Once upon a time, Richard Rodgers lived near the Westport Country Playhouse. He saw “Green Grow the Lilacs” there; soon, that show turned into “Oklahoma!” (You can read all about it in Westporter Max Wilk’s book “OK! The Story of Oklahoma!“)
Richard Rodgers’ daughter, Mary Rodgers Guettel, became an apprentice at the Playhouse in 1950. She later earned fame writing the music for “Once Upon a Mattress.”
Mary Rodgers’ son, Adam Guettel, wrote “Light in the Piazza.” That musical starred Kelli O’Hara — whose father-in-law is noted actor Jim Naughton, our neighbor in Weston.
What’s the purpose of this “6 Degrees of Westport Country Playhouse Separation”?
All those folks — except of course Richard Rodgers, who is dead — will appear Monday at the Playhouse’s Gala 2009. The evening includes a salute to Mary Rodgers Guettel.
Part of the proceeds will support the Joanne Woodward Intern and Apprentice Program — a fitting tribute to both the former Playhouse artistic director, and former apprentice Mary Rodgers.
One more “6 Degrees” note: Stephen Sondheim, another 1950 apprentice, will be there to honor Mary Rodgers Guettel.
A musical performance — “An Enchanted Evening: The Music of Richard Rodgers” — will feature Naughton, O’Hara, Steven Pasquale (who created the role of Fabrizio in — ta da! — Adam Guettel’s “Light in the Piazza,” and others.
Talk about a “community theater”!
(A cocktail reception and silent auction begins at 5:45 p.m., followed by the performance and tributes [7:30 p.m.] and dinner [9 p.m.]. Benefit tickets start at $500. For tickets or more information, contact Kim Maresca, 203-227-5137, ext. 138; firstname.lastname@example.org.)