Category Archives: Westport Country Playhouse

Roundup: Candidates, Chores, Irene Backalenick …

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A sure sign of fall: Our yards and traffic islands sprout dozens of signs for political candidates.

If you’d like to base your chose on more than placards, pencil in next Tuesday (October 12, noon, Westport Library and streaming). The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Library team up for a debate between the candidates vying for 1st selectman and 2nd selectmen: Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore (Republicans), Jonathan Steinberg and Candi Savin (Democrats), and TJ Elgin and Louis D’Onofrio (independents). Chamber director Matthew Mandell will moderate.

Click here for in-person tickets, and more information. It’s available on Cablevision Channel 79, and will also be archived.

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Another sign of autumn: As leaves fall and Westporters prepare for winter, many senior citizens need help.

The Department of Human Services hopes that seniors (in high school) — and juniors, sophomores and freshmen, plus middle schoolers — can help.

The DHS is compiling a list of students willing to help with outdoor chores. The suggested rate is $12 an hour.

Students interested in helping seniors (and earning money) should call 203-341-1050, or email humansrv@westportct.gov. Seniors needing assistance should also call 203-341-1050.

Need help bagging leaves? Human Services have kids for hire.

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Irene Backalenick turned 100 in August.

The former New York Times theater critic celebrated by publishing 143 of her reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions.

The collection spans the last 11 years of her career (2004 to 2015). Her final Broadway review was “Hamilton.”

Click here to order “In the Theater World.”

Irene Backalenick

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Caryl Beatus is one of “06880”‘s most avid readers — and frequent, insightful contributors.

She’s also a longtime golfer. Yesterday the Longshore Women’s Golf Association honored the founding (and 61-year) member, at the annual event named for her.

Caryl hit the ceremonial first shot. Fore!

Caryl Beatus was — as the golf cart says — Longshore’s “Queen for a Day.” (Photo/Mark Farrell)

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Bill Taibe is CRAzy.

Or at least, the owner of The Whelk, Don Memo and Kawa Ni is the 2021 Restaurateur of the Year, according to the Connecticut Restaurant Association. The organization — “CRA” — will present it’s “CRAzy Award” on December 6.

Taibe was chosen by a panel of more than 2 dozen food writers, critics, social media influencers and bloggers.

Meanwhile, the public can vote for other honors. Among the nominees: Taibe’s own Don Memo (Newcomer of the Year), and OKO (Restaurant of the Year, Fairfield and Litchfield Counties). Click here to see all nominations, and cast a ballot.

Bill Taibe

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For the second time this year, a Staples High School swim and dive team record fell.

The meet with Westhill came down to the final event. The 400 meter freestyle relay would determine the outcome. The Wreckers won in 4:10.46, earning the very tight 93-92 win.

The record-setting swim came from freshman Annam Olasewere. Her 26.15 time in the 50 meter free beat her previous record of 26.48, set just last week. She also won the 100 meter free.

The Wreckers are now 3-2. They’re in action next on Friday, vs. Greenwich (4 p.m., Staples).

Annam Olasewere (far left) earlier this month, with her 400 meter freestyle relay team (from left): Ayaan Olasewere , Ella Alpert, Jessica Qi,

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Susan Fehlinger is the Westport Book Shop’s guest artist this month. She’s an oil painter. The exhibit includes 12 coastal paintings. It’s open during business hours, at the popular used bookstore on Jesup Green.

Susan Fehlinger, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Halloween comes a day early to the Westport Country Playhouse.

The historic theater presents “Spectres and Spirits” — an original, 30-minute radio play – on October 30 (12 p.m., WSHU-FM).

It’s the work of frequent Playhouse collaborator (and macabre-minded) Richard R. Henry. John Gromada contributes clever sound design. To learn more and listen, click here.

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The other day, “Westport … Naturally” featured a monarch butterfly being eaten by a praying mantis.

