It’s winter in Westport. Plenty of folks are dreaming of Hawaii.
The Orphenians will actually go there.
Well, not until June. But Staples High School’s elite a cappella choral group is already making plans. And rehearsing.
And raising funds.
The trip to the International Luau of Song Festival, with director Luke Rosenberg and conductor Pearl Shangkuan of Calvin College, will include learning about cultural music, performing, and touring on both Oahu and the Big Island.
All 42 Orphenians are going. They’ve set a goal of $45,000, to cover expenses of those who cannot afford it all.
So think leis and grass skirts, and get ready for an “Aloha Cabaret.” It’s set for January 22, at the Westport Library.
Broadway and Metropolitan Opera star, Tony Award-winning Kelli O’Hara — a Westporter, and Orphenians fan — will perform. Choral alumni like Clay Singer, Georgia Wright and others joins her on stage.
Rosenberg will sing too. For those who know him only from the back, as he wields his baton, that’s a special treat.
The emcee is David Pogue. Among many other talents, the “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent is a former Broadway arranger and conductor (and father of Orphenians).
A silent auction includes an array of items, from Caribbean stays and jewelry to lessons and coaching. There are Hawaiian-themed light bites too.
Just what we need for a cold — but also very cool — January night.
(VIP tickets are $225 per person; they include 6 p.m. early entry, choice seating, and a meet-and-greet with performers. General admission tickets are $150 per person, for 6:30 p.m. entry. Click here to purchase. To make a donation without purchasing, click here. Questions? Email Staples.Music.Parents.Assn@gmail.com.)
Click below for the Orphenians’ most recent Westport Library event. They performed holiday music, and selections from their fall concert.
Every year, the arrival of spring in Westport is heralded by the “Daffodil Mile” — the long, winding rows of daffodils at Willowbrook Cemetery on Main Street.
Daffodil Mile, at Willowbrook Cemetery … (Photo/Andrew Colabella)
For the past few years, daffodils have also bloomed throughout the rest of Westport. On Prospect Road, in Saugatuck, in traffic islands everywhere, the week of yellow flowers brings smiles to Westporters sick and tired of snow and slush.
Greens Farms Road, at Prospect Road.
Those daffodils don’t just fall from the sky (to mix metaphors). They’re the product of plenty of planning — and planting.
“Paint the Town Yellow” is a project begun 4 years ago by Debra Kandrak. This fall — prime daffodil-planting time — she encourages everyone, of all ages, to plant “around our neighborhoods, around street signs, mailbox posts, in front of your business, in front of the Police and Fire Departments.” She’d love for schools to be involved too.
This year’s theme is “plant in memory of a loved one lost.”
The easiest way to plant, Debra says, is to dig a trench and pop the bulbs in (pointy side up). Costco sells 50 bulbs for $13.99.
After you plant, email the location to firstname.lastname@example.org. She’ll come around next spring, and take photos.
The New York Times says that this November’s Metropolitan Opera staged premiere of “The Hours” is “New York City’s opera event of the fall.”
In addition to renowned soprano Renée Fleming, it stars Kelli O’Hara. The Times calls the Westport resident “a Tony Award-decorated musical theater actress with opera bona fides (even at the Met, where she was a standout as Despina in Mozart’s ‘Così Fan Tutte’).”
That’s part of the intro to an interview published yesterday with Fleming, O’Hara and Joyce DiDonato.
Click here for the full (and very interesting) piece.
Kelli O’Hara (Photo/Thea Traff for New York Times)
Every Staples High School reunion is a cause for celebration and remembrance.
COVID caused the Class of 1980 to wait an extra 2 years to gather for their 40th. But as they got together last month (and shook their heads that they’re all now 60 years old, or about to be) they turned their thoughts to classmate Susan Lloyd.
The popular, always-active native Westporter was diagnosed with cancer as a senior. She passed away while at Colgate University. Her parents and friends created the Susan Fund in her honor. For 4 decades, it has provided important educational scholarships to Fairfield County students diagnosed with cancer.
Ten years ago, the reunion class raised $2,300 for the Susan Fund. This year, they contributed $5,500.
Kelly Frey Pollard — Susan’s good friend, and a Susan Fund board member — created a beautiful display, with letters from classmates to Susan and her family during her battle with cancer. Classmates were encouraged to take their letters home, as mementoes.
Over 130 alumni attended the reunion. A 45th is planned for 2025 — with another contribution to the Susan Fund. To find out, more follow the “Staples Class 1980” Facebook page, or email Amy Potts: email@example.com,
The Class of 1980 display, of cards and letters sent to Susan Lloyd.
