Bucks County Playhouse is staging its annual benefit gala as an online broadcast featuring special guest Cyndi Lauper on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. Entitled “Bucks County Playhouse – At Home 2020: A Gala Celebration,” the virtual event replicates the Playhouse’s annual in-person celebration, while allowing patrons to enjoy the festivities from the comfort and safety of their homes.
The Playhouse is offering packages that not only provide access to the online presentation, but also can include home-delivered gourmet picnic baskets featuring fare from Stella by Jose Garces and The Deck Restaurant at Bucks County Playhouse, and a pre-Zoom sponsors’ cocktail hour with drop-ins by stars of stage and screen. Among the stars expected to appear are Meredith Baxter, Didi Conn, Santino Fontana, Michael Gross, Justin Guarini, Randy Harrison, Marilu Henner, Cheyenne Jackson, Linda Lavin, Marsha Mason, Laura Osnes, Sarah Paulson, Susan Sullivan and Holland Taylor.
The gala, which is presented by Playhouse Artists – the 501(c)(3) charity that supports the work of the Playhouse – also serves as a launch for the Playhouse’s Pandemic Campaign, chaired by Lynn Breen and Paul Muller. It will also honor Nelson and Bette Pfundt, special friends of the Playhouse, for funding the preservation of the Playhouse’s storied history through the establishment of the Nelson and Bette Pfundt Archive and for their support of technology initiatives, including the upgrading of the Playhouse’s ticketing system.
“The Pandemic Campaign is designed to keep our core team of skilled professionals together while we continue our service to the community – expanding productions and programs online and readying the Playhouse to leap back onstage as soon as we can,” said producing director Alexander Fraser. “In the eight years since its reopening, the Playhouse has, once again, become the shining heart of New Hope, bringing $10 million to our region’s economy in 2019. However, as a young nonprofit with no endowment, we must raise critical funding now to continue our work and the gala is a big part of our campaign to ensure the Playhouse’s future.”
“We are incredibly grateful to Nelson and Bette Pfundt for their support of growing and digitizing our archive,” said Marvin Woodall, chair of Playhouse Artists. “My wife Deann and I were honored to match their gift to bring the Playhouse’s antiquated box office systems into the 21st century and upgrade our interest sales capacity. It feels absolutely fitting that we are able to honor their support through this online celebration.”
The centerpiece of the online event is a musical presentation and all-new interview by Playhouse executive producer Robyn Goodman with musical icon Lauper, who will introduce several rarely seen performances of her musical hits and recall personal anecdotes from her ground-breaking career.
“When we first started planning our gala, my friend Cyndi Lauper was the first entertainer who came to mind,” said Goodman. “When our plans to bring her to the Playhouse could not be realized, I am thrilled that she took the time to sit with me for this revealing interview and bring her unique perspective on life and music to our 2020 gala.”
The gala will highlight the nonprofit mission of the Playhouse, which includes its new musical development program, the Oscar Hammerstein Festival, and innovative education programs like the Student Theatre Festival, and the Playhouse Youth Company. Two programs that launched within the last year – the Playhouse Institute, which provides professional training to high school drama teachers, and “Bounce,” an education program that is currently working with fourth and fifth grade students in the Morrisville School District – have been developed partially with funds raised at previous galas.
The virtual gala is a ticketed event. Packages start at $600. Sponsorship packages range from $3,000 to $100,000 and offer a variety of benefits. For more information, contact Scott Blacker, director of advancement, at 267-740-2090, Ext. 107, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are also available at BucksCountyPlayhouse.org