Single tickets for Westport Country Playhouse’s all-virtual 2021 season go on sale Tuesday (May 4, noon).
The Playhouse’s 2021 season — from June 15 through December 19 — has been reconceived as diverse entertainment, tailored for digital enjoyment. All content will be available on the Playhouse website, on-demand for patrons’ convenience. Single tickets, starting at $25 for staged productions and $20 for Script in Hand play readings, may be purchased by phone (203-227-4177) or online.
The first of 3 new virtual productions is “Tiny House,” a comedy (June 29- July 18). The second virtual production, “Doubt: A Parable” — a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama runs November 2-21.
Two HD video productions from Playhouse archives will stream on-demand: “Man of La Mancha” (August 23-September 5), and another (to be announced, September 13-26).
Three Script in Hand play readings include “The Savannah Disputation” (June 15-20). The others are October 19 – 24, and December 14 – 19.
Special pre- and post-show events are planned, including virtual LGBT Night Out cocktail parties, and interactive talkbacks.
For the 2nd year in a row, there will be no audiences in the Westport Country Playhouse. But the show(s) will go on.(Photo/Robert Benson)
If you missed it — no problem. The Westport Arts Advisory Committee has created 2 displays of lawn signs, featuring inspiring art and words from elementary and high school artists. They’re outside Town Hall and on Jesup Green, through May 5.
Student artwork on Jesup Green (Photo/Amy Schneider)
But I’ll make it easy. Here’s this week’s schedule:
Tuesday, April 27: “Singin’ in the Rain.” Perhaps the most memorable movie musical ever. Half-price Tuesday!
Wednesday, April 28: “Sixteen Candles.” Perhaps the most memorable teen flick ever.
Friday, April 30: “Pitch Perfect.” Fun with an all-girls singing group.
Saturday, May 1: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” This Avengers film is a fundraiser for myTeamTriumph. Tickets are $125; all proceeds benefit this great group, which helps people with disabilities participate in triathlons and 5Ks.
Gates open at 6:45 p.m. Pre-show content starts at 7:15. The feature film begins around 7:45. See you there!
Peter Stuart Swann — a Westport resident for nearly 50 years — died peacefully this month, with his wife Patria by his side. He was 83.
Born in New York City, he had been a Westport resident since 1972. He attended the University of Colorado and served in the United States Navy.
Peter enjoyed a long career in the newspaper representative business, retiring as director of research for the Papert Company. He was a former president of the Media Research Directors Association.
Peter was also an active community volunteer. He served as treasurer for Save Westport Now, Friends of the Westport Library, and the “River of Names” mural fundraiser for the Library. Until COVID, he helped stock the Westport Book Sale’s free books carousel at the Saugatuck train station.
For many years he performed patient outreach for Trinity Episcopal Church of Southport, playing piano for patients at the Ludlow Health Center.
In addition to his wife he is survived by a brother, Sherwood Lee (Mary) of Newport, North Carolina; a dear cousin, Lawrence Tuttle of Munson, Massachusetts; 2 nieces and a nephew.
A graveside service will be held Friday (April 30, 11 a.m.) at Willowbrook Cemetery in Westport. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Peter’s memory may be made to Trinity Episcopal Church, 651 Pequot Avenue, Southport, CT 06890. Click here to offer an online condolence. (Hat tip: Richard Lowenstein)
Saturday was Westport Clean-Up Day. Jerry Kuyper went out on his own, to do his part.
In an empty lot on Spicer Road, near Rayfield Road, he found a number of empty cigarette packs.
It was not the first time he saw such a collection of litter. So he wonders: Did someone methodically deposit one pack every day or so? Or store them in a bag in their car for a week, before flinging them out the window? Consciously not throw them on a neatly kept yard, but find an overgrown one irresistible?
It was a “Cheers”-like bar the likes of which Westport may never see again. In one corner sat a jukebox. In all the years Dave owned the Bridge, I don’t think the records ever changed. The song I remember most — it was played over and over, night after night after night — could not be more apt. It’s a fitting epitaph for a great bar, and its big-hearted, much-loved owner.
