Tag Archives: Alli DiVincenzo

Beachside Actors Take Their Show On The Road

Beachside Common is one of Westport’s hidden gems.

The 18 homes — 33 adults, 24 children — nestle up against Burying Hill Beach and Sherwood Island, off Beachside Avenue. With no through traffic, it’s tight-knit and neighborly.

Shortly after Nico and Robin Eisenberger moved in 5 years ago, she had a minor operation that limited her mobility. The couple had not said a word — but they found warm dinners delivered by neighbors to their doorsteps, 11 days in a row.

Beachside Common also throws an annual block party. Kids play, everyone eats, adults drink, and someone brings out a guitar.

This year, the Eisenbergers decided to add something new. For years, Nico has wanted to act — for fun. As he learned of and seen Westport’s rich arts history, the urge grew.

He remembered his childhood in Bernardsville, New Jersey, when neighbors staged a yearly play. The lightbulb lit up: Let’s do it here!

The Beachside play …

The Eisenbergers’ next door neighbor, Alli DiVincenzo, is a popular logo, brand and website designer for businesses and organizations.

She’d also just written a short book, poking gentle fun at affluent communities. It’s funny, ironic, and ends with a splash of redemption. Why not turn her book into a play?

Laura Pendergast — a common friend, fellow Greens Farms Elementary School parent and owner of TheaterCamp 4 Kids (who also teaches adults to act) — quickly adapted Alli’s story. Then she offered to direct it.

Actors — young and old — were recruited from the neighborhood. After just a few rehearsals, Laura whipped everyone into shape. (A little wine helped.)

Last Saturday, Beachside Common held its annual block party. And its first-ever play.

… and the Beachside Players.

“There’s nothing particularly momentous about this story,” Nico says. “The cast were rank amateurs. The staging — in the middle of the street — was basic. The performance was barely passable.

“But it was memorable for both our small audience and the performers. We stepped out of the uber-busy, uber-online, world-in-turmoil, everyone-for-themselves environment. We did something in-person and creative together.

“It was super fun. And it was definitely inspired at every turn by the history and best traditions of Westport.”

Will the Beachside Players return?

We’ll drink to that.

High-Tech Toy Needs Beta Testers

At first glance, FlairFriends looks low-tech: a keychain, like the kind every kid has on her backpack.

But this is 2018. Your refrigerator knows you’re running low on milk. Your doorbell can talk to an intruder.

So when you hear that FlairFriends is the brainchild of Westporter designer Alli DiVincenzo and her tech partner Geoff Meek — developer of the original Guitar Hero — you’ll realize that it’s not just a decorative fashion trend.

Every FlairFriend comes with a unique code. Typed into the FlairWorld app, it unlocks 3 things:

  • That particular character’s animation, voice and story
  • An education adventure around Flair World, and
  • A social connector.

That last part is particularly cool. When a child shares the code, and someone else scans it into his or her account, they’re connected.

Friends who are connected in the app can compare collections, and show where they’ve traveled around FlairWorld and how they like to decorate their online “rooms.”

It’s a safe, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act-compliant online connection. These real-world friendships and interactions teach younger children positive digital behavior — before they’re exposed to the social networks designed for older youngsters.

Kids like to play — with high- and low-tech toys. Check out those FlairFriends! (Photo/Irene Penny)

Sound complicated? “Kids these days get it,” Alli says. “They were born with devices in their hands.”

By age 4, there is “almost universal” exposure to screens and apps. But, Alli says, very few toys bridge “the gap between real-world playing and wholesome online gaming.”

She, Geoff and Staples High School interns spent several years developing FlairFriends. It was released late last month for iPads.

Now that the beta testing phase is underway, Alli needs “play testers” (ages 4 “to 104”), to try it for free and provide feedback. Click here for details.

Meanwhile, Alli and  Geoff headed to the Dallas Toy Preview. That’s an important part of FlairWorld — and the real tech/toy one too.

From The West Village To Westport: 1 Year Later

A year ago April, I posted a story about a woman I’d never met. She was a native Californian who spent the last 7 years in Greenwich Village; a freelance graphic designer with a great portfolio, and the mother of a 2-year-old girl.

The family — well, the little kid had no say — were thinking of moving to the ‘burbs. They were looking at 2 towns: Westport and Darien.

She asked me what she’d find here. I deferred to the collective wisdom of “06880” readers.

Alli DiVincenzo

Alli DiVincenzo

Some people advised her to stay put. Others bashed Darien. But the majority of responders offered thoughtful, wide-ranging, realistic reasons for her to come to 06880.

Things happened quickly. Within 2 months Alli DiVincenzo, her husband Glenn and young Capri found a house and closed. On June 22 they moved to Green’s Farms.

The other day, Alli emailed again.

Did she bear good news? Was she aching for the city — or California?

Read on:

I can’t believe it’s been just over a year since you came to my curious rescue about the town of Westport. You graciously posted my cry for help and opened the blogwaves to your readers for their opinions.

The responses not only hit every geographical touch point, but many emotional ones as well. Your readers are passionate. I thank you and all of them again for enlightening us on the good, the bad and the ugly –although I have yet to witness anything truly “ugly” in this town. Even the seagulls are pristine.

My sister visited last week. She described Westport as “Perfectville!” (She acknowledged that she has yet to experience a winter here.)

Alli's neighborhood, near Burying Hill Beach. (Photo by Alli DiVincenzo)

Alli’s neighborhood, near Burying Hill Beach. (Photo by Alli DiVincenzo)

Lots has happened to Alli in a year.

For one thing, Capri now has a baby brother. Will was born 9 months to the day after Alli and Glenn moved here. (Ahem. I refuse to go there.)

He’s got a longer-than-he-realized commute to New York. But she set up a home studio. Thanks to tons of people she’d just met, but who were eager to refer her, her AlliQDesign firm has plenty of projects. She worked with Westport Invitations; designed a poster for Amy Oestreicher‘s Gutless and Grateful show, and did graphics for the Westport Library‘s Great Gatsby Party. A mother at Capri’s pre-school sent 3 clients Alli’s way.

The neighbors on her cul-de-sac were very welcoming. She was invited to a Christmas party, and they threw her a baby shower plus a baby welcome brunch.

Her neighborhood features a long-running book club, filled with women who are “smart, beautiful, strong and successful, each in her own way.” A neighbor introduced her to the staff at the Westport Country Playhouse; she’s been to every play since. 

Alli and Capri, with holiday plants at Terrain.

Alli and Capri, with holiday plants at Terrain.

Alli and Capri went on the Wakeman Town Farm chicken coop tour. The family has explored Earthplace, the beaches, and canoed on Sherwood Mill Pond. Alli calls Westport’s resources and recreational activities “beyond any scope we’ve ever known.”

Alli loves the open spaces — and the fact that people don’t hide in it. Last week she chatted with a man pushing a stroller. He works on environmental issues. “People here do very interesting things,” she says.

For a while, she and Glenn thought Bobby Q’s was the only place to eat. They’ve since discovered the Whelk, the Dressing Room and many others. The variety of restaurants was “a pleasant surprise,” Alli says.

This summer — for the 1st time ever — the family is not going anywhere. They just want to enjoy their new home town. After all, Alli says, “It’s like a vacation spot.”

She admits downtown is “a bit sleepy.” But she is excited by the changes coming soon. And, as her father observed, “You can always tell a great downtown: It doesn’t have parking meters.”

Of course, every mother wants her child to be happy. So how does Capri like Westport?

“She’s taken the town by storm,” Alli says.