Tag Archives: “Play With Your Food

Roundup: Dolphins, Play With Your Food …

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Saugatuck Shores residents got a treat yesterday.

Three dolphins swam into Bermuda Lagoon. They played. They stayed. As of this morning, they were still there.

In tough times, they brought smiles to many faces. (Hat tip: Sara Kempner)

(Photos/Gina Beranek)

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Remarkable STEAM — the Maker Faire people — has branched out to support Ukraine.

Thanks to them, you can too.

They’ve created 2 pins — a big one,($10) and a smaller one ($7). All proceeds support charitable causes, including the Red Cross’ Ukraine projects.

Each pin is hand made, so large orders may take a couple of days. Click here for more information, and to order.

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Play With Your Food — the popular lunchtime play-reading series — returns to the stage  this month, after 2 years of virtual and outdoor performances.

The date is March 16, at MoCA Westport. The Newtown Turnpike museum has spacious seating for theater and lunching.

PWYF also returns to Fairfield Theater Company (March 15) and Greenwich Arts Council (March 17).

The first program is a tribute to Stephen Sondheim. Broadway veteran (and Westport-based) actress Stacie Morgain Lewis performs with Brian J. Carter the poignant one-act play “Move on or Sondheim at Studio 54. Also on tap: “The Donor” and “Big Date.”

Following the plays and talkbacks, there are boxed lunches catered by Gruel Britannia (Westport & Fairfield) and Meli Melo (Greenwich).

Tickets $60 each, $224 for a 4-month subscription. For more information click here, or call 203-293-8729.  

The Play With Your Food March cast.

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Pippa Bell Ader is one of Westport’s go-to environmental experts.

You can be too. On April 5 (11 a.m., Pequot Library, Southport), the Greens Farms Garden Club hosts her presentation of “Sustainable Westport and Its Initiatives.”

Learn how to reduce waste, help the environment, and make a difference. The public is invited. RSVP: greensfarmsgc@gmail.com.

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There is no — and I mean no — Westport/entertainment connection that gets by Fred Cantor. He spotted a New York Times obituary of Alan Ladd Jr., and connected the dots:

“Perhaps his biggest claim to fame was acquiring the rights to ‘Star Wars’ when it was just a concept.

“What I did not know until reading this was that Jeff Berg, who spent the first part of his childhood here, was the very young agent in 1973 who represented George Lucas, and who brought it to Alan Ladd Jr.’s attention.

“Berg went on to become chairman of ICM — and ‘Star Wars’ went on to be one of the biggest franchises in movie history.

“Berg’s love of movies most likely began right here at the Fine Arts Theater. But could he ever have imagined as a kid that one day a movie concept he was trying to promote would wind up on the marquee of the Fine Arts — and that it would change the way Hollywood approached movie-making?”

For good measure, Fred sends a photo he took in 1977, of the Fine Arts Theater. Playing at Fine Arts I that day was — of course — “Star Wars.”

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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Congratulations to the Coleytown Middle School Math Club. They finished first in the unofficial statewide Mathcounts competition, by a wide margin. Congrats to Bedford’s team too, which came in 3rd.

MoCA Westport is looking for counselors (ages 16 and up) and counselors in training (14 to 16) at Camp MoCA Westport this summer.

The camp runs June 10 through August 26, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. A minimum 4-week commitment (preferably consecutive) is required. And yes, it’s a paying gig.

To apply, click here.

MoCA campers and staff members.

 

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Next “up” in the Westport Astronomical Society’s free online lecture series: “Swinging Around the Sun with the Parker Solar Probe.”

NASA project scientist Dr. Nour E. Raouafi is the virtual guest on March 15 (8 p.m.). Click here for the Zoom link; click here for the YouTube livestream.

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Peter Cook, of Westport and Boothbay Harbor, Maine, died suddenly at his home in Maine  on Wednesday. He was 65.

A star athlete in high school, he played football at the University of Maine. After graduation he had an accomplished career as a group insurance executive with Unum, The Hartford, Aetna and Guardian Life.

A Westport resident since 1993, Peter loved the town and community, especially Compo Beach and the Ned Dimes Marina, Staples High School sports, and JoyRide Cycling.

After retiring, he fulfilled lifelong dreams by pursuing positions within the Boothbay community. He worked at Hodgdon Yacht Services, combining his love for the water, boats, his community and its people. His friends called him an “aquatic transportation engineer.”