Bob Weingarten is the house historian for the Westport Museum of History & Culture. He writes:
I get many questions about the status of historic properties. Recently I’ve received several concerning the iconic historic building at the intersection of Wilton Road and Allen Raymond Lane.
The former Red Barn restaurant was operated by the Nistico family from 1983 until its sale to the Westport Weston Family YMCA in 2015. It has remained unoccupied ever since.
A painting of the historic Red Barn property …
As part of the purchase, the Y created a limited liability company: 290 Wilton Road LLC. YMCA CEO Pat Riemersma called it “likely to be the last piece of almost contiguous (cell tower in between) property to our Mahackeno campus.”
According to the Historic District Commission Historic Resources Inventory list, the building was built around 1850 as the Augustus Draves Barn. In the 20th century it became the Red Barn restaurant.
The Red Barn in 2014.
The Nistico family purchased the property in 1983, and continued to run the beloved restaurant until 2014. It was very comfortable, with a large hearth that had been remodeled by well-known Westport architect Frazier Forman Peters in the 1930s.
The Frazier Forman Peters hearth.
The Red Barn was an “06880 Friday Flashback” in January 2019. Sally Palmer commented:
The Red Barn was witness to the passage of many major events in the lives of Westporters. It was used for baby showers, baby naming, office parties, weddings, birthdays, graduations, too many funerals, class reunions and naturally for dinner. It is more than just an empty building, and I miss it.
Since the purchase more than 5 years ago, the building has remained unoccupied. This bodes badly, since unoccupied buildings can deteriorate more rapidly than those in use. This is true for interior construction (floors, walls, flues, etc.), exterior facades and mechanical equipment (air handlers, heating units, A/C, etc.). I’d hate to see what the kitchen now looks like.
In November 2015 the Y said: “This is a unique opportunity for our YMCA — a long-term investment that allows us to preserve neighborhood values and, ultimately, utilize the property for the benefit of our members and the community we have served since 1923.”
Lining up for a sale of Red Barn items and artifacts, in June of 2014.
Later, Riemersma reiterated:
We purchased the property because it was likely to be the last piece of almost contiguous (cell tower in between) property to our Mahackeno campus that would likely come to market.
When we entered into the planning process for Phase II of our facility expansion, we considered using the property as a stand-alone site for our gymnastics program.
When we ultimately decided to place that program in the new wing we were left with no immediate plans for its use and that still holds true today.
At some point in the future, as private property owners, in order to ensure that the Red Barn use compliments the Y’s, the Y could look to enter into a long-term lease or sale of the property or continue to hold it, whatever option seems best for the Y’s future.
This is a relief. But after so many years I wonder how realistic it is. I believe that the Y’s membership and other Westport residents should be apprehensive. Money talks, and future plans change depending on economic conditions.
The building has now been unoccupied for nearly 7 years, without a plan in place. I am interested in hearing what the new CEO plans for it.
The Westport Weston Family YMCA gets a nice shoutout in yesterday’s Washington Post.
Joanne Kaufman — who with her husband has “perched temporarily” in Fairfield County since fleeing Manhattan during COVID — writes about her return to swimming, at our Y.
The piece is called “Dear Locker Room, You Have No Idea How Much I’ve Missed You.” I thought it would be about the joys of the pool, even in a pandemic — my daily swims at the Y have kept me both physically and mentally fit since it reopened last June — but it is mostly about the camaraderie of the locker room.
Westport’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Day is Saturday, April 24 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,) at a new site: the Greens Farm train station.
The free program is open to residents of Westport, Wilton, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.
These are some of the items that may be hanging around your home:
Garage: Paints, gasoline, kerosene, mineral spirits, spray paint, paint strippers, paint thinners, solvents, stains, turpentine, varnishes, wood preservatives, degreasers, etc.
Garden shed: Fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, etc.
General household: Bleach, charcoal lighter, cleaning chemicals, drain cleaners, flammable liquids, mercury thermometers, moth balls, pet flea shampoos, photo chemicals, rug shampoos, spot removers, art supplies and paints, etc.
