Tag Archives: Dan Sklar

Roundup: Lacrosse, Blood Drive, Dog Licenses …

Tyler Clark’s dramatic goal 3:45 into overtime gave Staples’ boys lacrosse team a 9-8 victory over Ridgefield in last night’s state tournament semifinal.

The victory vaults the Wreckers — ranked #2 in the state L (large schools) division — into the final. They’ll face perennial powerhouse Darien, ranked 1st and 16-9 victors over Fairfield Prep in the other semi.

Coach Will Koshansky’s Staples squad is shooting for their first-ever state crown. The game is set for 3 p.m. this Sunday (June 12), at Sacred Heart University.

Tyler Clark’s winning goal for Staples, in yesterday’s state tournament semifinal. (Photo/Chris Greer, courtesy of The Ruden Report).

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The next Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399 Red Cross Blood Drive is Tuesday (June 14, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). It’s sponsored by the Charley With A Y Foundation, in memory of Marine lance corporal Charles M. Rochlin USMC.

Click here for an appointment, or call 800-733-2767, Use this sponsor code: VFWWestport.

LCPL Charley Rochlin

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Allison Russell is the latest performer signed to the Levitt Pavilion’s “Stars on Tours” series.

The Grammy-nominate artist/activist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/founding member of Our Native Daughters and Birds of Chicago Allison Russell will appear on Sunday, August 21.

Allison made history at the 2022 Juno Awards as the first Black artist to win for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year.

The record was named the #2 Best Album of the Year by the New York Times after its release in 2021, and Allison’s song “Nightflyer” made Barack Obama’s annual list of favorites.

The member pre-sale is live now. The public sale begins tomorrow (June 10) at noon.

Allison Russell

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Congratulations to Music Theatre of Connecticut.

They’ve been nominated for 11 Connecticut Critics Circle awards. Four are for the musical “Falsettoland” — and 2 have a Westport connection. The father-son team of Dan and Ari Sklar are up for “Outstanding actor, musical” and “Outstanding debut.” Both live here.

Though based in Norwalk, MTC has strong Westport roots. Broadway actors Mia Gentile and Jacob Heimer, plus noted songwriter Justin Paul, all performed there often.

Dan Sklar

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Speaking of theater: Summer is almost here. Which means the Westport Country Playhouse annual gala is not far away.

The event returns live — after a 2-year COVID hiatus — on September 17. The guest artist is Renée Elise Goldsberry: the original Tony Award-winning Angelica Schuyler from “Hamilton.” She’ll perform a high energy concert of Broadway, pop and soul.

Ticket details will be announced soon. t’s sure to sell out quickly.

Renee Elise Goldsberry

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June is dog license month.

Licenses good from July 1 to June 30, 2023, may be obtained online from the Town Clerk’s department, starting now. All dogs over 6 months old must be licensed.

Click here to license your dog online (desktop only; no mobile devices allowed). Have your spay/neuter and rabies certificates available to upload as a PDF. If these are not available, contact your veterinary office to obtain digital copies.

Paper applications accompanied by a check payment are also accepted. Mail or the drop box at the rear of Town Hall are preferred methods of delivery. Dog licenses can be processed in the Town Clerk’s offfice for those who need in person assistance.

Mail the application, payment, and required certificates (all certificates will be returned with license), and a self-addressed stamped return envelope to: Westport Town Clerk, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06881. Click here to download the application. Visit Westportct.gov/dogs for all information related to dog licenses in Westport.

For more information, call 203-341-1110 or visit Westportct.gov/dogs.

“Before we play: Send in my license, please!” (Photo/Amy Schneider)

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“Senior Night” at the Remarkable Theater has been moved to has been moved to June 22 (8 p.m.). It’s a special showing of a 70-minute video, highlighting the Class of 2022’s unique 4 years at Staples High School.

Click here for tickets.

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Speaking of animals: The Gorham Island swan has not abandoned her nest. She was spotted sitting pretty yesterday morning, enjoying the sunshine and her motherly duties.

(Photo/Mary Stewart)

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Today there are 2 of these “Westport … Naturally” rabbits.

Tomorrow there will be many more. Naturally.

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

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And finally … did you know that the inspiration for songwriter Paul Vance’s classic “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” came from his 2-year-old daughter?

Neither did I, until I read his obituary. He died May 30 in Florida, at 92.

I also did not know that singer Brian Hyland — who recorded the #1 song — was just 16 at the time. Go figure

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Father-Son “Falsettoland”

In 1994, Staples Players staged an entirely student-run production of “Falsettos.”

