Tag Archives: Levitt Pavilion

Pops! Goes The Concert

This morning’s post looked back on Friday’s Staples High School choral concert.

But there’s no rest for the music department. They’re already looking ahead.

Free tickets became available a few minutes ago for the 2nd annual Pops Concert at the Levitt Pavilion (Friday, June 9, 7 p.m.). Last year they were snapped up the day of the announcement. They’ll go even quicker this time. (Click here to get yours!)

The sun glinted off the Levitt Pavilion pavilion last year, as the jazz band played.

The event — modeled on the Boston Pops’ Esplanade series — was an instant smash in its debut. This year promises to be even more impressive.

In addition to performances of classical and contemporary music by Staples’ symphonic and chamber orchestras, jazz band and Orphenians, there’s pre-concert music from the Long Lots Elementary School steel drum band, Bedford Middle School jazz ensemble and various Staples chamber groups at 6 p.m.

Food trucks start serving at 5:30.

Once again, the great Jim Naughton will emcee.

Emcee — and Tony Award winner — Jim Naughton took a turn on the triangle.

The Pops Concert is the music department’s 2nd gift to the town. (The Candlelight Concert is the 1st.)

Of course, there are plenty of expenses associated with the townwide music programs. Every orchestra and band instrument must be moved from schools to the Levitt; union set-up costs money too. Donations are gratefully accepted!

The show is a wonderful kickoff for the Levitt season. The al fresco venue is perfect — and the music is even better.

Enjoy the show!

(The Pops Concert is just one of many end-of-school-year music activities. This Friday [May 19] is the Staples Cabaret. The Staples chamber orchestra performs with their Bedford and Coleytown Middle School counterparts on Wednesday, May 24 [Staples, 7 p.m.] The Staples and Bedford Middle School jazz concert is Monday, June 5 [Staples, 7 p.m.] And of course the middle and high school bands march in the Memorial Day parade [Monday, May 29].)

Raise Funds — And Upper-Body Strength — For Kids

Westporters know that every day is different at the Levitt Pavilion.

One night there’s a rock group. The next night, a military band. Then comes a comedian, followed by Klezmer musicians. It’s Ed Sullivan on steroids.

But on Sunday morning, June 4 (10:30 to 11:30), the Levitt stage will be taken over by regular people of all ages.

Doing push-ups.

It’s the 8th annual Push Against Cancer for Kids. Individually and in teams, everyone is invited to bang out as many push-ups as possible.

Last year’s Push Against Cancer drew a wide variety of ages and sizes …

The only catch: You have to be sponsored. Friends, family members, colleagues — all pledge money, based on how many push-ups you can do.

All proceeds go to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, the program for children facing severe medical challenges.

An anonymous donor will match all funds raised by everyone under 23 years old (up to $25,000).

… and both genders.

Paul Newman founded the Hole in the Wall Gang camp nearly 30 years ago. This year, Westport-based Newman’s Own Foundation is helping out.

The Westport and Danbury Police Departments are all in too.

Opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. A Hole in the Wall Gang camper, now in remission from cancer, will deliver an inspiring speech.

DJ Sean McKee — aka Big Daddy — will motivate the push-up participants. He has a great reason to help: He’s a 2-time cancer survivor.

Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas (5th from left) and his entire force are strong supporters of the Push Against Cancer.

Last year’s event drew over 400 people. They raised $79,000 for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

Organizer Andy Berman’s goal this year is $100,000. The cost of a week at the camp is $2,500 — though all services are free to campers and their families. So Berman hopes to raise enough money for 40 kids.

How many push-ups will you contribute to the cause?

To register, or for more information, click here. Questions? Email andy@mentalgritfitness.com 

Photo Challenge #122

Maybe it was the great spring weather. Maybe the photo challenge was too hard. Maybe my cropping of the image threw everyone off.

Whatever the reason, only 3 readers responded to last week’s shot. The good news is all 3 — Andrew Colabella, Joelle Malec and Brandon Malin — got it right.

The photo showed the bottom part of the Levitt Pavilion — everything below the stage. I took it from inside the Westport Arts Center, across the Saugatuck River.

Joelle even knew that the path beneath the pavilion is called the Jeff Shoup Walkway.

Click here to see the shot that either stumped most readers, or that no one cared about.

