Category Archives: Entertainment

Unsung Heroes #264

For over 60 years, Staples Players have entertained, touched and inspired audiences. Some shows are fun and funny; others, thought-provoking or  provocative.

Over the years, we’ve grown to expect spectacular quality: acting, singing, directing, choreography, sets, costumes, lighting, the pit.

We always rave about Players’ productions. But we sometimes take them for granted.

“Guys and Dolls” — the 7th time they’ve put on that musical — closed Saturday night. It built on the tradition of previous versions, and all the other successes.

But it sure wasn’t easy.

Henry Carson — the senior playing Nathan Detroit — was laid out by flu just before the show opened. Freshman Will McCrae stepped spectacularly into the breach. (His late grandfather — Jack Lemmon — would have been very proud.)

Will McCrea as Nathan Detroit, and Jackie Peterson as Adelaide. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The next day, understudies Graham Griffin (also a 9th grader) and junior Finley Chevrier took the stage, in other roles. A spot operator was also out sick.

In the week between opening and closing, nearly 2 dozen of the cast and tech crew caught whatever was going around. By the final performance, all but one had recovered. The show went on — fabulously.

But without its regular pit orchestra conductor.

Staples music teacher Carrie Mascaro was ill. Her colleague Luke Rosenberg — the school’s choral director — stepped up big time. He learned the score, then led 14 musicians in a flawless performance.

Luke Rosenberg took over as pit director last weekend. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The show must go on. And it did.

How about one more standing ovation for:

  • The understudies who got the call, and quickly responded
  • Their replacements, who had to instantly adapt too
  • The costume crew, who did incredible work before the show, then kept working as actors took on new roles
  • The tech crew, which never gets enough praise — and their creative boss, Jeff Hauser, who made sure set designer Jordan Janota’s imaginative vision was brought to life

“Rockin’ the Boat” — on the great “Guys and Dolls” set. (Photo/Kerry Long)

  • Choreographer (and expectant mom) Rachel MacIsaac Myers, whose wonderful work continued with each new actor
  • Luke Rosenberg, a true professional who stepped into the big conducting breach with virtually no notice
  • Directors David Roth and Kerry Long, who solved problem after problem, and weathered storm after storm, by modeling the show biz tradition that everyone involved will remember the rest of their lives.

“Guys and Dolls” — the 1950 show — is all about luck.

“Guys and Dolls” — Staples Players-style — had plenty of bad luck. But every person involved, on stage and off, came through a winner.

Congratulations, guys (and dolls). You’re our “06880” Unsung Heroes of the Week.

PS: Missed the show? check out the highlight reel below. It’s an easy bet: This will be the best 8 minutes you spend today.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Let us know! Email 06880blog@gmail.com)

(“06880” entertains — and, hopefully, inspires and provokes — you several times a day. To support your hyper-local blog, please click here.)

 

Roundup: “Guys & Dolls”, World Cup, Bridgeport Boatworks …

Last week, “06880” reported on the hard luck suffered by the cast of Staples Players’ “Guys and Dolls.” Henry Carson (Nathan Detroit) fell ill just before the show opened. Freshman Will McCrae stepped spectacularly into the breach.

The next day, understudies Graham Griffin (also a 9th grader) and junior Finley Chevrier took the stage, in other roles.

In the week between opening and closing, nearly 2 dozen of the cast and tech crew got sick. By the final performance, all but one had recovered. The show went on — fabulously.

But without its regular pit orchestra conductor.

Staples music teacher Carrie Mascaro is in the hospital with pneumonia. Her colleague Luke Rosenberg — the school’s choral director — stepped up big time. He learned the score, then led 14 musicians in a flawless performance.

The show must go on. And it did.

But it’s a good bet (ho ho) that directors David Roth and Kerry Long will tell the improbable “Guys & Dolls” story to future Players for many years to come.

Conductor Luke Rosenberg in the pit last night. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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The World Cup starts today.

If you can’t be in Qatar for the opening match — the hosts vs. Ecuador, 11 a.m. EST — you can do the next best thing.

Head to Vanish Media System‘s showroom, in the strip mall near Fortuna’s and Greens Farms Spirit Shop.

Mark Motyl’s company builds state-of-the-art home theaters that disappear into customized credenzas or benches. 

He’s got several in the showroom. With Dolby Atmos Surround Sound and a 4k projector, it’s just like being in the stadium. Except at Vanish Media, you’re much closer to the action.

Like Qatar, Mark does not sell beer. But he provides snacks, and is plenty of fun to watch a game with.

There’s an open invitation for today’s 11 a.m. match. If you’d like to arrange a private viewing party for an upcoming game of interest, call or text Mark: 203-246-2011.

Click here for a full schedule of all 64 matches.

In February, Julia Marino’s family and friends gathered in the Vanish Media showroom to watch her silver-winning snowboard performance at the Beijing Olympics. Today, the action switches to soccer’s World Cup in Qatar.

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Over 80 Westport-Weston Y’s Men visited Bridgeport Boatworks Friday morning.

The highly specialized business provides a wide range of maintenance and storage services for boat clients around the world, including New York ferries and super yachts. Its 2 lifts can haul up to 200 tons.

Y’s Men at Bridgeport Boatworks. (Hat tip and photo/Dave Matlow)

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Longtime Westport resident Mary Kinser died peacefully in her sleep on Friday, at home. She was 92. Her family calls her “a tiny package with a huge impact.”

Born in Kentucky and raised in West Virginia, she attended business school and worked as a bookkeeper. She married Bill at 20, and a year later their daughter Mary Jo was born.

The family traveled all across the US and Europe. In 1966 they moved to Toledo, then 14 years later to Geneva, Switzerland for Bill’s work. Mary loved to ski and hike in the Alps.

After her husband died in 1982 she moved to Westport, where her daughter lived. She knew no one here, but began working as a receptionist at the Westport YMCA, a real estate assistant and a babysitter.

