Encore! Fundraiser

June 27, 2020

We’re making lemonade out of lemons! The global pandemic caused us to have to cancel our in-person fundraiser originally scheduled for Saturday, May 30th. We’re doing our best to "pivot" and have created a Virtual Fundraiser because, pandemic or not, we need to raise money to ensure Playhouse on Park can open its doors when we are allowed to gather again.

Please join us from the comfort of your own home. Make your own party! Watch on your own or gather some friends (put together an Encore! table on Zoom or socially distanced in your back yard). Order a Encore! Party Box or create your own Encore! meal. The program will include special performances by past Playhouse performers, remarks by the Playhouse Co-Founders and other special guests, presentation of the 2020 PoP Star Award and more. We are not television producers but we’re trying our best.

Creative dress encouraged - Creative Cocktail - Creative Casual - Creative PJS - anything goes. Be sure to send us your photos so we know how YOU celebrated Encore!

RAISE YOUR VIRTUAL PADDLE: You can donate in various amounts right now and through July 15th.
CLICK HERE to donate. Or if you prefer, you can call to donate or make a pledge: 860-523-5900 ext. 10

Check out our items and bid!





June 27, 2020
6:45pm: Read Our Virtual Program Booklet
7:00pm: Encore! Video & Post Event Slideshow
8:00pm: Encore! After Party on Zoom (BYOB) Advance Registration


To become a sponsor or to purchase an ad, click here.
To donate to our silent auction, click here.


Our silent auction is open!


Watch a replay of the event below. Program starts at 18:20.


Orders are now closed. If you ordered a party box, pick up at Playhouse on Park between 5:30 and 6:30 on Saturday, June 27th.

Want some festive drink ideas for your home party? Check out these Speakeasy Drink Recipes!


Click to register in advance for the Encore! Virtual After Party on Zoom. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Zoom Party. BYOB!


Liz Reynolds, Director of Events & Corporate Relations
Brendan Ekwall, Director of Donor & Foundation Relations





Ron & Ruth Van Winkle 


Guy & Jayne Albani


Plymouth Spring Company, Inc.


Great Point Financial Management
Kathy Frederick & Gene Leach 
Keating Agency Insurance


Shawnee Baldwin
Shelley Best 
Jon Braverman 
Nadia Cabana
Linda & Fred Chase
Caroline Cooper
Ali Courmier 
Kathy & Donald Cuccon
Christina Davis
Nancy & Paul Dean
Laura Eagan
Faith Fuerst 
Bonnie & Dan Gauthier 
Nancy Goodwin
Juliette Janchuk
Brian Ketterer
Susan Lipiner
Nina Elgo & Chris Kriesen
Regis & Patricia Matzie
Patrick & Carol McCabe
Joan Walden & Jake Mendelssohn
Susan Mueller
Kimberly Niehaus
Richard Rubenstein
Kim Townsend 


VEANNE COX most recently received a daytime Emmy Award nomination for her work in the third season of the web series INDOOR BOYS. She has appeared in THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, NEW AMSTERDAM, TOMMY, BULL, BLUFF CITY LAW, NCIS NEW ORLEANS and the streaming musical MARRY HARRY. Her Broadway credits include AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, A FREE MAN OF COLOR, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, CAROLINE OR CHANGE, THE DINNER PARTY, COMPANY (Tony award nominee) and SMILE. She has worked in theatres all over the country, and was last seen in THE COMEDY OF ERRORS at The Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC, and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS at Hartford Stage Co. She is most known for SEINFELD, ERIN BROCKOVICH, and ABC's CINDERELLA with Whitney Houston. She loves and is a proud supporter of Playhouse on Park.

