Tag Archives: Westport Country Playhouse

Roundup: Vaccines, Teacher Of The Year, Mattress Recycling, Jeff Immelt …

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Yesterday’s 4th Westport Public Schools’ vaccine clinic was another success.

Hundreds of educators — along with their colleagues in Weston and Easton — have now received their 2nd COVID dose.

Yesterday’s event in the Staples High School fieldhouse was an “all in the family” affair. In the photo below, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice receives his injection from Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Technician Ben Frimmer.

Frimmer’s name may sound familiar. That’s because his day job is theater teacher and drama director at Coleytown Middle School.

(Photo/John Bayers)

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Speaking of education: Eric Lawrence is the Connecticut PTA Outstanding Elementary School Teacher of the Year. The 18-year veteran is a technology instructor. Right now he also teaches 4th grade distance learning.

Yesterday, his Saugatuck Elementary School community came together to celebrate.

A parent said: “Mr. Lawrence, you have always been a truly outstanding teacher here at Saugatuck. But as we all know when we face really difficult times, the absolute best can come out in people.

“Many of us thought we could never express how much SSN (Saugatuck Seal News) meant to us from the early days of the shutdown through this year, but we hope we can express it now. The response to your nomination for this honor was overwhelming.”

She then presented him with a binder filled with letters from colleagues, parents, and leaders in the Cub Scout community, where his leadership also made a great impact.

Mr. Lawrence will be honored at a virtual celebration May 5.

Celebrating Eric Lawrence.

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You know that old mattress or box spring you’ve always meant to get rid of?

Now — well, on Saturday, May 8 (8:30 to 11 a.m.) — you can.

Earthplace hosts a free mattress recycling drop-off event. It’s sponsored by the Mattress Recycling Council, and they know what they’re doing. Each year they recycle more than 190,000 mattresses  — and that’s in Connecticut.

They’re not only diverted from the waste stream. They’re used to make other products, from carpet padding and insulation to filters and mulch.

Can’t transport your mattress to Earthplace on May 8? Boy Scout Troop 36 offers free same-day pickup. Spots are limited; click here to sign up.

If you miss this event, you can bring your mattress or box spring to Park City Green in Bridgeport, a non-profit that recycles mattresses. Call for hours of operation and drop-off instructions: 203-212-3860 or 203-209-6915.

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Want to chat with Jeff Immelt?

GE’s former CEO talks virtually on Thursday, April 22 (7 p.m.) about his 16 years at the helm. The Westport Library program is hosted by Westporter Steve Parrish.

Immelt’s first day on the job was September 10, 2001 — 24 hours before 9/11. His new book Hot Seat: What I Learned Leading a Great American Company details his proudest moments — and missteps — at the helm of the global giant.

Click here to register.

Jeff Immelt

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The Westport Country Playhouse internship program began in 1946. Four years later, 19-year-old Stephen Sondheim spent the summer at the already-famous stage.

The program — now named for longtime Playhouse benefactor Joanne Woodward — continues this summer.

Interns will join the development, education and marketing teams, from June 7 to August 13. They’ll work directly with Playhouse staff, gain practical skills, and hear guest speakers including visiting designers and artists, commercial producers and more.

With a virtual season, the internships are also virtual this year. There are limited in-person requirements, based on department needs.

Application deadline is April 21. Click here for more information.

Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo), during his 1950 apprenticeship. Also in the photo: future film director Frank Perry (front row, left) and Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary (2nd row, 4th from left).

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The Westport Weston Family YMCA has added over 150 live classes a week, and hundreds more on demand. They include cardio, endurance, strength, bodywork, dance, mind/body, seniors, adaptive, kids and family.

They’re all virtual of course — but available through a collaboration with 29 Y’s across Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.

You must be a YMCA member, of course. For details on the “Y Wellness 24/7” program, click here.

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Congratulations to Staples High School basketball co-captain Nicole Holmes. The senior was one of only 4 FCIAC players — and 10 overall — named to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State team, in the “LL” (extra large schools division).

Holmes helped lead the Wreckers to a sparkling 13-3 record this winter.

