Category Archives: Westport Country Playhouse

Wise Words, From Bob And Judy Rosenkranz

Just over 3 years ago, Bob Rosenkranz retired after a long career as an endodontist on Boston’s North Shore. Married half a century, he and his wife Judy — a former phys ed. teacher — had to decide, “What do we do after we grow up?”

They figured they’d split time between their 2nd house in Vermont, and a gated community in Florida.

Their daughter Robin, son-in-law Matt Leon and 3 grandchildren — Jake, Josh and Jessica — had lived in Westport for nearly a decade. Whenever Bob and Judy visited, they stayed in Norwalk hotels. They’d take the grandkids to the usual dining spots — McDonald’s, Swanky Frank’s — and the tried-and-true recreational areas, like the beach.

Bob and Judy didn’t know much about Westport. But one day, they had dinner — by themselves — at Positano’s. They saw a Richard Dreyfuss performance at the Westport Country Playhouse. The next day, they took the train to New York, and stayed overnight. Both had grown up in Brooklyn. They remembered the city from the 1960s. It had changed dramatically, for the better.

Not the "wise men" Judy and Bob met. These guys don't play tennis.

Not the “wise men” Judy and Bob met. These guys don’t play tennis.

Judy — who played tennis with women 20 years younger at home — and Bob visited the Westport Tennis Club. They saw a bunch of older guys playing — quite well — and heard talk about the “Wise Men.” A man named Otis spent an hour chatting with them. “In Massachusetts, no men play tennis in the morning,” Bob says.

Judy broached the subject with Robin and Matt: How would they feel if she and Bob moved to Westport? The “kids” were all for it.

Judy and Bob talked to a realtor, but weren’t sure what they wanted. A rental? Condo? Nothing felt right.

Through a series of coincidences — including friend-of-a-friend stories — they bought the perfect house, off Partrick Road.

Then things really started to happen.

Bob and Judy found great new friends with older couples. They joined 2 film groups. The Fairfield University extended education program. A book club. A bridge group.

Bob joined the Y’s Men (he now knew how it was spelled). He joined 2 regular tennis games, plus 1 of platform tennis. He plays bocce. He hikes.

These are the "Y's Men." They are a very active group. The only thing they don't do is ride camels.

These are the real “Y’s Men.” They are a very active group. The only thing they don’t do is ride camels.

“I don’t know if these guys are former Fortune 500 CEOs or cobblers,” he says. “It doesn’t matter. They’re great!”

He is inspired by Y’s Men like Kurt Rosenfeld and Gun Moen, who is 87 and still skis, plays bridge and poker, and hits the speed bag.

Judy hooked up with a Manhattan art tour group, led by Westporter Joyce Zimmerman. She got involved with the Y’s Women.

She too plays platform tennis — outdoors, in January. She’s also in 4 other tennis games.

Bob and Judy Rosenkranz, in a rare quiet moment at home.

Bob and Judy Rosenkranz, in a rare quiet moment at home.

The couple dines out often. They love Westport’s restaurants, including Jewish-style delis Gold’s and Oscar’s. (In their previous life, the nearest deli was 35 miles away, in Newton.) They call the choices in supermarkets “phenomenal.”

As for shopping, it’s “fantastic — accessible and easy.”

They show off the library, beach — and many other parts of Westport — to out-of-town friends. They are awed by Staples Players performances, and love the Playhouse (especially the recent Harlem Dancers show).

I should note here that Judy and Bob are 2 of the warmest, most outgoing and funniest people that I have ever met. They also seem to have found a fantastic balance between doing things as a couple, and on their own. Still, their excitement about their new home town is astonishing.

“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Judy says.

“I don’t have enough hours in the day,” Bob adds. And then he starts describing all the great hiking spots he’s found, like Sherwood Island in the off-season.

Many longtime Westporters have never been to Sherwood Island State Park. The Rosenkranzes love it.

Many longtime Westporters have never been to Sherwood Island State Park. The Rosenkranzes love it.

What’s nice to hear — beyond so many great words about Westport – is that, as Judy says, “people who have been here 30 or 40 years are opening up their lives to new people like us.”

But don’t think the Rosenkranzes spend all their time playing tennis, dining out and going to shows. They’ve cooked dinners for the Gillespie Center, done other volunteer work, and are always on the lookout for ways to give back.

