Tag Archives: Kelli O’Hara

Roundup: Kelli O’Hara, Cary Pierce, Steven Parton …

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Congratulations to Staples’ October Students of the Month!

Catherine Cunningham, Gianna Amatuzzi, Lucas Baer, Sydney Griffiths, Olivia McCaffery, Kaylin Manning and William Holleman are “students who help make Staples a welcoming place for peers and teachers alike. They are the ‘glue’ of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students that keep the high school together, making it the special place that it is.”

Teachers nominate students who are friendly to staff and fellow students, and make positive contributions in class as well as the Staples community.

From left: Catherine Cunningham, Gianna Amatuzzi, Lucas Baer, Sydney Griffiths, Olivia McCaffery, Kaylin Manning, William Holleman.

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A link is live for the virtual version of the Westport Library’s 2021 Malloy Lecture in the Arts. Broadway (and Westport’s) own Kelli O’Hara will be joined in conversation on Thursday, November 11 (7 p.m.) by renowned theater director Bartlett Sher.

O’Hara won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Anna in “The King and I,” among many honors. Click here to register for the event.

Kelli O’Hara

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Speaking of songs: Cary Pierce – the 1987 Staples High School graduate who is the longtime half of the popular musical duo Jackopierce — sends word that his new single, “Outta My Head” (from the EP “The Dalhattan Project”) has just dropped. Click here for its many platforms.

You can see Jackopierce live, too. They play City Winery in New York this Tuesday (November 7; doors open at 6 p.m., the band is on at 8). Click here for more information.

Cary Pierce

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Amy Simon — the Post Road East art gallery — hosts an artists’ reception for Donald Martiny and Amy Genser this Friday (November 5, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.). The show is called “Pushing the Boundaries.”

“Callisto” — polymer and pigment on aluminum (Donald Martiny)

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Speaking of art: Westporter Steven Parton earned a Salmagundi Award for Oils & Acrylics at the Audubon Artists’ 79th Annual Exhibition in New York. The honor came for his work “SAFE.”

Congratulations, Steve!

“SAFE” (Steven Parton)

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Is today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo a Halloween witch?

Nah. But it could be.

(Photo/Nancy Axthelm)

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And finally … trick or treat!

 

Kelli O’Hara’s Next Star Turn: Library’s Malloy Lecture

The Westport Library’s Malloy Lecture in the Arts has drawn some impressive names here: Philippe de Montebello, Arthur Miller, Christo, Joshua Bell, Joyce Carol Oates, John Lithgow, Clive Davis and Salman Rushdie, to name just a few.

This year’s guest is equally luminous. But she’s a lot more familiar locally.

Kelli O’Hara “comes to town” November 11 (7 p.m.).

Our neighbor just happens to be one of Broadway’s great leading ladies. She earned a Tony Award in 2015 for her portrayal of Anna in “The King and I,” along with Drama League and Outer Circle nominations.

The Oklahoma native made her Broadway debut in “Jekyll & Hyde.” She followed with shows like “The Light in the Piazza,” which garnered her first award nominations. She got more for “The Pajama Game,” “South Pacific,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Kiss Me Kate” and others.

Kelli O’Hara

O’Hara also starred in NBC’s live telecast of “Peter Pan.” She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in “The Merry Widow,” with Renee Fleming. She is a frequent guest on PBS’ Memorial Day and July 4th celebrations, and has performed i Kennedy Center tributes for Jerry Herman and Barbra Streisand.

She and her husband, musician/filmmaker Greg Naughton, have 2 children. O’Hara is passionate about furthering the arts in education. She serves on the boards of New York City Center and the New York Pops.

The Malloy Lecture in the Arts is the legacy of the late Susan Malloy. It was created in 2002 as a free, public annual discussion by an individual with significant cultural influence, whose work has enhanced an understanding and appreciation of the arts.

A limited number of in-person tickets are available, beginning at 10 a.m. today (Tuesday, October 12). Click here to register. The event will also be livestreamed and recorded.

Roundup: Churches, Safety App, GFA Athletes, More


For many years, Saugatuck Church collected baby gifts during their 5 p.m. Christmas Eve pageant. They were donated to women and children, through the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Norwalk.

Tonight, that worship is online. However, the church continues its tradition of gathering gifts to benefit women and children in crisis. And you don’t have to be a parishioner to help!

Just stop at the white church downtown (245 Post Road East) between 4 and 5 p.m. today. Pop your trunk; a volunteer will retrieve your gift.

