Stage and screen met Saturday night. The Westport Country Playhouse’s gala was held outdoors, at the Remarkable Theater.
Doug Tirola and Mark Lamos’ short-form documentary saluted the WCP’s 90-year history, and many of the artists who have appeared onstage.
The evening included filmed performances by Playhouse alumni like Kate Baldwin, a long with Jane Alexander, Lissy Newman, Christopher Plummer, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Thomas and more.
Don’t worry about the photo below: Everyone was masked, except while eating.
Speaking of stars:
Paul Newman, I Love Lucy, Martha Stewart, Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Ludlum, Redford, Superman, Dennis the Menace, Great Gatsby, Bewitched, Anne Hathaway, Christopher Lloyd, Helen Hunt and gazillions of others — all lived in Westport, had a show based here, or were otherwise connected to our town.
This multi-media original showing them all is now available exclusively at Westport River Gallery (corner of Riverside Avenue and Post Road West).
It was created by songwriter Frankie Vinci. His rock journey has led him to create raw, colorful pop art/mixed media pieces.
Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service’s annual fundraising drive is underway.
Nearly 100 volunteers and 6 full-time staff provide superb pre-hospital care to anyone living, working or passing through Westport. They give more than 18,000 hours of their time each year, responding to over 2,300 emergency calls. They also teach CPR, EMT and Stop the Bleed classes.
This year has been especially trying. Because of COVID, over 900 calls meant donning full PPE. Still, they answered the calls.
WVEMS purchases all of the equipment needed — from a box of Band-Aids to an entire, state-of-the-art ambulance. But they could not do it without us.
Tax-deductible donations make it all possible. Click here to help.
So Westport Volunteer EMS can continue to help us.
The current hybrid model — 2 days in person, 3 out for middle and high schoolers; morning and afternoon sessions for elementary-age youngsters — will continue at least through December.
Superintendent of schools Tom Scarice announced that decision last night, at a Board of Education meeting. It was driven by an uptick in coronavirus cases — a trend expected to rise this fall.
Public sentiment is divided. But Scarice called this “the prudent” and “correct” approach, based on current infection numbers, future models, the ability of educators to adapt to both in-person and distance learning, and input on how the hybrid model has worked so far.
Sure, it rained earlier this week. But Aquarion has announced a mandatory irrigation ban in southwest Fairfield County. The area — including Westport — has hit its 3rd “drought trigger” this fall.
Effective immediately, the ban includes automatic irrigation systems and hose end sprinklers. (Hand-held watering, soaker hose and drip irrigation continue to be permitted for new plantings.)
The ban will help ensure “an adequate water supply for everyday needs, and give reservoirs time to recover for the spring,” the water company says.
The Milken Institute Global Conference is in the midst of 8 days of inspiring talks and panels. This year’s topics are (of course) the global pandemic, and social injustice.
And (of course) it’s virtual. Over 4,000 of the world’s leading thinkers have tuned in.
There’s a solid Westport presence at the prestigious, 22nd annual event.
RTM member Kristin Schneeman is a director at FasterCures, part of the Milken Institute. Théo Feldman is an associate director, innovative finance there.
Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio was featured in a conversation, while the hedge fund’s CEO David McCormick spoke on a panel called “Leadership: Moving Beyond Conventional Thinking.
Feldman adds: “During last year’s Global Conference in Beverly Hills, I met a fellow Westporter: Russell Sherman. We realized his sister — Suzanne Sherman Propp — taught my daughter at Greens Farms Elementary School. And his niece did a play with my other daughter.”
As the weather turns cool, a pair of local religious institutions are sponsoring a coat drive for Person to Person.
Clothing should be bagged, and sorted by gender and age (adult or youth). Donations can be dropped off in a blue bin labeled “Coat Donations” on the side elevator entrance at Saugatuck Church, or The Conservative Synagogue.