The following items are NOT acceptable: Propane tanks, ammunition, flares, explosives, commercial hazardous waste.
Before bringing hazardous household items to the collection site:
Make sure items are clearly labeled. Never mix chemicals!
Keep products in their original labeled container.
Place leaky containers in clear plastic bags.
Tighten lids of all containers, and pack items in sturdy cardboard boxes lined with newspaper.
Put boxes in the trunk or in back of the vehicle, away from passengers.
Leave pets and children home.
Keep your windows open. Drive directly to the collection site.
Do not smoke or eat while handling hazardous materials.
Antifreeze, motor oil, batteries of any type, fluorescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs and electronics can also be recycled at the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.
Put all household hazardous waste in the trunk or rear of vehicles. Only fuel containers will be returned to residents.
Questions> Call the Public Works Department (203-341-1793), or click here.
It seems like the only miserable thing that’s dragged on longer than COVID is the replacement project for the Kings Highway North bridge, by Canal Street.
Public works director Pete Ratkiewich reported yesterday:
“The contractor has just finished setting the first 3 of 6 bridge sections today in the pouring rain. The last 3 will be set Friday.
“The schedule has not changed, with completion expected by the end of June. Once the precast sections are in, they will be working on putting the bridge back together and finishing the project as quickly as possible.”
From his lips to …
Once upon a time, traffic flowed easily on Kings Highway North.
Speaking of a long 13 months: Westporters are ready to get back to the fitness routine.
So the timing is great for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association’s Fitness & Health Day. It’s set for Saturday, May 1 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
The event takes place all along Main Street, but many more businesses and organizations are involved.
Fleet Feet in Sconset Square kicks things off, hosting a 5K run throughout downtown. Click here to register (spots are limited).
Westport’s leading studios and clubs — including JoyRide, Pure Barre, Row House, Elliptica, Intensity, Physique57, Club Pilates, Saugatuck Rowing Club, The Dance Collective, Stretch Lab, Kaia Yoga and the Westport Weston Family YMCA — will organize fun (and challenging) classes on main Street.
Walk-ups are not permitted for classes. To register, contact each studio directly. Observers are welcome, of course!
Other health and wellness folks will have a presence too: Franny’s Farmacy, RESTORE Cryo, Cparkly Soul, Wisdom and Youth MedSpa, Embrace Orthodontics, New England Hemp Farm, TAP Strength Lab and Organic Krush.
Other sponsors include Andersen Renewal. Wildflower Land Management, Manna Toast and David Adam Realty.
The Westport Weston Family YMCA’s new CEO has corporate experience. Anjali Rao McCormick worked for American Express and Citibank. She graduated from Harvard, and has an MBA in marketing from NYU’s Stern School of Business.
But she’s also a Y executive. Since 2015 McCormick has served as COO of the 4-branch, 550-employee Summit Area YMCA in New Jersey.
Anjali Rao McCormick
Her key priorities there were revenue growth (membership, camp, childcare, programs), new business growth through partnerships and collaborations, ongoing digital transformation, and developing staff. In February 2020, Summit opened a new $17 million facility.
Her selection to succeed Pat Riemersma — who is resigning after 6 years at the helm — was made today. McCormick begins her new job on May 1.
Board president Jonathan Manela says, “After an exhaustive search, we are incredibly fortunate to have identified and hired a true transformational leader whose community focus, talent, and vision will ensure our viability for the next hundred years.”
A press release notes, “McCormick is passionate about the Y’s mission to bring meaningful growth and transformation to individuals and the communities it serves regardless of an individual’s needs, challenges, or goals.”
The new CEO adds, “I’m looking forward to working with the Board, staff team, and the extended Y community to strengthen the Y’s focus to be a vibrant, intergenerational community.”
McCormick’s first experience with the Y community was after her family moved to Summit from New York City, 20 years ago. She was hired by the Summit Area YMCA as a director of marketing in 2011.