She loved Compo Beach: walking, combing for shells and enjoying sunsets. She also found joy and excitement in New York City’s arts and culture scene.

Mary served the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston for over 40 years. She taught Sunday school, prepared communion, babysat in the nursery and visited sick parishioners.

She also volunteered at the Gillespie Center and food bank, delivered meals to shut-ins, and raised money for the less fortunate.

Mary was preceded by her  sisters Mabel Rumbaugh and Mearilyn Auvil. She is survived by her daughter Mary Jo (Greg Hawkins) Kinser; brother John Hackworth, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and step-granfchildren.

Funeral services will be held in West Virginia on Saturday (November 26, noon). Click here for the livestream, or to view later. A memorial service is set for March 11 at United Methodist Church of Westport.

Mary Kinser

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(Photo/Ted Horowitz)

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And finally … Ned Rorem, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, died Friday in New York. He was 99. Click here for a full obituary.

(If you get a kick out of “06880,” please consider a donation. Click here for details.)

Roundup: “Guys & Dolls,” World Cup, Bridgeport Boatworks …

Last week, “06880” reported on the hard luck suffered by the cast of Staples Players’ “Guys and Dolls.” Henry Carson (Nathan Detroit) fell ill just before the show opened. Freshman Will McCrae stepped spectacularly into the breach.

The next day, understudies Graham Griffin (also a 9th grader) and junior Finley Chevrier took the stage, in other roles.

In the week between opening and closing, nearly 2 dozen of the cast and tech crew got sick. By the final performance, all but one had recovered. The show went on — fabulously.

But without its regular pit orchestra conductor.

Staples music teacher Carrie Mascaro is in the hospital with pneumonia. Her colleague Luke Rosenberg — the school’s choral director — stepped up big time. He learned the score, then led 14 musicians in a flawless performance.

The show must go on. And it did.

But it’s a good bet (ho ho) that directors David Roth and Kerry Long will tell the improbable “Guys & Dolls” story to future Players for many years to come.

Conductor Luke Rosenberg in the pit last night. (Photo/Dan Woog)

=======================================================

The World Cup starts today.

If you can’t be in Qatar for the opening match — the hosts vs. Ecuador, 11 a.m. EST — you can do the next best thing.

Head to Vanish Media System‘s showroom, in the strip mall near Fortuna’s and Greens Farms Spirit Shop.

Mark Motyl’s company builds state-of-the-art home theaters that disappear into customized credenzas or benches. 

He’s got several in the showroom. With Dolby Atmos Surround Sound and a 4k projector, it’s just like being in the stadium. Except at Vanish Media, you’re much closer to the action.

Like Qatar, Mark does not sell beer. But he provides snacks, and is plenty of fun to watch a game with.

There’s an open invitation for today’s 11 a.m. match. If you’d like to arrange a private viewing party for an upcoming game of interest, call or text Mark: 203-246-2011.

Click here for a full schedule of all 64 matches.

In February, Julia Marino’s family and friends gathered in the Vanish Media showroom to watch her silver-winning snowboard performance at the Beijing Olympics. Today, the action switches to soccer’s World Cup in Qatar.

======================================================

Over 80 Westport-Weston Y’s Men visited Bridgeport Boatworks Friday morning.

The highly specialized business provides a wide range of maintenance and storage services for boat clients around the world, including New York ferries and super yachts. Its 2 lifts can haul up to 200 tons.

Y’s Men at Bridgeport Boatworks. (Hat tip and photo/Dave Matlow)

=======================================================

Longtime Westport resident Mary Kinser died peacefully in her sleep on Friday, at home. She was 92. Her family calls her “a tiny package with a huge impact.”

Born in Kentucky and raised in West Virginia, she attended business school and worked as a bookkeeper. She married Bill at 20, and a year later their daughter Mary Jo was born.

The family traveled all across the US and Europe. In 1966 they moved to Toledo, then 14 years later to Geneva, Switzerland for Bill’s work. Mary loved to ski and hike in the Alps.

After her husband died in 1982 she moved to Westport, where her daughter lived. She knew no one here, but began working as a receptionist at the Westport YMCA, a real estate assistant and a babysitter.

She loved Compo Beach: walking, combing for shells and enjoying sunsets. She also found joy and excitement in New York City’s arts and culture scene.

Mary served the United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston for over 40 years. She taught Sunday school, prepared communion, babysat in the nursery and visited sick parishioners.

She also volunteered at the Gillespie Center and food bank, delivered meals to shut-ins, and raised money for the less fortunate.

Mary was preceded by her  sisters Mabel Rumbaugh and Mearilyn Auvil. She is survived by her daughter Mary Jo (Greg Hawkins) Kinser; brother John Hackworth, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and step-granfchildren.

Funeral services will be held in West Virginia on Saturday (November 26, noon). Click here for the livestream, or to view later. A memorial service is set for March 11 at United Methodist Church of Westport.

Mary Kinser

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(Photo/Ted Horowitz)

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And finally … Ned Rorem, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, died Friday in New York. He was 99. Click here for a full obituary.

(If you get a kick out of “06880,” please consider a donation. Click here for details.)

b

Roundup: Another Hillspoint Home, ShoutOut LA, Church Organ …

Yesterday’s Roundup featured a $7.9 million house. It’s being built on one of the most famous spots in Westport: 233 Hillspoint Road, site of the former Positano restaurant.

Diagonally across the street, at 246 Hillspoint, there’s another well-known home. Built in 1930, it’s the last remaining bungalow on the increasingly modern (and pricey)  stretch of water-view road.

Of course you know it:

At 695 square feet, with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom on a 3,049-square foot lot, it could have been yours — for a mere $2 million.

But you had to act fast. Offers were due by Sunday

I don’t know a lot about real estate. But I’m guessing the buyer does not plan to live there as is.

