Category Archives: Arts

Roundup: “Twelfth Night”, Stop & Shop Trees, Hillspoint House …

It’s easy to get audiences to see “Mamma Mia!,” “The Music Man” or “Guys and Dolls.”

It’s a lot harder for Shakespeare. Especially a play by The Bard that’s not “Romeo and Juliet” or “Macbeth.”

But Staples Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long rolled the dice.

“Twelfth Night” came up huge.

The show — the high school troupe’s spring production — is not what you would have seen at the Globe Theater.

In fact, this production comes from the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the (Central) Park.

It’s a rocking, rollicking modern-ish musical, with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub.

The singing, dancing, pit and set are — as audiences have come to expect from Staples Players — near-Broadway quality.

There’s just the right amount of Shakespeare. There’s even a cheat-sheet synopsis in the program, telling you exactly what happens.

“Twelfth Night” was a gamble. Players relies on ticket sales to fund future productions.

Fortunately, the audience was near capacity last weekend.

Judging by their reactions — laughing, clapping, and a well-deserved standing ovation — there won’t be any empty seats this Friday (March 24, 7:30 p.m.) or Saturday (March 25, 3 and 7:30 p.m.).

So act fast. Click here to get yours.

Quinn Mulvey as Viola. (Photo/Kerry Long)


Just like the swallows of Capistrano, an osprey of Westport have returned.

Carolyn Doan reports that one of our town’s favorite raptors has returned from the south, to its perch near the Fresh Market parking lot.

“It most likely wintered in South America or Florida,” she notes. “This is probably the male, who usually returns first. The pair winter separately but meet back here every March.

“He’s a few days early this year, and is already sprucing up the nest. The female should join him soon.”

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)


Speaking of nature: “06880” has reported on the still-up-in-the-air fate of 2 cherry blossoms in front of Sakura.

What’s clear is that many other trees will definitely be removed — including those in the grassy Post Road median — between New Country Toyota and Volvo of Westport.

It’s part of a Route 1 improvement plan, in the works by the state Department of Transportation for nearly a decade.

The Post Road/Bulkley Avenue intersection is also in for some much-needed realignment.

Which means that some sycamore trees will come down there, too.

They’ve already been tagged for removal.

Red ribbons mean “removal,” in front of Stop & Shop. (Photo and hat tip/Debra McKinney)


It’s hard to tell from this photo, but Matt Murray saw at least one worker inside 233 Hillspoint Road — aka the former Positano/the current eyesore — yesterday.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

He lives nearby. It’s the first time he’s seen anyone doing anything there since a stop-work order was issued in December 2019, due to building permit violations.

A new home — minus the blue swaddling — is on the market for $7.9 million.


High school students can do advanced trigonometry. But they’ve never been taught to balance a checkbook.

Tom Henske will change that.

This Sunday (March 26, 2 p.m.), the Westport resident and financial industry leader brings his Total Cents program to the Westport Library for a talk, and panel discussion with fellow experts. It’s called “Raising Financially Savvy Kids.”

The goal: to help parents, grandparents and guardians get comfortable teaching their kids about money.

“Everyone sees the clear value and importance of developing good financial habits in our children,” Henske says. “It’s time for parents to take ownership of this part of their child’s development.”

He hopes that Westport becomes “the epicenter for teaching parents how to talk to their kids about money.”

Joining Henske are Caroline Barneyauthor, inspirational speaker, and parent of two Staples High School students; John Lanza, author of “The Art of Allowance” and an expert of youth financial literacy, and Kathy Soderholm, former Wilton High School personal finance teacher and founder of The Good Bookkeeper, specializing in nonprofit organizations.

Henske’s efforts with Total Cents include a book, “It Makes Total Cents: 12 Conversations to Change Your Child’s Financial Future,” and a podcast he developed in collaboration with the Library.

Tom Henske (center) and “It Makes Total Cents” panelists.


The Westport Library, Part II:

They host many non-book events: concerts, art exhibits, even the Fashionably Westport runway show.

This one though is right down the literary alley.

Westport Writers’ Workshop’s 2nd annual Pitch & Publish Conference is set for May 20 (in-person and virtual).

It’s a chance for anyone seeking an agent, looking to learn about the industry, or hoping to meet and be inspired by authors and editors. The event includes panels, and one-on-one pitches.

Keynote speaker Courtney Maum has written 5 books, among them “Year of the Horses,” the groundbreaking publishing guide “Before and After the Book Deal,” and “Touch.”

The conference also features a welcome party May 19 at the Westport Writers’ Workshop on Sylvan Road South, a light breakfast, and a wrap party.

Individual tickets for the conference only are $350 each. Tickets for the conference, plus 2 one-on-one pitches with literary agents, are $600 (early bird discount before April 1), $675 each thereafter. Click here to register, and for more information.

Liz Matthews and Julie Sarkissian of Westport Writers’ Workshop help organize the Pitch & Publish Conference. (Photo/Elizabeth Foley)


Over 80 students attended yesterday’s “Town Hall” meeting with Congressman Jim Himes at Staples High School.

He fielded questions about a range of topics, including the economy, inflation and banking; China and foreign policy threats; climate change; his experience inside the Capitol on January 6, and his optimism for bipartisan legislation and compromise in the 118th Congress.

Congressman Jim Himes, at the Staples Library.


