WESTPORT — Westport Country Playhouse’s 2016 Fundraising Gala will sing the praises of one of the most renowned Broadway musical composing teams with “The Night They Invented Champagne: Celebrating Lerner & Loewe,” on Monday evening, Sept. 19.

The Gala theme will serve as a springboard for the Playhouse’s October production of Lerner & Lowe’s “Camelot,” a freshly inventive take on the classic musical, directed by Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director.

In addition to “Camelot,” Lerner and Loewe composed the acclaimed Broadway musicals “My Fair Lady,” “Brigadoon,” “Paint Your Wagon,” and “Gigi,” from which the gala’s title song, “The Night They Invented Champagne,” originated. The Gala will include a one-night-only performance of Lerner and Loewe show tunes by Broadway’s best talents, to be announced at a later date.

Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe have a special, historic connection with the Playhouse---it was the place that sparked their writing of “My Fair Lady.” Ever since “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw was first presented on stage in 1913, there was talk of the play’s potential as a musical among American producers, including Playhouse founder and producer Lawrence Langner. In 1952, Langner staged a production of “Pygmalion” at the Playhouse, to which he invited Lerner and Loewe. They loved the play, inspiring them to transform it into the musical “My Fair Lady.”

The 2016 Playhouse Leadership Award will be presented to Alex and Jill Dimitrief of Westport, CT. “Each year at the Gala, The Playhouse honors an individual or individuals who are treasured friends and supporters with the Playhouse Leadership Award,” said Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. “This year, we honor Alex and Jill Dimitrief - to thank them for their passionate championing of the Playhouse and for believing so strongly in its power to help change lives.”

Jill and Alex Dimitrief became integrally involved in the Westport Country Playhouse when they moved to Connecticut in 2007. The couple steadfastly support the Woodward Internship Program and sponsor the LGBT Night Out series. Alex Dimitrief joined the Playhouse board of trustees in 2010. As Senior Vice President & General Counsel of GE, he oversees a global team of 5,000 professionals who are responsible for GE’s legal matters, compliance, governmental affairs, and environmental health and safety in the 165+ countries where GE does business.

Dimitrief serves on GE’s Corporate Executive Council and chairs GE’s Policy Compliance Review Board. Dimitrief joined GE in 2007 as Vice President for Litigation & Legal Policy. Dimitrief came to GE from Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where he had been a trial lawyer in the firm’s Chicago and New York offices since 1986. Dimitrief was a White House Fellow in the Reagan Administration's Office of Political and Intergovernmental Affairs and an Honors Intern at the Department of Justice. He graduated from Yale College with a B.A. in Economics & Political Science and earned his J.D. in at Harvard Law School, where he was the Managing Editor of the Harvard Law Review. In addition to the Playhouse board, he presently serves on the board of the Ronald McDonald House of New York City.

Jill Dimitrief has served as a longstanding Playhouse Gala committee member and assisted in the creation of the theater’s education outreach. Ms. Dimitrief has also served as a New York advisory board member of Facing History and Ourselves, an organization dedicated to fostering empathy and reflection, improving students’ academic performance, and building safe and inclusive schools. She has also volunteered as a teacher’s aide and assisted low-income senior high school students with their college essays. She has also served since 2009 as a member of the board of Family & Children’s Agency in Norwalk. She earned her B.A. in Communications from Tulane University.

Gala proceeds will benefit the non-profit, professional producing theater, now in its 86th season - its work on stage, with schools, and throughout the community.

A cocktail party will begin at 5:45 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. presentation of the Playhouse Leadership Award and 7:15 p.m. performance by Broadway friends in celebration of Lerner & Loewe. Dinner with the evening’s artists and special guests will be at 8:30 p.m. A silent auction with mobile bidding will be on-going throughout the evening. Attire is festive; black tie optional, gold accents welcome.

The Gala Committee co-chairs are Ania Czekaj-Farber and Jake Robards. Karen Parrella is auction chair, with Patricia Goodrich, auction vice chair. Gala Committee members are Allison Allott, Jill Fitzburgh, Katia Friend, Carole Hochman, Liz Kaner, Anne Keefe, Darlene Krenz, Wynter Kullman. Paul A. Levin, Ali Marcus, Mary Ellen Marpe, Kristin McKinney, Laura Pendergast, Randi Perry, Judy Phares, Maria Portera, Fran Scharf , Tricia Schwartz, Carol Seldin, Lyn-Ann Smith, Lyla Steenbergen, Melissa Stemmer, Diana Sussman, Sheri Howie Valente, Marietta B. White, Donovan Wildgoose, Mindy Wolkstein, Elizabeth Marks Juviler, Aline O'Connor, and Samantha Goober.

Gala tickets range from $2,500 to $250. Benefactor level, at $2,500 per person, includes red carpet welcome, silent auction and cocktail party with special guests, highest priority seating at performance, post-performance dinner with the artists, and an invitation to an exclusive Benefactor Preview Party; Patron level, at $1,000 per person, includes red carpet welcome, silent auction and cocktail party with special guests, priority seating at performance, and post-performance dinner with the artists. A limited number of Supporter level tickets are available at $250 per person and include silent auction, cocktail party with special guests, and performance. Valet parking will be provided. All donations receive recognition in the evening’s program and inclusion as a 2016 Gala donor in 2017 Season programs (at applicable giving levels).

For more Gala information or ticket purchases, contact Elizabeth Marks Juviler, director of community engagement and special events, at (203) 571-1293 or ejuviler@westportplayhouse.org.