Nov 18, 2013
01:00 PM
Arts & Entertainment

LeAnn Rimes Headlines Ridgefield Playhouse Gala

LeAnn Rimes Headlines Ridgefield Playhouse Gala

Photo by Irxmashirez

What is it about The Ridgefield Playhouse?

Its mission statement begins, “The Ridgefield Playhouse is a not for profit 501 (c)(3) whose mission is to present a variety of performing arts to the community and the surrounding area that they can enjoy and experience at a varied price point. The Playhouse presents national and local acts and is the cultural hub for the town of Ridgefield.”

That sounds like the hopeful and sober-worded message of so many similar venues in Connecticut and beyond—often historic—that struggle to find and build audiences, and don’t always thrive, succeed or, sometimes, survive.

In action, as opposed to on paper, Ridgefield has a different feel altogether—a much higher energy level, in everything from emails to posts on social media, and a very vibrant flow of compelling programming.

There’s no better example than the country/pop music star lined up for 13th Anniversary Gala fundraiser at The Ridgefield Playhouse this Friday, Nov. 22, for which tickets are still available (see details on packages and pricing below).

The headliner is LeAnn Rimes, who will sing her super hits, “How Do I Live?”, “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” and “Life Goes On,” among other songs, and who is one of the most boldface names in the business right now. (Photo above by Sara Hertel.)

Much of Rimes’ notoriety comes for all the wrong reasons, and often unfairly, but the visionary folks behind The Ridgefield Playhouse scored the coup of booking her for the gala—and those who attend will get a taste of all the right reasons behind why she is a sensation.

In a story from July of this year that references Rimes’ personal travails, none other than Rolling Stone says, “Of course, through all this roughly 5-year mess, Rimes has managed to release two critically acclaimed—and extremely country—albums: One of them a fine collection of classic country covers, the other her latest, Spitfire, which some are calling the best country album of 2013. Indeed, the latter record features an intriguing mix of Rimes’s well-documented personal sagas told in her own words, backed by some of Nashville's most heavyweight songwriters and musicians. When Rimes arrives at the Ram Country studios, her ability to go from chatting in a rapid, totally Southern accent-free dialect instantaneously into her flawless, honeyed singing voice is startling in its contrasting angles.

“The girl has become a woman, and one with a story at that, but her talent has remained rock-solid. And therein lies the sad/infuriating punctuation to Rimes’s media battles: Her extraordinary gift has been largely overlooked in the shadow of this looming public perception." (See the full Rolling Stones story)

At 13, when she released the Platinum single “Blue,” Rimes began trailblazing her career with a voice that has been described as Patsy Clinesque, the playhouse says in its release on the gala. Rimes was the youngest recipient of a Grammy Award and the first country recording artist to win “Best New Artist.”

In addition to having lined up a star, the playhouse also has some sparkle to match.

A pair of two-inch diameter hoop earrings boasting 80 Burmese pinky-red rubies with a total weight of 4 carats—set in 14-carat white gold—have been created as an auction item by Larry Seegers, owner of JEMS in Katonah, N.Y.

The playhouse release says Seegers supports the arts with original designs, inspired by someone affiliated with a not-for-profit organization, and in this case playhouse Executive Director Allison Stockel inspired him to create something in the spirit of  “her big personality”.

“After visiting Allison’s office, where he saw a Swarovski crystal-studded guitar and other trappings, he honed in on Burmese rubies knowing that ruby earrings would be an awesome auction item at the Playhouse Gala. Burma is synonymous with the ideal beauty of the ruby, and the one-of-a-kind earrings have that “oomph” factor,” the release says.

The earrings are a highlight of the live auction, which takes place at 8 p.m., right before Rimes performs.

Gala ticket holders will also enjoy dinner-by-the-bite, an open bar and silent auction with one-of-a-kind items, including signed instruments by some of the artists who have performed at the Playhouse, all beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Yanity Gym, adjacent to the box office, the release explains, saying, “The space undergoes an enchanting transformation for the Gala, so rain or shine, the evening promises to be spectacular.”

The food will be provided by Bailey’s Farm-to-Table, Bernard’s, Bissell House, Bistro 7, Carvel, Fifty Coins, Some Things Fishy Catering, Nature’s Temptations, Southwest Café, La Piazza, Little Pub, Pinkberry, Terra Sole, The Cake Box and 8500 Wood Fired Pizza.

Gala tickets include dinner, open bar and silent auction, beginning at 5:30 p.m. For tickets, ($195 includes VIP Seating, the gala and the performance; $175 includes orchestra seating, the gala and the performance, and $110 includes mezzanine and balcony seating for the performance), call the box office at 203-438-5795 or go online to

An open bar before Rimes’ show—for non-gala ticket holder—starts at 7:15 p.m. in the playhouse lobby.

Meanwhile, as part of the gala, The Ridgefield Playhouse will honor Alex Fischetti with its “Arts Volunteer Award. Fischetti is an usher and greeter during playhouse concerts and events. His mentor, actor and Wilton resident Charles Grodin will present the award to Alex. Two other Ridgefield residents will be honored—Lori Berisford and Elaine Cox—for their dedication to numerous local non-profit organizations, including the playhouse. (From left, Berisford, Fischetti and Cox.)

“After many years of planning, fundraising, and building, the dream of restoring the Cass Gilbert Jr.-designed theater in Ridgefield became a reality with our December 2000 opening night performance by Jose Feliciano,” the playhouse’s “About Us” section says.

“Since our opening, enthusiastic, sold-out audiences have enjoyed Peter Yarrow, Marcel Marceau, Barbara Cook, Moscow Boys Choir, Joan Baez, and The Bacon Brothers and more recently, Michael Feinstein, Gregg Allman, Clint Black, The Doobie Brothers, Brian Wilson, Diana Krall and more.  Film-goers have been treated to question and answer sessions with many of  the movie industries finest- including Ron Howard, Harvey Keitel, Tim Robbins, Barry Levinson and more, as part of our film society events, which screens both feature and documentary films.  Community events such as the Ridgefield High School Orchestra Concert and the Annual Town Meeting found a new home at The Playhouse, not to mention a place for local dance companies to perform.  Children have been enjoying our children series as well as our after school programs and summer camp. Comedians such as Martin Short, Dana Carvey, Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers, Kathy Griffen, Robert Klein, Ron White and many others have been making audiences laugh here while speakers such as Ira Glass, David Sedaris, and Stephen Sondheim have shared their insight and journey.”

This year’s Gala is underwritten by Campari America and is being sponsored by, Bliss Lawyers, Trish Breede and Family, Colonial Automobile Group ~ Ford, Subaru, Mazda ~ DelBello, Donnellan, Weingarten, Wise & Wiederkehr LLP, Rob and Elizabeth Ellis, Fairfield County Bank, Scott Schneider and The Ridgefield Playhouse Board of Directors with special thanks to Campari America, Glen Gate Pool & Property and Pepsi, with media sponsor KICKS 105.5fm Today’s Best Country.


LeAnn Rimes Headlines Ridgefield Playhouse Gala

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