Roundup: Theaters, TVs, Films …

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Westporters know that this is a great community for music.

Now it’s official. The Westport Public Schools are officially a “Best Community for Music Education.” The designation comes from the NAMM Foundation — part of the National Association of Music Merchants.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because this is our 9th “Best Community” honor in a row.

The award is for school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. School officials answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs.

The schools benefit from partners like the Westport Library, Levitt Pavilion, PTAs, Westport Permanent Art Collections and Westport Arts Advisory Committee.

No word on whether there’s an official ceremony for the award. If so, there will be no shortage of entertainment.

Staples and middle school musicians work hard to put on good shows. (Photo/Inklings)

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Speaking of the arts: White Barn — Lucille Lortel’s famed experimental theater that straddled the Westport-Norwalk line — and the actress/director’s nearby home were demolished a while ago.

Now a number of trees have been cleared too, in preparation for the construction of 15 homes.

Some remaining wetlands won’t be touched, nor will 5 acres around the pond that are now part of the Norwalk Land Trust.

But this is the scene, not far from what was once the White Barn Theater:

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And speaking of the theater (again): The Westport Country Playhouse is still going strong. However, due to COVID, its 4 productions are online this year.

But the stage won’t be completely dark. Three cabaret performances will take place live. The special shows — music and comedy, with limited seating — are benefits for the storied theater.

On June 26, Brad Simmons and Tony Pinkins present Broadway favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.

Larry Owens’ “Sondheimia” (July 17) explores time, love and ambition through Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics.

Tony Award winner Ali Stroker shares songs from her repertoire on July 24.

Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday (May 14, noon). Click here for information and purchases.

Meanwhile, the Playhouse is partnering with the Connecticut Comedy Festival to present Michael Ian Black. The show is this Saturday (May 15, 7 p.m.) — and while it’s live, it’s outdoors. Attendees should bright chairs, to set up in the parking lot. Food will be available for purchase in the garden.

Black is remembered for the cult classic film “Wet Hot American Summer” and the Netflix series of the same name, as well as his work in the comedy troupe The State. Click here for tickets and more information.

The Westport Country Playhouse offers limited seating for this year’s cabarets.(Photo/Robert Benson)

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The Westport Garden Club’s annual sale — a beloved event since 1928, though canceled last year by COVID — returns this Friday (May 14, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).

More than 1,000 perennials, including native varieties, will be for sale on Jesup Green. Club members will be on hand to answer questions. Can you dig it?

Getting ready for the sale.

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Speaking of which: The Westport Garden Club’s plant sale is not the only place to ask questions.

This Monday (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), Wakeman Town Farm’s Pollinator Pathway talk offers a an opportunity to ask master gardeners: What to plant where? What’s eating my plants? How can I keep them happy?

University of Connecticut advanced master gardener Alice Ely and veggie whisperer/WTF farmer Ryan Brunelle will “field” questions. Click here to register.

Master gardener Ryan Brunelle.

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Digital Eye Strain and Computer Vision Syndrome are real issues. One of Mark Motyl’s young relatives suffers from looking too long and closely at his phone.

The pandemic exacerbated the problem, with remote learning and working, followed by more hours watching TV. Light-emitting pixels damage many eyes.

Motyl offers a solution. He’s the creator of Vivid-Tek — an immersive theater whose components hide in a credenza or bench.

Light from Vivid-Tek’s screens is reflected — not direct. Without sacrificing resolution, it is gentle, tolerable, and more “cinematic.”

Motyl’s screens can be used during the day for remote learning, Zoom calls, exercise classes, gaming and more. When not in use, they disappear into custom furniture.

Vivid-Tek’s showroom is at 1252 Post Road East (the former Splatterbox, near Fortuna’s). For more information click here, call 203-(203) 246-2011, or email info@vivid-tek.com.

Vivid-Tek’s screen and controls can be hidden in a bench.

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Last month, “06880” reported that 2 Bank of America branches — the one next to the Starbucks drive-through, and another further east on the Southport line — had been permanently closed.

But, BOA said, customers could use the main Westport branch — next to Design Within Reach.

Yesterday, I had a non-ATM banking need. I headed downtown.

Nope! Still closed!

That’ll teach me to read “06880.”

That about sums it up.

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Work on the Aquarion water tank opposite Staples High School is moving along. Earlier today, a huge concrete pour was captured by alert “06880” reader — who was probably stuck momentarily in traffic — Seth Schachter.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Speaking of Staples: The boys rugby team is having a great season.

They’ve qualified for one of 16 spots at the national tournament in Kansas City June 17-19 — and are raising $50,000 to cover travel expenses. Click here for more information, and to help.

The 2021 Staples High School boys rugby team.

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Staples High School Class of 2011 graduate (and swim team captain/musician) Margot Bruce is finishing up an MFA in cinema at San Francisco State University. Her thesis project is a film called “Harbor.” But she needs to raise $15,000 to make it.

Margot has launched an Indigogo campaign (click here). Click below for a short video, in which she explains the film’s intriguing themes.

Click below to see Margot’s first-year film. Filmed entirely underwater, it is a metaphor for grieving the loss of a loved one.

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The canal separating Canal Road from Saugatuck Island floods regularly.

But not always.

Other times — like yesterday — it looks like this:

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografik)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Eve Potts. Even the roadway near her Regents Park condo are beautiful this spring.

(Photo/Eve Potts)

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And finally … on this day in 1989, Ron Wilson died of a brain aneurysm, at 44. You may not know his name — but you sure know his drumming:

4 responses to “Roundup: Theaters, TVs, Films …

  1. Dan, reading your blog isn’t the issue, it is trusting (anything) about Bank of America or what they say.

  2. Master gardener Ryan Brunelle is also a pretty good disc golfer!

  3. Claudia Bradley

    Question – after reading about Ron Wilson, how many folks attempted to drum Wipeout on the nearest surface?

  4. Great articles as always Dan, thanks! Your mention of the Staples Rugby team brought back memories of the long-lost history of the program at Staples. Thanks to classmates Rob Abe and Tim Kerner, in our senior year 1980-81 we formed the Staples Rugby Club (some of us even got jackets made up…no uniforms though) and played Fairfield Prep (the only other team we could find) on a weekly basis, if I recall. No record exists of our win-loss record but we do have a page in our 1981 yearbook as proof of existence. It was a lot of bruising fun, and glad to see our legacy continues!

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