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Concert/Theater Preview: Accomplished Couple Turning The Lights Back On As Theaters Reopen



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RIDGEFIELD — ACT of CT is turning on the lights to present a new and innovative concert production of Stephen Sondheim’s and James Lapine’s Into The Woods before a live audience. Directed by Daniel C. Levine, who also serves as the artistic director for ACT of CT, and music direction by Bryan Perri, the full score of this beloved musical will be performed by a powerhouse cast of 17 along with 12 musicians. It stands to be impressive and entertaining when it opens next month.

It is serendipitous indeed that Levine became an actor and, through keen observations, a director. He explained that while studying to be a dentist at Tufts University School of Dentistry, and harboring “a lifelong love of theater,” he took a chance at an audition for Les Misérables and was cast.

In a heartbeat, “the entire trajectory of my life changed,” explained Levine. He has never looked back.

Going on to appear in many Broadway shows and touring companies — including Chicago, Little Shop Of Horrors, and Jesus Christ Superstar, among many other musicals — Levine was in a prime position to study the role of director. He knew the director’s chair was where he wanted to be.

In another sudden decision, Levine decided to purchase a weekend home in Ridgefield.

“I knew Ridgefield to have a rich cultural community and a number of theaters,” he said. He felt the town would be a good fit.

Initially anticipating continuing his Broadway career while having the opportunity to relax in Ridgefield, six months into his home ownership, he moved to Ridgefield permanently. Again, he has never looked back.

Shortly after his move, he became involved with the Ridgefield Playhouse and through various means, he became the artistic director of the newly formed and beautifully renovated ACT of CT. Levine is a founder of the theater and the company it houses.

Not long after moving, Levine married Bryan Perri, who is currently the music director for Jagged Little Pill on Broadway as well as music supervisor for the Broadway-bound production of Almost Famous. This an accomplished couple invest their time and considerable talent in theater because they believe in its value and the essential nature of the performing arts.

ACT of CT enjoyed two full seasons of exceptional musical productions and was in preparation for a third when all theaters went dark last spring due to the arrival of COVID-19 in the area. Undeterred, Levine shifted into overdrive and has worked tirelessly, finding ways to keep theater alive and ACT relevant. He has met with success. A live performance for a limited audience of The Last Five Years, which he directed and co-starred in with ACT co-founder Katie Diamond, was performed in November with mesmerizing musical accompaniment by Perri. It was a gorgeous production. Following this up with a beautifully filmed and streamed production earlier this year of Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots kept the company engaged.

Presently in the midst of preparing this next production with extraordinary creativity and energy, Levine, Perri, and the entire production crew and cast are once again enthusiastically immersed in what they love to do. While Levine has dreamed of directing Into The Woods for years, he claimed to be “really excited about this pared down version,” which will meet all required guidelines.

With most yearning for a chance to feel normal again, nothing could be more comforting than settling in for an evening of theater in a real theater. This is an opportunity to take in what promises to be an impressive production.

ACT’s annual gala performances will take place on the evenings of Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15, with cocktails beginning at 5 and the show at 7.

Regular performances of the show will be presented the afternoons of Wednesday, May 12, and Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16; and the evening of Thursday, May 13; tickets are $72.

Tickets are available via gala@actofct.org, actofct.org, boxoffice@actofct.org or 475-215-5497

Daniel C. Levine, left, is directing, and Bryan Perri is handling musical direction for a special concert production of Into The Woods at ACT of CT, May 12-16. The accomplished pair have invested their time and considerable talent in local theater and beyond because they believe in its value and the essential nature of the performing arts. —photo courtesy ACT of CT
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