He also served on the board of the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, overseeing their capital campaign for a new addition. An avid reader, he instilled that love in his children.

Peter loved nothing better than spending time with his family at their compound on Appalachee Pond. Among his greatest joys were golfing, watching his children’s athletic accomplishments, spending time on the water on his boat Heavenly Days, and playing with his grandchildren and grandnieces. He savored and boasted about his wife’s gourmet meals and decadent desserts.

Peter also enjoyed spinning, yoga, and smoking an occasional Winston Churchill cigar.

His family says: “Peter had a very determined outlook. Some might say he was competitive, but it proved to be one of his best character traits as he doggedly overcame obstacles and constructed a very fulfilling life. He daydreamed about how he would spend his latter years with his family, what projects and house renovations he would undertake, and where he would travel with his wife, children, and their children.

Peter is survived by his wife Jacqueline; daughter Julie Hoadley (Ryan), and sons Matthew (Carlie) and Jason (Kayla); grandsons Quinn and Forrest, and siblings Cathlene Parkhurst, Michael Cook, Mary Jane Tracy and their families.

A memorial service will be held this Wednesday (March 9, 2 p.m., Greens Farms Congregational Church).
Donations in Peter’s name can be made to Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library.
To extend online condolences, light a candle for Peter or share a story or picture, click here.

Peter Cook

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Human beings stay warm by huddling together. So did these guys at Compo Beach, in today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … Bob Wills was born today, in 1905. He’s one of the founders of Western swing, and his Texas Playboys remain among the best of the genre. Wills died in 1975.

Roundup: Albert Pizzirusso, Sidewalks, Optimum,

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Albert Pizzirusso, a longtime Westport resident and owner of A&S Fine Foods in Westport and Stamford, died Sunday. He was 46

The Yonkers, New York native graduated from The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. He became chef at legendary restaurants, including the Rainbow Room, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and others. 

At the Rainbow Room he impressed Julia Child with his dedication. He was the only person in the kitchen who did not stop working when she entered. She noted that that commitment and focus proved he had what takes to go into business for himself. She was right.

Albert combined his love of Italian culture, great food and old school “let me make you an espresso” traditional service in his businesses, with quality of service and offerings from a bygone era.

He added value to his community through great generosity to local charities and organizations.

He is survived by his wife Patricia, with whom he ran A&S Fine Foods for 2 decades; parents Agnes and Angelo; brothers Mario (his twin), and Michael; sister-in-law Laura; nephews Matthew and Eric, and his beloved Yorkie, Eddie.

Due to current restrictions, services will limited to family and close friends. A lover of celebrating just about anything, a Celebration of Life will be held in his honor in Westport this summer.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Connecticut Humane Society in Westport.

Albert Pizzirusso

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On Sunday, Carole Schweid noted that the Treadwell/Riverside/Saugatuck Avenue intersection in front of Riverside Barber Shop had not been shoveled.

That spurred Robbie Guimond — owner of Bridgebrook Marina, across the street — into action. He was happy to help.

Ta-da! Here’s what the sidewalk looked like yesterday. Thanks, Robbie!

(Photo/Carole Schweid)

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For years, Optimum/Altice has had a monopoly on cablevision services throughout the area.

A new group — the Tristate Coalition for Fair Internet Service — is working on legal challenges through the New York State Attorney General’s office, and promoting alternate providers. They’re also collecting data on customer experiences with the longtime cable service.

Click here for details.

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Connect-Us Academy is a great Bridgeport-based after-school program that helps young people ages 16 to 21 cultivate professional business skills.

This Thursday (February 18, 4:30 p.m.), they welcome a new class. Students will share their experiences, and their excitement at what’s aheda.

Westporter Rich Eldh — co-founder emeritus of SiriusDecisions will deliver a keynote address. Click here to watch via Zoom.

Richard Eldh

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Valentine’s Day is gone. But love remains in the air.

And in cyberspace.

Play With Your Food’s performance of “Love Notes” — an evening of thought-provoking play readings and stories — is available online for a limited time.

Click here for the selections: “I Was Fine Until You Came Into the Room,” “My Life in France,” “Bar Mitzvah Boy,” “Love Poems for Married People” and “The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” followed by a talkback with the director and cast.

For more Play With Your Food information click here; follow on Facebook (@PWYFood) or Instagram (@playwithyourfoodct), or call 203-293-8729.

The Play With Your Food cast.