SUSAN HAEFNER Playhouse on Park 6th season! Director/Choreographer 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, THREE LITTLE PIGS and STEEL MAGNOLIAS. Actor TENDERLY: THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL, THE DINING ROOM. Broadway/National Tour: STATE FAIR, DAMN YANKEES w/ Jerry Lewis, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, 42nd STREET, BILLY ELLIOT. Susan returned to TENDERLY this season for the fourth time, having originated the role of Rosemary in a sold out extended World Premiere at Cincinnati Playhouse on the Park. MFA: FSU/Asolo Conservatory. Proud AEA member. www.susanhaefner.com

IVORY MCKAY was seen last summer as Mr. Bones in Playhouse on Park’s production of THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS.  Other theatre credits: Madison Square Garden HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (Buzz Who); National Tours:  HELLO, DOLLY!, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT and RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SHOW TOURS.  Blessing and Love to Everyone! 

STEPHANIE POPE is an actress, singer, dancer and musical theater veteran with a career spanning over 35 years. She recently received Connecticut Critics Circle and Regional Theater Award nominations for her portrayals of Camila Rosario in Lin Manuel Miranda's IN THE HEIGHTS at Playhouse On Park and Tanya in North Carolina Theater's Production of MAMMA MIA!.  Broadway and touring credits include: the revival of PIPPIN, for which she received an Astaire Award nomination, an ACCA Award and the beloved Legacy Robe, CHICAGO (Velma Kelly),THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (Muzzy Van Hossmere), FOSSE (Leading Player), SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE (Brenda), A FUNNY THING… FORUM (Gymnasia), KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN (Stand-by for Ms. Chita Rivera), JELLY'S LAST JAM (The Hunnies) and THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES...just to name a few.

Stephanie has the distinct honor of having been hand-picked to work with the legendary director/choreographer, Bob Fosse, along with his wife and muse, Gwen Verdon, on her first two Broadway shows, the revival of SWEET CHARITY starring Debbie Allen and Bebe Neuwirth and BOB FOSSE'S BIG DEAL. She holds the distinct and treasured title of being a "Fosse Dancer" and is one of the handful of performers who teaches Fosse Master Classes on behalf of The Fosse Estate and The Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC.

In addition to her work with Mr. Fosse and Ms. Verdon, Stephanie has shared the stage with such luminaries as Chita Rivera, Ben Vereen, Donna McKechnie, MariLu Henner, Gregory Hines, Brian "Stokes" Mitchell and Nathan Lane. She has worked with directors and choreographers such as Tommy Tune, Lester Wilson, Christopher Chadman, Chet Walker, Anne Reinking, Rob Marshall, Kathleen Marshall, Peter Gennaro, Michael Kidd, Michael Peters , Dianne McIntyre, Jerry Zaks, George C. Wolfe, Hal Prince, Alex Sanchez,  Hope Clarke, George Faison, Diane Paulus, Jason Sparks, Regina Taylor, Sean Harris and Darlene Zoller.

In addition to her work on the stage, screen and television, Ms. Pope is a certified Hot Yoga instructor. In 2008, in an effort to give back to her Harlem community, she opened Bikram Yoga East Harlem, which she operated for eight years and in 2011 was named one of the top 10 hot yoga studios in the country. She continues to teach hot yoga whenever her schedule permits incorporating her understanding of the human body learned through her years of dancing.

When not performing or teaching hot yoga, Stephanie enjoys spending quality time with her husband, Aarne Lofgren and their 16-year-old daughter, Mari.

HILLARY EKWALLl is a West Hartford native and proud member of the Playhouse family.  Playhouse on Park Credits: Over 20 productions including NUNSENSE (Sr. Amnesia), SPELLING BEE (Schwarzy), CHARLIE BROWN (Sally); Assistant Choreographer IN THE HEIGHTS and THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS; Director CURIOUS GEORGE.  Other credits: National Tours: Roundabout's CABARET (Rosie/cello/violin), HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS; Regional: CABARET (Kost), WEST SIDE STORY (Anybodys), GREASE (Patty Simcox). She is so thankful to be a part of the Playhouse community and has learned and grown so much throughout their 11 seasons.  She would not be the performer, educator, theatre lover, or person she is without Playhouse on Park!