Directed by senior Ari Edelson, the Tony Award-winning musical — dealing with hot-button issues like AIDS, homosexuality and religion — was a smash. Audience members were in tears; cast members called it “life-changing.”

But the show was not produced at the high school. Administrators — unnerved by the themes — forced the show off campus. The Westport Country Playhouse welcomed it to their historic stage.

Shirah Lipson Sklar remembers it well. She was a Staples student then; her friends acted in the show, and played in the pit. The 4 sold-out performances were momentous events.

Now the senior rabbi at Temple Shalom in Norwalk, she’ll revisit it again next month. “Falsettoland” — the 2nd act of “Falsettos” — runs weekends at the Music Theatre of Connecticut.

It will be especially poignant for Shirah. Her son Ari plays Jason, who is preparing for his bar mitzvah.

Dan Sklar — Shirah’s husband, and Ari’s father — is in the cast too. He’s Marvin, Jason’s father. In the show he suffers from a mysterious, undefined illness. The audience knows it is AIDS.

Ari Sklar

Acting and singing come naturally to Ari, a Coleytown Middle School 7th grader. Shirah sang beautifully as a Staples Orphenian under director Alice Lipson — her own mother. Dan was an actor more than 20 years ago, but stopped performing when he entered rabbinic school.

Still, Ari was surprised when he learned that his stage father would be his real father. Dan is proud that Ari has long been an advocate for social justice. And he realized that as Ari prepares for his own, actual bar mitzvah, sharing the stage in a show like this was too good to pass up.

Ari did not know that Dan auditioned with director Kevin Connors. A 12-year-old boy may not be thrilled about being in a musical with his father, Dan admits. But now that they’re rehearsing — sharing the process of putting together a very important play — Ari is enjoying their new on- and off-stage roles.

Dan calls the show “an old friend.” He knew “Falsettos” well in his performing days. Many actor friends were gay; he helped raise money through work with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Dan Sklar

“There are so many layers to this play,” he notes. “As we go through dark, tough times, with another disease, it’s important to have ‘up’ moments like these.”

As rehearsals continue, Dan sees his son through new eyes. “He’s an amazing kid — well, not really a kid anymore,” he says. “We’re proud he’s growing up in a town that celebrates people for who they are. Every day he teaches us about acceptance, affirmation, and the changing world.

“I might be completely overwhelmed at the end, at the bar mitzvah scene. I just hope I can say my lines to him.”

After this, the proud father says, Ari’s real bar mitzvah in June will be a breeze.

(“Falsettoland” will be performed November 5-21: Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk. Click here for tickets and more information.) 

Roundup: Dan Sklar’s Sh*tshow, Young Woman’s League Wine, More

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Dan Sklar is a beloved rabbi, cantor and musician.

Now he’s an author too.

All those identities come together in “Sh*tShow: A Memoir & Mixtape: The Tales of a Reluctant Rabbi.” It’s an insightful, deeply human expression of past and present.

This past year has been challenging for everyone. Sklar was particularly affected. “Reluctant Rabbi” explores how inherited family trauma — and trauma experienced first hand — shape the people we become.

A Spotify playlist of 29 songs that provoke and inspire accompanies the book (you’ll see when and where to play the tracks). Artists include Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Lyle Lovett, Theodore Bikel, the Indigo Girls, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Rascal Flatts — and Sklar himself.

Click here for the paperback. Click here for the Kindle edition. Click here for the Spotify playlist.

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It’s called “Galentine’s: Wine Night and Bingo Fundraiser.” It’s sponsored by the Westport Young Woman’s League.

But you don’t have to be a woman to participate in this virtual event. All are welcome!

“Galentine’s” (February 4, 7:30 p.m., Zoom) raises funds for local charities. Last year, the WYWL handed out $90,000 to organizations that end hunger, and promote education and health.

The League has partnered with the female-owned vineyard Aquila’s Nest. The $65 ticket price includes 2 bottles of wine, bingo spot and fun surprises. Click here to purchase a ticket, and for more information.

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And finally … happy 53rd birthday to rapper/producer/actor/author/ entrepreneur/Kennedy Center honors winner LL Cool J.

Which, I just found out today, stands for Ladies Love Cool James.

 

Trying Times At Temple

The departure of Cantor Dan Sklar from Temple Israel earlier this month surprised members of the congregation.

But, he says, the notion that he resigned — and that officials did all they could to retain him — is “a complete fabrication.”