Plus, of course, there are the grandkids. Judy and Bob were “mesmerized” by a recent Long Lots music concert (“there was no dissonance at all — and they had a whole ensemble with steel drums!”), and they are faithful attendees at endless soccer, baseball and lacrosse games.

Nor do they just travel between Westport and New York. They recently returned from a trip to Patagonia. (The region, not the store.)

But Bob and Judy always come back — physically, and during our conversation — to the wonders of their new home town.

“We love it here,” they keep saying.

Almost as much as we love having them here.

 

TEAM Westport: Celebrating 10 Years of Diverse Progress

Growing up in Tennessee, Harold Bailey attended segregated schools.

The Supreme Court decided Brown vs. Board of Education when he was 6, but Bailey’s city integrated its schools s-l-o-w-l-y: one grade at a time. Not until 10th grade did he and his black classmates have the chance to attend school with whites — and even then, it was by choosing vocational offerings.

He and some friends wanted to be engineers. So they took drafting classes, adding as many academic subjects as they could. “That’s how we ‘integrated’ the high school,” Bailey — now a longtime Westporter, a business executive with IBM and other companies, and a former Brown University trustee — says.

Harold Bailey, today.

Harold Bailey, today.

White parents yelled; white students pushed the few black students into lockers. In late November, 1963 things came to a head. Everyone expected a big fight — but the next day, President Kennedy was assassinated. Bailey and his other friends talked to administrators when school resumed; things settled down.

Half a century later, Bailey recalls that “profound experience. It had a seminal effect on me.”

Realizing that racial prejudice has negative effects on members of the majority as well as minorities, he’s worked all his adult life to bring people together.

In the early 2000s, Bailey’s wife Bernicestine McLeod Bailey — owner of an IT consulting firm, and a Brown trustee emerita — talked with then-first selectwoman Diane Farrell about the need to address diversity in Westport. Local realtor Cheryl Scott-Daniels had the same idea, at the same time.

The "Jolly Nigger Bank," as described in the Westport Library exhibit.

The “Jolly Nigger” bank, as described in the Westport Library exhibit.

In February 2003, the Westport Library recognized Black History Month with a display of “black memorabilia.” Unfortunately, Bailey says, it was filled with “kitschy, offensive” items like a “Jolly Nigger” bank.

“There was no context,” he recalls. “Nothing showed how far we’d come.” Library director Maxine Bleiweis was away. When she returned, she immediately closed the exhibit. But damage had been done.

Bailey and other African American leaders in town met with library officials. (Bernicestine had just been named the first black library board member.) Soon, Farrell appointed a “Multicultural Steering Committee.”

The 16 original members — including Bailey and his wife — worked hard. Fairfield University professors led intense discussions on the history of race in the US. “We read 100 pages a week,” Bailey says. “We talked about the experiences of Chinese Americans, Hispanics and American Indians, and why Middle Easterners are considered ‘white’ here. It was intense.”

The group  evolved into TEAM Westport. (Member Ivan Fong came up with the acronym: Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism. Miggs Burroughs contributed the logo.) Farrell named it an official town commission. I was the 1st white male to join (representing the LGBT community). Al Puchala  and Nick Rudd followed.

TEAM-Westport-logo2“We never wanted to preach,” Bailey — the 1st, and so far only, chair — says, as TEAM Westport celebrates its 10th anniversary.

“Our aim is to work with different organizations, in a way that’s natural for Westport. And to have fun.”

Over the past decade, TEAM Westport has hosted an event on the former slave ship Amistad, and sponsored discussions at churches and synagogues.

They organized speakers for Staples High School US History classes: men and women who lived through segregation, were interned as Japanese-Americans in US camps during World War II, and suffered discrimination as Hispanics.  One year, all sophomores saw the Westport Country Playhouse production of “Thurgood,” starring James Earl Jones.

TEAM Westport brought a jazz master to work with the Staples band, as well as a black chef, authors and playwrights. The group also worked on issues of integrity and race relations with principal John Dodig. Each year, TEAM Westport presents 1 or 2 graduating seniors with scholarships, in recognition of their work around diversity issues.

2013 TEAM Westport scholarship winners Rusty Schindler and August Laska pose with Harold Bailey and then-1st selectman Gordon Joseloff.