This has been a very tough year, for women, children and the DVCC itself. Items needed include supplies and pajamas for babies, as well as crafts for older children.


Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup noted that Tony Award-winner Kelli O’Hara is starring in a PBS holiday special.

She also did a much more local performance, at (and for) Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. (Her daughter Charlotte is a junior chorister there.)

You can enjoy Kelli — and many others — starting at 6 p.m. tonight. Just click on the CHT YouTube channel or Facebook page.

Kelli O’Hara at Christ & Holy Trinity Church.


M13 has led a $1.8M seed round in Prepared, a company building technology to keep school campuses safer. It was co-founded at Yale University by Staples graduates Dylan Gleicher and Neil Soni.

Prepared’s 1-touch mobile alert system enables administrators to instantaneously alert both the entire campus and 911 dispatchers to an emergency. Click here for a full story.

Neil Soni and Dylan Gleicher


Three Greens Farms Academy student-athletes from Westport have committed to colleges, to continue their academic and sports careers.

Connor McDonald will play tennis at Boston College; Piper Melnick plans to row at the University of California-Berkeley, and Mark Roszkowski heads off to Tufts University’s baseball team.

Congratulations to all 3 Dragons!

From left: Connor McDonald, Piper Melnick and Mark Roszkowski.


And finally … as always, The Band is there:

Roundup: Kelli O’Hara, Tax Deferment, Santa Claus, More


Tony Award winner —  and Westporter — Kelli O’Hara joins Richard Thomas and the Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and Bells at Temple Square in a holiday special.

It premiered last week, and runs through January 11 on PBS stations. But you don’t have to wait — just click here to see. (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)

Kelli O’Hara, on the PBS special.


Westport is offering another tax relief deferment program for eligible taxpayers for the January installment period.

It is an extended grace period on tax payments to assist taxpayers suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19. Eligible taxpayers can utilize the program for January tax bills on real estate, personal property, motor vehicles and sewer assessments. Payments made any time within 3 months from each bill’s due date will not incur interest charges or penalties.

Applications for deferment must account for one of the following hardships:

  1. Household has suffered a reduction in income of at least 20 percent due to COVID-19.
  2. Business or nonprofit revenue from October 2020 to January 2021 is expected to be reduced by at least 30 percent compared to the same time last year.
  3. For landlords: Income is significantly reduced. Landlords can also provide proof of forbearance programs offered to their own tenants to be eligible.

Applicants must submit documentation. Click here for the application form and additional information.

Those who were eligible for tax deferment last April or July must apply again for the January payment deferral.


Santa — aka Josh Philip — has been a busy boy.

He personally visited 89 Westport homes over the past few weeks. Kids of all ages were thrilled to see him.

Just a warm-up for tomorrow night, of course. But — like all those Westport  Country Playhouse shows that move on to Broadway — there’s no pbetter place than here to warm up for the Big Time.

Ho ho ho! Santa visits one of dozens of Westport homes. (Photo/Rose Phllip)


If you clicked on the link to today’s lead story listing scores of worthy local charities to consider donating to this holiday season — check it again. Readers have suggested more than a dozen more, in areas ranging from domestic violence and child advocacy to the Farmers’ Market and Susan Fund.

Click here for the updated list. And give generously!


And finally … I’ve always liked Eric Clapton. And I’ve loved Van Morrison.

But their latest release — a collaboration — makes me wonder if they’ve spent too many years too close to their amps.

“Stand and Deliver” is a 4 1/2-minute rant against government-imposed lockdowns. It was released on Friday, in the midst of Britain’s battle against rapidly rising COVID cases, and news of a new strain that threatens to wreak more havoc.

At last proceeds go to Morrison’s Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund, which helps musicians facing difficulties as a result of the virus and lockdowns.

Roundup: Walking Trails, Young Performers, More


Aspetuck Land Trust reports:

“There are no downed wires on our 150 open spaces, including our 43 trailed nature preserves. But there are a lot of downed trees!

“We’ve already cleared many of our trails, including nearly 20 miles in Trout Brook Valley. A special thanks to our volunteer trail stewards for pinpointing downed trees and helping with cleanup efforts.

“For information on the status of particular trails or preserves, click here. As we get back to normal (or whatever passes for normal these days), please consider making an additional donation to the Aspetuck Land Trust to help with storm cleanup.