I think more readers will click “Comments” to identify this week’s challenge.

Then again, what do I know?

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Remembering Chuck Berry

I only saw Chuck Berry perform live once.

It was in 2002, at the Levitt Pavilion’s annual fundraiser.

He was on a double bill with Little Richard.

Neither was very good. Both were well past their sell-by dates.

Chuck Berry — who died yesterday at 90 — was already 75.

Yet looking back, it’s very impressive that he was still performing — and still doing a (modified) version of his famed “duck walk.”

And how cool that I — and the rest of Westport — could see one of the true legends (and founders) of rock ‘n’ roll, right in our back yard.

That’s my only live memory of Chuck Berry.

But this is “06880,” where “Westport meets the world.” Our town is probably filled with people who played or recorded with, went into business with, or otherwise knew Chuck Berry well. (Weston too: I’m thinking of you, Keith Richards.)

Click “Comments” below, to share your memories.

PS: Roll over, Beethoven! And tell Tchaikovsky the news.

Photo Challenge #113

Some photo challenges can be figured out by current Westporters, and those who lived here many years ago. The anchor by Ned Dimes Marina — installed in 1958 — was a great example, 3 weeks ago.

But you need to live here now — or have visited in the past 2 summers — to know last week’s image. John Videler’s shot showed the tile ramp at the “new” Levitt Pavilion, leading down to the lawn. If you’ve never seen it, be sure to stop by next summer — it’s a beauty! (Click here for the photo.)

Congratulations to Eileen Lavigne Flug, Marc Hartog, Cheryl McKenna, Nancy Wilson, Seth Braunstein, Fred Rubin and Seth Goltzer. If there was a prize, you’d get a season’s pass to the Levitt. Oh, wait — it’s free for everyone!

Today’s photo challenge was inspired by tonight’s Academy Awards. Here’s a hint:  It has nothing to do with the Oscars.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

If you think you know where in Westport you’d find this beauty, click “Comments” below. Winners won’t get a prize that looks anything like this.

They’ll get something better: Their name on “06880,” next Sunday.

Levitt And Dodie Pettit Honor Kevin Gray

In theater, the show must go on.

Staples Class of 1976 grad Kevin Gray went on more than 8,500 times, on Broadway and national tour performances. He was the youngest “Phantom” of the Opera ever. He starred in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The King and I” and “The Lion King.” He performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and on “Law and Order” and “Miami Vice.”

Despite severe thunderstorms this afternoon, tonight’s tribute to Kevin — who died in 2013 — went on as scheduled, at the Levitt Pavilion.

Dodie Pettit, on the Levitt Pavilion stage.

Dodie Pettit, on the Levitt Pavilion stage.

His wife, Dodie Pettit — who met Kevin when she joined “Phantom” in 1989 — opened the show in stirring fashion. She sang a duet, with his recorded voice.

Class of 2016 grad Adam Riegler — Young Shrek and Pugsley on Broadway — sang, backed by Kevin’s Hartt School of Music students. He was accompanied by his mother Lynn on piano. She too is a Staples ’76 grad.

Members of that class — celebrating their 40th reunion this weekend — were out in force. They — and the large audience, enjoying clearing skies — were entertained by many of Kevin’s Broadway friends and colleagues.

Also on stage: Kevin’s former Orphenian member Tery Eldh, who played Carlotta and ensemble roles nearly 3,000 times on Broadway with “Phantom.”

The show indeed went on. And it was great.

Part of the large Levitt Pavilion crowd.

Part of the large Levitt Pavilion crowd.

The weather WAS fit for man and dog.

The weather WAS fit for man and dog.

Another view of a great night.

Another view of a great night.

Dodie Does The Levitt

Each summer, the Levitt Pavilion presents at least 50 nights of free entertainment. I can’t imagine how hard it is to schedule all those comedians, kids’ performers, rock and country and reggae and military bands, and the occasional Willie Nelson, Buckwheat Zydeco and Orleans.

It’s like Ed Sullivan 6 days a week. All that’s missing is Topo Gigio.

But at least Ed was in New York. Snagging every act on their way to or from Westport must be a monumental task.

Occasionally though, the Levitt features homegrown talent.  That’s the case next Thursday (July 7, 8 p.m.). And what a talent she is.

