Tag Archives: Max Samuels

Roundup: Theater, Sports, Bernie, More

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Good theater is hard to find right now.

But a pair of Staples High School graduates are collaborating on an intriguing work, available from the comfort of your home. And it was filmed right in Westport.

Class of 2016 graduate Adam Riegler is directing a virtual play. “Albert Names Edward” by Louis Nowra is a taped theatrical production about 2 men who meet unexpectedly. One has no memory; the other is at the peak of his philosophical musings. Albert teaches Edward about the world he has forgotten, and introduces him to new ways of thinking that Edward does not always accept.

The company of recent graduates of Dartmouth College includes Max Samuels (Staples Class of 2011). They rehearsed on Zoom before getting tested for COVID. They took all precautions as they to met to film the show here.

The budget was low. Riegler built a camera dolly out of medical equipment from his father’s office. But the quality is high.

Riegler is finishing the footage now, with an original score.

“Albert Names Edward” will be available on demand on January 29 and 30, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are free, but should be reserved ahead of time (click here). 

Max Samuels (right) in “Albert Names Edward.”

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Last month, the Hackett family collected new and gently used sports equipment for a group called Leveling the Playing Field.

This was not just a bin-ful. Westporters donated enough cleats, hockey and lacrosse sticks, bats, skates, footballs and softball gloves to fill a truck. It’s all been delivered to youngsters who want to play, but could not afford to.

The Hacketts thank The Granola Bar, WestportMoms (and “06880”) for getting the word out — and to everyone who contributed.

Play ball!

hloe Hackett (organizer) and Max Levitt (founder of Leveling the Playjng Field), Chloe Hackett and Marley, the Hacketts’ rescue dog.

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Patricia Wettach — a 50-year resident of Westport — died peacefully at home on Wednesday. She was 97 years old.

The Pennsylvania native and World War II Navy WAVES veteran met her future husband, Bob, in the service. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University, and they married in 1951.

In 1971 GE transferred Bob to New York from Cincinnati. Patricia lived in that house ever since.

Gracious and warm, she built strong, loving friendships everywhere. She welcomed everyone to her home, and fed them well. She enjoyed bridge, book and gourmet clubs, and was a longtime member of the Westport Woman’s Club, St. Luke New Horizon Society, Delta Gamma of Fairfield County Alumnae, and Food and Friends. Patricia also volunteered with Fairfield County Hospice, and was a liturgical minister at St. Luke Church.

She traveled internationally with friends and family, but her favorite destination was the Wettach cottage in Vermilion, Ohio, overlooking Lake Erie. She spent many hours on the front porch reading, talking and enjoying the view.

Patricia is survived by her children Mary Ann Roehm (Edward), Jane (Paul Baldasare Jr.) and Robert III (Gayle); 6 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; sister Mary Werbaneth; stepbrother Colman Studeny, and 6 nephews.

She was predeceased 27 years ago by her husband Bob, whom she missed intensely.

As she approached her 90s Patricia was joined by Inga Durante, an aide whose tender care allowed her to stay at home until she died. Patricia’s family is deeply indebted to Inga for her service.

In lieu of flowers, Patricia asked that donations be made to Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County (22 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897). Click here to leave online condolences.

Patricia Wettach

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Cohl Katz is a hair stylist and makeup artist to the stars.

Her clients literally span A (Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin) to Z (Zelda Williams) — with everyone from Jodie Foster, Tracy Morgan, Al Hanks and Bill Clinton thrown in.

But on Wednesday, Cohl — who counts many Westporters among her devoted fans — had one of her most demanding clients ever.

Look familiar?

And after that, Bernie headed off to Compo Beach …

(Posted by Todd Zegras to Facebook)

(Courtesy of Mary Lou Roels)

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And finally … today is January 23. In other words, 1/23. So …

 

Brighton Beach Memoirs, Brooklyn Memories

Max Samuels’ grandfather grew up in Brooklyn.  The Staples senior heard his stories of that place and time.  Until a couple of weeks ago, though, he’d never really heard them.

But Max is president of Staples Players, so to prepare for their upcoming Black Box production — “Brighton Beach Memoirs” — he invited his grandfather to talk to the cast.

It was a perfect match.  Lou Berlin — now 83 — spent an afternoon describing his youth.  The teenage actors of 2011 now understood much more vividly what it meant to come of age in the 1930s.

Lou talked about his life:  playing stickball and Johnny on the pony in the streets.  Going home from school for lunch.  Watching movies — a newsreel, cartoon and feature — all for a nickel.

