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Joanne Woodward Injured in Fall, Misses Playhouse Gala

Joanne Woodward, artistic director emeritus of the Westport Country Playhouse, missed tonight’s Playhouse gala tribute to composer Stephen Sondheim because she was injured in a fall earlier today at her Westport home, organizers announced. WestportNow.com Image
Joanne Woodward: cuts required five stitches. WN file photo/Dave Matlow

“She required five stitches,” Anne Keefe, the Playhouse’s associate artistic director, told the audience from the stage at the start of the program. Many of the guests gasped when they heard the announcement.

Keefe said Woodward, 76, who was to co-host the affair with her husband, Paul Newman, took the fall while walking her two dogs, both Miniature Schnauzers. She said the cuts were to Woodward’s face.

Newman was also absent from the sold out performance of “The Ladies Who Sign Sondheim.” The tribute starred Laura Benanti, Kristin Chenoweth, Barbara Cook, and Patti LuPone. Sondheim was in the audience.

“Paul assured me that the cuts were shallow and would not leave a scar,” said Keefe, whose last day on the job was today. She announced last month that she was leaving after seven summers at the theater to spend more time with her family.

Keefe said she had talked to Woodward earlier in the day and that she was looking forward to the evening gala, which included cocktails on the patio and a post-performance dinner under a tent in the Playhouse parking lot.

Keefe later told WCBS Radio that she received a call from Newman at about 4 p.m. filling her in on the details of the accident and adding, “We can’t come. I have to stay with her.” 

Keefe said she talked to the Newman daughters at the gala and “they said it’s (the cut) right over her eye” and that Woodward was recovering well.

Guests paid between $500 and $2,000 to attend the event. Funds raised will further artistic excellence at the Playhouse.

Woodward stepped down as artistic director at the end of last year after spearheading the Playhouse’s $28 million drive to renovate the old barn into a year-round venue. She served in the post for six years.

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