Speaking of help: last week’s Longshore Ladies 9 Hole Golf Association annual fundraiser brought in plenty of groceries for the Westport Woman’s Club food closet. The event also raised over $1,170, which will go to gift cards for food insecure Westporters.
Donations for the Longshore golf food drive.
And finally … in honor of Hugh Jackman’s Westport “appearance” (and Justin Paul’s music):
The Westport Country Playhouse has a historic stage. The Remarkable Theater has a big screen.
Stage and screen meet on Saturday, October 17. “Playhouse at the Drive-in” celebrates the WCP’s 90-season history with a benefit event, and a screening of special filmed performances and a documentary.
It’s also available to view online, at home.
The Westport Country Playhouse honors its history … (Photo/Wells Studio)
The short-form documentary salutes the Playhouse’s history, and many of the artists who have appeared onstage. It was created specially for this event, by Playhouse artistic director Mark Lamos and Westport filmmaker Douglas Tirola. He’s the brains behind the Remarkable Theater. In his teens, he worked as a Playhouse “beautifier.”
The evening includes filmed performances by Playhouse alumni Kate Baldwin, Britney Coleman, Tina Fabrique, the Naughton family (James, Greg, Keira and Kelli O’Hara), Brenda Pressley, Amanda Robles, with a special performance by André De Shields.
Also appearing on film: Jane Alexander, Lissy Newman, Christopher Plummer, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Thomas, and more.
“Playhouse at the Drive-In” takes the place of the annual fall gala fundraiser. On-site benefit tickets start at $500 per car (maximum 5 people). Online film screening from home is just $25.
Gates open at the Remarkable Theater (Imperial Avenue parkin lot) at 5 p.m., for a cocktail hour and picnic dinner. The live and online screening begins at 6:30.
Many Westporters spin. Many support efforts to help great causes.
Now JoyRide and STAR Lighting the Way are teaming up to raise money for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
A spin class this Saturday (September 26, 12 to 1 p.m.) will help fund STAR programs — and all donations will be matched 100% by an anonymous donor.
This is a great opportunity for new spinners, experienced ones, and everybody in between. It’s an inclusive, no-judgment opportunity.
The cost is $50 per rider, payable to STAR at the door. Space is limited; click here to register.
For 9 years, Nancy Diamond produced the “Short Cuts” festival at Garden Cinemas.
The Norwalk art house theater has closed. But the series soon goes virtual. Its new sponsor is the Westport Library.
The dates are Thursday, October 8 and Thursday, November 12. Both “festivals” run from 7 p.m. to 8:45.
As usual, Nancy will introduce 5 short movies curated from the Tribeca Film Festival. Afterward though, there’s a remote talkback with 3 of the films’ directors. They’ll be live — and around the globe. One is in Switzerland, another from the UK, and a third all the way in Brooklyn.
Anyone can watch at home via computer, or cast onto a big-screen TV. They’ll also be shown on the Remarkable Theater’s even-bigger Imperial Avenue parking lot screen. There’s room for 70 (socially distanced) cars.
Click here to read about the films, and order tickets.
And finally … today is the first day of fall. Happy equinox!
Starting Monday (September 21), the Board of Education will resume in-person meetings.
Board members, administrators and invited speakers will all be present. Members of the public can participate via real-time broadcasts, and comment via Google Docs.
“Unfortunately, we cannot predict or control the turnout at our meetings, and a large gathering at a public meeting of the board could pose a public health risk,” the Board says.
“In evaluating the viability of a limited number of socially distant seats for the public in person, the logistical challenges of ensuring social distancing and mask-wearing, determining who is allowed into the meeting and who is turned away, etc., are substantial and might interfere with the work of the board in real time.
“We are heartened by the substantial increase in public participation through our use of Google Docs. This method will continue to afford anyone who feels uncomfortable about coming out to a public meeting during a pandemic a voice in our decision-making process.”
And as alert “06880” reader Mary Hoffman notes (via the Wall Street Journal), the backyard of that home was the site yesterday for a fashion show. Among the guests: Billy Porter.