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As we slog through mid-February, Lou Weinberg provides a burst of color — and a reminder that spring is only 32 days away:

Female cardinal (Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … on this day in 1923, Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Roundup: Arts Funds, Big Buck, Turtle Update, More


Five Westport nonprofit arts groups have received a total of $536,100 in COVID relief funds. The money — part of a $9 million Connecticut COVID Relief for the Arts package — is administered by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Recipients include

  • Friends of the Levitt Pavilion: $55,200
  • JIB Productions (Play With Your Food): $11,900
  • MoCA Westport: $97,700
  • Westport Community Theatre: $5,500
  • Westport Country Playhouse: $365,80

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

The Westport Country Playhouse received a grant for COVID relief.


Speaking of art: Mysterious monoliths appeared recently in Utah, California and Romania.

Also: Burying Hill Beach.

Nothing concrete is known about any of them.

(Photo/Chris Grimm)


Remember the loggerhead turtle rescued by Mystic Aquarium on Monday?

David Loffredo sends this update:

Our turtle is a male, 5 to 10 years old. [Uh-oh. “06880” first called him a her — who knew?]

The aquarium warmed him up from 53 degrees to 70. He did suffer quite a blow to his head. They think he was hit by a propeller earlier in the fall, so they are watching him to make sure he recovers.

That’s most likely why he wound up in Long Island Sound this late in the season, and on our beach. His buddies are already way further south. He would not have survived for much longer.

So now we wait.  It’s like having a child.  We try not to call daily….

My wife asked if they’ve named him. The rescue people said they don’t name rescue animals until they’re sure they’ll survive, so right now our guy is #2. We are praying he gets a name!

If and when he does, we’ve been invited for a visit and a behind-the-scenes tour. You know it will be thoroughly documented.

(Photo/David Loffredo)


Speaking of animals: A nearby resident spotted this guy in the Greens Farms Church cemetery. He and his girlfriend then wandered over to her side door. They seem to have settled in for the winter.


As of yesterday, Westport had 699 cases of COVID-19 since March (642 confirmed, 57 probable). There have been 24 deaths (16 confirmed, 18 probable). Click here for full statistics.


And finally … happy 69th birthday to Gary Rossington. The guitarist is a founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd — and the last surviving original member.

Theater Lovers: Play With Your Food — And Stephen Schwartz

In the mile-a-minute, can’t-stop-for-a-second world that is Westport today, Play With Your Food stands out.

For nearly 20 years, a lunchtime program — the deliciously named Play With Your Food — has combined a gourmet lunch, professional readings of intriguing plays, and stimulating post-performance discussion.

It’s fun, low-key, under the radar.

But when the season kicks off this year, a very big Broadway name will share the bill.

Stephen Schwartz — the multi-Grammy, Oscar and Tony winning composer (“Wicked,” “Pippin,” “Godspell”) — will entertain at “A Moveable Feast of Theater 2.0.” The benefit supports the not-for-profit Play With Your Food.

Stephen Schwartz

In addition to Schwartz’s cabaret performance (for sponsor ticket holders only), 4 one-act plays will take place throughout a private Westport home. There’s also food from AMG Catering, and cocktails from Tito’s Vodka.

Schwartz does not do these things lightly. But he’s a longtime friend of Play With Your Food artistic director Carole Schweid. They met early in their carers, when she appeared in the national tour of “Pippin.”

Stacie Lewis

Later, Schweid realized that Westport-based actress Stacie Lewis — a Play With Your Food fan favorite — had starred as Glinda in the Chicago production of “Wicked.”

Lewis is part of the “Moveable Feast” cast too. She’ll be joined by 9 other Play With Your Food actors, who will perform those comic short plays in “site-specific surroundings” throughout the house.

The full Play With Your Food season opens January 7, and runs through April. Live lunchtime performances are planned for Toquet Hall, Fairfield Theatre Company, the Greenwich Arts Council and Rye Arts Center.

Lunches — catered by local restaurants — are followed by 1-act scripted plays performed by professional actors. Many are recognizable from TV, film or theater. The talkback includes the cast and director — sometimes even the playwright.

It’s a great series. Scoring Stephen Schwartz for the gala fundraiser is just icing on the cake.

(“A Moveable Feast 2.0” is set for Sunday, October 20. The location will be revealed to ticket holders only. The sponsor ticket cabaret with Stephen Schwartz begins at 3 p.m.; the main theater event starts at 4. For tickets and more information, click here or call 203-293-8729.)

Andre’s Mother (And Ann’s Brother)

Years ago, Jonathan Sheffer wrote the music for the movie “Andre’s Mother.”

