Category Archives: Entertainment

Connor And Carson Einarsen’s Inconsistent Story

Move over, “The Swimmer.” Step aside, “Stepford Wives.”

“An Inconsistent Story in Stealing” is coming to town.

No, it’s not a big-budget, full-length feature film. But the movie being shot in Westport later this summer has something those 2 projects — and nearly every other film made here — did not:

Connor and Carson Einarsen.

The talented Staples alums — Connor graduated last year from Carleton College, with a degree in cinema and media studies; Carson followed this year from Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in film and TV — are preparing their 2nd shoot.

Two years ago, the brothers made “Ryan Hood,” a 60-minute film for just $40. (They rented jackets for police officers).

Carson (left) and Connor (middle) Einarsen, directing "Ryan Hood."

Carson (left) and Connor (middle) Einarsen, directing “Ryan Hood.”

This one — “An Inconsistent Story in Stealing” — is more ambitious. Written by Carson, the neo-noir movie is about a former thief who is sucked back into the town she despises, to hunt down something she stole long ago.

There are 17 speaking parts, and 40 locations. One-third of the film will be shot at night, something most directors shy away from.

Pre-production takes place in June and July. Shooting is set for the 1st 3 weeks of August. In October “An Inconsistent Story” will be screened for the town. Then it’s off to film festivals around the world.

The Westport Library is helping, with a little bit of capital and a lot of resources. It’s one more way for the MakerSpace to expand its creative mission, Connor says.

In return, he and Carson will lead library classes for aspiring young filmmakers, and offer a film appreciation course.

The brothers are looking for actors and production assistants. If you’re interested, contact inconsistentstory@gmail.com.

 

 

Helping Peter Pastorelli

Peter Pastorelli is a longtime, well-known, much-loved Westport character.

He was a movie and TV location and production manager forever. His credits include “American Psycho,” “Fame,” “Midnight Run” and many more.

He’s got countless stories about actors, directors, musicians, and everyone else in Hollywood.

Plus, he hosted some of the most interesting and eclectic parties I’ve ever been to.

Over a year and a half ago, Peter was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. He’s undergone chemo and radiation, but the treatments are no longer effective.

Peter Pastorelli (3rd from left), and his family.

Peter Pastorelli (3rd from left), and his family.

Until a few months ago, he managed his own care. But extreme fatigue and weakness have caught up to him. He stayed at home as long as possible. Now he needs full-time care.

Peter has chosen the Regional Hospice & Home Care Center in Danbury, so he can be close to his family. But to be admitted within a week, he needs financial assistance.

Peter’s family set up a GoFundMe site to help raise money.

“Peter has been a tremendous friend to so many,” the page says. “His wit, humor and intelligence are defining characteristics of this incredibly generous man.

“We would greatly appreciate any donation that is given to assist Peter. With deep gratitude, we thank all those for their kindness and contributions.”

(Click here to contribute to Peter Pastorelli’s GoFundMe page.)

Justin Paul: Back To Broadway!

Dear Evan Hansen” — the award-winning musical now finishing an off-Broadway run — is headed to the big stage.

When the darkly funny show — whose tagline is “a new musical for the outsider in us all” — opens at a Shubert theater in November, it will mark the 2nd Broadway credit for Justin Paul.

Justin Paul (right) and Benj Pasek.

Justin Paul (right) and Benj Pasek.

The 2003 Staples High School graduate, with songwriting partner Benj Pasek, made their debut in 2012 with “A Christmas Story.”

They’ve also earned critical acclaim with “Dogfight,” “Edges” and “James and the Giant Peach,” while their original songs have been featured on NBC’s “Smash.”

Pasek and Paul are graduates of the University of Michigan and winners of the 2007 Jonathan Larson Award, named after the late “Rent” composer, that honors achievement by composers, lyricists and librettists.

The young composers received an Obie for their work on “Dear Evan Hansen.” That show also earned an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical, and a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Musical.

Dear Evan Hansen - logo

(Hat tips: Carol King and David Roth)

Alisan Porter Rocks “The Voice” Vote!

Westport knew her as Ali Porter.

Movie-goers knew her as Curly Sue.

Now the nation knows Alisan Porter as the newest victor on “The Voice.”

She won!

She won!

The former Staples High School Players actor/singer stood tall last night. She won the NBC show’s 10th season in convincing fashion. Her heartfelt duet with Jennifer Nettles of “Unlove You” capped a run to the title that included an astonishing, judges-head-turning blind audition rendition of “Blue Bayou,” followed by fantastic covers of artists like Janis Joplin, Aerosmith and Demi Lovato.