Here’s one that lived:

(Photo/Tammy Barry)

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And finally … Long before Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff, Millie Small put Jamaica on the musical map. She was born today in 1947. She died May 5, 2020, at 72.

Roundup: Bagelfest, Bobcat, LGBTQ …

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Yesterday, “06880” reported that Adam Goldberg’s pop-up bagel store — the one behind Cycle Dynamics that draws dozens of devoted customers every Saturday — was entering the Brooklyn Bagelfest contest.

Sure, Westporters love them. But — as the only out-of-state entrant in the bunch — Adam was sure that others had a home borough advantage.

Well whaddayouknow: The boys from the ‘burbs won it all!

Congratulations to Adam. Now all of New York knows whose bagels are the best.

And it ain’t theirs.

Da winners!

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A reader writes:

“At the Y this morning, we were shocked to see a very big wild cat walk by on the paved path outside the fitness center. This is an area used frequently by children and adults. I called 911 because in my experience, coming from California, large wild cats are dangerous. They should not be seen in urban areas alongside humans, as this indicates a lack of fear or illness that is even more dangerous.

The big cat.

Animal control assistant Peter Reid responded by email. He wrote:

“That is a decent-sized bobcat, and he is certainly walking around like he owns the place!

“That YMCA property used to be a summer camp, and was mostly woods. Now they have developed almost all of it, and with reduced cover, animal sightings have increased. We had a bear move through that property on several occasions this past summer.

“I will talk to the YMCA about some signage. I know there was at least one previous sighting earlier this week.

“And I will add that area to my patrol route!”

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October 11 is National Coming Out Day.

To celebrate, Westport Pride is sponsoring a virtual panel discussion. From 7 to 8:30 p.m. that day, an “A team” of LGBTQ area residents will answer “When did you know?” They’ll tell their own personal stories of self-realization, acceptance and coming out.

Panelists include

  • John Dodig, former Staples High School principal
  • Zac Mathias, Weston High School senior and media influencer
  • Samantha Webster, Staples High graduate and former Staples Player
  • Luke Foreman, Staples grad and varsity tennis captain
  • Jen DeLoyd and Bethany Eppner, Westport parents
  • Kayla Iannetta, Staples teacher and founder of the Westport Public Schools’ Pride Coalition
  • Brian McGunagle, Westport parent and founder of Westport Pride.

Email westportctpride@gmail.com for a Zoom link.

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Yesterday’s Police Benevolent Association classic car show drew plenty of old-time autos — and throngs of admirers — to the train station.

Among beauties:

(Photo/Sarathi Roy)

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Halloween is all about dressing up. And what better place for a costume than the Westport Country Playhouse.

On the day before the holiday — October 30, noon to 4 p.m. — the historic theater hosts an outdoor family event. On tap: activities for kids, food trucks, a food drive for the community, beer tasting, scavenger hunt, raffle, and a costume parade (dogs welcome!).

Westport Country Playhouse (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

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One of last month’s Photo Challenges showed “Onyx Perpetual” — the sculpture by Sally Mttikow that stands near the Riverwalk downtown. It’s part of the Westport Public Art Collections.

It was also — as JC Martin’s image showed — overgrown with weeds and brush.

That’s been removed. Passersby can see the artwork as originally intended.

Except for one thing. As Werner Liepolt noted, it is now heavily damaged.

(Photo/Werner Liepolt)

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Spotted on Route 33:

“Maybe the driver works for Campbell’s Soups,” says photographer June Rose Whittaker.

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Today, “Westport … Naturally” heads to Sherwood Island State Park. Here are some pods in the dunes:

(Photo/Elena Naseruddin)

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And finally … in honor of Pop-up Bagels bagging the Brooklyn Bagelfest gold, this nugget says it all:

 

Roundup: ArtSmart, Woodside Bash, Short Cuts …

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ArtSmart — the joint program between the Westport PTA Council and Westport Library that brings arts education and creative arts programming into elementary schools — held a kickoff event yesterday at the Westport Library.

