I always get excited when a new theatre opens in Connecticut; so it’s not surprising that I was thrilled to learn that ACT (A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut) will open in Ridgefield as a full Equity Union professional theatre. Led by founders and Ridgefield residents Daniel C. Levine, artistic director, and Katie Diamond, executive producer, they both have Broadway and television credits and know the theater business well. They are joined by artistic advisor and Ridgefield resident Stephen Schwartz, who just exceeded $1 billion dollars in ticket sales for his smash hit “Wicked.” Add to this star studded founding group Bryan Perri, the music supervisor and conductor of Broadway’s “Wicked” who will be the resident music director of ACT.

I caught up with Dan who said that there are so many Equity actors living in Ridgefield who want to perform. Equity doesn’t permit Equity actors to perform in community theaters, with too few exceptions. It makes sense to open an Equity theater in this town and because of its close proximity to New York casting outstanding actors and attracting playwrights and musicians is almost a given. ACT will take over the famous Schlumberger Auditorium and is currently renovating the facility.

The theater plans on producing four shows per season and expects to open next fall. Levine noted that a Stephen Schwartz play will be featured in the first four or five seasons of the theater. With plans underway that include limited engagements of Broadway shows, world premieres by new writers and composers, production of their own touring shows, education classes, camps, and workshops, this theater has big plans. It’s all very exciting and just speaking with Dan who is especially thrilled with this makes one hope that time will fly and this theater will open to great success. Since the Westport Country Playhouse and Westchester Broadway Theatre easily draw from New York talent, Ridgefield with its own built in talent will not likely have a problem bringing other professionals to town.

The theater is having a gala on May 5 and will feature many celebrities. For more information contact ACT at their website: actofct.org [or see benefit gala listings in After Dark].

Goshen reaches out to former member

When it comes to being loyal to its supporters, the Goshen Players don’t fool around. When their member Judy Tringali recently moved to Kona, Hawaii, she sent a letter to Goshen telling them how she decorated a whole wall in her new home with Goshen Players’ show posters. She had been involved with 25 shows over a period of 14 years at Goshen. During that time she did everything from hair and makeup to props and set design. In her letter, she also mentioned that she was only missing a few posters of her shows. Well that statement was quickly addressed when the theater immediately made up copies of her missing posters and sent them out to her. From Goshen to Hawaii may seem like a long way, but when it comes to theater, you’re never far. Judy has now made a new theater friend in Hawaii called the Aloha Performing Arts Company. Goshen may be some 5,000 miles away, but theater is always just around the corner.

If  you have inside, off stage information regarding any Connecticut theater or local luminaries, please send it with a contact name and phone number to Off Stage at: [email protected] Due to space needs, timeliness and other considerations, not all submissions can be addressed in Off Stage.