Author Archives: Dan Woog

A Ghoulish Scene At Compo

(Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

(Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Staples’ “A Chorus Line”: Book It!

In the midst of preparing for their fall musical — Hello, Dolly! —  Staples Players still bask in well-deserved applause from  A Chorus Line.

Their 2013 production will be included in A Chorus Line FAQ. The 400-page book is part of a new “everything you could possibly want to know” series on popular Broadway musicals.

Author Tom Rowan is including a chapter on notable productions around the nation over the past 30 years. What he calls the “remarkable” Staples Players staging is one of only 4 high school versions in the book.

Staples Players: one singular sensation. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Staples Players: one singular sensation. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Directors David Roth and Kerry Long figured that Rowan heard of Staples’ production from Terre Blair Hamlisch. The composer’s widow saw the show in Westport, was enthralled, and invited them to perform a selection at a major New York fundraiser honoring Hamlisch, with Bernadette Peters, Joel Grey and Robert Klein.

Nope.

Rowan said he spent a lot of time watching YouTube clips of various Chorus Line productions from around the world. He stumbled upon Staples, and was amazed by the quality — particularly the dancing. He could hardly believe it was a high school show.

(He loved learning about the Terre Hamlisch connection. That story will be in Rowan’s book too.)

A Chorus Line is one of many Staples Players productions uploaded to their YouTube channel. Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, Little Shop of Horrors — those and many more are just a mouse click away.

Of course, you should see Hello, Dolly! live, when it opens a couple of weeks from now.

Then relive the Staples Player magic — over and over — thanks to the miracle of YouTube.

(Staples Players is always looking for more archival material. If you’ve got some, contact director David Roth: droth@westport.k12.ct.us)

Here’s How To Vote!

Matt Murray’s tongue is planted firmly in cheek when he writes:

I have never been more proud of our local politicians and their minions than for re-setting the yard signs at the intersection of Cross Highway and Roseville Road after an accident knocked them — and the guard rail — down.

Campaign signs

Without those signs, I would never be able to decide who to vote for.

About Those Beach Boulders…

Alert “06880” readers have noticed earth movers and boulders on Compo Beach.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Don’t worry: Renovations — if they happen — are far in the future.

This is part of a long-planned shore stabilization and dredging project on the south side of the marina.

Note: Vehicle access to the west end of the beach will be restricted soon. Pedestrians can walk along the beach.

 

Goodbye, Cocoa Michelle. Hello, Bonjo!

Cocoa Michelle — the long-lived, very popular coffee-croissants-and-chocolates spot across from the train station — is closing today.

They’ve been bought out by their coffee roaster. On Monday, they reopen as Bonjo.

The current staff is staying. And Bonjo will feature an expanded selection of food.

For the rest of the week, there’s still Commuter Coffee. And — on the other side of the tracks — Steam.

(Hat tip to John Hartwell.)

The cozy interior of Cocoa Michelle.

The cozy interior of Cocoa Michelle.

A New Frontier In Phone Service

Last Friday night, Frontier took over Connecticut telephone service from AT&T.

Many customers were unsure what that would mean. They found out quickly.

Karl Decker — an avid “06880” reader, and former English instructor at Staples — lost internet service until 4:30 p.m. Saturday. He was not the only one.

ATT FrontierFrom another phone — and after countless renditions of recorded “We are aware…thank you for your patience” messages – he managed to reach Frontier. A techie described what was happening as “all chaos.” He added, “thousands are offline.”

On Sunday, Karl was in Westport (Country Curtains had a 15%-off sale). The store still had no internet. Folks from Greenwich said they were still out too — along with everyone else they knew.

At noon on Monday, staffers at the Monroe Y noted that many friends remained without service.

“Is this news or what?” Karl asks. “When there’s an electric failure, it’s ll over the papers!”

Hear hear!

How ‘Bout Them Apples?

In April, a towering apple tree in front of Town Hall was cut down. Planted in its were several cherry trees.

