Beachside Common is one of Westport’s hidden gems.
The 18 homes — 33 adults, 24 children — nestle up against Burying Hill Beach and Sherwood Island, off Beachside Avenue. With no through traffic, it’s tight-knit and neighborly.
Shortly after Nico and Robin Eisenberger moved in 5 years ago, she had a minor operation that limited her mobility. The couple had not said a word — but they found warm dinners delivered by neighbors to their doorsteps, 11 days in a row.
Beachside Common also throws an annual block party. Kids play, everyone eats, adults drink, and someone brings out a guitar.
This year, the Eisenbergers decided to add something new. For years, Nico has wanted to act — for fun. As he learned of and seen Westport’s rich arts history, the urge grew.
He remembered his childhood in Bernardsville, New Jersey, when neighbors staged a yearly play. The lightbulb lit up: Let’s do it here!
The Eisenbergers’ next door neighbor, Alli DiVincenzo, is a popular logo, brand and website designer for businesses and organizations.
She’d also just written a short book, poking gentle fun at affluent communities. It’s funny, ironic, and ends with a splash of redemption. Why not turn her book into a play?
Laura Pendergast — a common friend, fellow Greens Farms Elementary School parent and owner of TheaterCamp 4 Kids (who also teaches adults to act) — quickly adapted Alli’s story. Then she offered to direct it.
Actors — young and old — were recruited from the neighborhood. After just a few rehearsals, Laura whipped everyone into shape. (A little wine helped.)
Last Saturday, Beachside Common held its annual block party. And its first-ever play.
“There’s nothing particularly momentous about this story,” Nico says. “The cast were rank amateurs. The staging — in the middle of the street — was basic. The performance was barely passable.
“But it was memorable for both our small audience and the performers. We stepped out of the uber-busy, uber-online, world-in-turmoil, everyone-for-themselves environment. We did something in-person and creative together.
“It was super fun. And it was definitely inspired at every turn by the history and best traditions of Westport.”
Will the Beachside Players return?
We’ll drink to that.