Pianist Ted Rosenthal headlines this Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (March 23; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399).

He has performed worldwide as soloist, with his trio, and with greats like Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Phil Woods and James Moody.

Rosenthal has released 15 CDs. His latest reached #1 on iTunes and Amazon. He has has soloed with major orchestras, and is on the faculties of the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music.

He’ll be joined Thursday by bassist Martin Wind, drummer Tim Horner and saxophonist Greg Wall.

Reservations are highly recommended:


Longtime Westport teacher Jane Fraser died peacefully in her home March 1, with her family by her side. She had just celebrated her 95th birthday.

The Illinois native began her 25-year education career In Westport in 1967. She taught at Burr Farms Elementary School until it closed, and then transferred to Greens Farms Elementary.

In the early 1980s she became the district’s K-6 literacy staff developer. During that time Jane was connected with the Writing Project, Teachers College, Columbia University. She presented workshops for teachers throughout the Northeast, and at national professional conferences.

She returned to the classroom to teach 2nd grade at Coleytown Elementary School for 5 years, before retiring in 1992.

In 1994 Jane co-authored “On Their Way… Celebrating Second Graders as They Read and Write.”

Her family says, “She enjoyed her family, chocolate, and being at the beach (in that order). She had an adventurous spirit, both intellectually and physically. She was not afraid to travel a unique path. She was always good company, with interests that stretched from classical music to books to teaching to hiking and gardening.”

Jane’s husband Julius died in 2010. She is survived by her daughters Carol and Ann, stepson Tom, brother Peter and their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Contributions in Jane’s memory may be made to Planned Parenthood or the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Jane Fraser


Yesterday was the first day of spring.

The weather was still late-winter-ish. But soon the wind will die down. The weather will warm up. And all will be right with the world.

In the meantime, enjoy today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo. It’s from Becky Keeler, taken from her deck across from the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

(Photo/Becky Keeler)


And finally … in honor of Tom Henske’s upcoming “It Makes Total Cents” financial literacy program for children and teenagers, at the Westport Library (story above):

(We couldn’t have said it better ourselves: Money does change everything. Including how well “06880” can operate. Please click here to help support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Staples Hoops, Blau Gardens, Special Olympics …

The Staples High School boys basketball team reached the end of the line yesterday.

#1 ranked St. Bernard-Uncasville topped the #7 Wreckers, 63-50 in the state Division II finals, at Mohegan Sun.

But Staples’ heads are high. First-year coach Dave Goldshore’s squad enjoyed a storybook season. They reached the FCIAC championship game, then electrified everyone with a stunning 4th-quarter comeback from 18 points down in the state semifinal to advance to the title game for the first time in 86 years.

And they did it all with talent, teamwork, tenacity, passion, poise — and plenty of class.

Thanks, Wreckers, for entertaining and inspiring an entire town, all season long!

The 2023 Staples High School boys basketball team.


Blau House & Gardens is one of Westport’s hidden gems.

High on a Bayberry Ridge hill, the mid-century home (designed by noted Broadway set designer Ralph Alswang) and bountiful gardens (inspired by the Villa Ephrussi de Rotshchild) were developed over more than half a century by advertising entrepreneur Barry Blau.

Blau House & Gardens.

It’s a special property. A recent visitor called it “spectacular! Soothing, cool and wonderful to experience the calm and peacefulness of this environment.” Another described it as “nirvana in Westport.”

BHG is a public charity. Its mission is to acquire and transform the intimate, beautiful midcentury building and space into a public asset for arts, horticulture and garden enjoyment.

Blau house, designed by Ralph Alswang.

Pilot programming has included a book reading by a New York Times best- selling author, a college horticulture field trip, a garden lecture for the Garden Conservancy, and several garden tours.

But Blau’s widow Eileen died last week. The future of the property is uncertain. The estate will have to sell the property to meet mortgage and property expenses.

BHG has the opportunity to acquire it — essential to supporting their mission. They need to raise funds now.

$3 million would include:

  • $1.5 million for the house and gardens
  • $1 million for adjacent property on Fairview Drive, for parking and support facilities
  • $500,000 to start an endowment for operations and maintenance, for 5 years.

The minimum needed is $1.5 million, for the Bayberry Ridge property and gardens.

To help, or for more information, email, or call 203-952-3335. For a PowerPoint presentation on the project, click here. For the Blau House & Gardens website, click here.

Another view of the gardens.


With March Madness in full swing, this event tonight seems quite timely:

Positive Directions sends news of a Region I Gambling Awareness Team webinar tonight called “Betting on Your Future: What Parents, Teens and Young Adults Need to Know About Sports Betting.”

The Zoom session covers, among other topics, the import of sports betting on youth and the developing brain, and its correlation to mental health.

The webinar is tonight (Monday, March 20, 7 p.m.). To register, click here.


Long-time Westporter, watercolorist and Save Westport Now board member Matthew Levine has one more passion: healthy vision.

Having worked in eye research grant-making for the past 20 years, he knows that 80% of vision loss is preventable — if people practice healthy habits.

“I wish I’d known years ago what I know about eye health,” he says. “I might have been able to help my father (renowned caricaturist David Levine) from losing his career to macular degeneration.”

But Matthew Levine is helping many others. He appears in a new documentary, “Losing Sight, Finding Hope: Loving with Macular Degeneration,” created by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation.

