Playhouse Prepares For 2022

It will have been 2 years.

But the Westport Country Playhouse 2022 season will be staged in person. Live.

And it promises to be very, very lively.

The historic theater’s 92nd season begins in April, and runs through November. Artistic director Mark Lamos plans 5 shows:

  • An all-new production of “Ain’t Misbehavin'”
  • A blazing interpretation of the groundbreaking musical “Next to Normal”
  • The beautiful, insightful play about generational divide, “400o Miles”
  • The exuberant “Straight White Men,” and
  • “The moving, joyful celebration of spirit: “From the Mississippi Delta.”

Season package renewals are underway now for current subscribers: in person at the box office Tuesdays through Fridays (noon to 6 p.m.); by mail (25 Powers Court, Westport, CT 06880), by phone (203-227-4177) or online.

Tickets for new season ticket buyers go on sale November 9, with savings, priority seating, restaurant discounts, and a choice of options. Single tickets will be available early next year.

But theatergoers don’t have to wait until next spring. After the Playhouse pivoted to  online, outdoor and radio shows during the pandemic, they’ll resume live performances November 2 to 20 — with a twist.

“Doubt: A Parable” will also be filmed before an in-house audience, for on-demand streaming at home.

It’s been a dark two years for the Westport Country Playhouse — both literally and figuratively.

But the lights come back up in November. They’ll burn even brighter in 2022. The second show of the year is not the only thing that will be “Next to Normal.”

Empty Playhouse seats will soon be filled. (Photo/Robert Benson)

Pics Of The Day #1614

1,500 starved people packed Compo Beach yesterday for the Rotary Club’s annual Lobsterfest. They were hungry for lobsters, steaks — and the fantastic party atmosphere they’d missed when last September’s event was canceled (and, in many other ways, since the pandemic began. Great food, wonderful people, fantastic weather, an excellent cause — what’s not to like? (Photo/Dan Woog)

Earlier yesterday, Yogi Bear and friends enjoyed the Japanese Festival at Jesup Green. (Photo/Cathy Malkin)

Roundup: Railroad Bridge, Rims & Tires …

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The first time you see the William F. Cribari Bridge swing into action — it opens laterally, and is the last of its kind in the state — it’s fun.

The second through 99th times, it’s less fun. That’s because you’re stuck in traffic, on either side of the Saugatuck River.

It’s far less common to see the railroad bridge — a few yards downriver — open up.

And unless you’re sitting on a train, it’s a view to enjoy. Here’s a shot from yesterday, courtesy of Judith Katz.

(Photo/Judith Katz)

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Remember the “06880” photo in July of a car at the Westport train station, with all 4 tires and rims removed? Or a similar one 2 days earlier, at the Wilton Road parking garage?

Thee was a similar theft nearby.

Both occurred in broad daylight. But thanks to collaborative work with area law enforcement agencies experiencing similar crimes, on Thursday Westport Police arrested Shawn Oliphant, 39, of Greenwich.

He was charged with larceny in the 3rd and 4th degrees, and held on a $50,000 bond.

Westport train station theft. (Photo/Frank Rosen)

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We can’t always see nature’s wondrous, beautiful ways. Thankfully, we have Michelle Harmon — and today’s “Westport … Naturally” image.

(Photo/Michelle Harmon)

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And finally … Jimi Hendrix died on this date in 1970. The groundbreaking guitarist was 27 years old — the same age as Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse when they died.

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 77 Gallery

Blue — both water and psychedelic — highlight this week’s photo gallery.

As we do every week, we feature the work of local artists in all mediums, and an enormous range of themes.

Whatever your age and level of experience — professional or amateur, young or old — this feature is open to everyone.

All genres and styles are encouraged too. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage (and now needlepoint) — whatever you’ve got, email it to dwoog@optonline.net. Share your work with the world!

“The Sound, The Blues and The Wave” (Kathryn O’Reardon)

“Compo South Beach, A Special Place” (Roseann Spengler)

Untitled (Mike Hibbard)

“Psychedelic” (Amy Schneider)

[OPINION] Aspetuck Land Trust Head Urges Westonites: Vote Today!

Aspetuck Land Trust executive director David Brant writes:

We need the help of all Weston voters to come out today (Saturday, September 18, noon to 8 p.m., Weston Town Hall), to cast your ballot approving the town’s sale of the 85-acre Fromson Strassler property to Aspetuck Land Trust to preserve it forever as open space.

Protecting this property is a major step in Aspetuck Land Trust’s multi-year effort to preserve a 700-acre undeveloped forest block along the Weston-Wilton border. Aspetuck has won a $625,000 state grant and received private donations to cover the $1.143 million acquisition cost. The sale has broad support from Weston’s elected leaders including the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Boulder talus wetlands, one of the many habitats on the Fromson Strassler property,

To close the deal, Weston voters must approve it. The Land Trust encourages all Weston voters to vote today for the sale of the property to Aspetuck Land Trust.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to preserve a property of this size, by Fairfield County standards.