So that $2 million is just a starting point. (Hat tip: John Richers)

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David Winther graduated from Staples High School in 2006. He went on to a career as a talent agent (focusing on music and arena touring. He works now in Los Angeles at Elite World Group as a director of global partnerships. He also owns Winther Agency, which strikes brand and licensing deals for content creators.

The other day, he was interviewed by ShoutOut LA. Asked who deserved credit for his success, he gave shout-outs to 2 people from his Westport past: his mother Lynn, and his mentor Jack Klinge.

David said:

My 2 sisters and I got to grow up in Westport, CT, an affluent town with great education systems that push kids academically, athletically etc. to excel. She worked 2 fulltime jobs to get us a “slot” in that town. Ma missed a lot of soccer games, football games, lacrosse games, band recitals to afford that town. I think there was a certain teenage angst I had where I didn’t understand it and actually grew distant from her for a while. Now, in my mid-30s I see what she did and what she keeps doing and how much she gave for her kids. I know she would do it again in a second.

Second, Jack Klinge. I didn’t have a father figure at all my entire life. The town of Westport has a great program that mentors kids who may not have the “typical” nuclear family… In my case I was a latchkey kid in a rich town. Jack and I met when I was in 2nd grade and we started off our first day by going outside and playing soccer against each other. The relationship was great. He became more like a grandfather figure who would give me sage advice and be at my games. He would be proud. I know he is proud, even though I thoroughly believe he still doesn’t understand what I do, haha!

Thank you Mom. Thank you Jack.

In a follow-up conversation, David told “06880”:

I owe everything I am as a person and a professional to my upbringing and my roots. My roots will always be with Westport. Without the strong leaders like Cathy Schager, Jack Klinge, John Dodig, David Roth and many many more, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

To any parent reading this: Please trust in Westport. There is a special love and care for its community to succeed in whatever they want to do in life.

Click here to read the full ShoutOut LA story.

David Winther (Photo courtesy of Steven Shutters/ShoutOut LA)

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Rick Tripodi was the beloved music director and organist at Green’s Farms Congregational Church.

That organ was close to Rick’s heart. As a teenager in 1965, he attended its  dedication.

Classically trained, with a master’s degree in organ performance from Juilliard, Rick designed the refurbishment of the Peragallo/Walker organ during the church’s recent renovation project.

Sadly, he died just 2 days before the instrument was reinstalled.

The organ will be re-dedicated this Sunday (November 20, 4 p.m.). Justin Bischof — known internationally for his improvisations — will play. His program will include themes submitted by the audience.

The public is invited. A reception will follow.

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More than 5 weeks ago, an “06880” Roundup featured a gaunt deer, whose entire face was entangled in a badminton net.

It was gaunt — probably because it could not see to eat.

The deer is still wandering around Westport. Yesterday, it was in Jilda Manikas’ yard.

The good news: The net no longer covers its eyes. It looks a bit healthier — though certainly not happier.

(Photo/Jilda Manikas)

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Pianist Brian Marsella returns to “Jazz at the Post” this Thursday (November 17; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner from 6:30 p.m.; VFW Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue).

He’s joined by bassist Reid Taylor, drummer Brian Floody and the “Jazz Rabbi,” saxophonist Greg Wall.

The cover charge is $15. Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Brian Marsella

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George Billis Gallery hosts an opening reception for artists Elizabeth Higgins, Dean Fisher and Josephine Robinson.

It’s this Thursday (5 to 8 p.m.) at Billis’ new location: 180 Post Road East. New work is also available.

“Pear Tree” (Dean Fisher)

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The entrance to Burying Hill Beach teems with life.

Peter Gold captured today’s “Westport … Naturally” image at that often-overlooked site.

(Photo/Peter Gold)

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And finally … what will you see and hear if you visit Green’s Farms Church on Sunday, for the dedication of their new organ?

If you’re intrigued by the idea of an improvisational organist (story above), click below:

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(Oh, deer! If you forgot to support “06880,” please click here!)

 

Roundup: 233 Hillspoint, “Guys & Dolls” Drama, Post-Election Coffee …

For a few years now, 233 Hillspoint Road has sat half-finished. Swaddled in blue, with a chain link fence and weeds, it demolishes the beauty of the Old Mill neighborhood.

But one day, it will look like this:

And — from the beach — like this:

The property is listed for sale.

What would you get for $7.9 million? (Or $4.9 million, unfinished?)

The listing says:

233 Hillspoint Rd. is an exciting, sleek and sophisticated new construction waterfront home. A truly open floor plan that is drenched in sunlight through walls of glass that frame the water from every room. This stunning, beautifully designed, four bedroom all ensuite home, will be finished with high-end, understated elegance by noted architect, Lucien Vita.

The primary suite, with a true cathedral ceiling and private balcony, is next-level. The roof-top deck is beyond cool. Soak up the sun and fresh air while entertaining and watching the fireworks and sailboats on the horizon. Walk barefoot on the champagne sands, through the-beach level covered terrace to your personal elevator that will whisk you from the garage to where your life is lived with clarity, at a pace dictated by nature, the sun, the tides and the rhythm of the waves.

Only a handful of Westport homes have this incredible, panoramic view with a sandy beach. You’re home. And your home is on the beach with crazy gorgeous views.

Click here to see more (and make an offer).

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David Roth and Kerry Long — co-directors of Staples Players — missed the opening night of “Guys and Dolls” in 2009. Kerry gave birth to their daughter Lucy, just 17 minutes before the curtain rose.

Henry Carson missed opening night of the same show on Friday. His absence was at least as significant.

The senior plays Nathan Detroit. But he caught the flu, and — with very little warning — his understudy had to go on.

His freshman understudy.

Will McCrea stepped up big time. He delivered an almost flawless performance, earning a huge hand from the sellout crowd.

That may not have been surprising. Will is Jack Lemmon’s grandson.

Will McCrea as Nathan Detroit, and Jackie Peterson as Adelaide. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The rest of the cast came through too — big time as well. The acting, singing, dancing, sets, lighting and pit make this one of Players’ best shows ever. And that’s saying something.

