ACT of Connecticut begins their 5th season of presenting Broadway caliber theater this fall. Yet aside from producing unforgettable theater, “giving back” to the community seems to be ingrained in ACT’s culture. The creative force behind ACT of CT’s productions is the theater’s Artistic Director, Daniel C. Levine. At a recent interview Levine said, “When we had the initial idea to create a professional theater in Ridgefield, we were unsure if the community would ‘show up’ for us. Would we be able to fill a theater with patrons? Would we be able to obtain the community support that is necessary in order to sustain the type of organization that we wanted to create? The answer was an overwhelming YES! Ridgefield is remarkable that way; this town cares
about the arts, its non-profit organizations, and most importantly, the people who live here.”
Erin Craig, ACT’s Producing Director added, “I am amazed and delighted by our patrons and supporters who understand the value that ACT adds to this town. It is not lost on us that Ridgefield and the surrounding area appreciates the importance of the arts. The culture of ‘community support’ that I have experienced in this town is something that I am proud to be a part of.”
As ACT continues to become a fixture in the community, the theater’s leaders are often asked to speak, perform, and even emcee many events for other organizations and non-profits. Levine continued, “Whenever we are asked to help or to participate in other local organizations events and fundraisers, we say YES! We love this community and being able to ‘give back’ is an absolute honor.”
ACT of CT produces and presents a mainstage season of star-studded productions running from September through June annually, has built a competitive Conservatory Program, has developed a highly sought after New Works Program, and has created a “Broadway Unplugged” Series (where TONY nominated celebrities join ACT’s Music Supervisor Bryan Perri for a unique performance only available for ACT’s audiences). But what is less publicized is the level of community involvement that ACT’s leaders dedicate to other local groups.
Ridgefield’s First Selectman Rudy Marconi says, “Dan, Bryan, Katie, and Erin don’t simply talk about the importance of giving back to our community, they are ‘doers’. Their involvement with other Ridgefield not-for-profit organizations is absolutely terrific and it is remarkable to see how ACT has not only become a center of theatrical excellence, but also ardent supporters of the people of our town.”
First Selectman Marconi is correct. Just in the past year, Daniel and Bryan created and directed a show for the SPHERE gala. SPHERE’s mission is to enrich and enhance the lives of adults with disabilities, and the SPHERE members rehearsed with Daniel and Bryan weekly (for six months) in order to prepare for their unforgettable and moving gala performance.
A few weeks after this, Daniel was honored by Jane Doe No More, an organization whose mission is to empower survivors of sexual crimes to find their voice, for his creating and directing an original musical which helped increase Jane Doe No More’s visibility.
Soon thereafter Katie, Daniel and Bryan donated their talents for a smashing performance for Ridgefield’s Annual Library Gala, and just weeks after that, the three ACT co-founders were the entertainment for Founders Hall Annual “Garden Party” Fundraiser.
Following that event, Erin and Daniel hosted several talkbacks to traditionally underserved schools and communities as a part of ACT’s Audience Access Initiative, and several days later, Daniel and Erin presented awards to deserving students at this year’s HALO High School Theater Awards.
All this while running a major regional theater which employs over 200 people annually and provides entertainment to close to 12,000 audience members throughout the year. To say that ACT of CT “gives back” is an understatement.
Executive Director Katie Diamond says, “If five years ago someone had told me that ACT would become one of the premier theaters in New England, that we would produce fifteen large scale musicals in just four seasons, that Dan and Bryan would be nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album (“Snapshots”), that two of our productions would be purchased by BroadwayHD for worldwide viewing, that a show which was part of our New Works Series would be debuting at Carnegie Hall (“Austen’s Pride), and that a show that we reconceived and produced would be represented by one of the nation’s largest theatrical licensing agencies so that other theaters have the opportunity to also produce it (“Working”) – well, I am not sure I would have believed it. It is mind-blowing to think about all we have been able to do in less than five years, and while our achievements are many, I am most proud of the fact that ACT has become a part of the fabric of this exceptional community. We are a town full of caring and generous people and organizations, and I am proud that our theater is a part of that.”
ACT’s Resident Music Supervisor, Bryan Perri is intimately involved with the theater’s programming. Bryan, a well-known Broadway music director, will open his new Broadway show (“Almost Famous”) next month. About ACT’s community involvement Bryan said, “If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that people turn to art, music, and entertainment for relief and inspiration during times of challenge. We all need connection. Being able to be leaders and participants in the Ridgefield arts scene is a responsibility that we take seriously and that we recognize as a privilege.” •