Congratulations, Ali — er, Alisan. You’ve done us all proud.

And we can’t wait to hear you at your welcome-home concert here!

UPDATE: Staples Pops Concert At Levitt Sold Out

At this time, no tickets remain for the free “Staples Pops at the Levitt” concert. This status may be updated on Friday, May 27 — check back by clicking here or calling 866-811-4111 then!

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The Staples High School music department is famous for its professional-style concerts.

That’s not hyperbole.

For the 1st-ever “Westport Pops Concert at the Levitt” (Thursday, June 9, 7 p.m.), the symphonic and chamber orchestras, jazz band and Orphenians vocal ensemble will be joined by a pair of Broadway notables.

James Naughton

James Naughton

James Naughton emcees the all-star event. The Weston resident and 2-time Tony Award winner has a long history as a narrator and soloist with orchestras like the Boston Pops, New York Pops and Rhode Island Symphony.

He’ll feel right at home. The Staples event is modeled on the Boston Pops’ Esplanade concert series (right down to the riverside setting).

Meanwhile, Andrew Wilk — executive producer of “Live from Lincoln Center” and a 5-time Emmy-winning director, writer and producer of TV programming — is consulting on the production. Staples students and alum will capture all the action for a Cablevision special.

Wilk — a Westporter and father of a Staples grad — worked with Naughton several years ago, on “Lincoln Center.” He says the emcee will add “real elegance and sizzle” to the evening.

From right: Andrew Wilk and Adele Valovich meet with Staples senior Emma Cataldo and Elon University junior Katie Shannon, for a Levitt Pavilion pre-production session. The 2 students will be part of the camera crew for Staples' pops concert June 9.

From right: Andrew Wilk and Adele Valovich meet with Staples senior Emma Cataldo and Elon University junior Katie Shannon, for a Levitt Pavilion pre-production session. The 2 students will be part of the camera crew for Staples’ pops concert June 9.

Selections range from “Rodeo” and “Phantom of the Opera” to “I Got Rhythm,” “Shenandoah” and a rousing finale.

Alisan Porter’s In “The Voice” Finals!

So far, so good!

Alisan Porter — the former Staples Players star who went on to fame in “Footloose” and “A Chorus Line,” and now has a devoted national following as founder of the very cool Lil’ Mamas website — has reached the finals of “The Voice.”

She joins 3 other contestants — none of whom could possibly be as good — in the 2-part finale. It airs today and tomorrow (May 23 and 24, 8 p.m. EDT) on NBC.

We’re all rooting for our hometown girl. We’ll be tuning in.

But just to make sure she gets her well-deserved win, here’s how you can help:

Alisan Porter

Art (And More) About Town

Tonight’s Art About Town opening party drew hundreds of folks to Main Street.

Plenty of actual art was displayed, on sidewalks and in store windows. But there were other art forms too: street performers, musicians, face painters and more.

Plus (of course) food.

The annual event is sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. Artwork will remain in stores — and available for purchase — through June 19.

Painting with a Twist had a booth -- including (just like at their art sessions) a bottle of wine.

Painting with a Twist’s booth included (just like their sessions) a bottle of wine.

But is it art?

But is it art?

Builders Beyond Borders showed mosaics. This one was made out of pieces of photos, taken on a recent service trip.

Builders Beyond Borders offered mosaics. This one was constructed from thousands of photos, taken on a recent service trip.

Little kids can make art out of anything. Including sand.

Little kids can make art out of anything. Including sand.

Art About Town - 2 ladies 1

Two ladies.

Haitian artist Jean Benoit -- now living in Stratford -- showed off his works near The Gap.

Haitian artist Jean Benoit — now living in Stratford — showed his works near The Gap.

Boo!

Boo!

Jeera Thai was among many downtown restaurants offering dinner.

Jeera Thai was among many downtown restaurants offering dinner.

Art is all about free expression.

Art is all about free expression.

 

 

“2nd Fattest Housewife” = Least Funny Show

As reported last weekend, ABC is placing a big bet on a show about “the 2nd fattest housewife in Westport.”

They’re changing the title. But the show is still set “here.” And Westport plays a big fat role in the promo.

Check out the just-released trailer:

Executives — including Staples grad Kenny Schwartz — are playing up all our stereotypes. “Game of Thrones” it ain’t.

No wonder broadcast television is dying.

Play It Again, 323!

Last month, “06880” reported on a piano plea from 323.

Music lovers at the North Main Street restaurant hoped to raise $11,000 to buy a piano. The one used for 323’s popular Thursday night jazz series — lent by Beit  Chaverim Synagogue (through their leader, Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall) — was not up to the job.