The property is heavily forested, with extensive wetlands, streams, boulder fields, steep slopes, ledge and rock outcrops that support a diverse array of wildlife and rare species like the Eastern box turtle.

This is your opportunity to help preserve a landmark property for future generations. The property will be trailed for hikers to enjoy.

For more information about the property and sale on the ALT website, click here.

Map of the proposed purchase.

 

Young Shoots: Berries, Fruits, Farmers’ Roots

Everything about the Westport Farmers’ Market annual photo contest is special.

The name — “Young Shoots” — is quite clever.

The idea — inviting children and teenagers to honor food and farmers creatively, through fresh eyes — is important.

The setting for the awards ceremony — Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, the Market’s winter home — is both apt and beautiful.

This year’s recent evening showed off both the bounty of the Farmers’ Market, and the talent of our young local photographers.

First place winners received a cash prize, special swag and the opportunity to lead a food photo shoot with chef Bill Taibe. Second place winners earned $50. Judging was done by local artists, and the public.

First place in the 8-to-10-year-old category went to Kayla Stanley, for “Berries & Beyond.” Second place went to Juliette Newshel, for “Complementary.”

“Berries & Beyond” (Kayla Stanley)

“Complementary” (Juliette Newshel)

The 11-to-14 winner was Camille Mergenthaler (“Uniqueness of a Vegetable”). Sara Stanley placed second (“A Farmer’s Roots”).

“Uniqueness of a Vegetable” (Camille Mergenthaler)

“A Farmer’s Roots” (Sara Stanley)

There were plenty of entries in the 2 youngest categories. However, only one photographer entered the 15-to-18-year-old group. Dylan Kirsch was awarded the prize for “Scenes Around the Market.”

“Scenes Around the Market” (Dylan Kirsch)

Want to see more? Click here for all the entries.

(Young Shoots is a partnership between the Westport Farmers’ Market, the Artists Collective of Westport and the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.)

Pics Of The Day #1613

A few days before summer ends: Compo Beach is empty, but the weather is fine. (Photo/Richard Stein)

… A few hours later, a kayaker enjoys the setting sun. (Photo/Carl McNair)

Friday Flashback #262

The more traffic clogs downtown, the more important it is to look back at bygone days.

Our “Friday Flashback” feature has focused on “Fountain Square” before. The Post Road (then called State Street)/Main Street intersection was dominated by a fountain. (Actually, a horse trough. “Trough Square” does not have quite the same ring.)

Well after a century later, we’re still finding “new” images of that old scene.

(Postcard courtesy of Seth Schachter)

Seth Schachter sent this along. It’s from well before 1923. The YMCA had not yet been built on the east side of the Main and State (now Anthropologie).

The bones of some of the buildings on the west — still standing today — are recognizable.

As for the trolley, the horse, the women’s fashions, and the fountain/trough: I wonder what the early 20th century version of Westport’s Downtown Association thought.

Roundup: Barista’s Baby, Election Questions, Afghan Refugees …

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In June, “06880” posted a plea from Amanda DeRosa. The Westport mom sought help for her favorite Starbucks worker, a woman in dire straits due to deliver a baby 3 months later.

Readers responded quickly, and generously. Amanda soon gave the woman $4,550 in gift cards, for stores like Buy Buy Baby, Target and Stop & Shop.

On Wednesday — after 3 days in labor — the barista delivered a healthy, 8-pound baby boy. Both are doing well. Amanda, the new mom (and her infant) thank the Westport community for helping start him on a new life!

A new life!

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What would you like to ask candidates in the upcoming local election?

The League of Women Voters Westport is sponsoring 2 debates — and they invite questions from the public.

Sessions are set for the Boards of Selectmen, Finance and Assessment Appeals on October 25, and the Planning & Zoning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Board of Education on October 26. Both begin at 7 p.m.

Questions can be emailed to speechbyrachel@gmail.com.

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This week’s “06880” story on Westport’s efforts to help resettle Afghan refugees in this area contained an error in dates, and an outdated reference.

On Tuesday (September 21, 12 p.m., Christ & Holy Trinity Church), there’s a free, open-to-the-public lecture about the Afghan crisi by Ann O’Brien, director of community engagement for Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services.

On the weekends of September 25-26, October 2-3, 9-10 and 15-16, Greens Farms Congregational Church will accept drop-offs of winter coats, raincoats, and boots for adults, teenagers and children; school supplies and backpacks; new toiletries; cleaning and household supplies, and small appliances. “Boxed and labeled” is appreciated. Furniture and other clothing is not needed.

The IRIS/Westport Rotary Club effort to house and assist a family in East Norwalk includes the United Methodist Church, Temple Israel, Greens Farms Congregational Church, the Religious Society of Friends, Saugatuck Congregational Church, and 15 Westport families identifying as a Muslim community.

