Updated: Jul 28, 2020
The really good news is that ACT (A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut) in Ridgefield has announced its next season. If that isn’t reassuring enough that this new kid on the theater block is standing strong through this wretched coronavirus era, my chat with founder Daniel C. Levine, the artistic director of the theater, is even more assuring. Adding to the good news is the fact that ACT’s three founders, Katie Diamond, Bryan Perri and Levine, will present a livestream Happy Hour on Friday, April 17, at 7 p.m. on their Facebook page.
Happy Hour’s premiere, which is like a backstage ticket, features the ACT founders chatting with Broadway stars. This upcoming livestream event will focus on Kathryn Gallagher and Derek Klena of “Jagged Little Pill.” Viewers are encouraged to chat and ask questions during the livestream. How cool is that?
Meanwhile, my conversations with Levine show just how much thought went into creating this professional theater. Even though Levine started the conversation by saying he wakes up every morning and asks himself “What’s next?” The theater is most likely to come through this pandemic standing strong.
“It was tragic that we had to cancel ‘Nickel Mines’ because I brought the show to our theater. It was a special event for which we raised funds, but I knew this virus was trouble,” Levine explained. “We were already in rehearsal, but since we were looking at all the upfront expenses of designers and tech, I just couldn’t chance spending that money. We also had to cancel our gala, which was devastating because that’s our big fundraiser.”
What Levine is especially happy and thankful about is the support that the Ridgefield community has extended to the theater. Even when the rest of the season was canceled, donors stood by. When the box office offered to refund tickets that were already paid for, many ticket-holders told the theater to keep the money as a donation. According to the artistic director, he is pleased that the theater started off on the right foot. “I feel lucky that we started big out of the gate,” he said, adding that audiences and critics applauded the shows that were presented. All of the shows presented and produced included Broadway performers.
Levine also feels that the theater is in good shape due to three important factors: Support of the community, incredible sponsors and generous donors. There’s a small staff. Five people are essentially responsible for running the theater. This makes the theater financially manageable. The theater is small with a capacity of 182 seats. Because the facility is small, operating costs are manageable.
Although Levine doesn’t expect an audience until October, he thinks that ACT will be fine. The new 2020/2021 season includes “Freaky Friday,” “Snapshots,” a musical scrapbook by Stephen Schwartz and “Into the Woods,” a Sondheim classic.
Don’t forget to check out Happy Hour on Friday, April 17 through ACT’s Facebook page.