Category Archives: Westport Country Playhouse

Roundup: Humane Society, Holiday Trees, “Christmas Carol” …

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Looks like the Connecticut Humane Society will be moving from its longtime Post Road digs, just east of Compo Shopping Center.

“Good Morning Wilton” reports that that town’s Planning & Zoning Commission approved an application for new headquarters at 863-875 Danbury Road (Route 7).

Specifically, the Wilton P&Z’s unanimous votes permit a charitable organization to operate on residentially zoned property.

Humane Society executive director James Bias called it “a big night for pets and people of Connecticut. We are thrilled that the application for CHS’ new animal resource center in Wilton has been approved, and very thankful to the town of Wilton. We are also so grateful for the supporters who believe in creating this new safe haven for pets in need and are with us every step of the way.

“This is a moment to celebrate, but of course, there is a lot more work to be done to bring this project to reality. We are excited to get started on the next steps.”

(Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

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They’re lit!

The Westport Downtown Association’s 12 holiday trees — each decorated professionally, and themed to a different non-profit — will delight shoppers from now through New Year’s.

The organizations include Filling in the Blanks, Wakeman Town Farm, Westport Young Woman’s League, Westport Fire Department, Homes with Hope, Christ & Holy Trinity Church, Aware, CLASP Homes, Westport PAL, Westport Bookstore, and MoCA Westport.

This tree — one of a dozen, courtesy of the Westport Downtown Association — is at the corner of Church Lane and Elm Street.

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It’s a Westport Country Playhouse Christmas!

“A Merry Little Christmas Carol” — based (of course) on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” — will be performed live on Monday, December 13 (7 p.m.). It’s available too for on-demand streaming, from December 16 through 19.

Part ghost story, part celebration, the show based on the classic novel with Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future is the newest offering from WCP’s Script in Hand play-reading series, and Playhouse Radio Theater.

Click here for tickets and more information.

Bah humbug!

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Yesterday’s Roundup gave an incorrect date for the Westport Farmers’ Market’s Holiday Artist Market. It’s this Saturday (December 4), from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center.

The Artist Market takes place in 3 open-air greenhouses, and features a wide array of one-of-a-kind handcrafted gift ideas. Food trucks will be on hand too.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows the late-November view from Giina Ryan’s home office window.

She says,  “In a few days, after the leaves drop, we will see the loading docks on the back side of Stop & Shop for the winter.”

(Photo/Gina Ryan)

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And finally … Singer/producer/composer/actor Lou Rawls was born today in 1933. He died in 2006, age 72.

 

Pic Of The Day #1686

The Westport Country Playhouse, from Winslow Park. Photographer Wendy Crowther says, “There was a great lighting director at work: the setting sun.”

Roundup: Stephen Sondheim, Artists Collective, Sconset Square …

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Among the many tributes to legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, this one caught Veri Krassner’s eye.

Joshua Henry — the Tony-nominated actor whose credits include “Hamilton,” “Scottsboro Boys” and the current film “Tick, Tick….Boom!” — posted a photograph of Sondheim and the cast of “Being Alive” at the Westport Country Playhouse in 2007.

He noted how memorable the show was — especially because Sondheim himself was there to see it.

Henry was just beginning his career then. But he remembered Sondheim — and Westport.

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Speaking of Sondheim and the Playhouse: The legendary theater released a statement honoring the Broadway icon. The WCP says:

“During the summer of 1950, Stephen Sondheim was an apprentice at Westport Country Playhouse. He worked in a variety of capacities on 14 shows and appeared in a production of “The Life of the Party,” written by the Playhouse’s founder Lawrence Langner. Many of Sondheim’s fellow apprentices that year continued as theater professionals, including composer Mary Rodgers, film director Frank Perry, theatrical agent Peggy Hadley, and Actors’ Equity officer Conard Fowkes.

“Fifteen years after his apprenticeship, Sondheim’s own work appeared on the Playhouse stage with a production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ (1965). ‘A Little Night Music’ (1975) and ‘Side by Side by Sondheim’ (1978) followed in the next decade.  Most recently, ‘Into the Woods’ (2012) was directed by Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse artistic director.

