Category Archives: Arts

Westport Country Playhouse: 91 Years Young Today

On June 29, 1931, the curtain rose for the first time at the Westport Country Playhouse.

It ushered in a new chapter in town history — and the theater world nationally.

By 1930, Lawrence Langner and his wife Armina Marshall had achieved remarkable success as theater producers. The Theatre Guild — which Langner co-founded — had become perhaps the most prolific and influential producer on Broadway, and the leading producer of touring productions throughout the country.

Residents of Weston, the Langners wanted to establish a resident acting company, and experiment with new plays and reinterpretations of classics. But it had to be away from the spotlight of New York.

In the winter of 1930 they saw an old barn in an apple orchard near downtown Westport. The town was already popular with Broadway’s theatrical community.

It was exactly what they were looking for. They bought the property, with an assessed value of $14,000.

The 1930 barn.

Cleon Throckmorton — a respected Broadway set designer who had also designed the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts — was hired to transform the 1835 tannery into a theater.

The first production — “The Streets of New York” — opened 91 years ago today.

It was called Woodland Theatre. On opening day, Langner changed the name, to Country Playhouse.

The Westport Playhouse has seen countless highlights since then. Among them:

1933: “Present Laughter” is directed by Antoinette Perry. The Tony Awards are now named for her.

1935: Langner purchases 3.5 more acres, at $2,000 an acre, to expand the facilities. Extensions to the theater and construction of a scene shop and offices cost $25,000; a refreshment stand is $225.

1939: An unknown Gene Kelly dances in a musical revue. with a pair of new composers/performers named Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

1940: Oklahoma!” was never performed on the Playhouse stage, yet it plays a critical role in its genesis. A 1940 production of Lynn Riggs’ Green Grow the Lilacs incorporates turn-of-the-century folk songs, and a square dance scene. Langner invites Fairfield resident Richard Rodgers to see a performance. Three years later the Theatre Guild produces Oklahoma! on Broadway.

An early audience outside the Playhouse.

1941: Tallulah Bankhead adds drama to Her Cardboard Lover by taking her bows carrying a lion cub in her arms. It’s such a hit, she does it every night.

1941: Lee Strasberg directs Tyrone Power in Liliom, which later becomes Carousel on Broadway. Power is ready to open at the Playhouse when Daryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, demands he return to Hollywood to re-shoot movie scenes. Playhouse attorney Kenneth Bradley invokes a 300-year-old Connecticut blue law to keep Power here.

1942-45: For 4 seasons during World War II, when gas rationing prevents audiences from getting to the theater, there are no productions. The next season closure occurs 75 years later, during COVID..

1946: Just before Olivia de Havilland takes the stage on opening night of What Every Woman Knows, she marries novelist and journalist Marcus Goodrich at Langner’s Weston home.

1946: The apprentice system begins. Over the years, summer interns include Stephen Sondheim (1950) and Tammy Grimes (1954). Today the Playhouse hosts the Woodward Internship Program, a national program for emerging theater professionals. It is named for longtime Playhouse supporter Joanne Woodward.

Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo), during his 1950 apprenticeship. The photo was taken at the Jolly Fisherman restaurant. Also in the photo: future film director Frank Perry (front row, left) and Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary (2nd row, 4th from left).

1949: Helen Hayes performs with her 19-year-old daughter, Mary MacArthur, in Good Housekeeping. Mary becomes ill the day after closing, and dies of polio one week later.

1951: A world premiere comedy by Noël Coward, Island Fling, stars Claudette Colbert. Post-performance visitors to Colbert’s dressing room include Marlene Dietrich, Danny Kaye, Richard Rodgers and Otto Preminger.

 1952: Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, who had achieved great success with Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon, struggle to create a musical from Shaw’s Pygmalion. Lerner sees it on the Playhouse stage. Four years later My Fair Lady becomes a smash on Broadway.

1954: ApprenticeTammy Grimes is fired from the box office in her first week because she is unable to make correct change. She is transferred backstage, where she irons actor Richard Kiley’s pants.

1954: A restaurant is built adjacent to the Playhouse: Players Tavern.

The iconic red Westport Country Playhouse.

