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Westport Country Playhouse Gala Honors Playwright A.R. Gurney

From left to right are Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse Artistic Director; playwright A. R. Gurney, Gala Honoree; Former SEC Chair Arthur Levitt, and Michael Ross, Westport Country Playhouse Managing Director.
From left to right are Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse Artistic Director; playwright A. R. Gurney, Gala Honoree; Former SEC Chair Arthur Levitt, and Michael Ross, Westport Country Playhouse Managing Director. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Playwright A. R. “Pete” Gurney, one of the most-produced playwrights in the history of Westport Country Playhouse, was celebrated for his body of work at the theater’s one-night-only fundraising gala.

The event, “A Perfect Party: A Gala Evening Honoring A. R. Gurney,” was held last month.

Fourteen productions of Gurney’s plays have been staged at Westport Country Playhouse, including one world premiere.

Gala hosts were acclaimed film and stage actress Sigourney Weaver, and her husband Jim Simpson, artistic director of The Flea Theater, which has produced eight Gurney plays.

Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, and a Playhouse trustee and longtime supporter, was honored with the Playhouse Leadership Award, presented to him by Alan Alda. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal presented Levitt with a certificate of special recognition.

A star-studded production in tribute to Gurney included scenes from his plays, as well as musical numbers in the Playhouse’s Jason Robards Theater.

Taking the stage were Maureen Anderman, Chris Henry Coffey, Jill Eikenberry, Keira Naughton, Jake Robards, Charles Socarides, Bobby Steggert, KT Sullivan, Richard Thomas, Jennifer Van Dyck, and the Williams College Octet.

The singing and dancing ensemble included Mara Davi, KC Fredericks, Tyler Hanes, Brittany Marcin, Tony Neidenbach, Jessica Lea Patty, and Michaeljon Slinger.

Among the celebrity guests attending the gala were Frank Converse, Mia Dillon, Keir Dullea, Jack Gilpin, Joe Godfrey, Susan Lyons, Jefferson Mays, Ann McDonough, Patricia Richardson, and Chris Sarandon.

Gurney, a Connecticut resident, has been writing plays for over 50 years.  Among them are “Love Letters,” “Children,” and “The Dining Room.” In 2012, he won a Drama Desk Award for his body of work. Gurney is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Gala proceeds will benefit the nonprofit, professional producing Westport Country Playhouse, now in its 84th season - its work on stage, with schools, and throughout the community.

The gala committee co-chairs were Judy Phares and Katia Friend, both of Westport, with Karen Parrella of Weston, auction chair; and Mary Ellen Marpe of Westport, ticket chair.

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