On Saturday, 2 more actors fell ill. Freshman Graham Griffin took over as Big Jule from senior Charles Watson. Junior Finley  Chevrier went on too.

Both Will and Graham’s Players debuts were impressive. Of course, they’ve been trained well: They shared the role of Daddy Warbucks in last year’s Bedford Middle School production of “Annie.”

Graham Griffin as Big Jule. (Photo/Kerry Long)

“Guys and Dolls” continues this weekend, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (November 18 and 19), and a Saturday matinee at 3 p.m. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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The League of Women Voters of Westport invites voters (and everyone else) to a “Post-Election Coffee.” It’s Wednesday (November 16, 10 a.m., VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue).

Westport’s registrars of voters Deborah Greenberg and Maria Signore will discuss the election, and what happens now the Connecticut’s early ballot initiative has passed.


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Caroline Hendley and her husband rode to Saugatuck Shores this weekend.

She sent this image for “Westport … Naturally.” Check out the Buddha on the far right. Caroline thought that its head, resting on a dock, suggests that it can calm the waters.

(Photo/Caroline Hendley)

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And finally … Jeff Cook, a founding member of Alabama, died last week in Florida. He was 73, and suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

The band had 32 #1 country hits between 1980 and ’93. Several crossed over to the pop charts. Click here for a full obituary.

(Alabama is great. But Westport is better. Please click here to support “06880” — your hyper-local blog.)

Roundup: Veterans, Board Of Ed, Farmers’ Market …

Veterans Day was special for Christine Quinn Antal.

The 1994 Staples High School graduate and former Army lawyer, and her husband Mark, a former decorated Green Beret, formed an organization — Task Force Antal — that has helped Afghanistan allies escape the Taliban, and provided humanitarian aid to soldiers in Ukraine.

Dozens of veterans help, knowing the couple cuts through red tape and delivers what they promise quickly and efficiently.

For Veterans Day, the “Today” show produced a live segment with the couple, their daughters, and a veterans organization that honored them. Click here for that inspiring story.

Christine and Mark also participated in Bedford Middlel School’s 8th grade Veterans Day event. They spoke powerfully about their work, and inspired the youngsters in Christine’s hometown. (Hat tipis: Kerry Long, Kate Tarrant)

Christine Quinn and Mark Antal, in a screenshot from yesterday’s “Today” show.

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Everyone talks about Westport’s schools.

Here’s a chance to do so with Board of Education members.

A community forum is set for November 15 (noon to 1:30 p.m., Westport Library).

Former RTM moderator Velma Heller will facilitate a conversation, on any topics related to our local schools. It should be a very interesting dialogue.

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Just in time for the holidays, the Westport Farmers’ Market moves indoors.

Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center once again hosts the winter market. It opens November 17 and runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday (except Thanksgiving) through March 9.

Vendors will fill 3 heated greenhouses with high-quality locally grown or raised fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, milk, baked and prepared foods, and handmade items,

The Farmers’ Market kicks off the season with a celebration. Bubble & Brew and Parlor Pizza will set up their trucks outside the greenhouses. Luke Molina will play music and Mae Farrell will entertain the kids with a nature-inspired theme.

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As Batman fans around the world mourn the death of Kevin Conroy — the character’s distinctive voice on television, in movies and video games — Staples High School graduates remember him as a classmate and friend.

The 1973 alum starred in several Staples Players productions, including “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Crucible.”

He was Sky Masterson too in “Guys and Dolls.” Opening night  was 50 years ago yesterday — the same date as last night’s premiere of the same show.

Eric Bosch sent along these photos of Kevin Conroy, from the Staples yearbook:

Kevin Conroy in “The Crucible.”

Kevin Conroy in “Romeo and Juliet.”

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Election Day was Tuesday. Votes have been cast and counted. Time for the political signs to vanish.

Most are already gone. Some still remain, though.

Westport regulations say signs must be removed within 48 hours of an event.

Today is a gorgeous day. Here’s a gentle reminder: If you put up a sign for a candidate, please head outside and take it down.

Let’s enjoy the still-lovely fall scenery without thinking of politics.

Beachside Avenue at Greens Farms Road. The Westport Library Book Sale sign is fine — it runs today through Monday.

Imperial Avenue (Photos and hat tip: John Karrel)

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Can we desegregate the suburbs?

That’s the provocative subtitle of a Zoom discussion set for Monday (November 14, 7:30 p.m.).

Sponsored by the Democratic Women of Westport, with the title “Who is My Neighbor?,” the event features Nancy Gagnier. She’s part of the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, a non-profit with the goal of building a suburban community free of racial segregation in housing and community involvement.

For more information, and to access the link, email dww06880@gmail.com.

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Three years ago, “06880” honored Charlotte — the longtime Balducci’s cashier known as “Charle” — as an Unsung Hero.

The “Comments” page quickly filled with more praise for her.

Now, Susan Weingarten reports, she was recently in a very bad automobile accident. Her car was totaled.

The good news: After recuperating at her Orange home, she is back at the store. Susan encourages all Charle’s friends to stay by and say “welcome back!”

Charle, at Balducci’s.

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The Weston Police Commission’s choice of Citizen of the Year is a no-brainer.

For more than 30 years, Mark Blake served the Weston Volunteer Fire Department and Weston Volunteer Emergency Medical Services. He was also a Westport EMS supervisor. Mark died in September, after a long battle with COVID.

A ceremony is set for Monday (November 14, 6 p.m., Weston Town Hall).

Among Mark’s many contributions to public safety: Weston’s Child Passenger Safety program. It offered training on the proper use of child car seats, and seats to those who needed them.

The public — including all of Mark’s friends and admirers — are invited to the event.

Mark Blake

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Ukraine has moved off the front pages.

But the war is very real to tens of millions of people who live there. And to friends and relatives, like Tatyana Hisxon of Westport.