1954: Christopher Plummer makes his American stage debut in Home Is the Hero. Years later, he joins the Playhouse board of trustees.

1955: The Empress includes apprentice Sally Jessy. She later earns fame as talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael.

1956: The big concern every day is how much ice to order. The theater is cooled by fans blowing over ice. Vintage posters in the lobby boast, “Air-cooled.”

Westport Country Playhouse in 1960 (Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

1957: Eartha Kitt stars in Mrs. Patterson, a Tony-nominated role she originated on Broadway. Fifty years later, now a Weston resident, she returns to the Playhouse stage in All About Us, a new musical by Kander and Ebb opening the 2007 season.

1958: Hugh O’Brian, popular star of television’s “Wyatt Earp,” causes a box office frenzy as the leading man in Picnic. It is a vivid illustration of the new power of television.

1958: Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy star in Triple Play.

1960: With a film career still in the future, Jane Fonda, age 23, stars in No Concern of Mine. Her father, Henry, had appeared in The Virginian at the Playhouse in 1937, the year his daughter was born.

1964: 18-year-old Liza Minnelli receives her Equity card, appearing with Elliott Gould in The Fantasticks. On opening night, according to a Playhouse brochure, “the rather gawky teenager…received a standing ovation.”

1969: Butterflies Are Free premieres with Blythe Danner and Keir Dullea. The comedy transfers to Broadway where it runs over 3 years, earning Danner a Tony Award. The  play — one of 36 that made the leap from Westport to Broadway — is reprised as a reading for the Playhouse’s 80th anniversary in 2010, with its original stars –Danner as the mother, Dullea as the evening’s host.

1973: The Connecticut Theatre Foundation is created to operate the Playhouse as a not-for-profit.

1974: In his playbill letter for Hair, Jim McKenzie, executive producer, says, “Open your mind, open your heart and prepare for the theatrical experience of a lifetime.”

1977: Absent Friends, a Playhouse co-production plan with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, opens in Washington, following its Westport run. On the same evening, The Master Builder opens in Westport, following its engagement in DC.

1978: A fall and winter film and play series begins with the movie Gone with the Wind, plus a big barbecue hosted by Colonel Sanders himself.

1981: Eva Le Gallienne makes her last appearance at the Playhouse 45 seasons after her first, with many roles in between. Today, the Playhouse’s Green Room is named in her honor, and contains memorabilia from her career.

The green room. Think of all the legendary names that have passed through there.

1985: Philip Langner, son of founders Lawrence Langner and Armine Marshall, receives an offer of $1.2 million for the Playhouse property from Playhouse Square, the adjacent shopping center. The Connecticut Theatre Foundation, current lessee, has a right to match the offer. The Playhouse Limited Partnership, a group of 27 ardent theater supporters, is formed to purchase the property.

1985: A fall season includes A Bill of Divorcement starring Christopher Walken and Katharine Houghton, who recreates the role in which her aunt, Katharine Hepburn, made her film debut in 1932. Hepburn is in the audience.

1987: The Playhouse makes a major change: from producing 12 plays in 12 weeks to producing 6 in 12. Subscriptions spike. Seeing a show every other week is more convenient to many than committing to a weekly schedule.

1989: With the Playhouse in arrears on its mortgage and taxes, and facing major expenses to meet fire and safety codes, it asks local developer Ceruzzi Mack Properties to make good the debt, assume the mortgage, and renovate and lease back the theater for $1 a year, in return for property ownership and construction of commercial rental space on the Playhouse campus. The Planning & Zoning Commission turns down the application.

1990: The Playhouse is entered on the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places.

1991: 30-year-old Aaron Sorkin visits the Playhouse to see a production of his play A Few Good Men.

1999: Groucho: A Life in Revue is taped at the Playhouse for PBS.

2000: A campaign begins to renovate the Playhouse, and transition from summer stock to a year-round theater. Connecticut Theatre Foundation becomes owner of the Playhouse and adjacent restaurant. Contributions, bolstered by a $5 million state grant from the State of Connecticut, help reach the $30.6 million goal by the end of 2005.

The Westport Country Playhouse teoday.

2000: A 2-week run of Ancestral Voices by A. R. Gurney features a different stellar cast each week. Among them: Jane Curtin, Neil Patrick Harris, Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman, Paul Rudd, Swoosie Kurtz, James Naughton.