“Also consider replanting your own lost trees and shrubs with natives from our Fall Plant Sale. Up to 50% of your purchase will be tax deductible. We will add many new natives trees and shrubs for pickup at Gilbertie’s Farm in Easton next month. Details and availability will be on our website August 25.”


Did you miss “Friday Night THRIVE Live!,” the virtual showcase hosted by Westport’s Broadway star Kelli O’Hara, featuring teenage talent from throughout the area (including our town)?

No problem! The event — named for the Teens Having Resilience In a Virtual Environment program, created by Westport Country Playhouse, and Shubert and Long Wharf Theatres — lives on. Click below to enjoy:


And finally … 43 years ago today, Elvis Presley died at his Graceland estate in Memphis. He was 42 years old — meaning he’s now been dead longer than he was alive. Here’s his 1956 appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which energized teenagers and scandalized their parents:

Want more of those swiveling hips?

Roundup: Longshore Sailing; Anti-Racism; Arts Programs; Jewish Food; More


Longshore Sailing School provides this update:

“The facility has been serviced by ServPro as a response to our positive COVID case. Vessels have been postponed until today, as the weather prevented proper sanitizing.

“Though we are technically able to stay open, we are choosing to remain closed through the end of the day on Friday. We will reopen on Saturday. We will provide a refund for the missed class days of our students. Rentals and sdult programs will resume on Saturday, July 11 at 9:30 a.m. Junior programs will resume on Monday, July 13.”


Everyone’s talking about racism. But how can we talk about it appropriately and effectively, with kids?

That’s the focus of an important virtual panel discussion. “Towards Becoming an Anti-Racist Society: Talking with Young Children About Race and Racism” — sponsored by TEAM Westport, Greens Farms Academy, The Westport Library and United Way of Coastal Fairfield County — is set for Wednesday, July 22 (7 to 8:30 p.m.).

Panelists include Bank Street educator Takiema Bunche Smith, early childhood director Linda Santoro and TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey Jr. Moderator Shanelle Henry is director of equity and inclusion at GFA.

It should be an engaging (and free!) discussion. Click here to register.


MoCA Westport reopened this week with — executive director Ruth Mannes says — “a renewed sense of perspective, purpose, and hope.” Guests are welcomed to the Helmut Lang exhibition “in a very safe setting. Physically distanced visits will feel like private tours.”

Summer hours are Wednesdays through Fridays, 12 to 4 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, click here.


The Westport Country Playhouse, Shubert Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre have teamed up to present a free, virtual program for high school students in Fairfield County and New Haven County.

THRIVE (Teens Having Resilience in a Virtual Environment) includes interactive workshops and discussions on themes like spoken word, creative writing, arts, performance, wellness, job training, cooking and more, led by specialists in each field.

The program runs from Monday, July 20 through Saturday, August 8. It ends with a virtual showcase hosted by Tony-winning Broadway star (and Westport’s own) Kelli O’Hara.

The deadline to apply is (uh oh) tomorrow (Friday, July 10). Click here for more information.


Who knew that Michael Wolfe’s blog post “My Definitive And Absolutely Correct Ranking of 40 Jewish Foods” would go viral (over 220,000 views so far)? Oy!

Tonight (Thursday, July 9, 7 p.m.), the Westporter will speak online about it all. Everyone is welcome. Click here to join. Don’t forget your bagel!


Singing is supposed to be cathartic. These days, it’s also a very effective way to spread the coronavirus.

But not if the vocals are virtual.

Westport music educator Danielle Merlis has enlisted Backtrack Vocals — the New York a cappella ensemble with Broadway appearances in “Kinky Boots,” and here at Toquet Hall — to be artists in (online) residence at her Camp A Cappella.

Beginning tomorrow (Friday, July 10) Backtrack Vocals members will lead virtual for young singers entering grades 4-12. Students will learn an  arrangement of a pop song, which they’ll perform in a final video alongside the professional ensemble.

The workshop includes lessons in beatboxing, choreography and ensemble skills; each student receives individual instruction.

No prior vocal training or ensemble singing is required. Students can sign up any time before July 23rd, and watch the classes on demand! Email campacappellact@gmail.com for more information.

Danielle Merlis


Norwalk author Jerry Craft made history when “New Kid” became the first graphic novel to win the prestigious Newbery Medal. He is also only the 5th Black writer to earn the prize.

He’s the second speaker in the Westport Library’s new Camp Explore summer program, for youngsters entering grades 4 to 8. Each week there’s a new guest — a global expert in his or her field.

Craft will appear (virtually) Monday (July 13) at 4 p.m. To register, click here.