AMANDA FORKER  Playhouse on Park Credits: NUNSENSE (Sister Mary Regina); SAY THINGS FUNNY: A Loving Tribute to Carol Burnett, [TITLE OF SHOW], MAMA D'S OUTRAGEOUS ROMP(s)SWINGING ON A STAR, PINKALICIOUS, GOODNIGHT MOON, MISS NELSON IS MISSING, GO DOG GO, BUNNICULA. STOP/TIME Dance Theater (Singer/Actor) credits: REEL TO REAL, 15!, TEN...AND COUNTING. She is so thankful that Playhouse on Park exists! Please continue to support this wonderful non-profit theater that truly makes a difference in the community.


Music Directors

 has directed music for Playhouse on Park productions of CABARET, CHICAGO, COMPANY, THE LAST FIVE YEARS, SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM (with Emmett Drake), STOP/TIME, and twelve separate incarnations of MAMA D'S OUTRAGEOUS ROMP. Other musical direction credits include SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, TOMMY, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING..., and SWEENEY TODD.

Colin currently serves as Choir Director at Rutgers Preparatory School, as Artistic Director and Conductor of the West Village Chorale, as Music Director for Grace Church Van Vorst in Jersey City, and he recently completed a sabbatical replacement as conductor of the Rutgers University Voorhees Choir. Prior to his current appointments, he served on the conducting faculty at SUNY New Paltz, and directed Amuse Singers and North River Sing. He has also taught on the faculty at the Hartt School and conducted the Hartford Chorale Chamber Singers. His compositions have been performed by ensembles at Rutgers, Westminster Choir College, Hartt, Yale, and Seraphic Fire, the Yale Schola Cantorum, the Yale Alumni Chorus, C4, VOCE, and the Riverside Choral Society, and by ensembles across the country and on four continents. He is the commissioned composer for the Maine Bicentennial, as well as for the 100th anniversary of the Hartt School and the 2020 ACDA Eastern Division Honor Choir.

Colin holds degrees from the Hartt School, the Yale School of Music, and Rutgers University. He lives in Jersey City with his wife, actress Victoria Britt, and their dog Mari.

EMMETT DRAKE is active in musical theater, having served as musical director/conductor for shows all across NY and CT including several Playhouse on Park productions: A CHORUS LINE, HAIR, YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN; at the West Hartford Summer Arts Festival: PIPPIN, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST,ON THE TOWN, WEST SIDE STORY, and St. Paul Catholic High School: THE LITTLE PRINCESS, SOUND OF MUSIC.  He has also been on the faculty of the Hartt School's Summer Music Theater Intensive program and is currently the co-producer for Hall High School's "Pops N Jazz" show.  

He is currently the Director of Orchestras at Hall and Conard High Schools in West Hartford, CT, as well as the Director of Suzuki Orchestras and Supervisor for Large Ensembles at The Hartt School Community Division at the University of Hartford. 

Mr. Drake has had many engagements as a guest conductor/clinician.  His recent appearances include the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (CT), Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra (CT), the Suzuki Youth Orchestra of the Americas (MN), TMEA Region 2 Orchestra (TX), Broward County All County Gold Orchestra (FL), the Fairfield County String Festival (CT), CMEA Eastern and Southern Regional Festivals (CT), Massachusetts Western District Orchestra Festvial (MA) and the Westchester All County Youth Orchestra (NY).  

As a composer, Emmett has written many compositions and arrangements for all levels, and his works are frequently performed by student groups from around the country.  

He lives in West Hartford with his wife, daughter, and dog.  