2001: Joanne Woodward is named artistic director. She directs 3 plays and appears in several productions, including Love Letters with Paul Newman, and a Script in Hand reading of Arsenic and Old Lace with Christopher Walken. Newman also appears in Ancestral Voices, Trumbo, and a revival of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, which transfers to Broadway.

2002: Gene Wilder stars in Don’t Make Me Laugh. It’s his 4th appearance at the Playhouse, but first in a feature role. He performed here with Walter Pidgeon, Helen Hayes, and Carol Channing, “but nobody knew who I was then.”

2002: The Playhouse’s 2002 production of Our Town transfers to Broadway for a limited run, playing to full houses. The play airs on Showtime and PBS’ “Masterpiece Theatre.” Newman receives Tony and Emmy Award nominations for his performance as Stage Manager.

Local residents Jim Naughton, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, at the Westport Country Playhouse in 2002.

2003: During a regional power outage, the Playhouse is in the middle of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons with Richard Dreyfuss and Jill Clayburgh. Most actors live in New York and cannot travel to Westport. The performance is canceled.  However, Dreyfuss is in Westport. He drives to the theater and shakes hands with whoever arrives.

2003 and 2004: Fundraising galas support the Playhouse’s planned renovation with performances by Carole King, Robin Williams, Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Harry Connick, Jr. hosted by Brian Williams.

2005: May 23, 2005 marks the re-opening of Westport Country Playhouse and its 75th anniversary season, following a major multi-million dollar renovation.

2005: The Lucille Lortel Foundation awards a $2 million grant to establish The Lucille Lortel White Barn Center at the Playhouse.

2006: Paul Newman and Chef Michel Nischan open the Dressing Room restaurant next door.

2006: Stephen Sondheim returns to the Playhouse for the first time since his 1950 apprenticeship. He is saluted on the Playhouse stage with performances by Laura Benanti, Kristin Chenoweth, Barbara Cook, and Patti LuPone.

2006: James Earl Jones appears as Thurgood Marshall in the world premiere of Thurgood. He later joins the Playhouse board of trustees. 

2008: The popular Script in Hand play reading series begins.

2009: Stephen Sondheim presents a tribute to Mary Rodgers Guettel at the annual gala, An Enchanted Evening: The Music of Richard Rodgers. Sondheim and Rodgers Guettel are former Playhouse apprentices.

2021: During its 90th anniversary — and the pandemic, the Playhouse pivots to an all-virtual season. It’s available on-demand, with captions in Spanish.

After 91 years, the view has changed little. (Photo/Robert Benson)

(Like the Westport Country Playhouse, “06880” relies on contributions for support. Please click here to help.)

“06880” Podcast: John Videler

As much as I enjoy writing “06880,” I know many readers come for the photos.

And in a constellation of stellar “06880” photographers, John Videler shines very, very brightly.

The other day he put down his camera, headed to the Westport Library, and chatted about his craft.

I spoke with the 2nd-generation Videler Photography owner (his father started the business) about how he works; the variety of his clients; his favorite shots in Westport, and (of course) what it was like to grow up here.

Click below for our interview. To see some of John’s “06880” work, click here.

Jean Louisa Kelly: “Anything Can Happen”

“Anything can happen,” Jean Louisa Kelly says.

And in her life, just about anything has.

Soloing in her 2nd grade Christmas play in a Worcester suburb ignited an interest in performing. She took ballet, tap, jazz dance and voice lessons. A teacher encouraged her to audition for “Annie,” at Rhode Island’s Theater by the Sea.

At 11 years old, she landed the role.

The next summer, she was Annie at the Candlewood Playhouse. Regional theater followed; then came a New York talent competition, an agent, and a role in the original 1987 Broadway production of “Into the Woods.” Her movie debut followed 2 years later, as Tia in “Uncle Buck.”

Jean Louisa Kelly, in “Annie” …

After Columbia University, Kelly’s career continued to flourish, with “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”

… and as Rowena Morgan in “Mr. Holland’s Opus” …

She met Jimmy Pitaro right after college. They married; she was booked for a new NBC series, “Cold Feet,” to be filmed in Vancouver.