It was an American Playhouse production — and Lindsay Law, Staples Class of 1967, served as executive producer.

Written by Terence McNally and starring Richard Thomas, “Andre’s Mother” was one of Sheffer’s 1st film scores. The 1971 Staples grad went on to become a nationally renowned composer and conductor.

When his sister — Westport philanthropist Ann Sheffer — learned that the film will be screened this Thursday (Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.) as part of Play With Your Food’s “Short Cuts” series, she told artistic director Carole Schweid. Carole invited Jonathan to speak immediately after the screening, at Norwalk’s Garden Cinema.

But this is Westport, and connections run even deeper than that. Last month, at the Westport Country Playhouse gala, Ann sat with — who else? — honoree Terence McNally, and co-host Richard Thomas. They remember Jonathan well — from everyone’s younger days — and are as thrilled as Ann that “Andre’s Mother” lives on.

Ann Sheffer (left) at last month’s Westport Country Playhouse gala with (from left) Richard Thomas, Nathan Lane, Tyne Daly and Terence McNally.

10 Years Of Playing With Your Food

For 10 years now, Westporters have played with their food.

Nancy Diamond and Carole Schweid couldn’t be happier.

The women are co-founders of a decade-long lunchtime program — the deliciously named Play With Your Food — that combines a gourmet lunch, professional readings of intriguing plays, and a stimulating post-performance discussion.

After a quick but entertaining and challenging 90 minutes, it’s back to work for everyone.

As with most off-the-wall or why-didn’t-I-think-of-that ideas, “Play With Your Food” developed casually. Nancy and Carole were young mothers serving together on the PTA Cultural Arts Committee. They discovered a shared desire to do something theater-related that would bring people together during the winter.

And they both loved food.

Carole Schweid and Nancy Diamond, Play With Your Food founders.

They knew Westport is a community that supports the arts, has good restaurants — and a pool of professional actors who love challenges.

The challenge was finding one-act plays equal to their vision.

To find good material, Nancy and Carole read a lot. They travel to one-act festivals around the country. They prowl book fairs and libraries. Now — with Play With Your Food a firm fixture on the local arts scene — people send suggestions to them.

The plays range from comedies and romances to mysteries and musicals, from classics to unpublished works. Despite the wide variety, all share one element: The audience must leave in an uplifted mood.

The appeal of Play With Your Food, Nancy says, is broad: “lunch, a social connection with others, and intellectual or emotional stimulation.”

Plus, Carole adds, “You don’t have to travel. This is all home-grown.”

Carole chooses 3 plays — 10 to 20 minutes each — for every program. (The series runs from January through April.) They may be short, she says, but “not light or fluffy.”

A typical scene from a Play With Your Food event.

In the beginning, most plays were “middle of the road,” Carole says. Now, “some are a little more challenging to the audience.” And the post-play discussions have become a bit deeper and more insightful.

Over 10 years, there must have been some flops. Right?

The women laugh. “Truly, no,” Nancy says. “Some plays are not as strong as others, but no one has ever walked out saying they wished they’d gone to the diner.”

Ah, dining. The restaurants that cater — a different one each month — are as varied as the plays themselves: Bobby Q’s. Blue Lemon. Da Pietro. Matsu Sushi.

Play With Your Food food.

“We like surprising audiences with little jewels of plays,” Nancy says. “And there are culinary surprises too. The food is very good — this is not tuna fish and potato chips.”

Next month, Play With Your Food celebrates its 10-year anniversary with a gala celebration. “Two for the Road” is set for Saturday, January 28 at Dragone Classic Motorcar Company. There will be catering from more than 20 great restaurants, followed by a “rousing show” created by Carole.

Professional actors will perform scenes from “My Fair Lady,” “42nd Street,” “Mack & Mabel” and Play With Your Food comedy favorites.

The event will celebrate a decade of success — and provide financial support for the series to continue.

“We can’t believe it’s been 10 years!” Nancy marvels. “Carole and I had young kids when we started. Now they’re all out of the house.”

So, back then, who came up with the spectacularly clever name “Play With Your Food”?

Nancy and Carole can’t quite remember.

But they do know this: “When something’s right, it’s right. We want to help people smile with our food and plays. And the name does, too.”

(For ticket information on the January 28 celebration, click here or call 203-293-8831. Play With Your Food’s 10th season begins at noon on January 10, 11 and 12 at Toquet Hall.