It premieres tonight (Monday, March 20), at 8 p.m. on YouTube. Click here to see.

If you miss it, no problem. The film will be available afterward, at the same link.

Click below for the teaser:


For over 45 years, Our Vision has provided recreational and social activities for people with disabilities.

Among the most popular activities: Special Olympics competitions in bowling, track and swimming.

On April 15, nearly 2 dozen Our Vision members and friends will take part in a Penguin Plunge at Fairfield’s Jennings Beach in Fairfield to raise money for Special Olympics.

As of this morning, Westporter Michael Johnson led, with the most number of donors. Click here to contribute to his campaign, or the team in general.

To learn more about Our Vision, email

Our Vision Penguin Plunge. (Photo/Bob Schroeder)


“06880” has been proud to feature photos by Tom Kretsch. The Westporter — a retired educator — has a keen eye for compelling landscapes.

The Wilton Library appreciates his talent too. A pair of Kretsch’s shots were just awarded prizes at their “Focus 2 Photo Exhibit.”

Three judges scored images based on content, execution, subject matter, lighting and visualization.

“Winter Peace for Two, Southport” earned a 2nd place ribbon.

“Winter Peace for Two, Southport” (Tom Kretsch)

“The Poetry of Barns, Serene” — taken in Litchfield — placed 3rd.

“The Poetry of Barns, Serene” (Tom Kretsch)


Rock sculptor/photographer Jerry Kuyper submitted today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, from his property on Rayfield Road.

He asks: “Nurture or nature? This stood for years. But I needed to rebuild it after recent strong winds.”

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)


And finally … Bobby Caldwell died last week, of long-term complications of a toxic reaction to antibiotics. He was 71.

The New York Times called him “a singer-songwriter whose sultry R&B hit “What You Won’t Do for Love” propelled his debut album to double-platinum status in 1978 and was later covered by chart-toppers like Boyz II Men and Michael Bolton….

“Over his 4-decade career Mr. Caldwell swerved freely among genres, exploring R&B, reggae, soft rock and smooth jazz, as well as standards from the Great American Songbook.” Click here for a full obituary.

(From basketball to beauty, “06880” covers Westport. As a non-profit, we rely on readers’ contributions. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Staples Hoops, Leaf Blowers, PJ Romano Field …

Today is the big day.

Staples High School’s boys basketball team plays in its first state tournament final in — are you sitting down? — 86 years.

Tipoff is 6:15 p.m. (Sunday), at the Mohegan Sun arena. The Wreckers — seeded 7th in Division II — face #1 St. Bernard’s-Uncasville.

The game can be heard on WWPT-FM (90.3) and The expert announcing team includes seniors Jack Ginsburg and Colin Menninger.

You can watch it on the proprietary Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) website, but must subscribe ($11.99 a month; cancel anytime); click here for details.

Staples got to the finals with an astonishing 18-point, 4th-quarter comeback in the semifinals against Fairfield Warde.

The winning basket came after sophomore Adam Udell stole an inbounds pass, then calmly finished a layup.

Here’s a remarkable photo. It shows Udell scoring; a Warde player on the ground, after falling trying for the pass — and the scoreboard showing both the tied score, and the time left: 13.5 seconds.

(Photo/Michelle Garrity)

Meanwhile, I could not find a photo of the state championship 1937 team. But here’s one from the next winter (1938).

Legendary coach Roland Wachob is in the middle. The squad included George “Nooky” Powers, considered one of the greatest Staples athletes of all time.

1938 Staples High School basketball team. (Photo courtesy of “Staples High School: 120 Years of A+ Education,” by Dan Woog)


Townwide restriction on gas-powered leaf blowers begin May 15, and run through October 15.

The devices can only be used weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.,  Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3.m., and not at all on Sundays or holidays. (Longer hours are allowed for homeowners doing their own yard work.)

Wakeman Town Farm wants to make Westporters (and their landscapers) aware.

To make some noise, they’re raffling off a state-of-the-art EGO electric leaf blower.

Tickets are $20 each. Proceeds benefit WTF’s educational and sustainability programs. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

The winner will be announced on (of course) Earth Day: April 22.

EGO electric leaf blower.


A frustrated “06880” reader writes:

“I brought this topic a year and a half ago. I was told it would be an easy repair — and it had already been approved in the town budget.

“It never happened. So I’m asking again:

“Please repair PJ Romano Field.”

She sent along this message, from “a group of concerned moms”:

“The field — managed by Parks & Rec — should be a safe place for children. But it’s not. There are at least 19 cracks they can trip over.

One of the many large cracks at PJ Romano Field.

“Located between Kings Highway and Saugatuck Elementary Schools, it’s a great place for sports.

“Elementary school children love to ride scooters and bicycles. But they end up with scraped and bloody knees, hands and elbows, because of deep, big cracks. There’s a bigger accident waiting to happen.

“Spring is arriving. Kids will be coming out again. Please make it safe.”


Today’s “Westport … What’s Happening” podcast is part 1 of a 2-part interview with Department of Human Services director Elaine Daignault.

She explains many important services provided to Westport residents. There’s a lot you may already know — but plenty more to learn.

The podcast is presented by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston. Click below to listen:


Turnout was great at last night’s MoCA Westport opening reception. The new “Rainbow in the Dark”  exhibition features 20 works of German contemporary artist Anselm Reyle, including a neon exhibition.