2013 TEAM Westport scholarship winners Rusty Schindler and August Laska pose with Harold Bailey and then-1st selectman Gordon Joseloff.

The group also partnered with the Playhouse during “Raisin in the Sun,” sponsoring 24 lectures and discussions on topics like race and housing, and talkbacks following other productions. This fall they’ll offer programming around “Intimate Apparel,” the capstone of the 2014 Playhouse schedule.

TEAM Westport has awarded “Trailblazer” honors to people like Andy Boas, who works with Bridgeport schools; former superintendent of schools Claire Gold, and longtime pediatrician Dr. Al Beasley.

TEAM Westport Trailblazers (from left) Andy Boas, Claire Gold, Dr. Al Beasley.

TEAM Westport Trailblazers (from left) Andy Boas, Claire Gold, Dr. Al Beasley.

Earlier this year, TEAM Westport organized 7 weeks of panels around the famed “Eyes on the Prize” series. The group is also sponsoring an essay contest for high school students, on the theme of America as an increasingly pluralistic country.

Some of TEAM Westport’s most crucial work is done out of the limelight. “If someone is treated the wrong way by a merchant in town, or there is some sort of incident in one of the schools, we can talk about it,” Bailey says. “Maybe we can help get a resolution. That’s so rewarding — especially as we see children grow.”

Looking back on 10 years as Westport’s low-key, but very important, official multicultural organization, Bailey says, “So many people have told us, after a discussion or event, how touched they were. They say, in various ways, that what we do has enabled them to connect the dots of their lives — and talk about it all. That’s when we realize we really are making progress, and moving in the right direction.”

Some TEAM Westport members in 2010, at the home of longtime supporter Ann Sheffer. Front row (from left): Dolores Paoli, Patricia Wei, Stephanie Kirven, Susan Killian, Amy Lin-Myerson, Catherine Onyemelukwe. Rear: Barbara Butler, Glenn Lau-Kee, Nick Rudd, Harold Bailey, Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, Stu Losen.

Some TEAM Westport members in 2010, at the home of longtime supporter Ann Sheffer. From left: Dolores Paoli, Barbara  Butler, Patricia Wei, Glenn Lau-Kee, Stephanie Kirven, Nick Rudd, Susan Killian, Harold Bailey, Amy Lin-Myerson, Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, Stu Losen and Catherine Onyemelukwe.

Dressing Room Ends Its Run

This message was posted today by founder-owner Michel Nischan on the website of The Dressing Room — his very popular (and quite cleverly named) restaurant next to the Westport Country Playhouse. 

After 8 great years and hundreds of thousands of delicious, local and sustainable farm-direct meals, Dressing Room Restaurant has closed. Founded by internationally renowned chef Michel Nischan and the late actor Paul Newman in 2006, the restaurant was Fairfield County’s first farm-to-table restaurant.

Michel Nischan at the Dressing Room, with a portrait of co-founder Paul Newman.

Michel Nischan at the Dressing Room, with a portrait of co-founder Paul Newman.

We thank our customers who shared our passion and genuine interest in supporting regional growers and responsible farming methods. As a result of their loyal support, and the resulting successful 8-year run of the restaurant, there are now nearly a dozen farm-to-table restaurants gracing discerning Fairfield County palates while supporting Connecticut agriculture.

Dressing Room Restaurant received numerous awards and accolades in the local and national food press, including one of Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 95 New Restaurants in the World” (2006) and recognition for “The Best Burger in America” by Steve Raichlen, USA Today (2010). This is a testimony to meals made with the best locally grown, artisanal and organic foods.

The Dressing Room.

The Dressing Room.

Lori and I want to thank our talented staff and their families, whose selfless dedication to our cause made the vision a reality. Nearly every team member was with us from the very beginning, and each nurtured their guests with a sense of genuine hospitality not seen in many restaurants today.

When Paul and I founded the restaurant, we wanted to change in the way people thought about food. We believed that all people should be able to put the same ripe tomato on their family’s table, regardless of their income

Lori and I will always hold Dressing Room Restaurant dear in our hearts. Our talented culinary and service team made it one of the most amazing restaurants ever to grace Connecticut. We operated as a family unit, bonded together by a strong set of core values and love of good food.