“’Being Alive!,’ a world premiere conceived and directed by Billy Porter, took the Playhouse stage in 2007, with music and lyrics by Sondheim, who also provided collaborative assistance. The retrospective of Sondheim songs featured Chuck Cooper, Joshua Henry, and Leslie Odom, Jr., among others.

In 2006, the Playhouse honored its illustrious apprentice with a gala tribute performance, “The Ladies Who Sing Sondheim,” with Laura Benanti, Kristin Chenoweth, Barbara Cook, and Patti LuPone, directed by John Doyle.

Lamos said: “The entire Westport Country Playhouse family is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Stephen Sondheim. I got to know Stephen a bit over the years, mostly socially. He eagerly granted my request to appear in a tribute to Mary Rodgers, who he’d gotten to know while they were both apprentices here. She was our guest of honor when we saluted her father Richard Rodgers at Westport Country Playhouse’s annual gala in 2009.

“Yet when I was directing ‘A Little Night Music’ for Baltimore Center Stage and tried staging a short musical sequence that made no sense to me, I emailed him to ask about it. In minutes, he answered right back. ‘Oh you can cut that. It was something Pat (Birch, the original Broadway choreographer) and Hal (Prince, the legendary director) cooked up, but it’s not needed at all.’

“And just a year ago he graciously agreed to participate in the shooting of a short-form documentary by filmmaker Doug Tirola that celebrates the history of Westport Country Playhouse. In the video clip he wished the Playhouse a happy 90th birthday, then jokingly wished himself the same, since ‘we’re the same age.’ That’s a memory that I find particularly poignant today.”

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

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The Artists’ Collective of Westport celebrates the season with a “small works holiday show,” at their Westport Country Playhouse gallery.

An opening reception is set for December 8 (6 to 8 p.m.), with an open house from Thursday to Sunday (December 9-12, 2 to 6 p.m.).

As usual, the works are eclectic, intriguing, inspiring — and fun.

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Sconset Square merchants hosts a holiday stroll this Thursday (December 2, 5:30 to 8 p.m.).

Singers from Staples High School and Greens Farm Academy will entertain. There are events at 5 stores, plus Christopher’s French Crepe Food truck.

At Bungalow, for example, Suzie Kondi showcases her cashmeres and Westport’s Ronit Tarshis her jewels. Christopher LaGuardia of LaGuardia Design Group in the Hamptons will sign books.

Bungalow is part of Sconset Square’s Holiday Stroll.

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Plumed Serpent — the popular bridal and formal gown store in Colonial Green — was damaged in an October fire. It was contained in the front of the store, and no one was hurt.

All merchandise is gone. The store is bare. A sign says “Closed.”

However — thankfully — it’s only temporary. They’re still hosting appointments for current brides, for fittings and pick-ups.

They’re not sure when. But, they assure anxious brides and brides-to-be: They will reopen.

(Photo and hat tip/Molly Alger)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features a red-tailed hawk, guarding its prey.

(Photo/Shira Honigstein)

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And finally … on this day in 1777, the first civilian settlement (“pueblo”) in Alta California was founded. Today we know it as San Jose.

Roundup: Leaf Pickup, Riverside Avenue Closure, Charlie Karp …

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From now through December 6, Westport’s Public Works Department is collecting leaves placed in biodegradable paper bags on the curbside.

All leaves must be placed safely near the curb of a town street (not private roads to guarantee pickup. Leaves placed in plastic bags will not be picked up (the composting process cannot handle plastic).

For further information, call Public Works office at 203-341-1120.

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Saugatuck drivers beware!

From today through Tuesday (November 23), a road improvement project will close Riverside Avenue between Bridge Street and Saugatuck Avenue to all but local businesses and residents. All other traffic must use Saugatuck Avenue and Charles Street.

Closed for renovation.

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Charlie Karp was a Westport musical legend.

The Staples High Class of 1971 member dropped out of school to play guitar and tour with Buddy Miles. He later played with Jimi Hendrix, then returned to the area and front numerous bands. He inspired countless young musicians. His death from liver cancer in 2019 was followed by an all-star memorial concert at the Levitt Pavilion.

Yesterday, friends and classmates unveiled a memorial plaque at Staples. It’s part of the music department’s showcase, and highlights his career and influence.

Among the attendees: Mark Soboslai, Rafe Klein, Walter Panek, Bruce Carter, Brian Keane, Bonnie Erickson and Lynn Untermeyer Miller.