“It is with great enthusiasm we welcome Ms. McCormick as we seek to reengage our community post-pandemic, with an organization my great-great- grandfather E. T. Bedford founded in 1923,” says John McKinney, chair of the Westport Y Board of Trustees.
This morning, the 2nd selectwoman announced she’s running for the town’s top spot. First Selectman Jim Marpe said yesterday that he will not run for a 3rd term.
Tooker was elected with Marpe in 2017. Her running mate this time is Andrea Moore, vice chair of the Board of Finance. Like Marpe, both are Republicans.
As 2nd selectwoman Tooker launched Westport Together, an alliance between the town and Westport Public Schools.
She also created and hosts Westport Means Business, a series of events through which business owners and entrepreneurs make connections, exchange ideas and promote Westport.
Last May, in the early months of the pandemic, Marpe appointed Tooker as chair of the ReOpen Westport advisory team.
Tooker — a longtime member of the Board of Finance, Board of Education and Conservation Commission — left her 22-year career with Gen RE’s US and European reinsurance markets in 2013.
Since then — and continuing as 2nd selectwoman — Tooker has created ties with the Westport and Fairfield County business communities. She served on the board of directors for the Women’s Business Development Council, which provides training and financial education to female small business owners around the state.
Tooker is also involved in education, with a focus on closing the achievement gap in Connecticut. She was a board member of the State Education Resource Center, the Education Commission for the Diocese of Bridgeport, and the Adam J. Lewis Academy.
Tooker’s other volunteer efforts include the Westport Weston Family YMCA board of trustees and Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund committee; Westport Sunrise Rotary Club and its 21st Century Foundation board, and coaching with the Westport Soccer Association.
Second selectman Jennifer Tooker’s shirt sent a message at a meeting to promote local women-owned businesses.
Tooker earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics and international relations from the University of Notre Dame. She and her husband Mo have 3 children: Jack, Riley and Nicole. Her parents recently moved to Westport.
“It has been a privilege to serve Westport as second selectwoman,” Tooker says. “This is an amazing town where we enjoy an excellent quality of life. I’ve been part of the team that has worked diligently to ensure Westport is a great place to live and work.
“This community deserves a local government that is accessible and accountable with leadership skills, management expertise and a strategic perspective. As first selectman I will continue to bring these skills to Town Hall every day. It would be an honor to lead Westport, the community we all call home, and foster an even greater sense of community and belonging for all our residents and business owners.”
Tooker’s running mate was elected to the Board of Finance in 2017, and selected as vice chair 2 years later. Moore also serves on the board’s audit subcommittee.
Previously she represented District 9 on the RTM. Her committee work included Education, Public Protection, and Library and Museums.
Moore has worked for over 20 years in financial services, with positions in institutional equity sales, equity research and investment banking at firms including UBS, BT Deutsche Bank and Salomon Brothers.
A native Westporter and Staples High School graduate, Moore is member of the YMCA board of trustees. She has served on the National Charity League’s Westport board, and is a former president of Staples Tuition Grants, Saugatuck Elementary School PTA, and A Child’s Place preschool board. She also co-chaired the Westport Public Schools’ Workshopo Committee.
Moore received a bachelor of science degree in finance from the University of Massachusetts School of Management. She and her husband Dave have 3 daughters: Tessa, Janna and Ella.
Moore says, “It is an honor to run alongside Jen Tooker, a truly accomplished leader for Westport. I am continually impressed with the effective, bipartisan way Jen solves problems and drives positive change. Westport is a truly special place to call home, and I know Jen will work every day to bring people together, represent our community with the utmost integrity, and employ a fresh perspective to meet challenges and new opportunities in the days ahead.”
Yesterday’s 4th Westport Public Schools’ vaccine clinic was another success.
Hundreds of educators — along with their colleagues in Weston and Easton — have now received their 2nd COVID dose.
Yesterday’s event in the Staples High School fieldhouse was an “all in the family” affair. In the photo below, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice receives his injection from Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Technician Ben Frimmer.
