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February 04, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, February 04, 2005

Broadway stars come out for gala Broadway stars come out for gala (February 04, 2005)

TheatreWorks raises $2 million for new fund TheatreWorks raises $2 million for new fund (February 04, 2005)

By Julie O'Shea

It's not every day that Stephen Schwartz gives a personal concert of some of his most revered show tunes. Nor is it usual to see Andrew Lippa, another stage genius, doing a bit of standup in between musical numbers on the same night.

And it's certainly not every day that one can catch a glimpse of Wendy Wasserstein, the quick-witted playwright of "The Heidi Chronicles," mingling with local theater-goers during intermission.

All three of these Broadway heavyweights were guests of honor at TheatreWorks big 35th anniversary gala Monday, which included a medley of songs performed by Schwartz and Lippa and a sneak peak at Wasserstein's new show, "Pamela's First Musical," which will have its world premiere in Mountain View in April 2006.

The black-tie event raised $200,000 for the company's New Works Initiative, a program that gives composers and playwrights the space and resources needed to develop fresh music and scripts.

Managing director Randy Adams also announced Monday that the company started the Kelley Popcorn Fund with a $1 million donation from theater supporters Ann Bowers and John and Marcia Goldman. The fund, which will go toward productions of new works, was named after TheatreWorks founder Robert Kelley and the company's first show, "Popcorn," a world premiere musical.

After intermission Monday, an exuberant, visibly moved Kelley walked to the microphone and told the crowd of 550 theater patrons that an anonymous donor had just doubled the amount of the Popcorn Fund.

TheatreWorks began in 1970 with a dream. Three decades, 47 world premieres and nearly 10,000 loyal subscribers later, the company is now one of the country's leading regional theater troupes, attracting top actors and composers from across the nation to its stage.

The artists on stage Monday night at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts were there to say thanks.

"For years, I have been telling my parents and my agents that TheatreWorks is my one source of unconditional love," said Wasserstein, who is the company's most-often produced living playwright. "I am so happy to be here. I feel like I've come home."

Following Wasserstein's brief comments, Schwartz took the stage, performing musical numbers from "Wicked," "Children of Eden," his animated feature film "The Prince of Egypt" and a song from a new musical he is writing.

Lippa followed with songs from a few of his works, including "A Little Princess," "The Wild Party" and "Jerry Christmas."

The second half of Monday's concert was dedicated to some of the musical highlights of TheatreWorks' past 35 years.


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