His works also include foil and strip paintings, and sculptures. Remnants of consumer society, discarded materials, symbols of urbanity, and industrial change are key.

“Rainbow in the Dark” is on view through May 28. Docent-led tours are held Thursdays at 1 p.m. Drop-in docent-led tours are available every Saturday and Sunday, including a Sunday drop-in interactive tour for families.

To learn more about the exhibition, click here.

From left: L to R): Artist Anselm Reyle, MoCA executive director Ruth Mannes, curator Emann Odufu, MoCA director of exhibitions Liz Leggett,


Kids love Percy Jackson books.

And “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson” is wholesome family entertainment.

The Coleytown Company production opens March 31 (7 p.m., Coleytown Middle School). Additional shows are April 1 (1 and 7 p.m.), and April 2 (1 p.m.).  Click here for tickets.

Ellie Arber is Charon in Coleytown Company’s “Lightning Thief.”


The Circle of Friends’ 17th annual fundraising dinner will honor more than 150 local teen volunteers. All share friendships with people with special needs.

The event is April 23 (5:30 p.m., Westport Woman’s Club). There’s entertainment, and a special “Heart of Friendship” video.

The gala will take place Sunday, April 23 at 5:30 PM at the Westport Women’s Club, 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT. Stephen Schwartz, [resident of Westport’s Promark Group, is the guest of honor.

High School seniors from Staples High, Weston, Wilton and Greenwich will receive Fellowship Awards for their combined 4,000 “friendship volunteer hours”.

Circle of Friends is an all-volunteer organization that involves children teens and adults with special needs in a wide range of social programs and weekly play dates. Over 300 families are involved.

For reservations, sponsorship opportunities, ads in the virtual journal or more information, click here, call 203-293-8837 or email


These Compo Beach ducks reminded Molly Alger of a conga line.

They reminded us all of the beauty we see every day. It’s “Westport … Naturally”!

(Photo/Molly Alger)


And finally … I never heard of Jim Gordon. But his New York Times obituary is fascinating. It says:

Jim Gordon, a talented but troubled drummer who was ubiquitous in the recording studios of the 1960s and ’70s and who, as a member of Eric Clapton’s band Derek and the Dominos, helped write the romantic ballad “Layla” — but who suffered from schizophrenia and spent nearly 40 years in prison, convicted of murdering his mother — died on Monday in a prison medical facility in Vacaville, Calif. He was 77….

When people say that Jim Gordon is the greatest rock ’n’ roll drummer who ever lived,” Mr. Clapton wrote in “Clapton: The Autobiography” (2007), “I think it’s true, beyond anybody.

As a member of the talented “Wrecking Crew” group of Los Angeles studio musicians, he worked on recordings like John Lennon’s “Imagine,” George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass,” and the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds.” Click here for his full obituary.

(Good luck to the Staples boys basketball team. They’ve already proven themselves champions. You can be a champ too — just click here to contribute to “06880.” Thank you! PS: Go Wreckers!

Online Art Gallery #153

“06880” readers go far afield — and far back in time — for subjects for submissions. This week’s online art gallery roams all over the world, and dips back into the early 20th century, for inspiration.

Remember: This is your feature. Everyone is invited to contribute. Age, level of experience, subject matter — there are no restrictions.

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

Untitled (Tom Doran)

Untitled (Mona Brown)

“Tiki Bar, BVI” (Werner Liepolt)

“Beak Envy” (Mike Hibbard)

“How in the World Does She Do That?” (Lawrence Weisman)

“Optics” (Amy Schneider)

“Name That Tune!” (Steve Stein)

“Come Away With Me Lucille
In My Merrie Oldsmo…. No, Cadillac” (Peter Barlow)

(Art lovers! Please consider a contribution to our online gallery, via “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)

Jane Green, Gabi Conti: Very “Bad Influencer”s

In nearly 2 decades since graduating from Staples High School, Gabi Conti did a lot.

At Emerson College she studied broadcast journalism, and writing for TV and film.

She moved to Los Angeles, worked as a production assistant for Comedy Central, did stand-up and sketch comedy, wrote videos and editorials, and blogged about her comedic musings. She hosted shows on Snapchat, YouTube and other platforms.

Gabi wrote “20 Guys You Date in Your 20s.” (The first guy was actually a fellow Stapleite, when she was 16. But he made the cut, because they reconnected a decade later.)

Gabi Conti, with her book.

Then came the wedding of her longtime friend and fellow Staples Player alum Emily Hardin, in Los Angeles.

Gabi noticed a woman with “great style.” They chatted; the woman said she loved Gabi’s dress, and introduced herself: “I’m Jane Green.”

Jane knew Gabi’s name; the best-selling author loved her true crime podcast, “Am I Dating a Serial Killer?!

Staples High School Class of 2005 graduate Gabi Conti.

They talked about their Westport connections, Jane’s friendship with Emily’s parents, and that Emily’s new husband Tommy Lombardi had written with Jane before.

After the wedding, Gabi and Jane followed each other on social media. Jane told Gabi she was developing a podcast network of original scripted fiction with another Westporter, Spencer Brown. (It always comes back to this town.)