The Westport Woman’s Club big clothing tag sale is next month. They’re getting ready — which means, they need items to sell.
Tax-deductible donations of new or gently-worn women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, and accessories like shoes, handbags, scarves, hats and jewelry, can be dropped off weekdays (9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m.) at the WWC (44 Imperial Avenue).
Funds raised from this clothing tag sale support the town food closet, local charities throughout Fairfield County, and student scholarships.
The clothing tag sale is set for October 28-29 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and October 30 (noon to 3 p.m.). For more information, call 203-227-4240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Longtime Westporter Geoffrey Hooper died last week. He was 87 years old.
He was born in Victoria, British Columbia. After serving in the Canadian Air Force he met his first wife, Jeannette Lauzon, and moved to Connecticut to work for his father-in-law at Stamford Typesetting Corporation. In 1976 he bought the company with a partner, Frank DeBartolo.
At Stamford Type Geoff was a force to be reckoned with as a typesetter, salesman, accountant, proofreader and generous employer. He loved taking clients out charter fishing from Old Saybrook, and delivering bags of bluefish fillets to clients and friends. As the business changed from linotype to computers to desktop publishing and scanning, he kept up with all the new technologies.
When his children were growing up in Westport, Geoff was active in the Westport Community Theater and other acting groups.
After retiring in 2008 he spent most of his time at his favorite place: home. Geoff was a talented gardener who always grew too many seedlings, but was happy to share them with family and friends. He enjoyed reading, cooking, traveling, theatergoing, and the YMCA’s water aerobics classes.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Suzy; his brother Murray (Barbara); his children and their partners Debbie (Norman), Lynne (Gary), Geoff Jr. (Susan) and Kenneth (Kim); his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; his brother- and sister-in-law, Ken Solomon and Janice Lakey, and many other relatives and friends.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to a cause of your choice.
The Sweet Remains are a highlight of every Levitt Pavilion season.
But last night’s concert was extra special. The usual local pride — Sweet Remains leader Greg Naughton grew up in Weston, and lives in Westport — swelled when the trio was joined onstage by Greg’s wife, Broadway star Kelli O’Hara; his father James, the noted actor, and sister Keira.
Alert “06880” reader/longtime music fan/superb photographer Tom Kretsch reports: “It was a truly incredible evening, with a packed crowd enthralled by the group’s performance.”
The Sweet Remains, with James Naughton, Keira Naughton and Kelli O’Hara.
Recently, alert and hungry reader Patti Brill has noticed the “unkempt” appearance of the Charles Street restaurant. Yesterday, it looked like it was closed.
I checked the website. Nothing unusual; it was taking reservations and pickup orders.
I called. I was about to hang up when — on the 10th ring — a recording said, “We are pleased to announce our new hours.”
That’s usually a euphemism for “shorter hours.” I don’t know their previous schedule, but according to the chirpy voice, Tarry Lodge is open Wednesdays through Friday from 4 to 9:30 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 9:30 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.
“The show must go on” is a cliché. But Saugatuck Elementary School has managed to make lemonade out of lemons.
When COVID struck, they kept their upcoming show — “The Little Mermaid” — afloat. They turned clips into a video, and showed it on the big Remarkable Theater screen.
That was such a hit, they did a fully recorded show — “Charlie Brown” — over Zoom last year. Again, it delighted many Remarkable movie-goers.
After two years, the youngsters are back on the SES stage.
Saugatuck Theater Club is producing “Shrek The Musical JR.” The theme — “what makes us special makes us strong” — is timely, considering recent events like the sudden focus on Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia.
Fiona (Ayla Ciano-Buckley, 5th grade, and understudies (from left) Sofia Amron (3rd grade) and Ella O’Brien (4th).
This being Westport, the Saugatuck El kids have a special coach/mentor: Broadway star Kelli O’Hara. She’s helping director Katie Bloom — along with the usual staff members and parent volunteers, who have waited 2 years for the chance.
The curtain rises Friday, April 8 (7 p.m). Performances follow the next day (Saturday, April 9) at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Click here for tickets.
Mila Carbino (3rd grade), one of the 3 pigs protesting Lord Farquad’s discrimination against the nonconformists of Duloc.
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.
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.
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.
Posted onOctober 12, 2021|Comments Off on 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.
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.
Comments Off on Kelli O’Hara’s Next Star Turn: Library’s Malloy Lecture
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.”
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome, appreciated — and tax-deductible! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to “06880”: PO Box 744, Westport, CT 06881. Or use Venmo: @blog06880. Or Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)