Wholesome Wave logoWith a more deeply dedicated focus on Wholesome Wave [the national non-profit founded by Nischan to help underserved urban and rural communities gain more affordable access to healthy, locally grown foods while supporting the small and mid-sized American farmers], I am proud that more people will have access to amazing meals. We encourage you to support farm-to-table restaurants, farmers’ markets, and healthier food choices. After all, it’s all about food. Good, pure, affordable, wholesome, delicious, local food. For everyone!

Reached tonight, Michel told “06880″: “Lori and I have been thinking this over for a while. Wholesome Wave is ready to explode. The Dressing Room was awesome and wonderful, but I reached a point where I need to devote all my time to one thing. Wholesome Wave is what I want to do when I grow up.”

Life Is Good. I Can Park On The Sidewalk.

First came the post office. Now The Granola Bar — home of the $1 mini-muffin — has brought even more traffic.

The Playhouse Square parking lot is more crowded than ever.

I know. I live in the condos behind it.

Still, that doesn’t mean you can just drive on the sidewalk and park your Jeeps.

Parking on sidewalk

Yes, Jeeps.

The alert — and pretty pissed-off — “06880″ reader who took this photo said there was actually another Jeep parked in front of this one. Also on the sidewalk.

The gate to the Westport Country Playhouse lot is now open. Their parking lot is huge.

Of course, that means actually walking a few more steps than if you plant your Jeep on the sidewalk.

Nah. Life is good.

Ice Cream Parlor Games

On Sunday, “06880″ reported on the return of an ice cream parlor to Westport. The post was illustrated with a snippet of a menu from the old, much-loved Ice Cream Parlor downtown.

Two days later, I added Tracy Sugarman’s 1950s drawing of teenagers inside the popular hangout.

Now — thanks to Kathie Bennewitz — I’ve got an entire front cover of the menu.

Ice cream Parlor menuBut not just any menu. Kathie — the town’s art curator — says this one was signed by dozens of actors.They performed at the Westport Country Playhouse. After shows, they crossed the Post Road for a treat.

Among the names: Elizabeth Taylor. Mike Todd.  Claude Raines. Sid Caesar. Eli Wallach. Kirk Douglas. David Wayne. Dorothy Gish. Gene Tierney. Bert Lahr. Doris Day.

Imagine the stories they could dish.

(The menu is now part of the Westport Historical Society archives.)

Home Is Where Her “Hart” Is

Melissa Joan Hart — known to young fans across America for her roles in “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “Melissa & Joey” — is a Westport resident.

So she won’t have far to go on Monday (July 29, 7 p.m.) for a play reading event.

“Any Wednesday” is at — and a benefit for — the Westport Country Playhouse.

Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa Joan Hart

For over 80 years, the Playhouse has hosted some of the biggest names in theater: Paul Robeson, Helen Hayes, Alan Alda, Cicely Tyson — you get the idea.

But Monday’s reading has a decidedly local feel.

There’s fellow Westporter Brian J. Carter. Joanna Gleason and Chris Sarandon will also read — they’re in Fairfield, and no strangers to Playhouse productions.

There are other intriguing tie-ins too.

Sandy Dennis — a longtime North Sylvan Road resident — originated the “Any Wednesday” role on Broadway. She also starred in many Playhouse shows.

Jason Robards — who was in the “Any Wednesday” film — lived in Southport. The Playhouse’s theater is named in his honor, and his son Jake has appeared on the Playhouse stage.

Jane Fonda — who played Melissa’s role in the film — appeared on the Playhouse stage in 1960. Her father — Henry Fonda — preceded her here in 1937.

It’s starting to sound less like “Any Wednesday.” And more like “Six Degrees of Separation.”

(Tickets are $100, $50 and $25, and include a “Meet the Cast” party following the July 29 reading. For information and reservations, call 203-227-4177, or click here.)

Kathie Bennewitz: Westport’s First “Town Curator”

You never know where life will take you.

Who knew, for example, that swimming and lifeguarding would help propel Kathie Bennewitz — 35 years later — to her new position as Westport’s 1st-ever town curator?

Yet that’s what happened, after Kathie Motes moved to Westport in the summer of 1978 — just before her senior year at a new school, Staples High.

Kathie Bennewitz

Kathie Bennewitz

Kathie joined the swim team, took art classes, and befriended Ellise Fuchs, whose father Bernie was a world-famous illustrator. Kathie posed for him, pretending to receive a medal for an Olympic scene.