They have not yet borne fruit. But another big apple tree that remained is producing plenty.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

Just in time for cider.

 

Compo Acres Construction To Be Halted

Equity One has heard the pleas of Compo Acres Shopping Center merchants.

They’ve agreed to a new construction schedule. The parking project and sidewalks are now slated to be completed by November 15 — if possible. The holiday season will not be impacted.

While it’s not a perfect solution — renovations on 2 storefronts will continue — it’s far better than the previous plan, which would have devastated merchants during the crucial holiday season.

Who says you can’t fight City Hall corporate America?

The sidewalk in front  of Compo Acres Shopping Center may soon be finished.

The sidewalk in front of Compo Acres Shopping Center may soon be finished.

 

 

Compo Skate Park: The Sequel

While discussion about the Compo Beach renovation plan has died down recently — the calm before another storm, perhaps — a subset of users has been quietly at work, hoping to save their beloved section of sand.

Well, asphalt.

It’s not a group known for their political activism: skateboarders.

But there’s a grassroots effort in town to save the Compo skate park. On Saturday afternoon — the final weekend of the beach’s skateboard season — they sponsored a skating party, with pizza and a DJ. The weather was fantastic, drawing luminaries like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Compo Beach Improvement Committee member George Franciscovich.

A small part of the big crowd of Saturday's skaters.

A small part of the big crowd of Saturday’s skaters.

The skaters will be out in force this Thursday (October 30, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall) for the next Parks and Rec Commission/Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee meeting. It’s listen-only for the audience, but they want to hear what’s in the works.

Some teenage skaters have formed their own committee. They want to present their side to town groups like Parks & Rec, the Compo Beach committee and the Westport Youth Commission. (The skate park itself was an outgrowth of a Youth Commission objective, back in the day.)

They’re figuring out how Compo’s skate park can be brought up to date to enhance its appeal and safety, and lower maintenance costs.

They’re marshaling plenty of good arguments. They’re learning how to participate in town democracy.

They may wipe out once or twice. That’s part of the process.

If so, they’ll get right back up. They hope to be standing — and skating — at the end.

The scene last Saturday.

The scene last Saturday.

 

Halloween Haunts

I thought for a long time about whether to post this on “06880.” It involves parents who drive their little ghosts, pirates and princesses to neighborhoods where the houses are close together. It’s a classic Westport move: Maximize your trick-or-treating investment by minimizing time spent trekking from door to door.

(I will not even mention that, from the age of about 7 on, my friends and I did all our candy-collecting — and pumpkin-smashing — sans parental supervision. I understand we live in a different century today. Hold your fire.)

Over the past couple of decades, several areas have become designated go-to spots on Halloween. Their fame has spread beyond our borders. Out-of-towners come too, attracted by the Westport cachet as much as the easy pickings.

Long ago, children dressed up in costumes on Halloween, and went door to door asking for candy -- in their own neighborhoods. Those were the days!

Long ago, children dressed up in costumes on Halloween, and went door to door asking for candy — in their own neighborhoods. Those were the days!

So when an alert “06880” reader contacted me, I was conflicted. Her message is a good one, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the (candy) bag for anyone who doesn’t already know about these prime local spots.

My solution is to print the reader’s suggestion, but delete any mention of where she goes. I’ll leave the ethics of trick-or-treating outside your neighborhood to you. Yet if you decide that descending on someone else’s road is the right message to send your kid, here’s what one reader wants you to do:

I have been going to [redacted] to trick or treat for many many years. The decorations are amazing, and the people who live there are so wonderfully friendly and giving. They spend a lot of money making Halloween a fantastic night and event for so many of us who head there.

I feel that we should thank this neighborhood for their many years of taking in hundreds of families on that night. Each family planning to go there should buy 2 or 3 bags of candy and hand it to different homeowners. The families would be so thankful, and feel appreciated.

Sounds like a reasonable suggestion. But it also sounds just one step removed from simply buying candy and handing it over to your kid without all the intermediate steps of costume-buying, driving and tromping down the road.