Nicole Holmes (Photo courtesy of The Ruden Report)

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Today’s gorgeous nature shot: a cardinal, courtesy of Karen Weingarten:

(Photo/Karen Weingarten)

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And finally … on this day in 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. That was the effective end of the Civil War, though skirmishes continued for several weeks.

Roundup: Operation Varsity Blues, Christopher Lloyd, Women’s Voices …

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Operation Varsity Blues” — the Netflix movie about the rich-and-famous college admissions scandal — has taken America by storm.

There’s a Westport angle. Thankfully, it has nothing to do with a parent pretending his or her child was a star water polo player, even if he or she cannot swim.

“Operation Varsity Blues” was written and edited by Jon Karmen. He’s the 2008 Staples High School graduate who made a huge name for himself there as half of “Rubydog” — a moviemaking duo who, working with media instructor Jim Honeycutt, made a number of way-beyond-high school videos back in the day. (Click here to see some of their pioneering work.)

Karmen is known too as the writer/director of “Fyre” (2019), a behind-the-scenes look at that infamous music festival.

“Varsity Blues” was #3 on Netflix’s Top 10 Most Watched Movies & TV Shows yesterday. But it wasn’t the only one with an “06880” connection. Jamie Mann’s “Country Comfort” checked in at #7. (Hat tip: Kerry Long)

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Speaking of Staples: More than 60 years after helping found Staples Players, Christopher Lloyd is still acting.

In 1958 he was a Staples High School student who wanted to do more than just act in a class play. He found a mentor in English teacher Craig Matheson. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lloyd went on to a career that includes “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the “Back to the Future” trilogy, “Star Trek III,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and 2 “Addams Family” films.

At 82 years old, he’s got a new movie: “Senior Moment.” He stars with Jean Smart and William Shatner, who play a pair of older star-crossed lovers in an old-school romcom.

Lloyd talks about that project; his 5 wives — and growing up in Westport — in a wide-ranging Guardian interview. He was the youngest of 8 children, though the closest in age was 7 years older. Click here for the full interview. (Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)’

Christopher Lloyd in “Senior Moment.”

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Speaking again of Staples: Staples history classes absolutely crushed the National History Day regional competition.

Their papers, documentaries and exhibits examined everything from the Daughters of the Confederacy and Queer Communications in the Age of Oppression to Crypto-Analysis in World War I, Cigarette Advertising and the Freedom Riders.

How dominant was Staples? 32 students placed. There were only 5 other winners in the entire region, from just 2 other schools.

Placing first were Ishan Prasad, Sabrina Paris, Maya Hruskar, Lilly Weisz, Srushti Karve, William Jin, Michael Nealon, Zachary Brody, Jeffrey Pogue, Jack Ginsburg, Preston Norris, Tyler Clark and Matthew Gatto.

Finishing second were Nikos Ninios, Franca Strandell, Camille Vynerib, Julet Tracey, Lily Klau, Olivia Stubbs, Hannah Fiarman, Franky Lockenour, James Dobin-Smith, Coco Laska, Karlie Saed and Sarp Gurdogan.

Taking third were Sebastian Miller, Analise Vega, Emma Porzio, Arda Ernamli, Hannah Conn, Samantha Paris and Ethan Cukier.

Their (superb) teachers are Drew Coyne, Nell-Ann Lynch, Cathy Schager and Kelly Zrenda.

Up next: state and (hopefully) national competition.

A US championship? That would be historic.

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Speaking once again of the arts: On Tuesday (March 30, 7 p.m.), the Westport Country Playhouse presents a world premiere of “New Works/New Voices.” These 4 new pieces — all written by community members — honor women who inspired them: Constance Baker Motley, Anne Bogart, Mary Freeman, Mary McLeod Bethune and Gloria Steinem.

Local storytellers and actors will bring to life these very personal, beautiful stories recorded on the WCP stage.

Viewers are invited to pay what they can. 50% of ticket sales and donations during the broadcast go to the Playhouse’s community partner, Women’s Mentoring Network, providing career, educational and personal resources for the economic empowerment of low-income women and their families.

