Roundup: Mark Shanahan, Downtown Parking, Barbie …

As the Westport Country Playhouse moves toward the future, it turns to a familiar face.

Mark Shanahan has been named artistic director for the 2024-25 season. Currently curator of the Playhouse’s Script in Hand play reading series, he’ll begin his new post in March.

Shanahan succeeds Mark Lamos, who is leaving after 15 seasons.

“I arrived at the Playhouse nearly 20 years ago, performing as an actor in ‘Journey’s End,’” says Shanahan.

“I could never have guessed my Playhouse journey was only beginning. Like so many who have passed through its doors, I immediately fell in love with the theatre’s rich history and beauty, and the artistry presented on its stage. There’s nothing like our big old red barn when filled to capacity. It is an honor to be invited by the board to serve this remarkable institution’s loyal audience and help it find ways to grow.

“Like so many theatres across the country, the Playhouse faces challenges. But I’ve personally witnessed the passion and love this community has for its theatre, and I know that together we can usher in a new chapter for the Westport Country Playhouse which will honor its wonderful theatrical heritage while forging new and exciting paths ahead,” stated Shanahan.

“I look forward to planning a ’24-’25 season which will fill the Playhouse with laughter, music, thrills, and heart, delivered by artists of the highest caliber,“ he noted.

Shanahan earned a BA at Brown University, and an MA from Fordham University. For his full bio and credits, click here.

Mark Shanahan


As Westport (and the world) moves out of the pandemic, our Board of Selectwomen are ready to act.

Next Wednesday’s meeting (July 26, 9 a.m., Town Hall auditorium) includes this item:

“Acting in its capacity as the Local Traffic Authority, to re-establish the enforcement of timed parking limits in various town-owned downtown parking lots and roadways, previously suspended by the Board of Selectmen at its public meeting of June 10, 2020 in response to the implementation of phased reopening plans due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The meeting will be livestreamed on, and broadcast on Optimum Channel 79. Comments from the public may be sent to prior to the meeting.

Mixed messages during COVID.


The Unitarian Church of Westport changed its name recently.

But nothing has changed with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport’s annual tag sale.

It’s still huge. There’s still something for everyone: clothing, dishes, housewares, sheets, towels, pillows, small furniture, rugs, household appliances, artwork, puzzles, toys, electronics, etc., etc., etc. Everything is “priced fairly, to move.”

The date is August 5 (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Early bird admission is 8 a.m. ($20 ticket, at the door).

Questions? Email, or call 203-227-7205.

Tons of tag sale treasures inside!


A group of long-time friends — dressed mostly in pink — saw “Barbie” yesterday.

Their verdict: “It was fun. Very campy! It even had a message. For us girls who were the first generation of Barbie doll enthusiasts, it brought back a slew of memories.”

Bottom row (from left): Madeline Monde, Barbara Alfinito, Pam Kesselman. Top: Martha Tripoli, Loretta Hallock, Shirlee Gordon. 


After nearly 3 decades, Mary Wanyo is leaving the Learning Community Day School.

The very popular teacher asked “06880” to post her farewell message. Mary says:

“For the past 29+ years I have called Learning Community Day School my home.

“I have shared my journey with over 400 children and families, and I am forever grateful for the beautiful journey it has been. I loved being a teacher to your children, but most of all I want to thank you for giving me the grace to be a lifelong learner with your children.

“You have all taught me so much. You taught me to believe in myself as a teacher as I crafted my pedagogy. I shared being a young (and now not so young) mother with you. Your families welcomed Quinn as he became classmates and friends with so many of your children.

“I am a kinder, better person as I wondered about the world through your children’s eyes. Each path I traveled, you all helped guide the way.

“Through the ebbs and flows, highs and lows, you celebrated each victory and gave a hug at each moment of need. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

“With memories that fill my heart with joy and love — Mary Wanyo”

Mary Wanyo


Here is a full obituary for Stewart Greenfield. The longtime Westport resident died Wednesday at Bridgeport Hospital. He was 91.

The Brooklyn native earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint John’s College in Annapolis, then served in the Army from 1953 to 1955.

After working at IBM and Sprout Ventures, Greenfield co-founded 2 investment businesses, Oak Investment Partners (where he worked 1978 to 1994), and Alternative Investment Group (1996 to 2020, when he retired at age 88).

He was passionate about birdwatching and hiking, and had a deep desire to make the world a better place.

Greenfield served on the boards of St. John’s College and the Santa Fe Institute. He was a donor and fundraiser for the Nature Conservancy and many other educational, environmental, and human rights nonprofits, as well as a significant contributor and fundraiser for Democratic politicians.

