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Playhouse Appoints New Chair; Plans Campaign To Save Historic Theater

Ania Czekaj-Farber is no longer chair of the Westport Country Playhouse board of trustees.

After a week of questions about the future of the 91-year-old theater — which just a week earlier earned “Literary Landmark” status — newly elected chair Athena Adamson says:

Since the day our barn doors opened in 1931, the Westport Country Playhouse has been graced by the brightest of stars — heroes of the theater like Liza Minnelli, Eartha Kitt, Jessica Tandy, Henry Fonda, Gene Wilder, Olivia de Havilland, James Earl Jones, and Eva Gabor.

Under the guidance of Playhouse founder Lawrence Langner and legends like Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, we have stayed true to our mission, yet continually evolved.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward helped save the Westport Country Playhouse in the early 2000s. Their production of “Our Town” soon moved to Broadway.

I personally am forever grateful to Ania Czekaj-Farber, Mark Lamos, and all the Playhouse leaders, past and present, who believe in the power of live performance and cherish this special place.

Earlier this week, the board of trustees elected me, a new vice chair, and executive committee members to pursue a clear objective: fill this Playhouse and fulfill its mission.

I know it won’t be easy. The past few years have been a rocky time for theaters nationwide.

Pandemic shutdowns, streaming media, and younger generations’ entertainment preferences present real challenges. The costs of first-rate productions have skyrocketed, and ticket revenue has not kept pace. As attendance drops and audience connection frays, engagement and donations wane.

For several years, the Westport Country Playhouse has struggled to fill its famed seats.

Unfortunately, our community is not immune. Our Playhouse is in a tenuous
financial position.

But as I introduce myself to you, I am full of constructive optimism. Despite the changing landscape and challenges we face, I’m confident that together we will manage through this crisis and emerge stronger.

I say that because I know 2 things to be true:

Our plan is to make this your Playhouse. We envision a place for Westport and its neighboring communities to gather and enjoy world-class live performance – from theater, music, dance and comedy, to a speaker series with artists, thought-leaders, athletes and industry titans.

If you love the shows and programming we’re delivering, you’ll come and you’ll want to come back.

You’ll buy tickets, you’ll invite your friends, you’ll get involved, you’ll donate, and you’ll help us grow.

We will soon launch a fundraising campaign to save and transform the Playhouse. With your input and support, the board and our wonderful staff will deliver exciting and educational programming to engage every generation.

We ask you to join us, come to our beautiful theater, and help us ensure that the Westport Country Playhouse lives up to its legacy and flourishes for generations to come.

A new beginning for the Westport Country Playhouse? (Photo/Molly Alger)


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