Westport Country Playhouse has been awarded a $75,000 Challenge Grant from Newman’s Own Foundation to increase individual donor support. The Challenge launched on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, to coincide with #GivingTuesday, a national day of philanthropy, and runs through Tuesday, December 31, 2013.
The Newman's Own Foundation Challenge Grant will help the Playhouse build long-term organizational capacity and stability, increasing awareness of the Playhouse’s role as an important nonprofit cultural resource, and inspiring loyal patrons to invest beyond the price of a ticket.
“We are honored to receive this grant from Newman’s Own Foundation,” said Michael Ross, Playhouse managing director. “We’re equally grateful that so many in our community have a deep love for this theater, and hope that friends from throughout the region will take advantage of this dollar-for-dollar match.”
With only one-third of the non-profit’s operating costs paid for via ticket sales, the Playhouse hopes the Challenge will inspire audiences, and particularly subscribers, to invest in the theater’s mission.
“Westport Country Playhouse is a cultural treasure bringing innovative, humorous, and thought-provoking programming to the entire region,” said Lisa Walker, managing director of Newman’s Own Foundation. “We hope the Foundation’s challenge grant will inspire many people to join us in supporting the valuable work of the Playhouse and the important role it plays in the community.”
The Playhouse and the Foundation share a common connection in Paul Newman. Newman’s Own Foundation is the independent foundation created by Newman to continue his philanthropic legacy. Together, Paul Newman and his wife, former Playhouse artistic director Joanne Woodward, were instrumental in creating the Playhouse as it exists today.
“The Grant will help to establish the Playhouse as not just a place to see great theater, but as an invaluable resource for our community that depends on a broad spectrum of support from individuals as well as institutions,” added Ross.
About Westport Country Playhouse
Westport Country Playhouse is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit, professional theater under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos and management leadership of Michael Ross. The Playhouse creates five live theater experiences, produced at the highest level, from April through October. Its vital mix of works---dramatic, comedic, occasionally exploratory and unusual---expands the audience’s sense of what theater can be. The depth and scope of its productions display the foremost theatrical literature from the past---recent as well as distant---in addition to musicals and premieres of new plays. During the summer, the Playhouse is home to the Woodward Internship Program, renowned for the training of aspiring theater professionals. Winter at the Playhouse, from November through March, offers events outside of the main season---Family Festivities presentations and Script in Hand play readings. In addition, businesses and organizations are encouraged to rent the handsome facility for their meetings, receptions and fundraisers.
As an historic venue, Westport Country Playhouse has had many different lives leading up to the present. Originally built in 1835 as a tannery manufacturing hatters’ leathers, it became a steam-powered cider mill in 1880, later to be abandoned in the 1920s. Splendidly transformed into a theater in 1931, it initially served as a try-out house for Broadway transfers, evolving into an established stop on the New England straw hat circuit of summer stock theaters through the end of the 20th century. Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2005, the Playhouse became a state-of-the-art producing theater, preserving its original charm and character.
Today, the not-for-profit Westport Country Playhouse serves as a cultural resource for patrons, artists and students and is a treasure for the State of Connecticut. There are no boundaries to the creative thinking for future seasons or the kinds of audiences and excitement for theater that Westport Country Playhouse can build.
Westport Country Playhouse’s upcoming 2014 season: Noël Coward’s “A Song at Twilight,” an exquisite battle of wits, exploring the nature of passion, the cruelty of love, and the price of hidden secrets, directed by Mark Lamos, April 29 – May 17, a co-production with Hartford Stage; the season’s second production will be either a comedy or a world premiere musical event, to be announced at a later date, directed by Mark Lamos, playing June 3 – 21; “Nora,” Ingmar Bergman’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” a story of love, blackmail, and the little lies people tell, translated into the English language by Frederick J. Marker and Lisa-Lone Marker, directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, July 15 – August 2; “Things We Do for Love,” Alan Ayckbourn’s wickedly funny play that questions just how sane anyone really is when it comes to love, August 19 – September 6; and “Intimate Apparel” by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, an intricate tapestry of the joys, sorrows, tragedy, and triumph of a gifted but lonely African-American seamstress in early 20th century Manhattan who’s negotiating the choice between a love that is accepted and one that is true, October 7 – November 1.
For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse) or get an insider’s peek on The Playhouse Blog (www.theplayhouseblog.org).