He helped start and fund several early climate technology investment funds, and was a pioneer in making business more socially impactful and equitable. At one point in the 1980s, half of the female partners in the National Venture Capital Association worked for Oak Investment Partners.

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters honored him with a Founders Award as a lifelong environmental champion. He was a former board leader of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, a trustee emeritus of the Nature Conservancy of Connecticut, and served on the boards of Devil’s Den and Earthplace, among many others.

Greenfield is survived by his wife Constance of Westport; son Matthew (Molly Jong-Fast) and their children Max, Beatrice and Darwin; daughter Joanna, and son, Roger Comora and his children Isabelle and Luca, He was predeceased by his siblings Lesley and Michael, and nephew Howard.

Funeral services will be held tomorrow (Sunday, July 23, 12:30 p.m., Abraham Green & Son Funeral Home, Fairfield). The family requests casual attire, a negative COVID test, and face masks for attendance. Burial will follow at Temple Israel Cemetery, Norwalk.

For more information, to join a livestream and share a condolence message, click here. Send photos and videos for a slideshow to

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Nature Conservancy or St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.


Charles Ives comes to MoCA on August 8.

Well, at least his Music Festival does.

Artists from the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra will perform works by composers including Aaron Copland in ensemble formats.

The concert is at 7 p.m. Doors open at 5:45 for food, exhibition viewing, and a 6:15 pre-concert talk by CIMF artistic director Paul Frucht. Click here for tickets, and more information.


Jonathan Prager’s summer stalk is a great “shoot” for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)


And finally … on this day in 1979, Reverent Richard Penniman — aka Little Richard — spoke at a revival meeting in California. He warned the congregation about the evils of rock ‘n’ roll.


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8 responses to “Roundup: Mark Shanahan, Downtown Parking, Barbie …

  1. Susan Iseman

    A warm welcome to Mr. Shanahan. After thoroughly enjoying Sunday’s fantastic performance of “Dial M for Murder” we look forward to more of the same!

  2. Jodi Reiner

    We were very lucky to have Mary Wanyo as our son Jake’s teacher at LCDS 2000-2001. She still holds a special place in our hearts. Wishing you all the best in wherever the next phase of life takes you.
    The Reiner Family

  3. Wendy Van Wie

    An irreplaceable light went out with the passing of Stewart Greenfield. He was a kind, humble, and loving person who made everyone he met feel valued and important. Goodbye, dear friend.

  4. Matt Murray

    I just read the Selectwomen’s meeting agenda and saw the proposal about re-establishing the parking time limits in the downtown parking lots (Item #7). I will not be able to attend this meeting in person, so I wanted to express an opinion with regard to this proposal.

    As it happened this week, I had a potential new to resident/client mention about no parking meters and how welcoming that was to see. I mentioned that time limits had been removed since the start of the pandemic. Friday morning I was showing some of the rentals at Bedford Square, and parking came up. This couple mentioned how nice it was to access downtown and all that Westport has to offer.

    I think many visitors to the town appreciate the flexibility of the parking regulations. For me, that is a one of the many selling points of Westport. I hope that we can continue to not have time limits for parking. We want people to spend more time (and money) in town.

    FWIW, my family and I are 35-year residents of Westport. I was born and raised in Weston, too.

    Matt Murray

  5. While I have the greatest respect and admiration for Mark Shanahan as an actor, director and producer. I fail to see the value of appointing someone who does not have a business background to save The Playhouse. Why the playhouse needs is a leader with a strong background in business and nonprofit.
    The Playhouse faces stiff competition. There is the Levitt, the library, the Quick Center and the SHU Community Theater in Fairfield, to name a few.
    By hiring an artist to lead, it appears that the Playhouse is not prepared to change business model so we don’t face this problem one or two years from now!
    Paul Cahill

    • Clark Douglas

      You clearly don’t understand the business of running a regional theatre. The Artistic Director’s role is to lead the creative vision of the institution. They are never business people. That is the role of the Managing Director. Donors are led by vision. Without an Artistic Director at the helm there is no art, but simply a venue for rent and those are commonplace.

      For reference here is the Oxford definition:
      ar·tis·tic di·rec·tor
      the person with overall responsibility for the selection and interpretation of the works performed by a theater, ballet, or opera company.

  6. Barbara Greenspan

    Mary Wanyo is a wonderful human being and we are all better people since she touched our lives in one way or another. Mary-I hope you go out and do many things that you love!

  7. Bill Strittmatter

    Interesting Op-Ed in the NYTimes a couple of days ago. The WCT is hardly alone in its woes. Not sure I buy the Times’ solution but seems like difficulties all around. Maybe better programming will help but fundamentally sounds like survival will be dependent on the largesse of theater lovers (or the government).

    Good luck to Mr Shanahan and the WCT.