Bernadette Peters Headlines ZACH's Topfer Theatre Opening Gala Tonight, 9/27

Bernadette Peters, one of the greatest living Broadway superstars, will headline the first opening gala, Once Upon a Dream, at ZACH's new Topfer Theatre tonight, Sept. 27. The illustrious actress, winner of two Tony Awards, three Drama Desk Awards, and a Golden Globe Award, is known for iconic stage roles in Gypsy, Song and Dance, and Annie Get Your Gun among many others. Her performance at ZACH's gala will include a 30-piece orchestra of Austin musicians.

Peters was selected in place of Johnny Mathis, who is being forced to postpone more than two months of performances due to emergency hip replacement surgery.

Peters' career has spanned five decades in musical theatre, films, television, and solo concerts. She has appeared in 17 films and received a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Pennies From Heaven. Television audiences have seen her most recently this season in the series Smash.

Peters is considered by many the foremost interpreter of the works of Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim said of Peters, "Like very few others, she sings and acts at the same time. Most performers act and then sing, act and then sing ... Bernadette is flawless as far as I'm concerned. I can't think of anything negative." Frank Rich said in the New York Times, "As an actress, singer, comedienne and all-around warming presence, Bernadette Peters has no peer in the musical theatre."

"It is truly perfect that one of the most iconic Broadway performers in American history will open our spectacular new Topfer Theatre," says ZACH's Managing Director Elisbeth Challener. "From her role as Dot in SUNDAY IN THE Park with George, to the role of the Witch she originated in the Broadway production of Into The Woods, not to mention her recent work starring on Broadway in Follies and guest appearance on television's Smash, Bernadette Peters has dazzled audiences and critics alike," Challener says.

"It could not be more ideal than to have Austin's newest theatrical jewel christened by the incomparable, versatile, electrifying, dynamic performer Bernadette Peters," says Gala Chair Bobbi Topfer. "Mort and I are so honored to have her perform at the grand opening of ZACH's new Topfer Theatre."

This September, the most exciting moment in ZACH Theatre's history will take place with the grand opening of the Topfer, the new state-of-the-art, 420-seat venue anchoring the three-theatre campus on the shores of Lady Bird Lake. Once Upon A Dream and Deep in the Heart of ZACH, tonight, Sept. 27 and Sept. 29, will welcome this new era of theatre for Austin and Central Texas.

Once Upon a Dream will be a spectacular black-tie gala held on Thursday, Sept. 27, showcasing the technical capabilities and amenities of the new Topfer Theatre. A cocktail reception in the theatre will be followed by a seated dinner on the People's Plaza under ZACH's spectacular new custom tent. Then, Broadway superstar Bernadette Peters will christen the Karen Kuykendall Stage with a concert of songs from her many award-winning performances. Once Upon A Dream is chaired by Bobbi Topfer, Kelly Topfer, and Wendy Topfer.

Tickets and some tables are still available for Once upon a Dream. Individual tickets are $1,000. Table prices and benefits vary: $25,000 table for 12; $15,000 table for 10; $10,000 table for 10; and a $5,000 couples package for two. For tickets and information, call Senior Development Manager of Special Events Eric Scott at 512-476-0594 x260, or email

The Topfer Theatre and entire ZACH campus will be party central for the Deep in the Heart of ZACH opening gala event on Saturday, Sept. 29. The event will feature Brian Stokes Mitchell, Broadway star of Ragtime and Tony Award winner for Kiss Me, Kate. ZACH's artists will be featured on the Kleberg stage, while area bands will perform on the People's Plaza. Guests can attend Mitchell's first or second concert in the Topfer, then partake in all the campus-wide festivities, concluding with an exclusive post-concert reception. All attendees will enjoy the opening ceremonies, food, drink, bands, and ZACH performances. This progressive party will offer Austin's finest food vendors in a variety of stations throughout ZACH's campus. Deep in the Heart of ZACH is chaired by Bobbi Topfer, Christine Messina, and Deanna Serra.

Ticket prices for Deep in the Heart of ZACH are $300, $200, or $125, and benefits included vary depending upon price. For tickets and information, call Senior Development Manager of Special Events Eric Scott at 512-476-0594 x260, or email

A free community event to christen ZACH's Topfer Theatre will be held Saturday, Nov. 3. More details will be announced soon. For more information about ZACH and the campaign for the new Topfer Theatre, visit

ZACH Theatre is Austin's leading professional producing theatre. Founded in 1932, ZACH is the longest running theatre company in Texas, serving 85,000 adults and youth annually. ZACH creates its own nationally recognized dramatic, musical and comedic productions that elevate, motivate and stimulate the human spirit under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Dave Steakley and Managing Director Elisbeth Challener. Now in its 79th season, ZACH continues to expand and engage with Austin, adding a third theatre to its Central Austin performance campus. The 420-seat, 32,000-square-foot Topfer Theatre will nearly double ZACH's capacity while retaining its hallmark intimate theatre-going experience upon its completion in the fall of 2012. The Topfer Theatre Campaign has currently raised more than $20 million of its $22 million goal.

Photo credit: Andrew Eccles

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