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Peter Cuseo — part of a noted Westport family — died at home Tuesday morning. He was 74.

Son of the late Albert R. Cuseo Sr. and Yvonne Cuseo, he was an Army veteran, having served in Vietnam. He worked alongside his family at Albert R. Cuseo Refuse Service and Cuseo Exxon Service Station. He then worked at Masiello Bus Service and the Connecticut Department of Transportation in New Canaan.

Survivors include his wife Teresa; son James Cuseo (Laura), daughter Christina Gudzik (John) and grandchildren Arlo and Riley.

Friends are invited to attend the funeral ceremony and internment Saturday (September 18,  at Willowbrook Cemetery395 Main Street Westport, CT. Click here to leave online condolences. Contributions in Peter Cuseo’s memory may be made to the American Cancer Society.

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Dennis Gibson died peacefully on Tuesday, surrounded by his family. He was 77.

His family says: “Denny loved people. He was a friendly man who always made time to connect with others, whether at a dinner party, a Staples football game, or on the sidewalk downtown. He was a proud Westporter and loved the friends he made in the town he called home since 1999.”

The Michigan native spent the first years of his life in a house with no toilet — only an outhouse. At 21 years old, in a Grand Rapids home with plumbing, Denny had his first son, David. His son Kevin and daughter Leigh Ann followed shortly after. He committed himself to fatherhood as he moved with his family from Indianapolis to Jacksonville, Bethel, Syracuse, Youngstown and Manhattan.

Denny met the love of his life, Patty Burke, when they were working at General Foods. They married in 1982.

After 23 years at General Foods, the natural salesman struck off on his own, as a successful entrepreneur. He built a business from the ground up alongside his son David.

Nearly 30 years after his first child, Denny had triplets: Jack, Max, and Bo. They will cherish his whippy one-liners and memories of stretching him before his weekly tennis games.

He became Grandpa Denny to Bill, Jenna, Dan, Grace, Ellen, Claire, Daniel, and Delaney, who he loved dearly.

He is survived by his wife Patty; brother Lynn of Grand Rapids; sister Nancy Roberto of Cincinnati; sons David (Sheri) of Coronado California, Kevin (Kris) of Canfield Ohio; daughter Leigh Ann Dwyer (Bob) of Fairfield; sons Jack of Westport, Bo of Brooklyn and Max of New Yor.

Calling hours are today (Friday, September 17, 4 to 8 p.m., Lesko & Polke Funeral Home 1209 Post Road, Fairfield). A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated tomorrow (Saturday, 10 a.m., Church of the Assumption). Interment will be private. Contributions in his name may be made to Tunnel to Towers.
To sign his online guest register, click here.

Denny Gibson

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Elena Nasereddin writes: “The recent heavy rains have helped produce both familiar, fairy-tale mushrooms and large, white skull-shaped forms with Halloween creepiness.” She sent several photos of the ‘shrooms growing on Iris Lane. This one is today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photo/Elena Nasereddin)

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And finally … in 1916, World War I German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen (aka “The Red Baron”) won his first aerial combat near Cambrai, France.

Westport’s Mask Mandate: Whose Business Is It?

Some people have wondered about this.

Others have not thought about it at all.

“06880” reader India van Voorhees writes:

“Do you know if there’s any enforcement of the mask mandate here in Westport, and if there are any fines for noncompliance?”

(Masks are currently mandated indoors — including town facilities  and schools — though there are certain exemptions.)

“It seems that, except for supermarkets and drugstores, a lot of businesses aren’t paying attention to the rule.

Masks are once again mandated indoors in Westport. (“Mask Quilt” by Amy Schneider)

“For example, one of the regular employees at Organic Market never wears a mask, and the boss often wears his under his nose. I love that place, and the people there,  but I won’t go in again until the mask mandate is rescinded or COVID is under control.

“Same with the Exxon gas station at 1510 Post Road East. The employees were not wearing masks the last — and I mean last — time I went inside.

“And it’s the same with Hook’d on the Sound. People are in line without masks and employees are behind the counter without masks- even though there’s a sign that says masks are required.

“Employees were wearing masks last time I went down to Joey’s by the Shore, at Elvira’s.”

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

“Is our only option to avoid those places?  Or can something be done?”

It’s a great question. Enforcement of the mask mandate — nationally, throughout the pandemic — has been difficult. The town website page on the subject makes no mentions of consequences, though a link to Governor Lamont’s executive order indicates a fine of $100, and empowers “local health directors, district health directors, and their designees; state and municipal police officers and peace officers” to enforce it. Fines go to the state’s General Fund.

“06880” readers: What do you think?

Should Westport enforce the mask mandate more vigorously? If so, should there be dedicated patrols, or a reliance on citizen complaints? Or is this one of those squishier rules, like picking up dog poop or rolling through stop signs?

Click “Comments” below. And if you’ve had a personal experience involving someone without a mask indoors, please let us know too.