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:
Household has suffered a reduction in income of at least 20 percent due to COVID-19.
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.
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.
“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:
“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 email@example.com for more information.
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.”
Posted onMay 25, 2020|Comments Off on 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.
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.”
Comments Off on COVID Roundup: “Parade”; “Taps”; Restaurant Info; Kelli O’Hara; More
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. (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.
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).
Posted onMarch 18, 2018|Comments Off on Alec Baldwin, Kelli O’Hara Headline Playhouse Gala
A. R. “Pete” Gurney died last June. He was 86 years old.
The playwright holds many distinctions — including most-produced playwright in the Westport Country Playhouse’s 88-year history. Since 1980, the historic theater has produced 21 of his works.
A.R. “Pete” Gurney
Playhouse artistic director Mark Lamos also has a deep association with Gurney. He has directed many of his longtime friend’s plays, both off-Broadway and at the Playhouse. Some were world premieres.
At Carnegie Hall, Lamos diected Alec Baldwin in Gurney’s “Love Letters.”
So with all those connections, it’s no surprise that the Westport Country Playhouse’s annual fundraising gala features Mark Lamos directing Alec Baldwin in Pete Gurney’s “Love Letters.”
The cast for the old-friends event (April 12) also includes Westporter Kelli O’Hara, a Tony Award winner for her portrayal of Anna in “The King and I.”
Lamos first met Gurney in the early 1980s, while running Hartford Stage. The writer’s understanding of the “New England WASP gestalt” fascinated the director, who saw in Gurney’s characters some of the company’s board members and donors.
“He absolutely captures the sound of a generation of upper-class people,” Lamos says. “He hears their voices, and makes them real. He’s at the end of a long tradition of people like Henry James and John Cheever — New England-based comedy of manners writers.”
In addition, Lamos says, “Pete has a wonderful sense of humor. He has a talent for fine-tuning a joke — or taking it away.”
Twenty years ago, when Lamos and his husband moved to western Connecticut, Gurney invited them to dinner with Arthur Miller. Gurney, Lamos and their spouses became good friends.
Over the years, Lamos directed Gurney’s “Big Bill,” “The Dining Room” and others.
Since joining the Playhouse in 2009, Lamos has appreciated Gurney’s long association with the Westport theater. Jim McKenzie — executive director there for 41 years — loved the playwright’s work, Lamos says.
He’s proud to keep up the tradition.
And looking very forward to the April 12 gala, which raises funds so the Playhouse can continue producing many more intriguing, entertaining and thought-provoking plays.
By Pete Gurney — and others, too.
(For more information about the April 12 Spring Gala, including tickets, click here.)
The Westport Country Playhouse
Comments Off on Alec Baldwin, Kelli O’Hara Headline Playhouse Gala
Broadway was dark last night. That’s a Monday tradition.
But a capacity crowd at Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall enjoyed an evening of entertainment as show-stopping as anything you’ll see in New York.
Tony Award-winning Kelli O’Hara and “A Bronx Tale” lead Adam Kaplan headlined an all-star cabaret. It was a fundraiser for Staples Orphenians, who travel to Australia this summer for performances and workshops.
Kelli O’Hara, at last night’s cabaret. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)
O’Hara — a Westport resident — wowed the crowd with her operatic voice. She was full of praise for Staples’ stellar a cappella group, who she first heard perform last spring, at the Levitt Pavilion.
Standing in the church hall loft, the Orphenians — led by choral director Luke Rosenberg, down below — accompanied O’Hara on 2 compelling numbers.
Kaplan — a 2008 Staples graduate — recalled his days in the music and drama programs. At Elon University, he said, he talked so much about his high school that his friends joked there were 3 levels of performance: “Elon, Broadway, and at the top, Staples.”
Adam Kaplan (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)
The cabaret also featured Staples grads Clay Singer and Caroline Didelot, and solos by 9 Orphenians.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Thanks!)