Attendees (who do not need art or teaching experience) learned how they can help. A workshop for new volunteers follows on October 13. For more information, email co-chair Danielle Dobin: danielle@apifeni.com.

The youngest attendee watches Danielle Dobin explain the ArtSmart program.

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A few tickets remain for Earthplace’s major fundraiser.

The “Woodside Bash” includes a harvest dinner under the stars, open bar, mechanical bull and music by the party band Pimpinella. It’s this Saturday (October 2, 7 to 10 p.m.). Click here for tickets. Proceeds help fund Earthplace’s many environmental education programs, their museum and trails and more.

The fun continues the next day (Sunday, October 3, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), with a Family Festival. Activities include a climbing wall, apple slingshot, donuts on a string, pumpkin bowling, hayride, corn pool, food trucks and more. $10 for adults; $5 for children. Kids under 2 go free!

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Sure, you can go to the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

But you can cut your schlep considerably, with a trip to the Westport Library’s Short Cuts Film Festival.

The 11th annual event will be screened live on the spectacular HD screen in the Trefz Forum — and online too — on 3 Thursdays: October 14, November 4 and November 18.

Tribeca selects 90 short films, from over 3,000 submissions. The Short Cuts Festival chooses 15 of those — “the best of the best.”

This year’s lineup includes 2 narrative/animated programs, and a first-ever documentary evening. Talkbacks with directors are scheduled too. For complete information on all films, including tickets, click here.

“The Kicksled Choir” — a Norwegian film — won the Best Narrative prize at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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Quidley & Co. — the great art gallery nestled between National Hall and Bartaco — combines with The Cottage for an “Art + Table Autumn” event on October 21 (5 to 6 p.m.).

The “convivial evening of art, lifestyle and cuisine” includes a collection of works by international artists for home or office, and “savory autumn tastes” from the Brian Lewis’ famed restaurant.

Quidley and Company

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You may have seen Robin Wolfe Scheffler running around town.

The son-in-law of longtime Westporters Steven Parton and Melody James loves training, whenever he’s here. Sometimes he pauses in mid-run to take photos, like this dramatic shot of the Staples High School track:

(Photo/Robin Wolfe-Scheffler)

It will all pay off at the 125th Boston Marathon October 11. He’s using the fabled event a a fundraiser for the National Braille Press’ children’s literacy program.

“Reading with my young son has been one of the best parts of being a parent. But that same experience costs 3 times more for families with blind or visually-impaired members,” he says. Click here to support Robin.

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Westport Country Playhouse’s Script in Hand play reading is always popular.

The next one — of “Mrs. Mannerly,” a comedy about a young boy and his manners teacher — will reach a wider audience than usual. It will be filmed — with a live audience — on Monday, October 11 (7 p.m.). The performance will be available for on-demand streaming from October 13-17.

“Mrs. Mannerly” will feature Playhouse favorites Mark Shanahan and Anne Keefe in the roles of student and teacher.

In-person tickets are $20. Tickets for on-demand streaming are $20 per individual, $40 for 2, $80 household. Each purchase entitles the buyer to an individual link. Click here, To purchase tickets click here, call 203-227-4177, or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org

Mark Shanahan and Anne Keefe.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes courtesy of Julie Blume. Her husband took this picture of a baby opossum Monday night. She reports that he — the animal, not her husband –“was in our backyard, hopefully eating lots of ticks.”

(Photo/Greg Guido)

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And finally … happy birthday to Jerry Lee Lewis. The wild rock and rockabilly pianist as survived several wild episodes — marriage to his 13-year-old cousin, an arrest at Graceland for allegedly attempting to shoot Elvis Presley, and IRS woes — and turns 86 today.

Playhouse Prepares For 2022

It will have been 2 years.

But the Westport Country Playhouse 2022 season will be staged in person. Live.

And it promises to be very, very lively.

