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Glitter, Glam, Songs and a Cocktail Party with Sharon Playhouse

Theater

If you know anything about Robert Levinstein and Alan M-L Wager, the heads of the Sharon Playhouse in Sharon, Conn., then you know that they are not only Put On a Show Kind of Guys, but they’re also Put on a Party Kind of Guys.

And they have a doozy planned for their winter fundraising gala, scheduled for this weekend, on Saturday, Jan. 23.

A doozy of which, you might ask? Well, both. It’s a fundraising gala, so the evening begins at 7 p.m. with some of the socializing that we all miss so much from pre-COVID-19 times. It’s perfect even for those of us who secretly don’t like cocktail parties: It’s a chance to see friends and chat from the safety of your own computer screen. 

Dress up in your finest evening wear if you like (and remember that no one can see you below the waist so uncomfortable high-heeled shoes are not required) — or come in  your comfiest pajamas, it’s all up to you. Same with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres: Bring  your own, or don’t. This could be the first time in history that you can go to  a cocktail party in January and not worry about breaking any new year’s resolutions.

The more people who tune in for the party, of course, the more fun it will be. But there’s never a dull moment in conversation with Levinstein and Wager and it’s a safe bet that someone, who knows who, will suddenly break into song during the party. 

The show itself will premiere at 8 p.m. (once you have the link access you can watch it right away or save it for later). 

Levinstein and Wager promise that this is a fully produced show, with either virtual backgrounds or performances recorded out in The World — look for Playhouse favorite Nicholas Ward singing “Let It  Go” from “Frozen” outdoors at New York City’s Cloisters, for example. 

The Tri-state region’s beloved Wanda Houston belts out some favorite songs in the Playhouse’s Bok Gallery, which was redesigned to look like an intimate supper club for her performance.

Rex Smith, who still makes hearts flutter after all these years, will also sing a song — and encourage patrons to make donations to the Playhouse, as will other notable performers from the area including Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Blair Brown and Jane Kaczmarek.

“It is a fundraiser,” Levinstein and Wager reminded. They made it through a rough summer of 2020 and continued to keep singing, dancing and even movies on a new outdoor stage. For 2021, they are anticipating more of the same, but with a bigger stage, perhaps with a roof over it. And the cabaret Dinner-and-a-Show performances will begin earlier in the season, “so we can do more of them.”

It seems doubtful at this point that there will be indoor seating, so the planned 2020 performances of “Brigadoon,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Mamma Mia” probably will be postponed for a while longer. 

But patrons of the fundraising gala can get a sneak preview: The show will open with a performance of “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” against a virtual backdrop of Grauman’s theater in Hollywood. There will also be three songs from “Brigadoon,” including one with a dancing “dream” sequence. 

“We’re thinking of this as Past, Present and Future,” Levinstein said of the lineup of songs for the Jan. 23 show.  

“We’ll have brand new things done just for us. We’ll have performances from past productions: ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ The ‘Brigadoon’ section is really lovely; we still hope to do that in the future.”

Tickets for the gala are $25 per household; Angel donors who have given $1,000 or more get free access to the party and the show. Donations are welcome and encouraged, and will help fund not only future shows but also the Playhouse’s classes in theater and dance, for adults, teens and children. 

The winter session is beginning now. Classes are held both “virtually” and in person, with a limit on how many students can be in person at a time.

The classes will be taught by the playhouse’s new director of education, Michael Baldwin, with Amber Cameron and Sarah Cuoco. 

Classes are either $85 or $90 for six sessions, depending on the class. 

For information on all these exciting opportunities, go to www.sharonplayhouse.org.

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