One of the shows was called “Bad Influencer.” A “13 Gong on 30″/”Big”-style romantic comedy set in New York, it’s about a wannabe nobody who makes a wish, wakes up as a famous influencer — and finds herself caught in non-stop scandals.

Gabi knew a lot about the influencer world. Jane asked her to write the series.


Writing for audio only is not easy. Yet Gabi learned quickly. She banged out 9 episodes, each 20 to 30 minutes long.

“It’s written for millennials like me,” Gabi explains. “But Generation Z will enjoy it too.”

There are “nods to traditional rom-coms. If you love pop culture and celebrity scandals, you’ll love this.”

Gabi took on a producing role, helping secure actual, real-live influencers and celebrities.

Then she headed to Gemini XIII‘s Emerald Audio studio in New York, for production.

The episodes were finished in 2 days, plus another in L.A. Gabi played a few of the characters herself.

She is pleased with the project. “Jane and I are on the same page,” she says. “It all just came together, like what I had in my head.”

Of course, there’s one more Westport connection.

When Gabi was part of the casting process, she noticed a familiar name: Adam Kaplan.

Could he be the same Adam Kaplan who was a freshman in Staples Players when she was a senior — and went on to fame in shows like “Kinky Boots,” “Newsies” and “A Bronx Tale“?

He was indeed.

Jane — who, as the mother of a Staples Player, knew of Adam too — agreed with Gabi and the casting director: He was their first choice.

From left: Adam Kaplan, Jane Green, Gabi Conti.

“He’s such a pro,” Gabi says. “He played his role” — the best friend of the nobody wannabe, before she becomes famous — “so well.”

“Bad Influencer” will be released this spring.

By then, there may be more Westport connections to report.

(“06880” is truly “Where Westport meets the world.” Please click here to support our hyper-local work. Thank you!)

Bio Teacher Belts Out Opera

Staples High School teachers have a lot on their plates. Instruction, lesson plans, meeting students for extra help — there’s not much time in the school day to leave their classrooms and offices.

But Jeff Castaldi found some the other day. The biology teacher headed downstairs, to the World Language wing.

Where, in Louisa D’Amore’s room, he sang Italian opera.

Back in his 20s, Castaldi had to decide between a career in music or education. He had studied at the Metropolitan Opera with a Bulgarian basso profundo, and was teaching at New Haven’s Hillhouse High.

He chose the classroom. But he continued singing — everywhere from soloing in church, to the national anthem while coaching football and baseball (including last year’s girls basketball state final at Mohegan Sun, while teaching at Holy Cross-Waterbury.)

A couple of his Staples students knew he sang. They asked D’Amore, their Italian teacher, to invite him in.

So during World Language Week, he belted out “Canto Degli Italiani (Fratelli d’Italia)” — the national anthem — and “Caro Mio Ben.”

D’Amore’s students loved it. “They thought it was so cool!” she reports.

“This is who I am,” Castaldi says. “I think if you have a gift, you should share it.”

Così bello!

(Where else but “06880” could you read a story like this? If you liked it, please help support our work. Click here — and thank you!)

Roundup: Clocks Ahead, CHEF Fund, Verso University …

Tonight is the night we love to hate.

We lose an hour’s sleep — but we gain an hour of sunlight for the next 8 months. Set your clocks ahead for Daylight Saving Time.*

If you’re one of those who forgets between now and bedtime: Stick a Post-It note on the clock by your bed.

Sweet (if shortened) dreams!

* Yes, it’s officially daylight “saving,” not “savings.” Who knew?


In the aftermath of the death of Matthew Balga — the chef killed on Riverside Avenue last Saturday night, after leaving work at The Whelk — his co-workers and family have organized a fundraiser. Money raised will support culinary education in Connecticut.

“Chef Matteo” had worked for For the Food restaurant owners Bill Taibe and Rachel Golan for over 18 years. Friends said he loved classic cars, played the guitar, had a sarcastic wit, and “most of all, was a loving man who loved to cook.”

The Connecticut Hospitality Educational Foundation (CHEF) is the non-profit philanthropic arm of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. It provides education for future restaurant industry professionals, workforce development opportunities and scholarships. Click here to contribute. (Hat tip: Westport Magazine)

Chef Matthew Balga


The Westport Library offers plenty of innovative spaces and technologies, aimed at 21st century models of literacy and learning.

This spring, there will be more.

The Library is launching “Verso University.” The year-round series of high-level classes, workshops and lectures will further education and “learning for a lifetime.”

Offerings include one-time lectures, ongoing courses, and classes that meet weekly or monthly. They cover a wide variety of topics, with appeal to all ages and interests.

“Spring semester” includes

Launch Lecture: Martin Yellin on Space (Monday, March 13, 1 to 2 p.m.): Longtime Westporter and scientist Martin Yellin will provide an overview of the fascinating and unexpected discoveries made in space, and how we’ve begun to understand where we are and how we got here. Click here for more information.

The Range of Literary Realism: 4 Masterpieces of 21st Century Fiction, with Dr. Mark Schenker (Tuesdays, April 4 & 18, May 2 & 16, 2 to 3 p.m.): The noted lecturer in English at Yale University examines novels that reflect the range of literary realism as portrayed in 21st century fiction:

  • April 4: Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
  • April 18: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
  • May 2: Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
  • May 16: Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

Got Problems? Think Them Through for Better Problem Solving! (May) Problem-solving coaches Mike Hibbard and Patricia Cyganovich will teach problem-solving processes to use in any area of life.