In a video released yesterday, Sklar — who also earned a dual degree as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College — calls the temple’s version of events “disingenuous.” He says he was threatened with termination because of anger issues.

Cantor and Rabbi Dan Sklar

Sklar does not deny those issues. They are real, he says — and the result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Sklar studied for the cantorate in Jerusalem during a period of intense suicide bombings. He saw their aftermath.

In his years at Temple Israel, Sklar says, he had several “outbursts of emotion.” They were related to issues of building security and COVID-19 — for example, threats by intruders, and unmasked people in the sanctuary. They were directed at colleagues and staff members, not congregants, he says.

In the video, he describes the pain of being barred by the temple from co-officiating at a funeral — and having no contact with the grieving family. He was also prohibited from contact with students he was preparing for bar and bat mitzvahs.

Sklar expresses gratitude to the many families and friends for the support they’ve shown. Despite losing his job — and his family’s health insurance — in the midst of a global pandemic, Sklar smiles a bit at the end.

Recalling Sabbath services on the beach, and “sharing life’s joys and trials,” he notes that being a cantor and rabbi “is not a job. It is who I am.”

Click below to see Dan Sklar’s video:


Last night, Temple Israel’s board of trustees emailed the congregation:

Dear Friends,

We are heartbroken to have to write this letter this evening.

We all recognize the imprint Cantor Sklar has had on our congregation and will cherish the memories we have of him. We know how important he has been to you and your family in times of celebration and mourning alike. We assure you that he has had a similar role in our own lives. He has deeply enriched the fabric of our community.

We are disappointed that Cantor Sklar has chosen to mischaracterize certain events that culminated in his departure from Temple Israel.

Unfortunately, over the course of recent years, Cantor Sklar exhibited behavior that resulted in a number of documented incidents which unambiguously violated our congregation’s code of conduct.

Last week, we reached a written separation agreement that was approved by Cantor Sklar and his counsel. The agreement would have generously provided for Cantor Sklar and his family. It would have enabled him to move on to the next stage of his career with his reputation intact and provided financial support for his family during a lengthy transition period.

Today Cantor Sklar revoked that agreement and chose to make public a number of hurtful and untrue accusations against Temple Israel.

We do not believe this is the appropriate forum to share the details of the numerous incidents that led to our decision, but we do want to assure you that we did everything we could to accommodate Cantor Sklar both in recent months as well as over the course of a number of years. Sadly, despite the many accommodations we provided, the situation became untenable. It was a painful but necessary decision we had to make despite the pandemic.

We wish Cantor Sklar and his family only the best. We understand this will be an emotional transition for Temple Israel, but our congregation is strong and resilient. Please feel free to reach out to us; we will support one another though this.

L’shalom — wishing you peace and comfort.

Roundup: Pride And Prejudice, Night Music, Field Hockey, More


Who doesn’t want to escape 2020? The early 1800s sound great!

This Sunday (November 8, 6 p.m.), Staples Players’ radio play series continues with “Pride and Prejudice.” Jane Austen’s tale of romance and matchmaking gone awry is great family entertainment. Just like the old days! (Though there were no radio plays in the 1800s, of course.)

Sophie Rossman plays Elizabeth Bennet. She calls this “unlike anything we’ve done in the last 4 years.” Sophie admires Elizabeth’s “drive to make decisions and defy gender stereotypes to achieve her aspirations.”

Emily Desser adds that “audiences will love all of the characters in each of these shows. Each of them is entertaining in their own way, and cast members find such interesting ways to bring them to life.”

Gruel Brittania joins the fun. The Fairfield restaurant offers Pemberley’s Prime Rib Supper with Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower and broccoli cheese, roasted parsnips and carrots, pan gravy and horseradish sauce, and sticky toffee pudding with custard. To order, click here.

To enjoy the free livestream, click on www.wwptfm.org.

Seniors Sophie Rossman and David Corro rehearse “Pride and Prejudice.” (Photo/Kerry Long)


Temple Israel cantor Dan Sklar, local favorites The Sweet Remains, Staples High School senior Camille Foisie and Camp A Cappella highlight an evening of great music on Saturday, November 14 (7:30 p.m.).

It’s all for a great cause: the Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project. Email norwalksistercityproject@gmail.com.

Camille Foisie


The Staples field hockey team celebrated Senior Day in a big way in their last regular season game, scoring against Norwalk within the first minute. The rampage continued, all the way to 6-1.

The undefeated (8-0) Wreckers advance to the Central Division semifinal, Saturday at home.

(Photo/JC Martin)


And finally … as Election Week continues …