She’s helping organize a fundraiser (December 2, 3 p.m. Carriage Barn Arts Centr, New Canaan).

The non-political event — called “Ukraine Fast Forward” — will showcase the country’s culture, arts and sciences.

All proceeds benefit Big Dreams Children’s Foundation. Long active with orphans and youngsters with disabilities, it now is helping kids and women affected by the fighting.

Raffle prizes include a private tour of the United Nations, and works by exhibiting artists.

For more information, email Tatyanahixon@gmail.com or call 646)872-9799.

One of the raffle prizes.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” actually comes from Weston.

There’s plenty of beauty there too, as Richard Ellis’ Japanese red maple leaves shwo.

(Photo/Richard Ellis)

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And finally … in honor of Kevin Conroy (see story above):

 

 

 

Remembering Kevin Conroy

Kevin Conroy — the 1973 Staples High School graduate and former Staples Players star whose voice was the definitive Batman — died yesterday. He was 66 years old, and had battled cancer.

Conroy was Batman’s voice on the animated television series from 1992 to ’96. He continued with the character through 15 films, 400 TV episodes and 2 dozen video games.

“Kevin brought a light with him everywhere, whether in the recording booth giving it his all or feeding first-responders during 9/11 or making sure every fan who ever waited for him had a moment with their Batman,” said Paul Dini, producer of the animated show. ”A hero in every sense of the word.”

AP says:

Conroy) attended Juilliard and roomed with Robin Williams. After graduating, he toured with John Houseman’s acting group, the Acting Company. He performed in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Public Theater and in “Eastern Standard” on Broadway. At the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, he performed in “Hamlet.”

The 1980s production of “Eastern Standard,” in which Conroy played a TV producer secretly living with AIDS, had particular meaning to him. Conroy, who was gay, said at the time he was regularly attending funerals for friends who died of AIDS. He poured out his anguish nightly on stage.

In 1980, Conroy moved to Los Angeles, began acting in soap operas and booked appearances on TV series including “Cheers,” “Tour of Duty” and “Murphy Brown.” In 1991, when casting director Andrea Romano was scouting her lead actor for “Batman: The Animated Series,” she went through hundreds of auditions before Conroy came in. He was there on a friend’s recommendation — and cast immediately.

Click here for the full AP obituary.

Kevin Conroy, in 2019.

In 2016 — when the New York Times profiled Conroy — “06880” posted this story:

In the eight-decade history of Batman, no one played the Dark Knight more.

For over 20 years, the 1973 Staples High School graduate has lent his “deeply charming, yet virile voice” to 9 Batman TV series, 12 animated movies and 7 video games. No other actor has played Batman for so long, or been as closely identified with him.

Today, the New York Times finally took notice.

Kevin Conroy (Photo/Ben Esner for NY Times)

Kevin Conroy (Photo/Ben Esner for NY Times)

The Arts section features a full-length story on Conroy — who, it should be noted, is hardly a 1-trick Batman. The Juilliard alum also toured nationally with “Deathtrap,” appeared on the soap opera “Another World,” played Laertes in the New York Shakespeare Festival, acted on Broadway, and was a regular on “Ohara” and “Tour of Duty.”

But it’s as Batman he’s best known, and that’s the Times hook. Jeff Muskus writes:

He has logged the most screen time of anyone in the comic-book vigilante’s 77-year history — without ever showing his face onscreen for the role. Still, his voice, deep and resonant, has defined the character for fans who grew up with his shows, and again for those devouring his three Arkham video games.

“It’s so much fun as an actor to sink your teeth into,” Mr. Conroy, 60, said over lunch in New York’s theater district. “Calling it animation doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like mythology.”

The story notes that “school plays” — aka Staples Players — provided Conroy with a home, away from his dysfunctional family (he lived some of the time with friends).

Muskus concludes:

Unlike Batman, Mr. Conroy has managed to resolve much of his childhood trauma. First, he sought a modicum of financial stability….He saved during his stage and Los Angeles days, flipping houses on both coasts, and supported and made peace with his parents in their final years. “I was able to speak for my father at his funeral and sing for my mother at hers,” he said.

Mr. Conroy said he’s grateful for his long-running second act. “I’ve been really fortunate to have gotten Batman, because he’s a character that’s just evolved,” he said. “It’s just been a character where you can ride that wave for 24 years. Keeping him alive, keeping him from getting just dark and boring and broody, is the challenge.”

Click here to read the full New York Times story. Click here for the Times’ selection of Conroy’s standout Batman performances.

Roundup: Holiday Stroll, Veterans Day, Old Dominion …

Mark your calendars for the 2nd annual Holiday Stroll. It’s Saturday, December 3  (5 to 7 p.m.).

Last year’s first-ever event was sponsored by “06880.” This year, we’re teaming up with the Westport Downtown Association, for an extra-special event.

It’s family friendly, with a visit from Santa, special activities for kids, and songs from the Orphenians and more. There will be a tent outside Cold Fusion.

Downtown merchants — including some across the river — will offer promotions. For example:

  • Walrus Alley: Happy hour prices for food and drinks
  • Bridgewater Chocolates: complimentary chocolate tastings
  • Noya Jewelry: hot holiday drinks
  • The Toy Post: free small toy
  • Lift Wellness Group: discount on bundled psychotherapy and nutrition services, gift cards with 10% discount applied for virtual and in person psychotherapy and nutrition services.
  • Upnorth: 10% off, and a giveaway.

Merchants and restaurants wishing to participate can click here for more information.

See you at the Stroll!

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Before the holidays, there’s Veterans Day.

Westport honors its vets tomorrow (Friday, November 11), with a ceremony at Town Hall.

The Community Band welcomes visitors with patriotic tunes, at 10:30 a.m.

At 11 a.m. — the hour the armistice ending World War I took effect — the program begins.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Staples High School senior Tyler Clark will speak. The Westport Police Department will fire a salute. The Community Band will play the “Armed Forces Salute.”