Fiction Writing Master Class, with Gabino Iglesias (May): Renowned noir writer and Westport Library StoryFest alum Gabino Iglesias teaches a master class-style writing workshop.

Crew Call (Rolling admission, spring through fall): Crew Call is a training program focused on live media production skills. Volunteers of all ages gain real-world experience in video recording and production. Crew Call participants support many Library productions.

Marty Yellin launches the Verso University series.


The walk from Schlaet’s Point to Old Mill will soon look different.

254 Hillspoint Road has been approved for demolition.

It sold in January for $5 million.

254 Hillspoint Road


Rowers love to hate the erg machine. That’s the fitness machine they use relentlessly on land.

But recently, junior members of Saugatuck Rowing Club eagerly jumped on board. The occasion: a “Row for Dough Erg-a-thon” fundraiser for Homes with Hope. The local non-profit provides supportive housing and a food pantry, in downtown Westport.

Both boys and girls teams participated in individual 10K races (over 6.2 miles), and raised over $6,500.

SRC junior rowers also volunteer at the Gillespie Center food pantry, and helping with other Homes with Hope projects.

Saugatuck Rowing Club captains (from left): Jack Kiely, Lauren Schramm, Hannah Clemens, Dylan Halky, Cooper Levinson, Janna Moore.


In 14 years of photos showing entitled parkers, “06880” has shown Range Rovers, BMWs, Jeeps, and just about every other make and model of car.

We’ve never called out a motorcycle, though.

There’s a reason: They can park just about anywhere.

Except like this:

Yesterday, at Wakeman Field. (Photo/Gery Grove)


Speaking of stuff that shouldn’t be there:

Sal Liccione sends along this picture …

… and a note: “It’s been there for 3 weeks.”

I assume he’s talking about the garbage, not the car. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)


Over 200 fans filled the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum for last night’s Blue Coupe concert. The band includes former Alice Cooper guitarist Dennis Dunaway, and Joe and Albert Bouchard of Blue Öyster Cult.

The event — a benefit for VersoFest, the music and media festival that kicks off March 30 — was co-produced by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

They’re collaborating on upcoming shows too, including Verso Fest‘s Sunflower Bean (March 30), the Smithereens (March 31) and the Johnny Folsom 4 at “Supper & Soul” (May 13).

Blue Coupe, at the Westport Library. (Photo/Matthew Mandell)


Connecticut Attorney General William Tong got up early yesterday, for an important session: He addressed the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club’s meeting at Greens Farms Church.

Tong discussed his role as the chief civil attorney for the state, including notable litigation on tobacco, opioids and gun control.

Attorney General William Tong at Westport Sunrise Rotary. (Photo/Dave Matlow)


Last night’s “Teens at MoCA” Film Showcase drew a good crowd to the Newtown Turnpike space.

More than a dozen teenagers screened films they made — each 5 minutes or less. The event — and a raffle — benefited the Teens at MoCA group.

Ava Waldman of Teens at MoCA introduces a film. (Photo/Cynthia Dempster)


Westport author Elaine Clayton’s “The Way of the Empath” was just named one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2022, by Spirituality & Practice.

A wide range of topics and religions make up the list. Click here to see.


Spotted at Compo Beach, and very appropriate for our “Westport … Naturally” feature: a “sea turtle.”

(Photo/Pam Kesselman)


And finally … in honor of the very entitled dude who doesn’t know how to park  his motorcycle (story above):

(Two important things to do before bed tonight: 1) Turn your clocks ahead; 2) Thank “06880” for reminding you. Please click here to make a contribution. Thank you!)

Online Art Gallery #152

A couple of colorful abstracts, a collection of work by 1962 Staples High School graduate (and online art gallery newcomer ) Holly Miller Watts, and regular contributor Steve Stein’s 11-year-old granddaughter’s water color highlight this week’s submissions.

This is your feature. Everyone is invited to contribute. Age, level of experience, subject matter — there are no restrictions.

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

“Heron” (Ellin Spadone)

Collected works of Holly Miller Watts (Staples High School Class of 1962)

Steve Stein’s 11-year-old granddaughter Esther Lichtman painted this water color after a recent visit to Westport. She calls it “Over the River and Through the Woods — Off to Grandma in Westport We Go” — even though, as Steve notes, “there are no mountains and no truly pristine river views here. She either has a great imagination, or is wishful thinking!”

“Espuma de Mar (Sea Foam)” — acrylic abstract (Patricia McMahon)

“On the Fence” — Peter Barlow explains, “This photo anticipates spring, which we may get after the April blizzards.”

Untitled (Tom Doran)

“I’d Like to be Under the Sea” (Amy Schneider)

“OMG” (Lawrence Weisman)

Untitled (Mona Brown)


Roundup: Sakura Trees, Laura Linney, Owl Release …

Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup noted that several trees near Linxweiler House — on the Post Road between Fresh Market and McDonald’s — have been marked with pink tape.

Alert “06880” reader Andrew Colabella adds this information: “Those trees are proposed to be cut down for sidewalk installation and lane expansion.

“The state Department of Transportation also wants to cut down the 2 beautiful cherry blossom trees at Sakura.

