a valued trustee and longtime supporter of the Playhouse, will also be honored with the Playhouse Leadership Award.

Gala hosts will be Jim Simpson, artistic director of The Flea Theater, which has produced eight Gurney plays, and Simpson's wife acclaimed film and stage actress Sigourney Weaver.

Proceeds will benefit the non-profit, professional producing theater, now in its 84th season - its work on stage, with schools, and throughout the community. The gala includes a one-night-only performance by Broadway talent to be announced at a later date, and surprise guests.

"Pete Gurney has enjoyed a long and successful career in the American Theater---one that has brought decades of wit, laughter, tears, and insight to audiences across the country and around the world," said Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse artistic director. "The Playhouse has been a particular and proud beneficiary of many of his plays and premieres, which have delighted our audiences season after season."

Gurney, a Connecticut resident, has been writing plays for over fifty years. Among them are "Love Letters," "Children," and "The Dining Room." In 2012, he won a Drama Desk Award for the body of his work. Gurney is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has honorary degrees from Williams College and Buffalo State University, and taught literature at M.I.T. for many years.

"Arthur Levitt's contributions to our community are legendary," stated Lamos. "He played a vital role in the campaign to bring new life to the Playhouse. He was the longest-serving chairman of the SEC and is advisor to some of the world's most important financial institutions, as well as a friend and college classmate of our other honoree, A.R.Gurney, at Williams College."

Levitt was the 25th Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, from 1993 to 2001. He graduated from Williams College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Levitt's bestselling book, "Take on the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don't Want You to Know/What You Can Do to Fight Back," was published by Pantheon Books in 2002.

A cocktail party will begin at 5:45 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. performance. Dinner with the evening's artists and special guests will be at 8:30 p.m. A silent auction will be on-going throughout the evening. Attire is festive; black tie optional.

The Gala Committee co-chairs are Judy Phares and Katia Friend, both of Westport. Karen Parrella of Weston is auction chair. Mary Ellen Marpe of Westport is ticket chair.

Gala tickets range from $2,500 to $250. Benefactor level, at $2,500 per person, includes a cocktail party, highest priority seating at performance, post-performance dinner with the evening's stars, and an invitation to a Benefactor Preview Party with special guests; Patron level, at $1,000 per person, includes a cocktail party, priority seating at performance, and post-performance dinner with the evening's stars. A limited number of Supporter tickets are available at $250 per person and include a cocktail party and the evening's performance. For more gala information or ticket purchases, contact Elizabeth Marks Juviler, special events manager, at (203) 571-1293 or ejuviler@westportplayhouse.org.

Westport Country Playhouse, named Theater Company of the Year by The Wall Street Journal, is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit, professional theater under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos and management leadership of Michael Ross. The Playhouse creates five live theater experiences, produced at the highest level, from April through October. Its vital mix of works---dramatic, comedic, occasionally exploratory and unusual---expands the audience's sense of what theater can be. The depth and scope of its productions display the foremost theatrical literature from the past---recent as well as distant---in addition to musicals and premieres of new plays. During the summer, the Playhouse is home to the Woodward Internship Program, renowned for the training of aspiring theater professionals. Winter at the Playhouse, from November through March, offers events outside of the main season---Family Festivities presentations and Script in Hand play readings. In addition, businesses and organizations are encouraged to rent the handsome facility for their meetings, receptions and fundraisers.

As an historic venue, Westport Country Playhouse has had many different lives leading up to the present. Originally built in 1835 as a tannery manufacturing hatters' leathers, it became a steam-powered cider mill in 1880, later to be abandoned in the 1920s. Splendidly transformed into a theater in 1931, it initially served as a try-out house for Broadway transfers, evolving into an established stop on the New England straw hat circuit of summer stock theaters through the end of the 20th century. Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2005, the Playhouse became a state-of-the-art producing theater, preserving its original charm and character.

Today, the not-for-profit Westport Country Playhouse serves as a cultural resource for patrons, artists and students and is a treasure for the State of Connecticut. There are no boundaries to the creative thinking for future seasons or the kinds of audiences and excitement for theater that Westport Country Playhouse can build.

Westport Country Playhouse's 2014 season: Noël Coward's "A Song at Twilight," an exquisite battle of wits, exploring the nature of passion, the cruelty of love, and the price of hidden secrets, directed by Mark Lamos, April 29 - May 17, a co-production with Hartford Stage; "Sing for Your Shakespeare," a world premiere musical revue with selections from Broadway, pop, rock, jazz, opera, film, and Tin Pan Alley, exploring how the American Songbook has been inspired by Shakespeare's works, directed by Mark Lamos, co-conceived by Wayne Barker, Mark Lamos, and Deborah Grace Winer, playing June 3 - 28; "Nora," Ingmar Bergman's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House," a story of love, blackmail, and the little lies people tell, translated into the English language by Frederick J. Marker and Lise-Lone Marker, directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, July 15 - August 2; "Things We Do for Love," Alan Ayckbourn's wickedly funny play that questions just how sane anyone really is when it comes to love, directed by John Tillinger, August 19 - September 7; and "Intimate Apparel" by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and directed by Mary Robinson, an intricate tapestry of the joys, sorrows, tragedy, and triumph of a gifted but lonely African-American seamstress in early 20th century Manhattan who's negotiating the choice between a love that is accepted and one that is true, October 7 - November 1.

For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), or view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse).

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