The historic theater’s 92nd season begins in April, and runs through November. Artistic director Mark Lamos plans 5 shows:

  • An all-new production of “Ain’t Misbehavin'”
  • A blazing interpretation of the groundbreaking musical “Next to Normal”
  • The beautiful, insightful play about generational divide, “400o Miles”
  • The exuberant “Straight White Men,” and
  • “The moving, joyful celebration of spirit: “From the Mississippi Delta.”

Season package renewals are underway now for current subscribers: in person at the box office Tuesdays through Fridays (noon to 6 p.m.); by mail (25 Powers Court, Westport, CT 06880), by phone (203-227-4177) or online.

Tickets for new season ticket buyers go on sale November 9, with savings, priority seating, restaurant discounts, and a choice of options. Single tickets will be available early next year.

But theatergoers don’t have to wait until next spring. After the Playhouse pivoted to  online, outdoor and radio shows during the pandemic, they’ll resume live performances November 2 to 20 — with a twist.

“Doubt: A Parable” will also be filmed before an in-house audience, for on-demand streaming at home.

It’s been a dark two years for the Westport Country Playhouse — both literally and figuratively.

But the lights come back up in November. They’ll burn even brighter in 2022. The second show of the year is not the only thing that will be “Next to Normal.”

Empty Playhouse seats will soon be filled. (Photo/Robert Benson)

Roundup: Stolen Bench, Porchables, Partrick …

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This is the lowest of the low. Nathalie Jacob writes:

“Am I the only one that this has happened to?

“Someone took by accident or stole my little Nicole’s bus bench in Old Hill. She was so sad 😢 this morning when she walked down her driveway to find that someone had stolen/taken her little bus bench. It was gifted to us by a neighbor.

“The one cute thing that makes her comfortable and happy before the 🚌 picks her up, was that bench. She is so sad to not have it anymore.

“The bench was in my driveway, more than 10 feet inside of our property.

“Maybe an ‘06880’ reader might know where it is? Have missing benches been a thing around town?”

Nicole Jacob on her bench, before it was borrowed — okay, stolen.

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As Broadway (and off-) return, it welcomes back old faces — and new.

Among the latter: Colin Konstanty.

The Staples High School senior has joined the ensemble cast of Trevor: The Musical.

Colin — who has appeared in many Staples Players shows — says: “I’m so excited to be a part of Trevor: The Musical, and look forward to working with the amazing cast and creative team of the show. To be a part of the reopening of off-Broadway this fall means a lot to me, especially because the musical, even though it’s set in 1981, deals with a lot of the challenges that LGBTQ kids still face today and has an really important message about accepting, being, and loving who you are.”

For more information, click here.

Colin Konstanty

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The Westport Weston Health District — the first in the state — will add Easton to its list of town serves.

Instead of lengthening its name, the organization is shortening it. Starting January 1, it will be called the Aspetuck Health District. The new name honors a nearby river and reservoir.

It’s back to the future, in a way. At its inception in 1965, the original name was the Aspetuck Valley Health District.

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Gifts to museums take many forms: buildings. Exhibits. Endowments.

You don’t often hear, though, of donations like this. An anonymous donor has just guaranteed that admission to MoCA Westport’s gallery is now free. For all visitors. For an entire year.

“This gift supports our belief in the power of art to educate, enrich and build connections between us — a power that should be equally accessible to all in the community,” says executive director Ruth Mannes.

The current exhibition – “Between the Ground and the Sky” — is on view through October 17.

Up soon: a weekend brunch with food trucks and cocktails from Bar MoCA, plus a free drop-in art class for kids.

The MoCA exhibition — now free. (Photo/JC Martin)

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Shred it!

Westport’s 12th annual Shred Day is Saturday, September 25 (9 a.m. to 12 noon). There’s a ne location: the Greens Farms train station.

Residents may shred up to 8 paper bags or 3 boxes (12 inches by 18 inches), per household.  Each car will be charged $5. Proof of Westport residency is required.