At Princeton, she majored in art history. “I’m not a fine artist,” she claims. “But I love the process, and the way art reflects who we are.”

One summer, lifeguarding at Compo, she met Scott Bennewitz. He was a beach security guard — and a fellow Princetonian.

They married, and lived in Dallas, Minneapolis and Holland. She’d earned a masters in art history. Everywhere they moved, she worked in museums.

Eight years ago, they came to Westport. Kathie volunteered with the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection. She says that meeting co-founder Mollie Donovan “changed my life.”

Kathie learned how deep and broad Westport’s arts history is. And she realized the impact of men like John Steuart Curry, and institutions like the Westport Country Playhouse, on this town.

"Blues Piano Players" -- one of the 7 wonderful works by Eric von Schmidt that make up "Birth of the Blues." They hang in the Staples auditorium.

“Blues Piano Players” — one of the 7 wonderful works by Eric von Schmidt that make up “Birth of the Blues.” They hang in the Staples auditorium.

She also met volunteers like Eve Potts — Mollie’s sister. “Their commitment, passion and enthusiasm for this town, and its arts community, is infectious,” Kathie says.

She worked professionally at Greenwich’s Bush-Holley House and the Fairfield Museum. A year ago, she became an independent curator.

She also was appointed tri-chair of the Permanent Art Collection, and served on the Westport Arts Advisory Committee. The 2 organizations gave her a broad perspective on the arts here.

So, when a group of people — including Ann Sheffer, David Rubinstein, Leslie Greene, Carole Erger-Fass and Joan Miller — floated the idea of a town curator, she was intrigued.

So was First Selectman Gordon Joseloff. “We already have a town historian, Allen Raymond,” Kathie notes. “This is a natural counterpoint.”

The doughboy statue on Veteran's Green is part of Westport's art and sculpture collection.

The doughboy statue on Veteran’s Green is part of Westport’s art and sculpture collection.

In her new post, she’s responsible for advising the town on the care of its art and sculpture collection. Westport owns several hundred works of art, displayed in Town Hall, the Senior Center, Parks & Rec headquarters — even the Fire Department. Statues include the Minuteman and Doughboy on Veterans Green.

Kathie will also serve as liaison to the 1,100-piece Permanent Art Collection, and the Westport Library, with its own murals, paintings and illustrations.

“So many other communities lose their treasures,” she says. “But thanks to Burt and Ann Chernow, and so many others, we have ours. They’ve created a platform we can spring off of, and do even more.”

That “more” includes plenty. Kathie envisions self-guided tours of the schools’ collections. A “museum on the street,” with Howard Munce’s Remarkable Book Shop work displayed outside that old store (most recently Talbots). Robert Lambdin’s “Battle of Compo” mounted near the cannons.

She’ll be involved in the rehanging of art at Town Hall — something last done in 1976.

Kathie would also like to open up hard-to-see parts of the town’s art collection — like the amazing fire station mural — to the public.

“Pageant of Juvenile Literature” — a 1934 work by Robert Lambdin — hangs in the Westport Library’s Great Hall. This is part of that mural.

“Pageant of Juvenile Literature” — a 1934 work by Robert Lambdin — hangs in the Westport Library’s Great Hall. This is part of that mural.

She is eager to get started. But she won’t be alone.

“I’m a team player. I enjoy working with people in groups. We need everyone’s help.”

Among those helping: Marie-Neloise Egipto, a Staples senior who will do her spring internship with the Permanent Art Collection.

“I’m honored to serve the town,” Kathie says. “This is different from the other positions I’ve held. It really validates all the decades of work done by the Mollies, the Eves and the Anns who have advocated for, and celebrated, our arts community and legacy.

“Very few communities have the public, school and library collections that we do. Westport should be very, very proud.”

Just as we all should be proud that Kathie Bennewitz is our 1st-ever “town curator.”

Even More Sandy Stuff I’m Finally Able To Get To

I’m still plowing through emails. Here’s a sampling. Apologies if I haven’t posted yours yet. Keep ‘em comin’!

Hurricane Sandy made Soundview Avenue very sandy indeed. The view is toward Compo Beach. (Photo/Betsy Phillips)

Norwalk Avenue, looking toward Bradley Street. The tide has receded, but the water has no place to go. (Photo/Betsy Phillips)

Some of the more than 75 Staples students who showed up at Longshore today, an hour after receiving a call from principal John Dodig for cleanup help. Another work session is planned for Friday.