Tomorrow at noon, 4  Westport girls will be honored for their social impact ventures.

The quartet — Staples High School’s Hannah Cohen and Lina Singh, and Bedford Middle School’s Samantha Henske and Yanira Rios — participated in Girls With Impact‘s online entrepreneurship academy. The program’s goal is to increase the number of diverse women leaders and innovators in the workforce.

Tomorrow’s online event includes nearly 1,000 teenagers, from 40 states.


And finally … 65 years ago today — July 9, 1955 — “Rock Around the Clock” hit #1 on the Billboard chart. It’s called “the first rock ‘n’ roll” record. I have no idea how you define such a thing. But I do know: Neither Bill Haley nor his Comets look anything like what we call a “rock star.”

Roundup: Kids’ Parade; Signs Of Happiness; More


Sherwood Farms Lane is a small street, off Greens Farms Road. But it’s got true international flavor, with families from Ireland, Russia, Norway, India, China, Japan, Dominica and Australia.

Every year, they celebrate America with a July 4 “kid parade.”

Despite COVID, yesterday was no different. The youngsters had their usual fun.

And, Mark Rubino says, “the adults commented how comforting this tradition felt, given how unsettled the world is right now.”

Sherwood Farms Lane bike parade. (Photo/Mark Rubino)


Surrounded by COVID, Westporter Kimberly Paris wanted to do something to make people smile.

She launched a new yard sign company: “Signs of Happiness.” She personally designs and hand cuts each one.

Her first was for Father’s Day. She added 2 more for this weekend.

People love them. And, Kimberly says, they actually slow down to look, instead of rolling through stop signs.

Her website just launched. She’ll update it to offer a variety of special occasion signs, all available for 24-hour rental. For more information, email signsofhappiness@yahoo.com.


Last night’s 40th “Capitol 4th” concert on PBS was taped — not live — due to COVID-19. The lack of a huge audience West Lawn audience took away some oomph from the annual show.

Still, it was great seeing our friend and neighbor, Kelli O’Hara, singing the beautiful “If I Loved You” from “Carousel.”


And finally … in honor of this weekend:

COVID Roundup: “Parade”; “Taps”; Restaurant Info; Kelli O’Hara; More


If you’re like many Westporters, missing today’s Memorial Day parade was tough.

If you lived near downtown though, you were in luck.

Neighborhood kids were invited to decorate bikes. They rode — appropriately apart — from Wright Street to Orchard Lane, Ludlow Road and Kings Highway North. Over 40 youngsters (and a few parents) took part.

Spectators stood on their porches, and clapped. There was a street party afterward — still socially distant, but able to celebrate in the new old-fashioned way.

(Photo/Anne Hardy)


At 3 p.m. today (Memorial Day), a bugler will play “Taps” on the plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk. It’s part of “Taps Across America,” a project initiated by CBS “On the Road” correspondent Steve Hartman.

Masked, appropriately distanced residents are invited to attend.

“Taps,” at Westport’s 2015 Memorial Day ceremony.


Todd Pines has been thinking about our dining scene. He writes:

“While restaurants are starting to open with limited capacity, most business is likely to be takeout  for the foreseeable future. Ordering through behemoth delivery services (Uber Eats, Grubhub, etc.) takes an enormous split of the tab, further challenging restaurants’ ability to survive.

“Residents should understand the small impact they can make by calling a restaurant directly, seeing if they offer their own delivery staff. You can also consider getting in your own car, and picking up your meal directly. It means a lot to the restaurant owner.”

For a deep dive into delivery services, click here.

PS: Todd adds, “For the entrepreneurial-minded, a lot of college students and high school seniors are looking for work. They could help those restaurants with delivery, pocketing the tips while not forcing restaurants to discount their tab.”

Layla’s Falafel offers great food — and they have their own delivery service. Ordering direct helps them stay in business.


Speaking of which: Winfield Street Coffee is back open, just over the downtown bridge. Hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and catering. There’s takeout, curbside pickup, delivery, and a few new seats on the sidewalk.

Also new: a “Reserved Parking/To Go Orders Only” sign, right in front. In these times when local businesses need all the help they can get — they’re getting it!


One of the underrated treasures of any Memorial Day is the PBS concert, broadcast from Washington, DC. It’s America at its best.

Last night’s show was different. The pandemic canceled the live show, so musical guests appeared on tape, from all over the country.