Kevin Gray and Dodie Pettit, near the Levitt.

Kevin Gray and Dodie Pettit, near the Levitt.

Westport’s own Dodie Pettit — a veteran of 3 Tony Award-winning Broadway shows — hosts an evening of Broadway songs. They’re dedicated to her husband, Staples graduate Kevin Gray. One of Broadway’s brightest stars, he died 3 years ago. He was just 55.

Joining Dodie are several former “Phantom of the Opera” castmates (including Phantoms Cris Groenendaal and Craig Schulman); recent Staples graduate Adam Riegler, who played Pugsley in “The Addams Family,” and Kevin and Dodie’s students from the Hartt School and Rollins College.

Kevin performed over 8,200 times on Broadway, starring in “Phantom,”  “The King and I,” “The Lion King” and “Miss Saigon.”

The free concert coincides with the 40th reunion of Staples’ Class of 1976. Kevin graduated that year.

Every night at the Levitt is special. This will just be a little more special than most.

Levitt Pavilion Drones On

The Levitt Pavilion kicks off another 50 nights of free concerts tomorrow (Sunday, June 26) with the Eagles’ tribute Desert Highway Band.

Free tickets are all sold for that event. The rest of the summer, you can just stroll on in.

If you can’t make it tomorrow — or just want a unique view of Westport’s riverside outdoor amphitheater — check out John Videler’s drone shot:

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/John Videler)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/John Videler)

 

Oh My 06880 – Photo Challenge #76

Most “06880” photo challenges show familiar scenes of Westport — ones that have been around a while, so even ex-pats have a chance.

Not so last Sunday.

If you haven’t been here a while, you wouldn’t recognize the “new” Levitt Pavilion. Opened 2 years ago (at a cost of $9 million), it’s a handsome upgrade from the original, 40-year-old version.

Last week’s photo challenge showed one of the lamps above the concession stand. Yes, they sell food there now too — it’s really become a legit entertainment venue.

Steven Alter answered correctly, just 4 minutes after the image was posted. Kathleen Burke and Beth Orlan Berkowitz followed soon after. Congrats to all 3. (To see last week’s photo challenge, click here.)

Now we’re back to photos that even former residents should — well, can — recognize. If you think you know this one, click “Comments.” Then add whatever info about it you know.

Oh My 06880 - June 12, 2016

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

 

UPDATE: Staples Pops Concert At Levitt Sold Out

At this time, no tickets remain for the free “Staples Pops at the Levitt” concert. This status may be updated on Friday, May 27 — check back by clicking here or calling 866-811-4111 then!

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The Staples High School music department is famous for its professional-style concerts.

That’s not hyperbole.

For the 1st-ever “Westport Pops Concert at the Levitt” (Thursday, June 9, 7 p.m.), the symphonic and chamber orchestras, jazz band and Orphenians vocal ensemble will be joined by a pair of Broadway notables.

James Naughton

James Naughton

James Naughton emcees the all-star event. The Weston resident and 2-time Tony Award winner has a long history as a narrator and soloist with orchestras like the Boston Pops, New York Pops and Rhode Island Symphony.

He’ll feel right at home. The Staples event is modeled on the Boston Pops’ Esplanade concert series (right down to the riverside setting).

Meanwhile, Andrew Wilk — executive producer of “Live from Lincoln Center” and a 5-time Emmy-winning director, writer and producer of TV programming — is consulting on the production. Staples students and alum will capture all the action for a Cablevision special.

Wilk — a Westporter and father of a Staples grad — worked with Naughton several years ago, on “Lincoln Center.” He says the emcee will add “real elegance and sizzle” to the evening.

From right: Andrew Wilk and Adele Valovich meet with Staples senior Emma Cataldo and Elon University junior Katie Shannon, for a Levitt Pavilion pre-production session. The 2 students will be part of the camera crew for Staples' pops concert June 9.

From right: Andrew Wilk and Adele Valovich meet with Staples senior Emma Cataldo and Elon University junior Katie Shannon, for a Levitt Pavilion pre-production session. The 2 students will be part of the camera crew for Staples’ pops concert June 9.

Selections range from “Rodeo” and “Phantom of the Opera” to “I Got Rhythm,” “Shenandoah” and a rousing finale.