Siriano famously dressed Porter in a tuxedo ballgown for the Oscars.
Billy Porter in Westport. (Photo/Charlie Sykes for AP)
After 55 years as a summer staple, the Westport Parks & Recreation Roadrunner races went virtual this year.
The weekly events — starting first with a couple of miles, increasing each Saturday to a 10-mile run just before Labor Day — are the baby (and now near senior citizen) of Staples High School’s longtime track coach and guru Laddie Lawrence.
The most recent Road Race Management newsletter — aimed at race directors and industry professionals — highlights Lawrence’s long involvement with the series. There’s an extensive interview looking back on 55 years, and vintage photos. Click here to see.
Laddie Lawrence, at a Roadrunner race finish line.
The Westport Library edges one step closer to normalcy. On Monday (September 21), the Library Store begins offering personal shopping appointments.
The 15-minute sessions can be in person or virtual (via FaceTime or WhatsApp). Slots are available weekdays, from 2 to 6 p.m. Click here to schedule.
The Store accepts credit cards, checks, Apple Pay and Google Pay — no cash. Purchases made virtually will be scheduled for pick up weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Last night’s Remarkable Theater screening of “Top Gun” — a fundraiser for the Catch a Lift Fund — drew a great crowd to the Imperial Avenue parking lot.
Fall is almost here. But Westport’s love of the pop-up drive-in theater — and support for excellent causes — has not wavered one bit.
Dave Briggs’ intriguing Instagram Live interactive interviews continue today (Friday, September 18, 6:30 p.m.). The former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox News anchor’s guest is Westport’s own noted actor Stéphanie Szostak (“A Million Little Things,” “The Devil Wears Prada”).
You can listen — and participate — on Instagram:@WestportMagazine.
The other day, “06880” mentioned Positive Directions’ new Teacher Support group. It meets weekly via Zoom. The cost was $40.
Now, however — thanks to the generosity of Positive Directions’ board of directors –this group will be underwritten. It’s now free to all teachers and school personnel. Email email@example.com, or call 203-227-7644 to reserve a spot.
Groove is known for its trendy clothes, for women, children and babies.
But on Saturday, October 24 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), the Post Road West boutique welcomes Dana Ciafone to a book signing. The author of Celebrating Bentley — the kids’ book about a boy and his dog — will be there. All profits go to Little Black Dog Rescue.
And finally … in these days of wildfires, hurricanes and much more, it’s nice to hear James Taylor’s soothing voice. No matter how dark the lyrics. (Hat tip: Jerry Kuyper)
For more information, click here, call 203-341-5099, email firstname.lastname@example.org/seniorcenter.
Smoke from the wildfires out west have reached Westport. This was the scene yesterday evening, at Compo Beach:
COVID has canceled many traditional activities. But not Oktoberfest!
Wakeman Town Farm celebrates outdoors on Thursday, October 8 (5:30 p.m.). Chef Alison Milwe Grace cooks up a great German meal (with a veggie option for non-meat eaters). Bring a sweater or jacket and your favorite German beer or adult beverage. Click here for details and tickets.
Teaching has always been stressful. During COVID, it’s exponentially tougher.
To help educators de-stress, Positive Directions has launched a Teacher Support Group. Trained counselors lead discussions Wednesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. via (of course) Zoom. The cost is $40 per session. Email email@example.com, or call 203-227-7644 for reservations.
With kids back at school — meaning more than half the time, they’re learning at home — parents may need a private office.
Serendipity Labs — the on-demand workspace at 55 Post Road West — offers a complimentary private day office for all new inquiries. It’s available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Serendipity memberships include high-speed WiFi, complimentary coffee, spacious common areas, guest reception and concierge services. For details click here, call 203-979-4084 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Serendipity Labs, 55 Post Road West
Classic movies continue this Saturday (September 19, 8 p.m.) at the Remarkable Theater. Earthplace co-sponsors “Raiders of the Lost Artk.” Click here for tickets and more information.