“Want to save the Linxweiler trees, or have comments or concerns about the cherry blossom trees at Sakura? Email”

One of the trees possibly slated for removal near Sakura.


Sixty Artists Collective of Westport members recently received a 12-inch by 12-inch blank panel, and a 6-inch square section randomly selected from a single iconic music-themed painting.

Their assignment: Created an individual piece, replicating a part of the larger painting in their own style.

The catch: They would not know what the final painting would look like until it was revealed at an opening reception.

That reception came last night. A large crowd was there to see the finished, 10 foot-by-6 foot work.

The reveal!

Contributors include Miggs Burroughs, Katherine Ross, Michael Brennecke, Nina Bentley, Susan Fehlinger, Eric Chiang and Elizabeth DeVoll.

“Piece by Piece” runs is on display at the Library through May 9.

Westport Library director Bill Harmer addresses last night’s reception, before the reveal. (Photos/Dave Matlow)


Speaking of the Library: Their 2023 “Booked for the Evening” honoree is …

… Laura Linney.

The award-winning theater, film and TV actress will appear in person at the annual gala on July 13. Tickets go on sale in May.

For 24 years, “Booked for the Evening” has highlighted someone whose work “reflects the purpose of the Library: to nurture a love of learning, and to enhance our understanding of the world.”

Library director Bill Harmer says: “Laura Linney is not only one of the great actresses of her generation; she is also a lifelong supporter of the power of the arts and creativity, a humanitarian lauded for her work on behalf of cancer patients and their families, and a champion for women in film.”

Her film credits include Genius, Nocturnal Animals, Mr. Holmes, Kinsey, You Can Count on Me, Mystic River, Love Actually, and The Truman Show. Among her Broadway productions are The Crucible, Time Stands Still, Sight Unseen, and Six Degrees of Separation. On television she has starred in The Big C and the mini-series John Adams, as well as Tales of the City and Frasier. She currently stars as Wendy Byrde in Ozark, a role for which she has earned Emmy and SAG Award nominations.

Linney has been nominated for 3 Academy Award, 5 Tonys, and 8 Golden Globes.

Linney holds honorary doctorates from her alma maters, Brown University and The Julliard School. She has been honored for her work in cancer advocacy, and speaks often on reconsidering the arts as essential for success, easing the pain of cancer, finding beauty in tragedy, and navigating gender inequality in the film industry.

Previous “Booked” recipients include Shonda Rhimes, Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam, Oscar Hijuelos, Adam Gopnik, Will Shortz, Patti Smith, Barry Levinson, Jon Meacham, Nile Rodgers, Lynsey Addario, Ron Chernow, Alan Alda, Justin Paul, Frederic Chiu and Itzhak Perlman.

Laura Linney


Leonard Schine Aspetuck Land Trust Preserve on Weston Road was the site of a majestic owl release on Sunday.

Three barred owls — all found injured in Westport over the past two months — were freed. Joint rescues had been performed by the Westport Police Department and Animal Control. They were transported to Wildlife in Crisis for rehabilitation.

Animal Control officer Peter Reid says, “It is common for owls to be struck by cars at night. They often hunt in the ‘edge habitat’ by the roadside. Once they are on their glide path, they have little peripheral awareness of approaching cars.

“They can also be dazzled by headlights, become disoriented, and side-slip into a car. Fortunately these 3 suffered only minor injuries — head trauma and concussion — and were ready for release fairly quickly.

“This species is an early nester. They are courting right now, so the release gives these owls a chance to get back into the owl dating pool.

“One of the barred owls was from Partrick Road, one from Compo Road North by Winslow Park, and one from Bayberry. The Weston Road property was a good central release point, and relatively close to their points of origin, as the owl flies.”

Three WPD members helped with the release: Chief Foti Koskinas, Lieutenant Matthew Gouveia and Officer Dominique Carr.

Also involved: Reid’s wife Dara, director of Wildlife in Crisis, and their resident owl expert.

Officer Dominique Carr, with rescued owl.


The theme for this year’s Memorial Day parade is: “Veterans Serving the Community.”

Certificates will be awarded in 6 categories: Best Development of Theme, Best Youth Organization Float, Most Creative, Best Community Organization, Most Colorful, and the Best Overall Float.

Groups should concentrate on the first 5. The Y’s Men of Westport and Weston have won the last 2,2462 “Best Overall Float” competitions, dating back to the Peloponnessian War.

The Memorial Day parade steps off on Monday, May 29 at 9 a.m.

The Y’s Men’s 2021 award-winning Memorial Day float. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Rick Kalmans was concerned about the slow pace of reconstruction on the Bayberry Lane bridge.

He contacted town engineer Keith Wilberg. He quickly responded:

“The construction of the bridge is now in the phase called the Connecticut Department of Transportation shutdown period, from December 1 through March 31.

“That doesn’t mean that no work can be done in that period, but the nature of the work tends to be limited.

“Also, as asphalt plants have closed for the season as of the second week in December, we cannot reconstruct and pave the roadway until they open. That will most likely be at the end of March, give or take.

“The contractor has about a month’s worth of work left to finish, so my estimate is that they will be done by the end of April. The ‘on paper’ finish date is the end May 31. It is my belief they will be done and have the road open long before that, again, end of April.”

Fingers crossed …

(Photo/Bill Dedman)


Westport Police made 4 custodial arrests last week.