Westport Public Schools’ music and visual arts coordinator Steve Zimmerman (left) and Walter Panek, plaque and logo designer. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Karp’s death also spawned 2 documentary films. The second — just released to the public — was created by his friends and fans. It tells the story of his life, and the tribute concert. To view this gift to the community, click here.

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Westport Country Playhouse’s popular script-in-hand reading series is back — live!

“A Merry Little Christmas Carol” — written and directed by Script in Hand curator Mark Shanahan — combines magic, holiday cheer and the magic of the holiday.

It’s in person on December 13 (7 p.m.).

For theater-goers not ready, or unable, to return to the theater, an on-demand livestream is also available (December 16-19).

Click here for tickets and more information.

The Script in Hand series returns to the Westport Country Playhouse. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Assumption Church has embarked on a culturally diverse music program.

This Sunday (November 21), the Filipino Community Choir sings at 5 p.m. mass.  The Hispanic Community Choir follows December 12 (9 a.m.), with the Vietnamese Community Choir on January 3.

Still to be scheduled: the Haitian Community Choir and Regina Pacis School Children’s Choir.

Filipino Community Choir

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Congratulations to the Westport Soccer Association’s U-12 white travel team, coached by Alyson Panaro: league champions!

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One more “Westport … Naturally” gorgeous view, before the leaves fade:

Saugatuck River view. (Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

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And finally … if you’ve never heard Charlie Karp play guitar (see story above), check out his work with Buddy Miles …

… and solo:

Roundup: Staples Soccer, Creigh Kelley, Trivia Night …

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The Staples girls soccer team is one game away from a state championship!

The Wreckers — undefeated in their last 14 matches, and reigning FCIAC champs — powered their way in the semifinals last night. Gaby Gonzalez’s 12th-minute header — and plenty of great defense — made all the difference, in a 1-0 win over Fairfield Warde. The victory avenged Staples’ regular season 3-0 loss to the Mustangs.

The Wreckers — ranked 9th — play their 3rd state final in the past 4 tournaments (COVID canceled last year’s event) on Saturday or Sunday, at Hartford’s Dillon Stadium. They face #10 Wilton — the team they beat 1-0 2 weeks ago for the league crown. The Warriors advanced with a penalty kick win over Fairfield Ludlowe, in an all-FCIAC state semifinal.

Congratulations to Coach Barry Beattie, his high-powered staff, and all the girls!

The girls are not Staples soccer’s only success story.

Tonight at 7 p.m. (Municipal Stadium, Waterbury), the boys play in the semifinals too. The #6 Wreckers meet #7 Farmington.

All tickets  must be purchased online. Click here for the link,

Can’t make it to Waterbury? Click here for the livestream,

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Speaking of sports: Last night, former Staples High School track star Creigh Kelley received the MarathonFoto/Road Race Management Lifetime Achievement Award at the Road Race Management race directors’ meeting in Florida.

The 1964 Staples grad — a teammate of current Wrecker coach and local icon Laddie Lawrence — was cited for his long career as a runner, running store owner, race director, agent, official and the voice of thousands of races across the country.

Kelley also founded the Kiptur Primary School Foundation in Kenya, which has built classrooms, a library, kitchen and more.  (Hat tip: Peter Gambaccini)

Creigh Kelley

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Speaking of Staples: Tonight (Wednesday, November 17, 7 p.m., Staples cafeteria), he National Honor Society hosts a Trivia Night fundraiser. Teams of 2 to 5 people (any age!) compete for prizes. Tickets are just $5 at the door (cash or Venmo).

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Westport Country Playhouse’s family fun events are — well, family-filled, and fun.

The “Winter Fun Fest” is Saturday, December 4, From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the courtyard will be the site of a scavenger hunt, games, music, food, crafts, and photos with Santa.

The fundraiser was organized by the Playhouse Youth Council. Admission is just $5. Everyone bringing non-perishable food (for Homes with Hope) or new toys (for Toys with Tots) is eligible to win tickets for any Playhouse show next year.

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Yesterday’s Roundup included an incorrect date for the free coffee at Steam on Railroad Place. It’s available to anyone using the Westport Transit District’s Wheels2U app tomorrow and Friday (November 18 and 19), between 6 and 10 a.m.