Speaking of movies: Ethan Hawke will direct a new movie about the lives and careers of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The project has the blessing of Woodward — now 90 — and the actors’ family.
The film is expected to focus on their 50-year marriage, including their decision to raise their children in Westport rather than Los Angeles. (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.
And finally … today would have been B.B. King’s 95th birthday. He died 5 years ago, but the thrill of his blues guitar will never be gone.
Every year, Westport’s Sunrise Rotary raises nearly $100,000 from 2 events: The Duck Race, and a wine tasting gala.
Eighty percent of the proceeds are donated to organizations that serve the health, hunger, safety and education needs of adults and children from Stamford to New Haven. The other 20% funds disease prevention, health, peace promotion, education and economic development across the globe.
COVID -19 forced the cancellation of both fundraisers.
To partially fill the gap — and provide safe, fun activities that may also attract new members — Sunrise members collaborated with the Remarkable Theater. They showed “School of Rock” on the Imperial Avenue parking lot screen. The famous yellow duck — and a duckling — were there, welcoming movie-goers.
More events are planned. To learn more about membership, email
email@example.com. To support charitable giving, send a check to
Westport Sunrise Rotary, PO Box 43, Westport, CT 06881-0043.
Nothing is wrong. The convertible’s driver adjusted its hydraulics, for a comfortable viewing spot at the Remarkable Drive-In.
As a Staples High School student, Dylan Diamond made frequent appearances on “06880.”
At 15, he built an app that allowed classmates to view their schedules and grades — then rolled it out nationally, with hundreds of thousands of downloads.
He followed up with apps that helped skiers find buddies on the slope, and let users book everything from babysitters and yardwork to concert tickets.
Now Inc. has taken notice. He and Wharton School classmate Max Baron have gone all-in on Saturn, a calendar app.
Inc. says “they are working to build community around the calendar in high schools, with a big vision fueling them: to own the time layer of the internet.”
To hear Inc.’s podcast — in which the two discuss “why retention is social, how living together has given the co-founders an ‘always on’ mindset, and what they learned from their early work experience at Tesla and Havas” — click here. (Hat tip: John Dodig)
Dylan Diamond, in San Francisco. While still a Staples High School student, he scored a coveted invitation to Facebook’s F8 conference.
How bad are the wildfires out west?
Peter Gold notes that Connecticut has 3.548 million acres. As of Saturday, over 3.2 million acres have burned in California this fire season alone. In addition, 900,000 acres burned in Oregon, and over 600,000 more in Washington.
“It’s hard to imagine an area almost one-and-a-half times the size of Connecticut burned in just 3 states,” he says.
Battling a blaze in California.
Jane Mansbridge is a professor of political leadership and values at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
A recent Harvard Gazette story traces her “jagged trajectory” from her youth in Weston, and years at Staples High School (Class of 1957) to her current role as one of the world’s leading scholars of democratic theory.
She loved growing up in a small town. But, she says, she was bullied in Weston and at Staples for being “bookish and a smart girl.”
Realizing that not everyone liked the kind of person she was, or the values she held may have contributed to her later drive to find out more about people who were not like her, she says.
Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: A. David Wunsch)
Jane Mansbridge (Photo/Stephanie Mitchell for Harvard staff)
The porgies are in! This was the scene yesterday, at Sherwood Island State Park. Of course, fishermen always observe social distance.
And finally … On this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key watched a British bombardment of Maryland during the War of 1812. Inspired by the sight of an American flag still flying at daybreak, he wrote a poem. “The Defence of Fort M’Henry” was later set to music. In 1931 “The Star-Spangled Banner” became our national anthem. One of the most famous versions was sung by our wonderful neighbor, Weston’s Jose Feliciano, before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series in Detroit. It was controversial at the time; no one had ever delivered such a non-traditional rendition.
His performance nearly ended his career. But 42 years later — in 2010 — he was invited back to Detroit, to perform it again. This time, the crowd roared.
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