  • The Farmers’ Market will be open tomorrow (Thursday) in the Imperial Avenue parking lot.  There’s hot coffee, fresh food and WiFi. They’ll also collect food and coats for those in need.
  • The Westport Country Playhouse is open again Thursday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) for cell phone and laptop charging.  Free coffee, too!
  •  Johanna Rossi passes along the website for CTWatchdog.com, with free legal advice on insurance for victims of Hurricane Sandy. “I don’t want to see fellow Westporters taken advantage of, especially senior citizens,” she says.

Coffee An’ opened at 6:30 a.m., and did a booming business all day. The power may be out in many homes, but we all need our donuts. (Photo/Larry Perlstein)

At Compo Sandy flooded streets, deposited sand everywhere, and knocked over cement cookout grills. But she couldn’t defeat the cannons. As they’ve done ever since the Revolutionary War (well, 1909 — they’re replicas) — the Compo cannons never wavered. (Photo/Jeb Backus)

Of course, some things never change. Arlene Avellanet reported that Arby’s was open. As usual, no one was there.

3 For Free

Three very different local businesses have stepped up to help, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

  • Westport Country Playhouse will open its lobby to the public to charge cell phones, laptops, etc. beginning tomorrow (Wednesday, October 31) at 11 a.m.  Free coffee, too!
  • Barcelona restaurants in South Norwalk, Fairfield, Stamford and Greenwich offer working bathrooms, charging outlets, and free WiFi.  Everyone is welcome. No purchase required — you can even bring in your own food, if you like.
  • And Westport Invitations — at the foot of Long Lots Road, behind Bertucci’s –  is open all week long as a free charging station. Power, cable and phone lines are available for all.

That just scratches the surface. If you own — or know of — a business or organization that’s helping everyone from customers and clients to complete strangers, click “Comments.”

Thanks to all, from a grateful town.

“Oklahoma!” Roots Run Deep In Westport

In its long and storied history, the Westport Country Playhouse has never staged Oklahoma!

But our local theater played a crucial role in creating that classic American musical.

In 1940, a production of Lynn Riggs’ play Green Grow the Lilacs incorporated turn-of-the-century folk songs and a scene with a square dance. Theatre Guild producer Theresa Helburn suggested to Lawrence Langner and his wife Armina Marshall — founders of both the Playhouse and Guild — that it would make a good musical.

The trio invited Richard Rodgers — who lived just a few miles away — to see a performance. Three years later the Guild produced Oklahoma! on Broadway, based on Green Grow the Lilacs.

Over the years, Oklahoma!‘s bond with Westport tightened even more. At just 17, dancer Bambi Linn made her Broadway debut in the show. She was Dream Laurey, the dancer in the dream in which Laurey tries to decide between Curly and Jud.

Bambi Linn, as Dream Laurey in “Oklahoma!” on Broadway.

Bambi Linn — whose Broadway career flourished after Oklahoma! — moved to Westport in the early 1960s. She and her husband, Joe de Jesus, taught generations of young Westporters to dance.

Though Oklahoma! never made it to the Westport Country Playhouse, audiences will soon see it here. It’s Staples Players‘ fall production, opening November 9.

“It was revolutionary,” director Dave Roth says of the 1943 production. “It’s considered one of the first shows in modern musical theater. Up to that point, songs didn’t really move the plot forward. They were really just there to entertain.”

Oklahoma! told its story through music — and, thanks in part to Bambi Linn, dance.

Oklahoma — the state — may be 1,500 miles from here. But the road from Oklahoma! — the musical — to the Staples stage ran right through the Westport Country Playhouse, just a couple of miles down the road.

PS: There’s one final Westport-Oklahoma! connection. Richard Rodgers’ grandson — composer/lyricist Adam Guettel (The Light in the Piazza) — is engaged to actress Haley Bond. Before graduating from Staples in 2003 — where she was known as Haley Petersen — she played Cinderalla (Into the Woods), Marian the Librarian (Music Man) and Irene (Hello, Dolly!), among other Players productions.

Not Oklahoma!, though. The last time Players presented the ground-breaking — and Westport-connected — musical was 1995.

(Click here for Staples Players ticket information.)