They sold their New York apartment. Pitaro quit his law firm. They moved to Canada, where she filmed 8 episodes. Four were shown; suddenly, it was canceled.

Kelly and Pitaro drove south, and settled in Los Angeles. He got a job with a start-up; she got a job with CBS. For 6 years, she played Kim on “Yes, Dear.”

… and Kim Warner in “Yes, Dear.”

After their first child was born, Kelly pulled back a bit from acting. Pitaro’s career — he was now at Disney — took off.

In March of 2018, Pitaro was named chairman of ESPN. She wrapped up shooting for “Top Gun: Maverick.” Then the family — including their kids Sean and Josy — moved east.

They’d been intrigued by Westport for years, ever since visiting a college friend of Kelly’s here. The location — midway between ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut headquarters and its New York City office — made it a perfect choice.

They’ve loved Westport. After a bit of adjustment, their children thrived. Sean makes music, boxes with Rich Dean and works out with Lynroy Henry; Josy performs with Staples Players, and works with Cynthia Gibb’s Triple Threat Academy.

Kelly — who learned to audition from home during COVID, and landed roles in “Call of the Wild” and “Malignant” — began thinking of returning to the stage.

“I was living in the same town as Kelli O’Hara!” she laughs. “So it was time to go back to class.”

Jean Louisa Kelly

She studied in New York with Richard Sabellico — the man who had directed her in “Annie” at 11 years old. He encouraged her to create her own show.

She did. And on Saturday, July 9 she’ll debut “Anything Can Happen” — the title comes from that quote about her life — at Norwalk’s Music Theater of Connecticut. It’s a musical look at her life, and it promises to be great.

Encouraged by her screenwriter friend Gigi New, and with tweaks after a small March performance, Kelly has crafted an intriguing and inspirational look at her theatrical life.

Her musical director and pianist is Weston’s Emmy and Grammy-winning Paul Bogaev. His film credits include “Chicago,” “Nine,” “Dreamgirls,” “Across the Universe,” “Mulan” and “The Lion King”; he’s worked on Broadway shows like “Aida,” “Tarzan,” Sunset Boulevard” and “Les Miserables,” and TV productions of “Cinderella,” “South Pacific” — and “Annie.”

Kelly is no slouch as a musician herself. She’s released 2 EPs of original songs, one of standards, and a children’s album.

Anything can happen. For Jean Louisa Kelly, on July 9 everything will.

(Click here for tickets to the 8 p.m. performance on July 9 of “Anything Can Happen.”)

(“06880” is supported solely by readers. Click here to help!)

Pic Of The Day #1895

In a shaded entryway just off Riverside Avenue, Staples High School graduates — and former orchestra mates — Danielle Merlis and Lucas de Valdivia set up their music stands and cellos today.

They greeted guests at the photography exhibition by Michael Chait and Michael Tomashefsky at Chait’s studio.

It’s a great exhibit of Westport scenes — and it continues tomorrow (Sunday), from 1 to 4 p.m. (11 Riverside Avenue, 2nd floor).

(Photo/Dan Woog)

New Poet Laureate Reacts To Roe

Jessie McEntee does not become Westport’s poet laureate until July 1.

But in the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that declared Roe v. Wade to be unconstitutional, she offered these thoughts:

Dear Westport neighbors:

This is admittedly a cringe-y and self-serving way of introducing myself. But as the poet laureate-appointee, I want to share a poem I wrote a few years back from my chapbook, a response to #MeToo.

Poet laureate-designee Jessica Noyes McIntee.

It might offend you if, say, you’re a rah rah handsy sexual harasser. If you’re anti-rah rah handsy sexual harasser, but you popped a bottle of Champagne at Friday’s news, you might read it as a way of saying, HANDS OFF, INDIVIDUAL HANDSY SEXUAL HARASSER.

If you’re anti-rah rah handsy sexual harasser AND you declined to pop a bottle of Champagne at Friday’s news, you might — just might — read it as a way of saying, HANDS OFF MY BODY on a larger scale. I leave it to your interpretation.

