Stars come out to honor Rebeck at DTF gala

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RUPERT — The skies were sunny, but the stars were out on Sunday afternoon at the Dorset Theatre Festival's Summer Stars gala celebrating the festival's 40th anniversary season, honoring playwright Theresa Rebeck and raising funds for its educational outreach programs.

A crowd of 200 came to The Old Gray Barn in Rupert to celebrate with siblings Tyne and Tim Daly, the stars of Rebeck's play "Downstairs," as well as actor Judd Hirsch and Broadway composer Adam Guettel, who performed songs from his upcoming musical "Millions."

Before dinner, invited guests congregated in the barn and its outdoor deck, or relaxed under a tent on the lower level and listened to Burlington-based band Brett Hughes and the Honky Tonk Crowd.

The evening also included a fundraising auction, with items up for bids including Broadway tickets, a plane ride with local actor Treat Williams and a visit to the set of Tim Daly's CBS show "Madam Secretary."

"Downstairs," which premiered last week and runs through July 8, was written by Rebeck for the Daly siblings and is the first time they've appeared on stage together.

Tim and Tyne Daly both said they'd been approached by writers wanting to create work with them in mind. But Rebeck, unlike most of those writers, actually came through.

"It never happens," Tim Daly said. "Theresa actually did it. She honored what she said. So here we are."

The Dalys said they have enjoyed the opportunity to work together.

"It's wonderful to play with my brother," Tyne Daly said. "I asked him this very morning would you want to play this play with any other woman? He said 'no.' I think it's a worthy play, and I hope that it has a future — and whether it has a future with us is less important."

"I'm just having a good time working with Tyne," Tim Daly added. "We get along well, we have a similar work ethic and even though we're 10 years apart we got something from our parents about how you work in the theater and what it means to us, and we share that."

"Tyne has such incredible stagecraft," he added. "I think I've got some too. I'd like do do some big comedy with her. And I wouldn't mind doing this [play] for a while someplace else."

At Sunday's gala, both veteran actors said they cherished the opportunity to revive a family tradition together. Their parents, Emmy-winning television actor James Daly and stage actress Hope Newell, spent many summers on the summer theater circuit, and they brought their children on tour.

Both also said Dorset was an ideal environment for summer theater, because of the location — not far from a farm Tim Daly owns — and because of the leadership of Rebeck, the DTF's playwright in residence, and artistic director Dina Janis.

"It's an ideal situation," Tim Daly said. It's a safe place, there's a nice artistic family here and the quality of the work is really good."

"I get tired because I have to do this TV show ["Madam Secretary"] for nine months. But I can't seem to kick this theater habit. This is a nice place to do it for a few weeks."

Guettel, a two-time Tony Award winner for "A Light In The Piazza," said in a small state such as Vermont, it was inevitable that he would make connections with the likes of Rebeck and Janis.

"Dorset is just a locus for that. It's a place that draws creative types and generous types," he said. "So this is not an accident."

Reach Journal editor Greg Sukiennik at 860-490-6000.

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