Bank statements, canceled checks, credit card statements, tax papers and medical records are among the items Westporters shred.

It’s safe, secure, confidential — and environmentally sound. All material is recycled.

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The Porch @ Christie’s is pretty close to 4 schools: Staples High, Bedford Middle, and Coleytown Middle and Elementary School.

Which makes it perfect for parents who want “PorchAbles.”

The Cross Highway eatery has introduced a new item: school lunches that parents can order ahead to pick up, be delivered, or enjoyed in person at the Porch.

Pickup can be the night before school, or that morning.

There are 5 choices: Turkey, roast beef (both roasted at The Porch) or ham sandwich, with choices of bread (whole grain, white or gluten-free) and cheese (American, Swiss, cheddar or none), pizza pop’ems, or a bagel with cream cheese.

All come with a side of fruit salad, and a Sweet P cookie.

In addition, The Porch now delivers all menu items within a 5-mile radius. Click here for more information.

 

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Sunday’s “Photo Challenge” included — as an aside — a question about the derivation of the street name “Partrick” (off Wilton Road).

Turns out it’s the name of a family from the neighborhood.

Iain Bruce went one step further. He notes: “There are lots of Partricks and Partrics in Christ & Holy Trinity Cemetery. Spelling is irrelevant. People get all intense about names from 100 years ago. They forget that a) standardized orthography is pretty recent; b) moat of their ancestors couldn’t read or write anyway.”

(Photo/Iain Bruce)

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It doesn’t get more classic than “Of Mice and Men.”

The Westport Country Playhouse produced John Steinbeck’s famed play in 2008. Now — but only through September 26 — it’s available as an on-demand livestream.

Click here for more information, and tickets.

“Of Mice and Men”

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Congratulations to Jon Adler!

The 2004 Staples High School graduate won an Emmy Award Sunday in Los Angeles for his role as supervising producer of the CNN original series “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.”

Jon Adler, and his Emmy.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo was taken in a dahlia garden. It doesn’t get more gorgeous than this.

(Photo/Steven Rothenberg)

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And finally … on this day in 1741, George Frideric Handel completed his oratorio “Messiah.”

No, today is not Christmas. Or Easter.

But who needs an excuse to hear this?

Gabriele’s New Restaurant Opens Soon

Danny Gabriele lives in Greenwich. He ran a successful restaurant — Gabriele’s — there for years.

But he loves Westport too. Three weeks from now, a new Gabriele’s opens here.

The location — next to the Westport Country Playhouse — is storied. For years, it was the site of Player’s Tavern. Paul Newman and Michel Nischan founded The Dressing Room there. Most recently, it was Positano.

From the outside, the new Gabriele’s will look similar (with enhanced patio furniture and a new pergola).

New outdoor furniture was delivered yesterday to Gabriele’s. Still to come: the pergola, and finishing the exterior.

Inside though, it’s an entirely new, completely gutted and renovated space. A handsome, glass-backed bar with high-top tables sits on the left; couches and booths offer seating options throughout; a new dining area opens up in the rear. A new patio was built out back, too.

Gabriele’s is bright and light. But one thing has not been touched: Paul Newman’s fireplace.

The menu ranges from dry aged steak and seafood to pasta. It will be open for brunch, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.

Gabriele loves his new location. There’s plenty of parking (and valet service, for those who want it).

The restaurateur has worked closely with the Playhouse management throughout the process. Soon after he opens, the theater will welcome back patrons too.

The sign at the Westport Playhouse entrance, on the Post Road. (Photo/Molly Alger)

Gabriele is excited by Westport’s robust dining scene. He’s been encouraged too by the reception he’s gotten from town officials.

“Everyone has been incredible,” he says. “This is the easiest town I’ve ever worked in.

“The inspectors are great. They call you right back. One guy was on vacation, but he got back to me 3 hours later. They tell you what to do, you fix it, and they come right back to say okay.”