In Defense of Vulnerable Men

Temptresses;
hips spangled with store-bought stars,
lashes blackened with clarified soot,
and rows of roses planted upon our cheeks.
we sweep our lids with patches
yanked from clouds and seas.

Look at us —
how we ask for it
as we loll about in public parks,
midday, airing our breasts, necks —
in full view — all while saying,
Oh, no, we only want
attention from the summer’s sun.
(Does the town butcher ever declare,
I’d prefer not to
sell that pink ground chuck
I just put out on display,
bound in shimmering cellophane?)

We’re ubiquitous, diffuse —
we besmirch your efforts to stay pure
for the respectable women you keep on retainer.
You escape to church;
we become the frothing thuribles that circle about,
then the incense that swells the air,
all while we remain remote.

You’re the victims, here,
when you consider such provocations.
Why, when you think of how we tattoo ourselves
with secret codes
slipped into ankles, lower backs, divots —
aren’t those implicit dares
to come hither —
and, (please!) offer us
the favor of your closest translation?

Your Power dismantled,
your delicate manhood muddled —
you insist upon it:
we must be braille.
Fingers splayed, you lean in
to prove it.

Online Art Gallery #116

Summer is here. Time for students with a bit more time on their hands to get creative.

All readers are invited to contribute to our online art gallery. Age, level of experience, subject matter — there are no restrictions.

All genres are encouraged. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage and (yes) needlepoint — whatever you’ve got, email it to 06880blog@gmail.com. Share your work with the world!

“Aye Aye Aye” (Mike Hibbard)

“Sailboat Painting With Red and Yellow” (Peter Barlow)

“A June Wedding” (Steve Stein)

“Passegiatta” (Lawrence Weisman)

“Color Through the Window” (Karen Weingarten)

Roundup: Parker Harding Driving, Burying Hill Jetty …

Sure, the traffic pattern in Parker Harding Plaza is odd. But it’s almost entirely one-way. There are signs, and the angles and directions of parked cars offer a pretty clue as to what direction to drive.

Not to everyone, though. Diane Lowman reports a recent epidemic of wrong-way drivers.

Several times this week, she has seen cars enter from Main Street by GG & Joe’s, and drive all the way — the wrong way — toward Starbucks.

Someone else drove the wrong way on the narrow road that hugs the river.

Just when you think you’ve seen or heard everything …

It’s kind of hard to drive the wrong way here. But people try. (The police in this file photo are responding to a different issue than that.)

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The Burying Hill jetty replacement project is nearing completion.

Final work must be done when the tide is low. The parking lot will need some attention too. But the ARPA job is looking good — just in time for summer.

(Photo/Peter Swift)

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Country/folk music comes to MoCA Westport this Saturday. A Tale of Two perform their songs of revenge, murder, stealing and drinking at 7 p.m. on the outdoor stage. Former Barrage8 violinist Kyle Pudenz joins the fun.

Guests should bring their own lawn chairs. Chicken, steak, shrimp and corn skewers will be available for purchase.

The next day (Sunday, June 26, 1 p.m.). A Tale of Two leads a free workshop, on how new artists can break into the music business. Click here to register.

A Tale of Two

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The Westport Library hosts noted artist Eric Chiang next Wednesday (June 29).

A 6:30 p.m. reception for “Musical Planet” — a selection of his paintings, will be followed at 7 p.m. by an interview on the Forum stage. Artists Collective of Westport co-founder Miggs Burroughs will lead the chat, as Eric’s artwork is projected on the large screen. Click here for more information.

“Coral Lyrics” — oil on canvas.(Eric Chiang)

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A memorial gathering for Dr. David Beck — the highly respected, longtime Westport Police Department physician — is set for this Sunday (June 26, 11 a.m., Beth Israel Chabad, 40 King Street, Norwalk). A full buffet brunch follows.

RSVP: info@bethisraelchabad.org.

Dr. David Beck

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The word is out: Old Mill Beach is the place to be.

At least, for a “Westport … Naturally” photo …

(Photo/Rick Benson)

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And finally … James Rado died Tuesday in New York. He was 90.

The New York Times described his legacy well: He “jolted Broadway into the Age of Aquarius as a co-creator of ‘Hair,’ the show, billed as an ‘American tribal love-rock musical’ that transfigured musical theater tradition with radical ’60s iconoclasm and rock ’n’ roll.” Click here for “Hair”‘s fascinating back story.