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Gray’s Creek provided the setting for today’s “Westport … Naturally” image. The sunset was rich; the reeds, proud and strong.

(Photo/Tomoko Meth)

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And finally … on this day in 1858, the city of Denver was founded.

 

Roundup: Vietnam, Veterans Day, Alec Baldwin …

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On the heels of Veterans Day, Y’s Men member Jay Dirnberger has created a program about the Vietnam War for the Westport Library’s Oral History Project.

On November 23 (7 p.m., Westport Library) he and 3 other combat veterans — all now Westporters — will talk about their war experiences, reflect on its impact since leaving the military, then answer questions from the audience.

Captain Jay Dirnberger, US Army retired, came home from his last college final exam to find he’d been drafted. He missed his graduation to report to the Army. He completed helicopter flight training, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and assigned to an assault helicopter battalion in Vietnam in 1968.

Also on the panel: Lieutenant JG Tucker Mays, US Navy retired. He served most of 2 9-month tours at Da Nang as a boat group commander,

Air Force Sergeant Bud Siegel was assigned to an air traffic control unit responsible for controlling fighter/bombers near the North Vietnam border.

The final member of the panel, Army Sergeant and Y’s Man Preston Koster, was first assigned to Vietnam as a combat engineer, then finished his tour of duty near Saigon.

Y’s Man John Brandt, a Vietnam era Naval Reservist, though not a combat veteran, will moderate the discussion.

Jay Dirnberger served with the 1st Cavalry Division in South Vietnam.

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Speaking of Veterans Day:

They’re years away from military service. But Boy Scout Troop 100 had the honor of accompanying and supporting veterans during yesterday’s ceremony at VFW Post 399.

Led by Scoutmaster Alexey Syomichev, the troop has dedicated this year to supporting local veterans, and the VFW post. Scouts have built relationships with VFW members, and are dedicating service hours, and leadership and Eagle projects, to benefit and support those who served.

Before yesterday’s festivities, Troop 100 cleaned and painted the VFW parking lot, provided fresh painted lines and arrows, and cleaned up the VFW grounds.”

Boy Scout Troop 100, at yesterday’s VFW Veterans Day ceremony.

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Speaking still of Veterans Day: Ed Simek spotted this former servicemember yesterday on the Post Road, near Stop & Shop.

He held an American flag — and wore roller skates.

There must be a back story. If you know it, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Ed Simek)

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After Alec Baldwin shot and killed someone on a movie set with a prop gun, the industry has been reeling.

Among the first people to take action: Staples High School Class of 1985 graduate Alexi Hawley.

The showrunner for ABC’s “The Rookie” banned “live” guns. Instead, “air soft guns” — replicas, used in airsoft sports — will be mandatory.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: David Roth)

Alexi Hawley

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When is a dog a turkey?

When he’s the statue outside Winslow Park Animal Hospital, and he’s decorated for Thanksgiving.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Check out the real thing when you’re stopped at the Post Road light by Playhouse Square.

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Speaking of the Playhouse: There’s no “doubt” that the current production of “Doubt: A Parable” — the first in-person play since the pandemic — is a hit.

It runs through November 21. Click on the trailer below. Then click here, for tickets and more information (including virtual tickets).

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Continuing our “Westport … Naturally” fall foliage series — as long as it lasts — we offer June Rose Whittaker’s shot of Longshore’s 5th hole.

She says, “my golf game was terrible. But the scenery was fantastic.”

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … happy birthday to Booker T. Jones. The pianist/saxophonist/ songwriter/producer/Grammy Award Lifetime Achievement winner is 77 years old.

Roundup: Kristallnacht Observance, Water Rescue, Riverside Avenue …

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Tonight marks the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht — the night the Nazis’ repressive policies toward Jews turned violent. At least 91 men, women and children were murdered; 1,000 synagogues were attacked and vandalized, with over 300 demolished, and at least 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses were destroyed.

The number of eyewitnesses to those horrors is rapidly fading. But tonight, a special commemoration (Tuesday, Saugatuck Congregational Church, 7 p.m., in person and livestream) includes Ruth Zimbler. As a child, she watched her synagogue in Vienna burn.