MELANIE GUERIN has served as Music Director for Playhouse on Park productions including: IN THE HEIGHTS, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, MURDER FOR TWO and THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS.  She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet performance and music education, as well as a Master of Music Education degree, both from The Hartt School. She taught in Connecticut public schools for eleven years before returning to Hartt, where she now teaches courses in musicianship and conducting, as well as serving as a vocal coach, music director, and accompanist in the theater division. As a music director, Melanie has worked with community and professional theater companies throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts, including the Young People's Center for Creative Arts, Ivoryton Playhouse, and New Paradigm Theater. Melanie has composed a number of works for vocal and instrumental ensembles, including several children's songs and two original musicals. www.melaniebguerin.com

ROBERT JAMES TOMASULO was most recently seen at Playhouse on Park this past January as the Music Director for TENDERLY: THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL.  He is currently the Director of Musical Activities at Bay Path University where he directs the choral ensembles and oversees the adjunct instrumental and vocal music faculty. Robert is a fast-rising composer, orchestrator, arranger, vocal coach, music director, conductor, and educator with an extremely diverse musical background. A highly sought-after music director, he has been a member of the music staff for close to 100 musical productions in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. Robert is the Resident Music Director for the Woodstock Playhouse's Summer Theatre Festival.  As an educator, Robert has worked at various institutions including The Hartt School, Simsbury High School, Bristol Eastern High School, South Windsor High School, The Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and The Hartt School Community Division. Robert holds a B.M. in Music Composition and a B.S.E. in Acoustical Engineering from the Hartt School/University of Hartford. @bobbytomasulo | www.robertjamestomasulo.com


Silent Auction

The online auction is open! Click here to see items and bid!

Thank you to our auction donors (as of 6/23/20):

A.C. Petersen Farms
Avon Eye Care
Abby Brittain
Anthony Nicole Salon & Spa
Battiston's of Avon, Inc.
Bert's Pizza
Susi Byers
Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Francine Christiansen
Connecticut Historical Society
Connecticut Science Center
Mollie Cook
Veanne Cox
Doro Restaurant Group
Duo-Fast Northeast, East Hartford
Edible Arrangements
Effie's Family Place Restaurant
Brendan Ekwall
David Ekwall
Susan Ekwall
Elements Massage Avon
Nina Elgo
Melanie & Matt Ellis
Falcetti Pianos
Tracy Flater
Fleet Feet West Hartford
Matt Fleury
Frame Dimensions LLC
Kathy Frederick
Jenni Freidman
Leslie Frey
Rob Garrey
Dan & Bonnie Gauthier
The Goodwin
Lisa Green
Hartford Flavor Company
Hartford Stage
Hartford Symphony Orchestra
Sean Harris
Harry's Pizza Bishops Corner
Bob & Kristina Hilborn
Hill-Stead Museum
IRIS Photography
Jackbox Games
Jonathan Katz
Keating Agency Insurance
Knockout Fitness
LR Events LLC
Phyllis LeVasseur
Laura Thoma Coaching
Liquid Nirvana
Judy Manfre
Mark Twain House & Museum
Carol McCabe
Vilinda McGregor
Metro Bis Restaurant
Mister Sparkle Car Wash
Tori Mooney
Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society
Park Road Car Wash
Tanya Penman-Sterling
Lindsay Perkins/Lindsay Culinary
Playhouse on Park/Playhouse Theatre Group
Dianne Rechel
Julianne Roth
Rachel Spitzig
Stay on Park
The Bushnell Performing Arts Center
The MedSpa West Hartford
Total Wine & More
Trifecta Body ™ LLC
Trout Brook Landscaping
Betsy & Matthew Udal
Matthew Udal/Great Point Financial Management
Union Kitchen
West Hartford Yoga
Valvoline Instant Oil Change
Ron & Ruth Van Winkle
Jenny Vecchio
Villari’s of West Hartford
We Care Computers
Kathy Zannoni
Darlene Zoller
Zulu Nyala



Q: How and when do I watch Encore! A Playhouse on Park VIRTUAL Fundraiser: "Opening Our Doors”?
A: Click on the Playhouse on Park Website on Saturday, June 27 at 6:45 p.m. where there will be the video. The video will start promptly at 7:00 p.m.
You can also watch the video on Facebook or on YouTube.