This was not just any piano, mind you. It was a fine 1937 Steinway “M” — from New York’s legendary Village Gate. For decades beginning in 1958, it was played by greats like Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Ahmad McCoy Tyner, Erroll Garner, Nina Simone and Sun Ra.

Would jazz lovers an hour from the city pony up the cash to give it a second life in Westport?

Yes! The deal has been closed. The new piano is already safely in its new home, right near the bar.

Steinway's classic piano, in its new 323 home.

Steinway’s classic piano, in its new 323 home.

The official welcome show is this Thursday (May 19, 7:30 p.m.). It’s billed as “Chris Coogan Meets the Jazz Rabbi.” All are welcome.

The fine print: The newly formed Jazz Society of Fairfield County has not yet raised the full amount. An interest-free loan from an anonymous jazz lover will tide them over for a few days. They  hope to reach their goal this week, and start a fund for periodic maintenance, regulation and tuning. Contributions can be made via PayPal (click here). For other arrangements, email JazzRabbi@gmail.com. For 323’s Jazz Series Facebook page, click here.

“Laramie Project: 10 Years Later”: The Back Story

At a time when Americans express more hatred against “others” — and more loudly — than in a long, long time, Staples Players addresses the issue of differences head-on.

This weekend, the stellar high school troupe produces “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.” The follow-up to last year’s “Laramie Project,” explores how that town has changed — politically, socially, religiously and educationally.

Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long have done “Laramie Project” 3 times. This is their 1st time directing the “10 Years Later” companion piece.

Roth says they are attracted to the shows — about the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard, and its cascading effects on a small Wyoming town — because “the messages are huge.”

Charlie Zuckerman and Nick Ribolla. Each actor in the ensemble plays several roles. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Charlie Zuckerman and Nick Ribolla. Each actor in the ensemble plays several roles. (Photo/Kerry Long)

“The first play examined Laramie’s unraveling, and dealt with how and why people hate,” says Roth. “The second one deals with change and complacency. How do we effect change when we forget important issues that are not in the forefront? How do those issues slip away when not dealt with directly?”

Roth and Long are also intrigued by the writing. All text comes from direct interviews. There’s a thrilling documentary feel — for performers, directors and audiences.

The duo are excited too by the “cycle” of the shows. Staples is one of very few high schools to produce both dramas.

As they’ve done so many times before, Players is tackling a provocative, challenging subject.

Why?

“Because we have the means and opportunity to do so,” Roth says simply.

Keenan Pucci, and the "Laramie Project: 10 Years Later" company. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Keanan Pucci, and the “Laramie Project: 10 Years Later” company. (Photo/Kerry Long)

“Theater has the power to evoke thought, and bring about change. We are privileged to live in a town that allows us to produce thought-provoking work like ‘The Laramie Project.’ Our audiences are intelligent, well-read and well-traveled. They look to the next generation to challenge them, and make them think.”

Roth notes Players’ long history of producing shows that other high schools shy away from. In the 1960s and ’70s, dramas like “War and Pieces” (an original piece) and “Black Elk Speaks” dared Westporters to think deeply about controversial subjects.

In the early 1990s, students made national news by fighting to stage “Falsettos.” The musical — to be revived on Broadway this year — concerned love, homosexuality, Judaism and the then-recent AIDS crisis.

“Everyone involved still thinks of that show as a defining moment in their lives,” Roth explains. “Unfortunately, we rarely say that about shows that are light and fluffy. Yes, we remember them as fun, but they won’t stay with us too long.”

Brooke Wrubel, Jacob Leaf, Charlie Zuckerman and Jackie Rhoads, in "The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later." (Photo/Kerry Long)

Brooke Wrubel, Jacob Leaf, Charlie Zuckerman and Jackie Rhoads, in “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

Noting that theater has the power to change thoughts, lives and points of view, Roth says that the shows his young actors love most are “challenging, dramatic pieces that are emotionally taxing to perform”: “Hamilton,” “Rent,” “Spring Awakening.” All were risks, for writers and actors. None have happy endings. But they inspire audiences to examine their own lives, and the world around them.

The Players director calls Matthew Shepard’s murder “perhaps the most famous hate crime we’ve seen.” As Americans loudly debate how to treat those who are in any way “different” from others, “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later” reminds us strongly that actions have consequences.

(“The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later” will be performed in Staples’ Black Box Theatre this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 19, 20 and 21 [7:30 p.m.], and Sunday, May 22 [3 p.m.]. For more information, click here. For tickets, click here.)