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Broadway Stars Perform at Gala Opening of Fairfield Arts Center

Seven of Broadway's biggest stars will perform on one stage to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center and the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts December 7, 8 and 9. After more than a decade of planning and execution, the new facility will officially open its doors to the community with four Grand Opening Gala performances and special receptions for donors.

Each of the stars performing in the Gala has a strong connection to the works of Stephen Sondheim, America's most significant composer/lyricist, though this is the first time they will be performing together. The world-renowned performers headlining the Gala are Liz Callaway, Len Cariou, Donna Lynne Champlin, Kristin Huffman, Richard Kind, David Malis and Pamela Myers.

The Gala performances will feature the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim.  The original production, A Little Sondheim Music, will be conceived and directed by West with musical direction by Justin Hill. The all-star cast from Broadway will be performing with some of the finest talent in the Midwest, including the entire Encore Players touring company accompanied by a full 18-piece orchestra. The Gala will also mark the world premiere of the Generation NOW Show Choir, a youth group that will experience the thrill of sharing the stage with these talented stars.

The Sondheim Center will also nurture and train new talent in both performing and designing musical theatre. Every project will have an educational component. In the near future, West plans to found a Performing Arts Conservatory connected to the Summer Musical Theatre Company. From its inception the performing arts center will be offering a College residential internship program, workshops and seminars. The goal encompasses presenting the very best in musical theatre and offering audiences a chance to see Broadway performers in roles that they helped define. West detailed an aggressive plan toward presenting both concert versions of musicals, and fully mounted musicals, utilizing the very best of Broadway talent mixed with the very best of 'up and coming talent.'

As the theatre vision was being created and refined, the naming committee came to West and asked if there was any chance he could ask Stephen Sondheim to lend his name to the building. West had worked with Sondheim while he was the Theatre Coordinator for the City of Phoenix. George Furth and Stephen Sondheim used a Phoenix production of Merrily We Roll Along as a means of being part of the workshop process after the La Jolla Playhouse workshop.

Tickets for the Grand Opening Gala are on sale starting November 19. With only four performances in the 522-seat theatre, seats are limited and must be purchased in advance by calling 641-472-2787 during normal business hours or emailing  Performances are December 7 at 7:30pm, December 8 at 2pm and 7:30pm, and December 9 at 2pm. Tickets range in price from $45 - $80. A special reception will be held on Friday, December 7 honoring top donors, with a reception for all donors on Saturday, December 8.

Opportunities are available for sponsorship of the Gala performances and the celebrity entertainers who are traveling to Fairfield for the first time to participate in this extraordinary event. For more information on fundraising goals or to make a donation contact Sheila Atchley at 641-472-2000. For notification about future performances and events at the Sondheim Center and the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, join the mailing list at

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