Q: How long is the Encore! A Playhouse on Park VIRTUAL Fundraiser: "Opening Our Doors”?
A: Tune it at 6:45pm to read our virtual program booklet. Encore! A Playhouse on Park Virtual Fundraiser: “Opening Our Doors” will begin promptly at 7pm. The fundraiser will last no more than 1 hour and then we invite you to head over to Zoom for an after party with the Playhouse staff! BYOB.

Q. How do I join the Encore! After party on Zoom?  
A. Simply click this link to register and you will be emailed a link to join.  We’ll begin at 8:15pm.

Q. What do I wear to Encore?
A. Anything goes!  Dress up or dress down…either way, do it creatively.  Creative Cocktail.  Creative PJs.  Creative Casual.  Send us your pictures…we’ll be judging!  Pictures should be sent to PlayhousePR@PlayhouseTheatreGroup.org


Q: When does the auction open and how do I register?
A: The auction opened on Monday, June 22. Click here to start bidding!

Q: When does the auction close?
A: The auction closes after the Encore! Opening Our Doors Virtual Fundraiser on June 27 at 10pm.

Q: How will I know if I won an auction item?
A: You will receive a text message and an email notifying you that you’ve won. If you receive no notice, someone else won the item.

Q: When and how do I pick up my item?
A: You will be contacted by a Playhouse on Park staff member a week the week of July 6 to arrange for pick-up of items.


Q: What is a Virtual Paddle Raise?
A: A Virtual Paddle Raise is a fancy term for “donation”. There will be an opportunity to “raise your virtual paddle” or donate before, during or after Encore! A Playhouse on Park VIRTUAL Fundraiser, “Opening our Doors”.

Q: I would like to raise my virtual paddle to Encore! A Playhouse on Park VIRTUAL Fundraiser: "Opening Our Doors”. How do I do that?
A: There are several ways to donate:

• BY CREDIT CARD: The quickest way to Raise your Virtual Paddle is through the Playhouse on Park website Encore page

• BY CHECK: Don’t want to use a credit card? Call in a pledge to 860-523-5900 x 10 and then send a check to:
Playhouse on Park
244 Park Road
West Hartford, CT 06119.
All pledges will be counted towards the fundraising totals.

Q: Is there any special food I can order while watching Encore! A Playhouse on Park VIRTUAL Fundraiser: "Opening Our Doors” on June 27 at 7:00 p.m.?
A: Yes, Playhouse on Park has partnered with Doro Catering and Events and to provide “Party Box” Dinners.

Q: How much is a Party Box dinner?
A: Party Boxes dinners are $50 for individuals/$30 for Young Professionals (ages 21 - 35). Guests will receive a $20 Doro Restaurant Group gift card for purchases of $100 or more.

Q: How do I pick my Party Box up?
A: Party Boxes will be available for pick-up at Playhouse on Park on Saturday, June 27 from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Please note: the Party Boxes will need to be pre-orderd.

Q: How late can I order the Party Box?
A: Orders will be taken until Thursday, June 25 at 5:30 p.m.

Q: What will be in the Party Box?
A: Each party box will include a Zohara Cocktail, an appetizer, a salad, an entree and a dessert

Q: How do I order the Party Box?
A: Click https://www.dororg.com/gala to order your Party Box today!


Q: I would love to take photos that night to show support of Playhouse on Park. Where can I send the photos?
A: We’d love photos of you! Here are the different ways you can submit photos:
Via Facebook: @playhouseonpartktheatre
Via Instagram: @playhouseonpark
Via Twitter: @playhouseonpark
Via Email: PlayhousePR@PlayhouseTheatreGroup.org


Q: What if I have questions before or during Encore! A Playhouse on Park VIRTUAL Fundraiser: "Opening Our Doors”?
A: If you have questions before Encore!, please email Liz Reynolds at lreynolds@playhousetheatregroup.org.
If you have questions during Encore! on June 27, please call the Playhouse on Park Box Office at 860-523-5900, ext. 10. The Box Office will be open between 5:15 – 10:00 p.m.