Bravo! A Century of Theatre in Fairfield County at the Fairfield Museum and History Center


Photo Caption: Katharine Hepburn as Portia in Merchant of Venice American Shakespeare Festival Theatre, Stratford. Photo Credit: Friedman-Abeles Courtesy, ASFTA Archives

When the curtain rises on Bravo! A Century of Theatre in Fairfield County, Fairfield Museum and History Center expects the crowds to be standing room only!

The six-month exhibition will begin with a special gala fundraising preview that will honor actor Christopher Plummer; playwright A.J. Gurney; director Mark Lamos; and costume designer Jane Greenwood on Saturday, September 24th at the Museum.

The honorary event chair is distinguished actor Joanne Woodward and the gala event chairs are Mary Jane Berrien, Lisa Callahan and Caroline Owens Crawford, all of Fairfield.

According to Director of Exhibitions and Programs for the Museum, Kathleen Bennewitz, Bravo! opens to the public on Sunday, September 25th and will run through Sunday, March 18th, 2012. “It will be the largest, first-of-a-kind exhibition the Museum has undertaken and will focus on the legacy of Fairfield County’s regional theatres, highlighting the Westport Country Playhouse, the White Barn Theatre and the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre and Academy,” she said.

Photo Caption: From left…Actors Maggie Lacey, Paul Newman and Ben Fox in the 2002 Westport Country Playhouse production of Our Town.

The Fairfield Museum and History Center is working in partnership with Martha S. LoMonaco, PhD, Professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Fairfield University, who is guest curating this exhibition. The Fairfield Museum has chosen this topic because Fairfield County holds a unique place in the history of American theatre and is rich with vibrant stories. “One of Connecticut’s important roles in the performing arts has been as an ‘incubator’ of emerging talent, providing a place where playwrights, actors and designers have had the freedom to experiment with groundbreaking ideas,” Bennewitz noted. “Over the past century, regional theatres have provided opportunities for internationally known artists to ‘try out’ their craft on a regional stage to allow audiences to experience the best in classical, popular and innovative dramatic art in a different setting outside New York. “Collectively, the productions have comprised a who’s who of stage artists like Katharine Hepburn, Alfred Drake, Morris Carnovsky, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Christopher Plummer, James Earl Jones, June Havoc, Robert Ryan and Bert Lahr, to mention only a few.

Bravo! will offer visitors a unique opportunity to hear the fascinating stories behind those actors and some of their landmark performances,” Bennewitz added. Bennewitz explained that interactive stations will provide a window to “behind the scenes” stage production and a colorful array of costumes, props, photographs and manuscripts will combine to illustrate Fairfield County’s theatrical history.

Photo Caption: The internationally famous and glamorous producer, Lucille Lortel, popularly known as the “Queen of Off-Broadway”, opened the White Barn Theatre in 1947 on her Westport estate in a former horse barn.

The Museum will also offer a slate of public education programs, related to Bravo!, where visitors may participate in activities, presentations and performances at the Museum and at partnering institutions. These programs will provide the experience of live theatre while inspiring the artists and audiences of tomorrow.”Another of the very exciting aspects of Bravo! is the partnerships we have established with more than 60 performing arts organizations throughout Fairfield County that will co-promote the exhibition and its related educational programs and performances,” Bennewitz said. “These partnerships will help make the exhibition and their own performances appealing.”

For more information on Bravo! A Century of Theatre in Fairfield County, its programs and the opening gala, visit http://www.fairfieldhistory.org or call 203-259-1598.

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Janet

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