Three weeks from now, diners will have their say about the newest restaurant in town.

Jessica Caldwell’s “Billions”

As the Westport Country Playhouse reaches out to younger audiences, a new generation of trustees has joined its board.

One name is familiar: 24-year-old State Senator (and 2014 Staples High School graduate) Will Haskell.

Jessica Caldwell is not as well known. But she has a fascinating back story, one that serves her well in her role helping oversee the 90-year-old theater.

Raised in a lobstering village of 500 people off the coast of Maine, and just 16 when she headed to college, Caldwell took screenwriting, writing and communications courses as an undergrad.

Jessica Caldwell

That led to Columbia University’s MFA program, from 2009 to ’12. She went on to produce independent feature films (“Electrick Children,” “Happy Baby,” “AWOL”). and the upcoming “When I’m Done Dying.”

Her feature films have premiered at Berlinale, SXSW and Tribeca. Her short films were shown at Sundance, Telluride and Tribeca.

She’s had a hand too in TV. After hearing Brian Koppelman and David Levien speak while still in school, she connected with them on social media. When they needed an assistant for a new show called “Billions,” they hired the 26-year-old Caldwell.

She worked in the writer’s room and as a showrunner — both in assistant roles.. It was an “intensive crash course, with amazing actors and a great network.” The experience was both exhausting and exhilarating.

“Billions” was set originally in Westport. The hedge fund was modeled in part on Bridgewater. Caldwell did not yet live here. And she was not yet married to her husband — who coincidentally now works for a local hedge fund.

“Billions”‘ Axe Capital hedge fund was originally set in Westport.

Koppelman and Levien encouraged her to write full time. She’s written features and book adaptations, and helps develop ideas for production, like “Gonzo Girl.” A first-person story about a bizarre first date got plenty of New York Times attention.

“I keep trying to roll the ball forward,” Caldwell says. “You never know what people will want.”

The pandemic changed how she works. Pitches were done entirely on Zoom, with executives in Los Angeles and producers in London.

It was a tough time for feature films. But the rise of platforms like Disney+, Paramount+, Apple TV+ and Peacock filled people’s needs for entertainment options. “We’ve all had to think on our feet and adapt,” Caldwell notes.

She is thankful to have a place like Westport to write in (and, with her husband, raise their year-old son).

Living here has brought her to the Playhouse, too. She first volunteered for the annual gala; the more she saw, the more she realized she could help reach out to younger audiences.

New trustees will help the Westport Country Playhouse reach younger audiences.

She looks forward to mentoring younger members of the arts community. She is thankful for the help Koppelman and Levien gave her, early in her career, when “Billions” was just starting out.

And when the only reason she knew Westport was through the fictional world of its Axe Capital.

Playhouse Suffers Severe Storm Damage

The Westport Country Playhouse suffered significant damage last night. as Hurricane Ida swept through — smack in the middle of the “Stars on Stage” concerts, being record for national TV broadcast.

Dressing rooms, hallways, the production office, mechanical and boiler room, wardrobe, laundry and other spaces on the lower level and basement all experienced severe flooding.

It will be days before those areas are dry and sanitized.

The Playhouse seeks “any gift within your means” to help recover the costs associated with damage repair, and the additional expense of renting trailers and other temporary spaces for the artists coming for this evening’s concert with Brandon Victor Dixon. Click here to help.

One view of the downstairs Playhouse damage …

… and another …

… and a third.

Roundup: Ida, Newcomers, Yappy Hour …

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Last night was crazy.

Yesterday afternoon, Dick Lowenstein stuck an empty pail outside his home.

This morning, it showed nearly 7 inches of rain.

(Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

But just a couple of hours after Hurricane Ida roared away, our beaches were calm.

If it weren’t for flooded basements, tree limbs on lawns and some ponds in places they shouldn’t be, it could seem like last night never happened.