When he was finished, the Staples students asked questions.  What was his relationship with his parents and sister?  How did he have fun?  Where did he meet his wife?

The answers helped each actor understand his or her character better.  Including the one who plays the “Brighton Beach” father:  Max Samuels.

Max Samuels and Eva Hendricks get into their "Brighton Beach" roles. (Photo by Kerry Long)

“My grandfather’s father — my great-grandfather — worked a lot,” Max says.  “He had a few jobs, including taxi driver.  Jack does that job too.

“I knew my character worked very hard.  But I didn’t realize that meant he was never home — and when he was, he was exhausted.”

“Brighton Beach Memoirs” has many references to money.  Max’s grandfather explained the importance of every penny during the Depression.  Now, Max says, the cast truly understands what their lines mean.

Max’s grandfather had as much fun that afternoon as the young actors.  This week, they put the final touches on the show.  It opens Friday night (March 4, 7:30 p.m.).

“It’ll be great,” Max promises.  “It’s a very funny show, but at the same time very serious.  On the one hand you’ve got Eugene (Ryan Shea) going through puberty, sharing his memories with the audience.  On the other hand it’s the Great Depression.  The family has to take Jack’s wife’s sister and her 2 daughters in — and feed them.  It was very, very hard.”

The set is “very cool,” Max says.  “It’s actually a house — you can see the upstairs and downstairs.”  The Black Box Theater at Staples is “very intimate,” he adds — “just like Brighton Beach in 1937.”

And just like the bond between Max Samuels and his grandfather — plus, now, the full “Brighton Beach Memoirs” cast.

(In keeping with the “family” theme, Max’s sister Rachel is double-cast as Nora — Jack’s niece.  “Brighton Beach Memoirs” will be performed March 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday, March 6 at 2 p.m.  Click here for tickets and more information.)

The cast (clockwise from bottom): Ryan Shea, Max Samuels, Eva Hendricks, Matt Van Gessel, Sofia Ribolla, Alison Manning, Emily Ressler. (Photo by Kerry Long)

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Act One

Staples Players is known for many things: spectacular mainstage shows.  Innovative Black Box productions.  Last spring’s amazing 50th anniversary reunion.

Less well known is the One Act Festival.

This year’s event — the 10th annual — continues an intriguing tradition.  Students take charge of every aspect:  They find 1-act plays; they cast them, design sets, create costumes, and of course direct them.  All students are members of David Roth’s Directing class.

This year’s show features 17 1-acts — comedy, drama, you name it — by writers as diverse as Edgar Allan Poe, Dorothy Parker and J.D. Salinger.  None is longer than 10 minutes.  They’ll be presented Saturday (5 and 8 p.m.) and Sunday (5 p.m.).  Not every play will be staged at each performance.

One Act participants (clockwise from upper left): Peter Molesworth, Max Samuels, Greg Langstine, Caley Beretta (Photo by Kerry Long)

For 3 years, senior Caley Beretta has served as an assistant director for Roth.  This weekend she steps onto the stage — for her 1st time at Staples — as an actor in “The DMV Tyrant” (a comedy, of course).

“It’s so much fun being on the other side of things,” she says.  “Other people who are usually on tech have gotten the chance to act as well.  One Acts gives everyone the opportunity to try something different.  That’s awesome.”

“DMV” is the 1st real directing effort for actor Peter Molesworth.  The junior “loves the atmosphere of working with a small group of actors.  There is a dynamic present when working with students your own age.  They have respect and sympathy for the work you put in, and everything else going on outside of rehearsal.”

He adds:  “It’s also fun to see Caley — who has always been in a directing or leadership role — step down into the actor’s shoes.  They fit her flawlessly.”

Peter appreciates playwright Christopher Durang’s simple script.  “It leaves so much room for interpretation,” the novice director says.

Junior Max Samuels is directing “Normal.”  The set is very simple; the subject matter, deep (a father-son relationship).  “It has a great ending that will make the audience teary-eyed,” Max promises.

Junior Greg Langstine chose to direct “The Audition” because it’s a comedy.  “I put myself in place of the audience,” he explains.  “Laughter is the best way to go.”

Peter Molesworth calls the One Act Festival environment “very nurturing and open.  It gives underclassmen an opportunity to shine, either on stage or directing.

“One Acts are pure fun,” he adds.  “It’s Staples Players at its root.  It’s up close in the Black Box, and incredibly vulnerable for a lot of people.  It’s so much of ourselves that it’s sort of frightening.  That also makes it so exciting.”

(For ticket information, click here.)