Two days later, she and her 6-year-old brother escaped on the Kindertransport to the Netherlands. Her story — filled with love, hope and optimism — is a chance to hear from a survivor who was old enough to remember, and at 93 still young enough to tell her story.

The event will be moderated by Dr. Gavriel Rosenfeld, professor of Germanic Studies at Fairfield University. Click here for the YouTube livestream link; click here for the Facebook link.

Co-sponsors include The Conservative Synagogue, Temple Israel, Federation for Jewish Philanthropy, and Merkaz Community High School for Judaic Studies.

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At 5:55 a.m. this morning, Westport Police officers responded to Saugatuck Shores on a report of an elderly male who was missing.

Officers immediately searched the area, and saw the man partially submerged in the water. Working quickly in the cold, they deployed a canoe located nearby.

One officer held the man’s head above the water, while others lifted him into the canoe. Once ashore, the Westport Fire Department helped bring him to waiting EMS personnel.

They evaluated the man, and transported him to the hospital for further treatment.

While his condition is unknown, any injuries did not appear life=threatening.

Police, Fire Department and EMS personnel work together during this morning’s water rescue. (Photo courtesy of Westport Police Department)

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If it’s mid-November, it must be time for … the indoor Westport Farmers’ Market.

Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center once again hosts the long-running institution. The winter market opens Thursday, November 18. It runs every Thursday (except Thanksgiving) through March 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It’s open-air, throughout 3 greenhouses. Favorite summer vendors return, with high-quality locally grown or raised fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, milk, baked and prepared foods, plus handmade items.

WFM kicks off the season with a celebration. Bubble and Brew, and Parlor Pizza, will set up trucks outside the greenhouses. Staples graduate Luke Molina will play music. while Mae Farrell entertains youngsters in the Get Growing program with a nature-inspired craft.

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A Riverside Avenue improvement project — involving demolition of the concrete roadwaym and reconstruction of the pavement — begins today.

Traffic on Riverside Avenue between Bridge Street and Saugatuck Avenue (the area of Viva Zapata and the Saugatuck Rowing Club) will be restricted to northbound (headed toward the Post Road) vehicles only. All southbound traffic will detour down Saugatuck Avenue to Charles Street.

During paving — planned for this Thursday and Friday — the road section will be closed to all but local traffic. All other traffic will be detoured around Charles Street and Saugatuck Avenue.

Riverside Avenue area slated for reconstruction.

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“Doubt: A Parable” — the thought-provoking play running now at the Westport Country Playhouse — has earned great praise.

But no one has mentioned that Kerstin Anderson — the woman playing the young nun — has a Westport connection. She’s the daughter of 1976 Staples High School graduate Ted Anderson, and the niece of longtime “06880” reader Britt Anderson.

Neither Ted nor Britt live in Westport now. But both were on hand opening night. They were proud of Kerstin — no “doubt”!

Kerstin Anderson and her aunt Britt Anderson, at the Westport Country Playhouse.

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Westport artist Steven Parton’s oil painting, “Anticipation,” is being shown at the 93rd Grand National Exhibit of the American Artists Professional League, in New York’s  Salmagundi Club.

“Anticipation” (Steven Parton)

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Today’s amazing “Westport … Naturally” fall foliage shot shows a Jennie Lane/Mayflower Parkway scene, off South Compo. Enjoy it while it lasts!

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … on this day in 1967, Rolling Stone magazine published its first issue. You know what song that means:

 

Roundup: FCIACs, Doubt, Land …

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Yesterday’s Roundup gave an incorrect date for the Staples High School girls soccer team’s FCIAC championship match.

The correct date is tomorrow — Thursday, November 4 (7 p.m., Fairfield Warde High School). The #4 Wreckers face #6 Wilton. Both teams advanced on Monday, via penalty kick semifinal wins.

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“Doubt: A Parable” is a compelling, though-provoking play. (I saw it on Broadway, and was mesmerized.) It opened at the Westport Country Playhouse  last night, marking a return to in-person performances at the historic theater.

The Playhouse has planned 4 post-show discussions. They’ll feature community guests who deal closely with issues addressed in the play: a drama about a nun’s’ suspicion of a priest’s behavior.