The public is invited.

The doughboy statue on Veterans Green. Tomorrow’s ceremony takes place in nearby Town Hall.  (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

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Carnivores: read on.

Saugatuck Provisions opened yesterday.

The new shop in the former Fleishers Craft Butchery is the creation of  chef (and Staples High School graduate) Matt Storch and Susan McConnell — both of Burger Lobster and  Match — plus Jimmy Bloom (Copps Island Oysters) and butcher Paul Nessel (well known from his Craft Butchery days across Riverside Avenue).

Stephanie Webster of CTBites calls Saugatuck Provisions “a new concept offering customers a curated selection of the very best ingredients from the land, sea and grocery, enabling guests to create beautiful restaurant quality meals at home.”

Saugatuck Provisions (Photo and hat tip/JD Dworkow)

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For Old Dominion, winning “Vocal Group of the Year” at the CMA Awards never gets old.

The country band — whose lead guitarist is 1997 Staples High School graduate Brad Tursi — took top honors for the 5th time, at last night’s 56th annual event.

Tursi was best known at Staples as a star soccer player. Now he’s scoring on a much bigger stage.  (Hat tip: Jeff Lea)

 

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The first evening of the Westport Library’s Short Cuts Film Festival earned rave reviews.

The second night is Thursday, November 17 (7 p.m., Trefz Forum).

Four short documentaries — all from the Tribeca Film Festival — will be shown.

  • “More Than I Want to Remember,” by Amy Bench. Winner, Best Animated Short, Tribeca. In the Congo, 14-year-old Mugeni runs to the forest, escaping bombs and surviving without her family.
  • “Beirut Dreams in Color,” by Michael Collins. This heart-rending story follows an openly gay Arab rock star and his activist fan. Tragedy results “in Cairo.
  • “Kylie” by Sterling Hampton. A Black ballerina tries to make it in the traditionally white ballet world?
  • “John Leguizamo Live at Rikers Island,” by Elena Francesa. The actor performs and spends time at the prison, inspiring justice-involved young men to reflect about their lives and the challenges of incarceration.

After the screenings, Kevin Wilson Jr. — an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, chats with Short Cuts producer Nancy Diamond.

The festival continues December 8, with an evening of narrative shorts.

Tickets are $25. Refreshments and popcorn will be served. For more information and tickets, click here.

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Deej Webb writes:

“I always thought of ‘Compo’ as coming from the Native American ‘Compaug.’ So I was surprised to see this clock at The Castle Museum in York, England.

“I looked it up and found: ‘Original Metal Front/Vanner & Prest’s Molliscorium Compo Embrocation Trade Mark/Advertising Clock with Restored Paint, circa 1905 to 1910.

“Etc., etc. — but with no explanation of ‘Compo.'”

Deej hopes the “06880” crowd can crowdsource this mystery. If you have any idea where “Compo” fits in all this, click “Comments” below.

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The Westport Police have released arrest reports for November 2-9.

Three people were detained in custody. One was charged with identity theft and larceny, 3rd degree.

One was arrested for sale of hallucinogenics, drug paraphernalia, weapons in  a motor vehicle, carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit, misuse of plates, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle under suspension, insurance coverage fails minimum requirements, failure to wear safety belt

One was detained for for violation of parole and narcotics possession.

The following citations were issued:

  • Violation of any traffic commission regulation (11)
  • Traveling unreasonably fast (7)
  • Misuse of plates (3)
  • Operating an unregistered vehicle (3)
  • Speeding (2)
  • Failure to  obey control signal (2)
  • Insurance coverage fails to meet minimum requirement (2)
  • Larceny, 6th degree (2)
  • Stop sign violation (1)
  • Operating vehicle without proper load cover (1)
  • Failure to have stop lamps/turn signals (1)
  • Failure to display plates (1)

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Readings of the new musical “Psyche,” starring Jay Armstrong Johnson and Johanna Moise, are set for today and tomorrow (November 10 and 11 at New York’s DiMenna Center .

But you can be forgiven if you think it’s a Staples Players’ Class of 2017 reunion.

The musical’s book and lyrics are by Emily Garber. The score is from Jake Landau.

Rounding out the production team are developmental producer Lauren Weinberger, dramaturg Phoebe Corde, and gender and sexuality consultant Shira Helena Gitlin. All collaborated on many Players productions.

“Psyche” was featured in Broadway World (click here). Click here for the website, with a full synopsis and link to demos.

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Speaking of performances: “Cheese Fries & Froot Loops” — the funny, poignant solo show written and performed by Weston’s Chris Fuller, about this lifelong dream to play on the PGA Tour while living with bipolar manic disorder — returns to the Fairfield Theater Company November 30 (6:30 p.m.).

His brothers Jeff and Judd Fuller (both professional musicians) and Chris’ step-sister Vicky — all raised in Westport — offer a special musical performance prior to the show. The theme is mental health awareness.

Chris was recently invited to join the United Solo Festival on New York’s Theater Row.

Click here for more information about the FTC show, including tickets.

Chris Fuller, in “Cheese Fries & Froot Loops.”

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Art of Everyone is launching Connecticut’s first Hybrid NFT & Traditional Art Exhibition.

The 2 mediums will be merged under one roof. The exploration of the convergence of traditional visual arts and NFTs puts artists back in control of their careers.

Set for this Saturday (November 12, 4 to 9 p.m.), it’s part of the Bridgeport Arts Trail. The Knowlton (305 Knowlton Street) has donated their entire 10,000-square foot space, audiovisual resources, staging and technology for the event.

Among the participants: Westport artists James Chantler Brown (Art of Everyone co-founder), Linda Colletta and Alison James.

Westporter Herm Freeman is showing too. He helped curate and hang the entire exhibit.

The Knowlton: a bird’s-eye view.

