So far, the 80th anniversary year of the Bucks County Playhouse has been nothing short of unforgettable. Its summer musical Mamma Mia! shattered box office records, television icon Sally Struthers graced the stage in Always…Patsy Cline, and the theater’s storied history has become available to the public with the launch of the Nelson and Bette Pfundt Playhouse Archive.
On Saturday, Sept. 28, festivities surrounding this milestone continue with the Playhouse’s 80th Anniversary Gala. The evening, which commences at 6:30 p.m. at the theater, celebrates the unveiling of New Hope’s riverfront, salutes the individuals responsible for revitalizing and restoring some of the area’s most iconic landmarks, and features a night of entertainment, including a performance by TV and film star Tony Danza.
Proceeds from the event support the nonprofit mission of the Playhouse, which includes its new musical development program, the Oscar Hammerstein Festival, and education programs such as the Student Theatre Festival, GirlSpeak, the Playhouse Youth Company, and the newly-launched Playhouse Institute, which provides professional training to high school drama teachers. This fall, the Playhouse’s education program will work in local public school classrooms on a new arts-based initiative called “Bounce.”
At the gala, attendees can enjoy a first glimpse of the Playhouse River Promenade – the final stage of the Bridge Street Foundation’s multi-million dollar restoration of the theater.
A number of locals will be honored for their roles in helping to revamp the community – Kevin and Sherri Daugherty for their renovation of the Playhouse and opening of the Ghost Light Inn, which features the Chef Jose Garces restaurant, Stella; and Ed and Lynn Breen and Tom and Patty Lynch for the creation of the River House at Odette’s, which is slated to open in 2020.
“After years of neglect, the New Hope waterfront, the promenade along the river, and the newly-rechristened Ghost Light Inn look better than ever,” said producing director Alexander Fraser. “New Hope is regaining its national reputation as a top tourism and entertainment destination.”
Pre-concert festivities will begin at Stella, with cocktails and a moveable feast presented by Garces. The meal will be followed by a special concert performance by Broadway and Hollywood star Danza, who will sing the Great American Songbook. He and his four-piece band will perform their hit show Tony Danza: Standards & Stories, which combines timeless music with wit, charm and storytelling, all with a dash of soft shoe and ukulele numbers.
Danza is returning to the Playhouse for the first time since making his professional debut in 1973 in the musical 1776. Danza’s Taxi co-star Marilu Henner, who is a current Playhouse Artists’ board member, will serve as host for the event.
After the show, guests can venture to The Deck at the Playhouse for champagne, dessert and coffee, while Bob Egan entertains at the piano.
This year’s gala is presented by Playhouse Artists, the 501(c)(3) charity that supports the work of the Playhouse. The event’s co-chairs are Bank of America’s Philadelphia market president Jim Denver, and his wife Lynn, a Bucks County pediatrician.
“As residents of Bucks County, Lynn and I have experienced firsthand the impact the Playhouse’s reopening has had on the community,” Denver said. “Through the efforts of these formidable entrepreneurs, the revitalization of New Hope’s waterfront continues to make our community even more desirable for visitors both near and far.
Single tickets for the 80th Anniversary Gala range in price from $300 to $500. Table sponsorship packages range from $3,000 to $50,000 and offer a variety of benefits. For more information, contact Scott Blacker, director of advancement, at 267-740-2090, Ext. 107 or email@example.com. Tickets are also available at BucksCountyPlayhouse.org. The Bucks County Playhouse is located at 70 S. Main St., New Hope. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org