One was for violation of condition of release (after being charged with disorderly conduct, and failure to appear.

One was for larceny and identity theft, after a fraudulent withdrawal from Webster Bank.

One was for criminal attempt of larceny and identity theft, after a fraudulent withdrawal from a bank account.

Another arrest was for failure to appear.

The Police Department’s system still cannot report citations issued.


The Democratic Women of Westport celebrate Women’s History Month with a special panel: “Women Leading in CT: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.”

The event (March 13, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Westport Woman’s Club) features Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas (a Norwalk resident), former PepsiCo senior vice president Lori Tauber Marcus, Staples High School senior (and National Merit Semifinalist) Lilly Weisz, and League of Women Voters president Laura Smits.

The event is free. Light refreshments and wine will be served.

Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas.


Longtime Westporter Carol Frawley died Saturday at St. Joseph’s Manor, surrounded by her family, after a brief illness. She was 86.

The Norwalk native was employed part time as a cashier at Peter’s Bridge Market when her children were in school. She also enjoyed working weekends at Planter’s Barn in Darien and Geiger’s Nursery in Westport, where she indulged in her love of plants and flowers, and shared her knowledge.

In 1977 she joined Pepperidge Farms’ headquarters in Norwalk, and stayed until she retired.

She was a lifetime member of VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 Ladies Auxiliary.

She is survived by her children Colleen (Edward) Mezerewski of Shelton, Debbie (Philip) Grabell of Milford, William of Shelton, Edward (Karen) of Milford, Michael (Stephanie) of Westport, James (Donna) of Fairfield; grandchildren Casey (Trinh) Mezerewski, Colby (Glendys ) Mezerewski, Jacob (Rachel) Grabell, Nicole (Thomas) Cadigan, Helen Frawley, Alex Frawley, Kyle (Elicia) Frawley, Katie (Scott) Frawley, Kenzie Frawley and Kieran Frawley, and great-grandchildren Trinity, Edward, Leia and Ethan Mezerewski, Kaylie, Adriana and Logan Mezerewski, Charlotte and Chase Cadigan, as well as many nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her husband Harold, andsisters Marcella Palinkas of Oklahoma, Georgianna Bolton of Norwalk and Joan Goulart of Norwalk.

Funeral arrangements will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Carol’s name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.


As spring nears, here’s a “Westport … Naturally” look back a couple of weeks:

(Photo/Richard Abramowitz)


And finally … speaking of owls (see story above), Canned Head’s co-founder, co-lead singer, guitarist, harmonica player and primary composer was Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson. (It was either this, or a “Who” reference…)

(Today — like every day — “06880” rounds up every bit of news, big and tiny. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

“Twelfth Night”: Staples Players’ Jazz-Funk-Pop Shakespearean Sizzler

Staples Players’ spring production is “Twelfth Night.”

People might think: “Teenagers doing Shakespeare. I’ll pass.”


For one thing, Players is no ordinary high school troupe. Their near Broadway-quality shows always entertain, excite and inspire.

For another — and this is key — this “Twelfth Night” is not really Shakespeare. It’s a big, bold musical, filled with singing and dancing.

Ben Herrera as Malvolio, with “Twelfth Night” ensemble.

It’s funny. It’s fun. It’s accessible.

And it zips along: 12 songs are packed into a quick — and very engrossing — 90 minutes.

Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long knew they were taking a risk. “Twelfth Night” — whether familiar Shakespeare, or an unfamiliar musical — is a tough sell.

(From left): Charlie Watson, Matthew Bukzin, Jackie Peterson and Henry Carson in “Twelfth Night.”

But they loved Shaina Taub’s music. They knew that the cast recording was popular with theater people. (When the Public Theatre debuted the show in 2018, the New Yorker called it “less an interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedy than a block party sprinkled with iambic pentameter.”)

And when the directors announced it this winter, they challenged Players cast members to listen to the jazz-funk-pop score with open ears.

The next days, the young actors were singing in the halls. (Click below for senior Sophia Betit, singing during rehearsal.)

During their 65-year history, Players have tackled Shakespeare before. Roth and Long directed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2005, and “Romeo & Juliet” 3 years later.

As with much of The Bard’s work, despite being over 400 years old, “Twelfth Night” remains timely.

The plot deals with “our perceptions of gender — what it means to be a man or a woman, and how women are perceived in society,” Roth says.

(After a shipwreck, a woman dresses as a man to get a job. And of course, there are love complications.)

Quinn Mulvey as Viola. (All photos/Kerry Long)

“The message of the show is about walking in another person’s shoes, and seeing how the world perceives you,” Long explains. “There’s not a lot of equity.”

“Twelfth Night” is not “Mamma Mia!” or “Grease.” But — like those Staples Players blockbusters — it too will thrill audiences of all ages.

“We want to expose people to shows we love,” Roth says. “Take a 90-minute leap of faith with us!”

(“Twelfth Night” performances are March 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m., and March 19 and 25 at 3 p.m. Youngsters 12 and under get a sweet swag bag, including a coupon for a free ice cream cone donated by Saugatuck Sweets, plus a button proudly announcing “My first Shakespeare!”

(Click here for tickets, and more information. Click below to hear the original cast recording music.)

(“06880” is your hyper-local source for Westport entertainment news. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)