Old Mill Beach, just after sunrise. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Lost in last night’s weather news: The Parks & Recreation Commission approved a conceptual plan for a small area of active recreation (pickleball and bocce) on the Baron’s South property last night.

The vote was 3 for, 1 abstention.

In the plan below, one bocce court is just west (below) the Senior Center. The pickleball courts abut Imperial Avenue, on the lower left side of the plan. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

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“Newcomers” groups are great — in theory. In reality, they often bring together only other newcomers.

Neighbors & Newcomers of Westport is different. The club is a mix of recent arrivals and more seasoned residents. It’s a perfect way for newcomers –and there are a ton — to immerse themselves in Westport, while meeting others in the same situation, and those who know the ropes.

N&N activities include a book club, beach walking, tennis, Girls Nights Out, meet-and-greet and other gatherings.

The new season begins with coffee at Compo Beach (September 14, 10 to 11 a.m.).

Click here for more information.

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Congratulations to Jacob Troelstra. The 2015 Staples High School graduate — and 2020 graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point — completed Army Ranger School training.

Called the toughest combat leadership course in the world, t tests physical and mental endurance of soldiers under sleep and caloric deprivation for 62 days.

Jacob now heads to Fort Campbell, Kentucky as a platoon leader.

Jacob Troelstra

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The first 2 nights of  “Stars on Stage from Westport Country Playhouse” are already wrapped.

The final two tapings — for a national television audience, after noted producer Andrew Wilk works his editorial magic — are tonight. There are 2 shows: 7 and 9 p.m. Brandon Victor Dixon (NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar, Hamilton) is the star.

A few tickets are still available. Click here for details.

Shoshana Bean shined during Tuesday’s taping at the Westport Country Playhouse. She was joined by Luke Edgemon and Melanie Nyem. (Photo/Carol Rosegg)

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Today at MoCA Westport, it’s double trouble: monthly Yappy Hour, plus the regular Happy Hour (5-7 p.m.).

It’s a great way to meet other people — and dogs — in the museum’s great outdoor space. You can also purchase cocktails from Bar MoCA (this week’s custom cocktail is Honey Lavender Bee’s Knees), and enjoy free admission to the new “Between the Ground and the Sky” exhibit.

All dogs must be leashed!

Happy scene from the August Yappy Hour.

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This Labor Day weekend should be remarkable — at least, Remarkable Theater-wise.

The schedule for the Imperial Avenue parking lot drive-in includes:

  • Friday, September 3: “Stand by Me” (7:45 p.m.)
  • Saturday, September 4: “The Graduate” (7:30 p.m.)
  • Sunday, September 5: “The Sandlot” (7:30 p.m.)

Click here for tickets and more information.

The “Stand by Me” kids.

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The Westport Weston Health District has a new director of clinical services.

Vanessa Hurta has worked in healthcare for over 17 years, including primary care and preventive cardiovascular medicine, clinical research and teaching. Her most recent position was nurse practitioner for Yale New Haven Health. She has lectured and written about hypertension and obesity.

In other WWHD news, travel and vaccination clinic operations are expected to resume by mid-September. Call 203-227-9571, ext. 224, for appointments.

Vanessa Hurta

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The Levitt Pavilion is not quite finished.

They’ve added one more (great) show: Pete Muller and the Kindred Souls. The date for the intriguing instrumental/vocal quartet is September 26th (7 p.m.).

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Pete Muller and The KIndred Souls.

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Marla Cowden, Democratic Registrar of Voters, will leave office September 13.  She has served as Democratic Registrar for 11 years.

The new Democratic Registrar is Deborah Greenberg.

Marla Cowden

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The September/October issue of Westport Magazine includes a cover story on Kitt Shapiro.

The lively owner of WEST is the magazine’s face for its fall fashion feature. There are also interviews with Instagram stars Emily Rosnick, Zac Mathias and (the biggest) little Piglet.

Particularly timely: a chat with Rob Marciano about covering the weather.