Frimmer’s name may sound familiar. That’s because his day job is theater teacher and drama director at Coleytown Middle School.
Speaking of education: Eric Lawrence is the Connecticut PTA Outstanding Elementary School Teacher of the Year. The 18-year veteran is a technology instructor. Right now he also teaches 4th grade distance learning.
Yesterday, his Saugatuck Elementary School community came together to celebrate.
A parent said: “Mr. Lawrence, you have always been a truly outstanding teacher here at Saugatuck. But as we all know when we face really difficult times, the absolute best can come out in people.
“Many of us thought we could never express how much SSN (Saugatuck Seal News) meant to us from the early days of the shutdown through this year, but we hope we can express it now. The response to your nomination for this honor was overwhelming.”
She then presented him with a binder filled with letters from colleagues, parents, and leaders in the Cub Scout community, where his leadership also made a great impact.
Mr. Lawrence will be honored at a virtual celebration May 5.
You know that old mattress or box spring you’ve always meant to get rid of?
Now — well, on Saturday, May 8 (8:30 to 11 a.m.) — you can.
Earthplace hosts a free mattress recycling drop-off event. It’s sponsored by the Mattress Recycling Council, and they know what they’re doing. Each year they recycle more than 190,000 mattresses — and that’s in Connecticut.
They’re not only diverted from the waste stream. They’re used to make other products, from carpet padding and insulation to filters and mulch.
Can’t transport your mattress to Earthplace on May 8? Boy Scout Troop 36 offers free same-day pickup. Spots are limited; click here to sign up.
If you miss this event, you can bring your mattress or box spring to Park City Green in Bridgeport, a non-profit that recycles mattresses. Call for hours of operation and drop-off instructions: 203-212-3860 or 203-209-6915.
GE’s former CEO talks virtually on Thursday, April 22 (7 p.m.) about his 16 years at the helm. The Westport Library program is hosted by Westporter Steve Parrish.
Immelt’s first day on the job was September 10, 2001 — 24 hours before 9/11. His new book Hot Seat: What I Learned Leading a Great American Company details his proudest moments — and missteps — at the helm of the global giant.
The Westport Country Playhouse internship program began in 1946. Four years later, 19-year-old Stephen Sondheim spent the summer at the already-famous stage.
The program — now named for longtime Playhouse benefactor Joanne Woodward — continues this summer.
Interns will join the development, education and marketing teams, from June 7 to August 13. They’ll work directly with Playhouse staff, gain practical skills, and hear guest speakers including visiting designers and artists, commercial producers and more.
With a virtual season, the internships are also virtual this year. There are limited in-person requirements, based on department needs.
Application deadline is April 21. Click here for more information.
Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo), during his 1950 apprenticeship. Also in the photo: future film director Frank Perry (front row, left) and Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary (2nd row, 4th from left).
The Westport Weston Family YMCA has added over 150 live classes a week, and hundreds more on demand. They include cardio, endurance, strength, bodywork, dance, mind/body, seniors, adaptive, kids and family.
They’re all virtual of course — but available through a collaboration with 29 Y’s across Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.
You must be a YMCA member, of course. For details on the “Y Wellness 24/7” program, click here.
Congratulations to Staples High School basketball co-captain Nicole Holmes. The senior was one of only 4 FCIAC players — and 10 overall — named to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State team, in the “LL” (extra large schools division).
Holmes helped lead the Wreckers to a sparkling 13-3 record this winter.
Nicole Holmes (Photo courtesy of The Ruden Report)
And finally … on this day in 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. That was the effective end of the Civil War, though skirmishes continued for several weeks.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has asked the Westport Weston Family YMCA to help with an emergency request this afternoon.
And the Y has asked everyone to help.
The wish — from a 6-year-old boy — is to swim with his family at the Y, have a pizza party, and pet a bearded dragon.
The Y hopes that members of the community will join staff and members to line the Y driveway entrance, to welcome the youngster at 3:10 p.m. today (Sunday, march 28. Let’s make it an unforgettable day for him and the family.
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