They’ll include Beth McCabe, co-leader for Connecticut chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), on Thursday, November 11; SNAP member Mark Fuller on Friday, November 12; Lucy Gellman, editor of The Arts Paper on Tuesday, November 16, and Thomas Burke, associate minister of children, youth and families at Norfield Congregational Church, on Friday, November 19.

The discussions are free, and open to the public; tickets to “Doubt” are not required.

For more information on the discussions, click here. For tickets, click here.

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Leonor Dao Turut takes center stage as guest art exhibitor for November, at the Westport Book Shop.

The Westporter shows 6 works, all started in the early days of the pandemic when she wanted to capture her emotions and moods.

A painter, sculptor and illustrator, Turut draws inspiration from her native Venezuela. Her pieces are filled with strong colors, imaginative motifs, symbolism and deep details.

The exhibit is on view during business hours at the used book shop on Jesup Green.

Leonor Turut with her work, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Aspetuck Land Trust just got bigger.

On Monday, the open space conservation non-profit closed on Weston’s 85-acre Fromson Strassler property. The deal took 5 years to complete.

It helps ALT assemble and protect a large forest block on the Weston/Wilton border. The property will be open to the public, for passive recreation.

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The November/December issue of Westport Magazine is out now.

The holidays take center stage. Mar Jennings’ front door — always well decorated — is on the cover. Inside, he shares home décor tips.

The issue also includes decorating ideas from Sam Allen, a gift guide and the Light a Fire feature celebrating local volunteers and philanthropists.

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Lifelong Westporter Thomas Hindle died peacefully on Sunday, with his family at his side. He was 77 years old, and had battled Parkinson’s for several years.

Tom and his younger sister Barbara enjoyed a gentle, magical time growing up here. Summers were spent at Compo Beach, swimming and exploring for starfish. Winters meant swimming at the YMCA, and skating and hot cocoa parties at the Patterson Club.

At Staples High School Tom was a charter member and president of the Orphenians, the select choral group.

He graduated from the University of Connecticut with a business degree. His work at the college radio station fed his passion for music, editing and broadcasting.

Tom’s long, successful career in video broadcasting technology began at CBS Labs, where the process of overlaying text in broadcasting, Vidifont, was being developed. As a product manager he contributed to evolving technologies; one led to the recognition of a Technical Emmy Award.

Later, as a senior account manager, Tom owned large accounts such as NBC. They used his company’s equipment to bring the Olympics around the world.

Water, boating and swimming were Tom’s passions. A longtime member of the Westport Y masters’ swim team, he swam regularly and made many friends with whom he traveled the country to compete.

Tom’s passion for music never waned. He appreciated live performances including the Handel and Haydn Society. He also enjoyed home improvement projects, and transformed his house over the years.

He shared his home with friends, especially entertaining for the Super Bowl. Tom’s travels took him around the world, visiting family, sightseeing, and for business.

Survivors include his sister Barbara; nephews Matthew Cohen and Darrel Kolb, and niece Star Kolb.

A funeral service will be held tomorrow (Thursday, November 4, 10 a.m., followed by a reception at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Interment will be in Nichols Farm Burial Ground in Trumbull.

Condolences may be left online here. Contributions in his memory may be made to The Handel and Haydn Society or the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Tom Hindle

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With leaves falling all around us, it’s hard to pick a special one out.

But Scott Smith found a few walnut leaves, like this one. He calls them “rare and striking.” We call it today’s “Westport … Naturally” image.

(Photo/Scott Smith)

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And finally … congratulations to our new 1st selectwoman, Jennifer Tooker.

I went searching for a song with Jennifer in the title. “Jennifer Juniper,” “Jennifer Ever,” Jenny/867-5309,” … nothing seemed to fit.

On a whim, I typed “Tooker” into YouTube.

This video came up. It has nothing remotely to do with Westport, or our new chief executive.

But it sure is stunning, both musically and visually.

 

Roundup: Candidates’ Debate; Starbucks Baby, Bye Bye Mattress …

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The League of Women Voters’ candidate debate — postponed by Tuesday’s nor’easter — has been rescheduled for tonight (Thursday, October 28, 7 p.m.).

Board of Education candidates Christine Torres and Kevin Christie (Democrats), Robert Harrington and Dorie Hordon (Republicans), and Planning & Zoning hopefuls Danielle Dobin, Neil Cohn and Michael Cammeyer (Democrats), Jack Whittle (Republican) and Ron Corwin (Coalition for Westport) will participate.