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The view from the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s fitness center is gorgeous — and ever changing. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out over woods, water — and wildlife.

Treadmill, erg machine and elliptical users are used to seeing interesting things. But yesterday’s view was particularly intriguing. And worthy of inclusion for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/William Strittmatter)

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And finally … the great, versatile (R&B, rock, funk, soul, gospel) keyboardist Billy Preston was born today, in 1946. He played with Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, Rolling Stones, and Beatles — among others — and also achieved fame with solo recordings.

He died in 2006, age 59, from kidney and other ailments.

 

Roundup: School, Robots, Cycling …

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It’s an annual tradition: On the first day of school, parents take photos of their kids at the Juniper Road/Caccamo Lane bus stop.

Here’s this year’s edition. Parents: Save for posterity. Kids: Don’t be embarrassed — decades from now, you’ll appreciate this.

PS: The little one on the far left? He’ll be graduating before you know it.

(Photo/Pam Long)

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Another tradition: Staples High School senior girls design t-shirts, decorate their cars, then drive in a motorcade to school.

Here are just a few of the 200-plus seniors girls from the Class of 2022:

(Photo/Lisa Rowan)

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In the mid-2010s, Staples had one of the top robotics teams in the world.

Now a new generation of students is gunning for the top again.

Ben Saxon — a junior who is a black belt in karate, and a competitor on both the squash and math teams — has added robotics to his resume.

He’s got a 3D printer, and has built robots at home. He and 8 or so passionate friends are recruiting others to join them, with a competitive club. 

They’ve begun fundraising, to purchase components including hardware and software. Their goal is $3,500.

Click here to help. Click below for an intriguing video, and to meet team members.

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Speaking of Staples:

For his 40th reunion last weekend, 1981 graduate Dan Gallant created a race-quality cycling jersey. The front includes an image of the school; the back, the Staples seal.

Classmates loved it. One suggested it might be popular beyond just those alums.

Great idea! Even better: Dan is donating all proceeds to Staples Tuition Grants.

Click here to order. Show your pride — and support STG. NOTE: Today is the ordering deadline!

Front, rear and side views.

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How hard is it to make a pizza? (The real — not microwave — kind.)

You can find out on Sunday, September 26 (10 a.m. to noon).

Wakeman Town Farm fires up its outdoor wood-burning pizza oven for a fun class.

Chef Annalyce Loretto and pizzaiolo Carl McNair will teach how to make traditional pizza — ending, of course, with samplings. Ages 12+ are welcome.

All ingredients and materials are provided. Click here to register.

Also ahead at WTF:

  • Build-a-grazing board (food & wine experience): September 30, 7 p.m.
  • Al fresco fall farm dinner with chef Genee Habansky of Herbaceous Catering, with locally sourced ingredients: October 2, 6 p.m.
  • Oktoberfest dinner with AMG Catering’s Alison Milwe Grace: October 14, 5:30 p.m.

Click here for details.

Celebrating Wakeman Town Farm’s pizza oven.

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If you can’t find a MoCA Westport fall course that piques your interest, you haven’t looked hard enough.

The Newtown Turnpike museum offers classes in categories like Exploring Art Together for Babies and Toddlers, Academic & Art Enrichment, Digital Animation and Cinematography, Drawing, Fashion and Floral Design.

Click here for the catalogue. Then expand your horizons!

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A reminder: The Westport Country Playhouse’s “Stars on Stage” shows will be taped tonight (August 31), and tomorrow and Thursday (September 1 and 2) — and will be edited, then broadcast to a national television audience.

There are 2 shows each night, at 7 and 9 p.m. A few tickets remain ($75 and $20). Complimentary tickets go to first responders, students, teachers, and groups and organizations.

For tickets or more information, click here, call 203-227-4177, or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.

(From left): Shoshana Bean, Gavin Creel: Westport Country Playhouse stars.

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(Photo/JC Martin)

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And finally …  what better song for August 31?