(“06880” relies on donations from readers like you. Click here to support your local blog.)

“Gloria”: Singer’s Ode To An Oyster Boat

Chris Bousquet is a singer-songwriter. He led High Lonesome Plains, and has performed with Roger McGuinn, John Sebastian, Asleep at the Wheel, the Nields, the Turtles and J. Geils.

A decade or so ago, he read about Westport oysterman Alan Sterling, and his boat Gloria (named for an old girlfriend). Bousquet calls it “a profoundly moving story of grief, continual struggle, and the simple triumph of carrying on.”

Gloria (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Having grown up in Clinton, Connecticut, Bousquet always found the sea to be “ethereal and transcendent.” Staring out at the water, he believes in the interconnectedness of all things. So when Sterling noted in the story that a gull might be Gloria watching over him, Bousquet understood.

The sea can be warm and caressing, but also brutal. “Alan was well aware of the cold and raw, but it didn’t blind him to the beauty,” Bousquet says. Inspired, he reworked an old song into a new one: “Gloria.”

Bousquet never met Sterling in person. He thought about sharing the song with him, but felt it was presumptuous. Sterling died on July 4, 2014. Bousquet wishes he had told the oysterman what an inspiration he’d been.

“He made me appreciate my life — and my wife! — even more,” Bousquet says. “I don’t mean to sound trite. But he reminded me to head out on my proverbial boat, and sail on each day.”

Bousquet calls the song “my plywood skiff version of Alan’s oyster boat.”

Alan Sterling culling his oysters.

Gloria remained in Gray’s Creek after her owner’s death. For years it served as a memorial to Westporters: of a rugged individual, a centuries-old tradition, and our ties to the sea.

But over the past year, Gloria deteriorated. The old oyster boat is near collapse.

“Gloria, ” this spring. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Yet she — and Alan Sterling –live on.

Connecticut Public Television and PBS have produced a documentary called “Oyster Heaven.” It documents the history of oystering in our state’s waters, from Native American times through the industry’s collapse, and on to its current renaissance.

Screenshot from “Oyster Heaven.”

Much of the documentary focuses on Norm Bloom, and his Norwalk-based Copps Island Oysters.

The song “Gloria,” though, serves as the film’s theme. It’s the perfect choice.

Chris says, “I give this song with love and gratitude to the people of Westport — and Alan and Gloria.”

(To view “Oyster Heaven” — and hear “Gloria” — click here.) 

(Like PBS, “06880” relies on support from the public. Please click here to contribute whatever you can.)

Meet And Greet New Poet Laureate

Here’s news both bittersweet and great:
After 3 years, Westport has a new poet laureate.

Hopefully, she’s a better poet than I am.

Diane Lowman’s 3 years as Westport’s poet-in-residence ends June 30. She’ll pass the torch — or pen, or computer keyboard or whatever — next Wednesday (June 29), at a noontime Westport Library ceremony.

Our new poet laureate is Jessica Noyes McEntee. Her 2-year term begins July 1.

McEntee, her husband, 2 young children (now teenagers) and pets moved into a historic Westport house in 2013. She is active in the community, serving on the boards of the Westport Young Woman’s League and Save Westport Now.

She’s also a working poet. Her debut chapbook, Jackie O. Suffers Two Husbands & Other Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019. She’s taught at Westport Writers’ Workshop since 2015,

Poet laureate-designee Jessica Noyes McEntee.

Poet laureate is not a full-time gig. McEntee works in marketing for the Pequot Library in Southport. The Amherst College graduate was previously an editor at John Wiley & Sons.

The Westport Arts Advisory Committee oversaw the selection process of the new laureate. Applicants met with a selection committee that included members of the WAAC, Westport Public Schools and the Westport Library. McEntee was officially appointed by 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.

As Westport’s first poet laureate,  her predecessor Lowman enriched town meetings, collaborated with schools, and ran workshops for the Senior Center. She recited  original haikus at many local events, including the dedication of the reimagined Library in 2019.