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“06880” readers sent plenty of beaver moon photos. But only one — today’s “Westport … Naturally” image — included a dog.

Tessie and the beaver moon. (Photo/Richard Abramowitz)

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And finally … on this date in 1775, the US Marine Corps was founded at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. Happy 247th birthday — and thanks for your service!

 

 

 

 

Roundup: Rob Simmelkjaer, Paul Newman, President Kennedy …

On the even of today’s New York City Marathon — and a couple of weeks before Roh Simmelkjaer takes over as CEO of its organizer, New York Road Runners — the New York Times sat down for a chat with the Westport resident.

Simmelkjaer is familiar to local residents. He’s a former member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Democratic Town Committee.

Persona — the interview and conversation-focused social media startup he founded — had a heavy local presence.

Simmelkjaer has also been a top manager at ESPN, an on-air Olympics personality for NBC, and — most recently — director of the Connecticut State Lottery.

He calls the Road Runners gig his “dream job.” (He comes prepared: He’s finished the New York Marathon twice.)

Click here to learn about Simmelkjaer’s plans — including a greater focus on the mental health aspect of running, and expanding the organization’s reach — in the Times’ Q-and-A. (Hat tip: John Suggs)

Rob Simmelkjaer

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Also in today’s New York Times: a review of Paul Newman’s new posthumous memoir, “The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man.”

It’s by Richard Russo, who has some skin in the Westport actor’s game. Newman’s portrayal of Sully in the film adaptation of Russo’s novel changed the author’s life, opening doors to a screenwriting career.

Click here for the full Times piece.

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CraftWestport — the Young Woman’s League’s mega-pre-holiday fair — returns to the Staples High School fieldhouse today, after 2 COVID years off.

Among the 175-plus exhibitors: Aiden Schachter.

The Staples High School student is selling his LED lightclouds. That may be a first for the event — and he may be the youngest vendor ever.

The show runs until 6 p.m. today. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Aiden Schachter, and his lightcloud booth.

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As the political season heats up, so does the work of Marc Selverstone.

The 1980 Staples High School graduate — An associate professor in presidential studies at the University of Virginia, and chair of the Presidential Recordings Program at the Miller Center of Public Affairs there — is about to publish “The Kennedy Withdrawal: Camelot and the American Commitment in Vietnam.”

It’s called “a major revision of our understanding of JFK’s commitment to Vietnam, revealing that his administration’s plan to withdraw was a political device, the effect of which was to manage public opinion while preserving United States military assistance.”

Selverstone is an expert on the subject. At the Miller Center he edits the secret tapes of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

Click here for more information, and to purchase.

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How do stress levels affect children’s brain development?

That’s the topic of the next Positive Directions “Lunch and Learn” series.

Frank Castorina, PD clinical supervisor, provides insights on November 16 (noon to 1:30 p.m., Westport Weston Family YMCA0.

It’s an important and timely topic. And lunch is provided! Click here to RSVP.

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Speaking of stress: Relax with some wine! (Adults, not kids …)

Westport Sunrise Rotary has just the ticket. Their “Westport Uncorked” wine tasting fundraiser is set for The Inn at Longshore (Friday, November 18. 6:30 p.m.).

Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served, along with dozens of fine wines provided by The Fine Wine Company of Westport. (All wines are available for purchase).

Every dollar raised goes directly to charities supported by Westport Sunrise Rotary. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Good times at the 2019 Uncorked wine tasting, at the Inn at Longshore.

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In advance of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ November 25 release of “Live at the Fillmore 1997” — their first live record in over a decade — Emmy-winning Westport animator Jeff Scher has created a great video.

Viewers will recognize plenty of local scenes, including Compo Beach, North Avenue and Cross Highway. There’s also the “Heroes Tunnel” through West Rock Ridge near Wilbur Cross Parkway Exit 59 in New Haven.

Click below to see:

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Westporters turned out in force yesterday, to help the Westport police force — and folks in need.

The Police Department and Stop & Shop sponsored their annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. All donations — 436 bags, filled to the brim — support Homes with Hope’s Food Pantry at the Gillespie Center. and Westport Human Services’ Food Pantry.

Some residents went out of their way to bring food. Others spotted the food drive, and added non-perishable items to their shopping lists.

At the end of the day, an entire (and enormous) truck was filled with much-needed goods. Thanks to all who contributed — and of course to the WPD, and Stop & Shop.

RTM member Jimmy Izzo, former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (with his wife Mary Ellen and grandson Charlie), and Police Chief Foti Koskinas (center), with volunteers and Westport Police Department officers at the Thanksgiving food drive by Stop & Shop.

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“Script in Hand” — the Westport Country Playhouse’s very popular series of staged readings — returns November 14 (7 p.m.). The show is “Ripcord.”

Click here for details (including a plot summary) and tickets.

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If you’ve eaten at La Plage, you know there’s fine dining by the water.

If you’re a bald eagle, you agree. Seth Goltzer spotted this bird enjoying a tasty meal of squirrel at Longshore.

It’s the real world. And it fits perfectly with our “Westport … Naturally” concept.

(Photo/Seth Goltzer)

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And finally … Aaron Carter, the singer and actor (and brother of Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter) was found dead yesterday at his California home. He was 34.

(Your clock should have been set back an hour last night. And don’t forget to support “06880” either! Please click here to contribute.)

Roundup: Jimmy Kimmel, Westport10, Clocks Change …

Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue is often edgy.

The other night, in a segment on Kanye West’s social media remarks, he aired a (fake) ad for “Yentanyl” — an aid to help those who might be feeling a bit antisemitic.

And there — right in the middle — was a clip from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

But not just any production of the Broadway classic. This was from Staples Players’ 2015 show: the famous “Bottle Dance” sequence.

Directors David Roth and Kerry Long have no idea how Kimmel’s staff found the show. But it’s on YouTube.

Actually, it’s quite popular. It’s gotten over 113,000 likes — and admiring comments from as far away as Russia. Many admirers probably have no idea this is a high school group.