And right there among them was Westport’s own Kelli O’Hara. The Tony Award winner delivered a haunting rendition of “Fire and Rain.” Its refrain “but I always thought that I’d see you again” — juxtaposed against scenes of loved ones visiting graves of the men and women they’d lost — provided some of the most powerful moments of the entire evening.


And finally … as the coronavirus kept us apart today, let’s look back on a great Westport tradition. Here’s the Staples High School band in 2013, with their rousing Memorial Day “Armed Forces Salute.”

COVID-19 Roundup: Student Theater And Art; Medical Heroes; Baseball, Masks, More

The Westport Country Playhouse is dark. But it lights up on both Facebook and the Playhouse’s own YouTube channel on Friday, April 17 (7 p.m.).

It shines with Westport’s own Kelli O’Hara, and 10 randomly selected Fairfield County High School students. They’ll chat with the Broadway star, and perform musical theater selections.

Students can click here between tomorrow (Sunday, April 5, 10 a.m.) and Wednesday (April 8, 10 a.m.). Upload a video of yourself performing any musical theater song.

In addition to the 10 students chosen, 10 “understudies” will be selected to submit a question for Kelli to answer during the show.

“I’m a firm believer in the healing magic of the arts,” the Tony Award-winning (“The King and I”) actor says. Most recently, she earned a Tony nomination for “Kiss Me, Kate.”

All videos submitted will be featured in a compilation, released on Playhouse social media channels. For more information, email education@westportplayhouse.org.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


First “06880” encouraged Westport students to do artwork while they’re home from school.

Now Friends of Westport Public Art Collections is doing the same. Here’s the hook: If your work is accepted by Friends, it will be featured in the public schools’ 2020-21 calendar.

Submissions can be new — or something already painted, drawn, photographed or digitally created. Click here for details.


Many people have seen this photo from Yale New Haven Health. Front line personnel are pleading with everyone to keep physical distance.

But you may not know that the nurse in the far left of the front row is Nick Kiedaisch. The 2012 Staples High School graduate — and varsity baseball star — is among the medical heroes. Let’s do all we can to make his and his colleagues’ jobs easier. (Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)


Lifelong Westporter Deborah Johnson is a well-known designer and decorator, with her own drapery business.

Over the years she has assembled plenty of extra fabric. Now she’s using it to make face masks. If you’d like to help, or know someone in great need, email wsptgirl@yahoo.com(Hat tip: Steve Crowley)


Speaking of masks: Yesterday’s Roundup story on Virginia Jaffe’s project raised immediate funds, delivered 4 sewing helpers — and brought a request from the director of STAR Lighting the Way. Today, Virginia and her crew are donating 80 masks for their staff. Well done!

Virginia Jaffe, in her workroom


It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the spring high school sports season will happen.

That’s devastating news to hundreds of Staples athletes — and hundreds of thousands more across the country.

Which brings up this local/national news: In a just-released preseason poll, the National High School Baseball Coaches Association ranked the Wreckers 31st, in the entire country.

They’re defending state champions. But they may never get their chance to defend their title.

They might also lose the opportunity to see how much further they’d climb in the rankings. Normally at this time of year, anticipation and excitement would be high.

Opening day was supposed to have been today.

Instead of “Play ball!” it’s “Keep away!”

So right now, guys, we’re sorry. Congratulations on being #31 in the nation will have to suffice. (Hat tip: Vince Kelly)


And finally, what’s Saturday without a dance party?

C’mon! It’s time to throw down. Nobody’s watching! And even if they are …

2 Westporters Earn Emmy Nominations

Westporters will have 2 favorites, when the Emmy Awards are broadcast in September.

Justin Paul — the 2003 Staples High School graduate who has already earned Grammy, Oscar and Tony honors — could become a legendary EGOT.  The songwriting duo were nominated for “In the Market for a Miracle.” They composed the tune for “A Christmas Story Live” — Fox’s adaptation of their 2012 stage musical.

Justin Paul was in Westport last month, entertaining and inspiring the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” crowd.

(Speaking of legends: John Legend is up for an acting Emmy. If he wins, he becomes an EGOT too.)

Kelli O’Hara‘1st-ever nomination comes for Outstanding Actress In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series. She plays Katie Bonner in “The Accidental Wolf.”

Kelli O’Hara performed earlier this year at a fundraising cabaret for Staples High School’s Orphenians. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

We’ve got 2 months to wait. The 70th Emmy Awards will be broadcast on Monday, September 17 (8 p.m., NBC).

(Hat tip: Kerry Foley)