Click here for the Zoom link. Click here for the LWV’s full Voter’s Guide.

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In June, “06880” posted a plea from Amanda DeRosa. The Westport m sought help for her favorite Starbucks worker, a woman in dire straits due to deliver a baby 3 months later.

Readers responded quickly, and generously. Amanda soon gave the woman $4,550 in gift cards, for stores like Buy Buy Baby, Target and Stop & Shop.

Last month — after 3 days in labor — the barista delivered a healthy, 8-pound baby boy. Yesterday, the new mom returned to work.

She was all smiles. And when you check out the photo below, you’ll see why.

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The Westport Country Playhouse has changed the date of its Family Fun Day from this Saturday to Sunday (October 31, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), due to predicted bad weather.

The event includes kids’ activities like a scavenger hunt and spider web weaving, treats, food trucks, ghost stories, a food drive for Norwalk’s Open Door Shelter, beer tastings, and costume parade for youngsters and dogs. The box office will be open from 12 to 2 p.m. for 25% discounts on in-person tickets to the upcoming performances of “Doubt: A Parable,”and 2022 Flex Passes.

Children are encouraged to bring their own pumpkins for decorating. For more details, click here.

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Wondering what to do with your used mattresses and box springs?

Sustainable Westport is sponsoring a free recycling program. Just bring them to Earthplace (10 Woodside Lane) on Saturday, November 13,. between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m.

The project is run through the Mattress Recycling Council’s Connecticut Bye Bye Mattress program.

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Four school records fell last night, as Staples High Schools’ girls swim and dive splashed to victory over Trumbull at home on Senior Night.

Once again the Wreckers broke 200 and 400 meter freestyle relay school records. Senior captains Jessica Qi and Ella Alpert, plus freshmen Annam and Ayaan Olasewere, set 2 new marks: 1:48.17 (200) and 4:02.10 (400).

In individual events, freshman Annam broke her own record in the 50 meter freestyle (25.69, shattering her previous mark, 26.15). She also broke Staples’ record in the 100 meter freestyle (57.30).

Freshman Dani Schwartz won the 400 meter freestyle (4:52.51). The Wreckers also swept the 200 meter freestyle, led by Jessica (personal best 2:08.99). Sophomore Libby Turner (1:09.92) took first in the 100 meter backstroke.

Divers Kate Whitaker, Emme Thaw and Ava DeDomenico took the top 3 spots in their event.

Staples finishes the regular season 6-3 record. Postseason championships begin soon.

Winning 400 meter free relay team (from left): Annam Olasewere, Ayaan Olasewere , Ella Alpert, Jessica Qi.

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Also moving into the postseason: The Staples field hockey team (11-1-0) can finish 2nd or 3rd in the FCIAC, depending on today’s game at undefeated New Canaan, and begin the league playoffs Friday or Saturday.

The girls soccer team finished the regular season 9-2-4. Seeded #4 in the FCIAC tournament, they host #5 New Canaan this afternoon (Thursday, 3 p.m., Wakeman Field at Bedford Middle School).

The boys soccer team closed out their best regular season (10-1-4) in 10 years last night, with a 3-0 win at Fairfield Ludlowe. Ranked #3 in the FCIAC tourney, they host #6 Fairfield Warde tomorrow (Friday, 3 p.m., Wakeman Field at Bedford Middle School.)

The Staples boys soccer team runs over to greet their fans, at the end of their final regular season game last night. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

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Speaking of sports: Ryan Fitton was a 2-sport (football and baseball) star at Staples High School.

The 2017 graduate is now a 6-5, 245-pound tight end at Cornell University. Last weekend, he made a very improbable touchdown catch against Brown. It was so special, it made #2 on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays.

Fast forward to 2:15 on the link below. (Hat tip: Felicia Catale)

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Master gardener Alice Ely snapped this stunning “Westport … Naturally” photo of a bumblebee. She’s stocking up on milkweed before her long winter sleep, Alice says.

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And finally … on this date in 1893, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Pathétique premiered. Nine days later he died. His death, at just 53, has been attributed to both cholera from drinking unboiled water, and suicide.

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.