Click below for the Kimmel into. The “ad” begins around the 7:30 mark. Staples’ cast comes on just after 8:00.

Then click below for the original Staples Players’ “Bottle Dance.” Oy! (Hat tip: Caroline Rossi)

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Speaking of Staples: The high school’s logowear is everywhere. Athletes, actors, musicians, Inklings writers — all proclaim their Wrecker allegiance.

There’s plenty of generic “Staples” apparel too, worn proudly by students and parents. It’s fun — and quite profitable for the retailers (some local, some not) who sell it.

At the Homecoming football game last month, a Staples PTA member spotted 2 varsity jackets — on long-ago graduates: Gina Hackett (Class of 1991) and John McGrath (’95).

Gina Hackett and John McGrath, at Homecoming.

That sparked a fundraising idea.

For a limited time — and just in time for the holidays — the Staples PtA is selling Staples Wreckerwear. Some is branded for alums; some just says “Staples.” It’s available to all alums everywhere. And anyone else who is proud of our outstanding high school.

Keeping it local: This is a partnership with Nice Threads, the Kings Highway North customizing company owned by 2000 graduate Tim Nash.

Click here to see all the sweatshirts, t-shirts, flannel pants, hats and beanies. The ordering deadline is November 11.

Some of the Staples PTA/Nice Threads logowear items.

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Autostrada — the classic car/private club/event meeting space that’s one of Westport’s hidden gems — was the setting for yesterday’s Westport10 meeting.

The social and cultural group of Black Westport men was hosted by Autostrada founder Gioel Molinari. They enjoyed a private lunch and tour of the rare autos in the well-curated space.

Gioel’s oat milk lattes drew especially high praise.

So far Westport10 has met at La Plage, the Westport Library and now Autostrada. Next month …?

Westport10 at Autostrada. Standing (from left): Craig Melvin, Christian Bolu, Ted Parker, Jay Norris, Kevin Christie, Brian Corbett, Vincent Spencer, Eric Freeman. Front: Gioel Molinari.

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Tonight — well, actually tomorrow morning — is our reward for last March.

Set your clocks back before bed. Bingo! You get an extra hour of sleep. It’s the “fall back” part of the “spring forward…” saying.

But here’s the thing: Why are we now on “Standard Time”?

It’s only from tomorrow through early March. That’s 4 months.

The other 8 months are “Daylight Savings Time.” Shouldn’t that be the standard? And maybe call these next 4 months “Nighttime Darkness Time”?

I’m just sayin’…

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Back to Staples: The high school’s Zero Waste Committee’s first-ever sustainable holiday festival is in the cafeteria on November 12 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Green gift items include kids crafts, a thrift store and more. Admission is free. Click here and scroll down to see the nearly 30 vendors.

Speaking of green: Last winter, “06880” posted 2 stories about trees removed at the site of a new home on Hideaway Lane, off Hillspoint Road.

New trees have now been planted on the town’s right-of-way. They are slow growing, and will not reach as high as the utility wires above them (as the trees that were removed did).

SIR Development also planted approximately 32 trees on the property itself, replacing those that were cut down. The tree warden was consulted on all the plantings.

New trees on Hillspoint Road.

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With great weather predicted, La Plage’s Patio Bar at Longshore will remain open this weekend.

We’re not sure what Thanksgiving holds. But the popular restaurant will be serving (indoors) a special holiday dinner, from noon to 7 p.m. that day (November 24).

There’s a traditional Amish turkey, with seasonal local ingredients. The 3-course prix fixe menu is $85 per person (young adults: $39).

For reservations and information, click here or call 203-684-6232.

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Speaking of weather: It was foggy yesterday morning at Compo Beach.

And we don’t have the foggiest notion who put these boots there. Or why.

Just one more reason — if anyone needs it — that there’s always something to see by the shore.

(Photo/Alison Lee)

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Longtime Westport resident and noted actress Page Hedden Wilson, died at her Haddam home on  September 13. She was 96.

Page was born in New York City in 1926 to Walter P. Hedden, director of Port Development for the Port Authority of New York, and Worth Tuttle Hedden, an award-winning novelist and champion of minority rights.

After attending Antioch College, Page met her husband, Ian H. Wilson while studying at the Theater School of Bradford Yorkshire, England. They were married in 1951 and lived for a short time in London, where Page gave birth to her first child on the day Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne.

In 1954 the couple relocated to Westport, Connecticut, where they  raised their daughters Rebecca, Dori, Ellen, Holly and Alix. For more than 60 years the family lived in 5 different homes there.

Page and Ian acted in the Westport Community Theater during its early years at the group’s little theater on Kings Highway, Wilton Playshop and White Barn Theater.

Page was an artist and puppeteer, creating her own traveling puppet show Trunk of Tales Puppets in 1965 and performing at hundreds of schools, museums and nature centers in New York and Connecticut. She was also s founding member of the Connecticut Guild of Puppetry.

Page was a playwright, actress and producer of critically acclaimed plays about famous women, from Agatha Christie to Mary Cassatt and Eleanor Roosevelt. She researched her characters carefully, using authentic props and dresses.

Page is survived by her daughters Rebecca (John Armstrong) of Madison, Connecticut; Dori (George Ostasiewicz) of Norwalk; Holly (Jim Luce) of Denville, New Jersey and Dr. Alexandra Wilson (Terry Dawson) of Austin. and 12 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. Page was predeceased by her former husband, Ian Wilson, her daughter, Ellen Page Wilson and her companion of many years, Sayard Stone.

PageWilson, on stage as Agatha Christie.

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Yesterday’s fog on Orchard Hill Road intrigued Rowene Weems.

The result: this moody but mesmerizing “Westport … Naturally” image:

(Photo/Rowene Weems)

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And finally … inspired by the photo of the Compo Beach footwear (above):

(“06880” continues to rely on readers for support. Please click here to contribute.)