Diane Lowman (Photo/Jane LaMotta)

Roundup: Remarkable Staples Video, WTF Food Rescue, WFM Young Shoots …

The Staples High School Class of 2022 is now part of history.

But tonight they live on — on the big screen.

The Remarkable Theatre screens a 60-minute film — created by the theater’s Staples interns — highlighting the graduating class.

There are interviews with nearly 2 dozen seniors, plus footage contributed by other students. It was produced over the past 2 weeks, so it is definitely timely.

Gates open at 8 p.m. tonight, for tailgating. The film begins at 8:45. Tickets are $20 per person or $50 per car, whichever is cheaper — with no limit on the number of passengers. Click here to purchase, and for more details.

Eamon Brannigan is one of the stars of the Class of 2022 Senior Night film.

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If you’re a good gardener, you grow your own food.

If you’re a very good (and lucky!) gardener, you’ve got way more than  you need.

But there’s only so much lettuce, peas and zucchini you can give to your friends.

So chew on this: Wakeman Town Farm has partnered with Westport Grow-a-Row and Food Rescue US-Fairfield County on a new produce donation drop off site.

Bring your abundance to WTF’s farm stand any Saturday, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; coolers are set up there. Your fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs will help people struggling with food insecurity, throughout Fairfield County.

Questions? Email Haley@foodrescue.us. Follow @grow.a.row_westport on Instagram for updates.

The drop-off spot is hard to miss.

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And speaking of gardens:

Westport Farmers’ Market‘s 6th annual Young Shoots Photography Contest. Snap!

There are 3 age categories: 5-9 years old, 10-14 and 15-18. Any photo taken at one of the Thursday Farmers’ Markets is eligible. Judging is by a panel of local artists, and the public.

The contest runs from a week from this tomorrow (June 23) through July 31. Winners — who earn a $100 cash, WFM swag and a gift card for a MoCA Westport class — will be celebrated at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, with catering by Sugar & Olives.

Ann Burmeister — Farmers’ Market board member and Who Grows Your Food photographer — will help youngsters as they take shots at the Market tomorrow. A WFM team member will be on hand throughout the contest to answer questions.

Click here to submit photos, and for more information.

“Starstem” by Calista Finkelstein was a previous “Young Shoots” winner in the 8-10 category.

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Yesterday’s obituary of longtime Westport volunteer Tom Hofstetter included incorrect information about a memorial service at Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club. The family will hold a private burial only; there is no service.

ThomasHofstetter

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On June 30, nearly everyone in Westport will watch the July 4th fireworks. (I know, I know …)

But if pyrotechnics aren’t your thing, you’ve got an artistic option.

The opening reception for MoCA’s new exhibition — “Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse” — is set for that night (6 to 8 p.m.; free).

The show explores how “female artists, utilizing textiles as their medium, subvert the social expectation of crafting by lambasting this soft medium with political and social awareness.”

It focuses on flags, as a symbol of solidarity for women of the suffrage movement, and an emblem of protest. Flags in “Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse” were assembled using mixed media and the fiber arts to ignite positive social change.

So — with those flags — there is a connection to Independence Day after all.

The exhibition runs through September 4. Click here for more information.

The MoCA exhibition logo is based on the original colors of the suffragist movement.

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Another opening, another show:

Amy Simon Fine Art (123 Main Street), hosts an opening reception this Saturday (June 25, 3 to 5 p.m.) for the new “Visual Alchemy” show. Artists include Barry Katz, David Skillicorn and Louise P. Sloane.

Untitled #11– encaustic over plaster. (Barry Katz)

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It’s not true that Benjamin Franklin wanted a wild turkey — not an eagle — to be America’s national symbol.

The actual story: In a letter to his daughter, he criticized the original eagle design for the Great Seal, saying it looked like a turkey.

Well, after a long period away, wild turkeys have returned to Westport. The other day, Carol Cederbaum saw 3 of them roosting on her back deck. She got this shot a female, before they spotted her behind the window.

Is it a handsome “Westport … Naturally” subject, or not? You be the judge.

(Photo/Carol Cederbaum)

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And finally … in the past week we’ve given shout-outs to Staples grads, and Brian Wilson. Here’s one more — together — as the Class of 2022 gets ready for their “Senior Night” at the Remarkable Theater (story above):

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