Click here to register for “New Works/New Voices.”

The artists and storytellers who will bring 5 women’s stories to life.

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Westporter Rob Simmelkjaer was confirmed yesterday, by a bipartisan State Senate vote, as chair of the Connecticut Lottery.

It’s a volunteer — but quite active — role he’s served in since May. Area senators Will Haskell and Bob Duff spoke warmly on the media executive’s behalf.

Rob Simmelkjaer

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Update from Parks & Rec: The concession stand at Compo Beach will open in mid-April. Last year, during COVID, it opened late, and ran only from a trailer adjacent to the brick building.

The concession stand at Compo Beach will be open next month.

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MoCA Westport has added 5 members to its board of directors. Two are from Westport.

Jennifer Kanfer has served on the board of The Conservative Synagogue, including co-chair of the Social Action, Membership and Fundraising Committees. and with the Coleytown Elementary School PTA. She previously worked in healthcare communications for 14 years. She holds a BA in political science from the University of Michigan, an MPA in healthcare policy and administration from NYU, and an MBA in Finance from NYU’s Stern School.

Samantha Yanks is an award-winning editor with over 20 years experience in luxury fashion and lifestyle publishing. In 2018 she launched a social, digital and branding agency, Samantha Yanks Creative. She was most recently editor-in- chief of Gotham and Hamptons magazines. As senior accessories editor at O, she collaborated closely with Oprah Winfrey. Yanks has discussed fashion, beauty and lifestyle on “The Today Show” and “NBC Nightly News,” “New York Live,” “Good Day New York,” E!, the Martha Stewart and Howard Stern shows, and more. She graduated from Tulane University.

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‘Tis the season — for both holiday lights and daffodils.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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And finally … the great — and greatly underrated — Billy Stewart was born today, in 1937. He died in 1970, only 32 years old.

If you only have time to listen to one song, it’s “Summertime.” But everything he touched was a classic.

 

TEAM Westport Plans Asian-American Program Tonight

TEAM Westport — the town’s multicultural commission — says:

TEAM Westport and the partnership of the Interfaith Council, Westport Library and Westport Country Playhouse extend our staunchest solidarity with and heartfelt embrace of our town’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander community.

That solidarity and embrace are matched only by the depth of our outrage over the rising tide of AAPI racism and violence, capped by the unspeakable murders in Atlanta last week. Both the first selectman and superintendent of schools have issued statements for the town and school system.

Our work over the past few years has been focused on dismantling the centuries-old legacies of layered racism and supremacy which have led us to this current circumstance. As such, our involvement with both the advent of the Equity Study mentioned by the superintendent, and the ongoing antiracism conversations mentioned by the first selectman, make it clear that this should be a time for focused reflection with our AAPI community.

Please join us for these upcoming events today (Wednesday, March 24) and next Wednesday (March 31). We will hold space for our AAPI friends and community members for times of sharing and exploration regarding racism and its impact on each of us here in Westport and nationwide.

  • Wednesday, March 24, 7 p.m:  Community Focus on Anti-AAPI  Racism (Virtual Event):
    • Forum hosted by:
      • Harold Bailey (Chair, TEAM Westport)
      • Alison Patton (Pastor, Saugatuck Congregational Church)
      • Jenny Nelson (Director of education and community Engagement, Westport Country Playhouse)
      • Bernicestine McLeod Bailey (TEAM Westport)
    • Join the discussion for solidarity and reflection on the rising tide of AAPI racism and violence. All are welcome.
    • Learn more and register through The Westport Library:
      https://westportlibrary.org/event/me-and-white-supremacy-the-challenge-continues/
    • [Note: The originally planned 4 sessions on “Me and White Supremacy”: The Challenge Continues have been postponed to (April 7 and 21, and May 5 and 19)].
  • Wednesday, March 31, 7 p.m. (Virtual Event):
    • TEAM Westport Schools Work Group. Join us for our next Schools Workgroup meeting. We will continue our discussion of white supremacy culture and how it shows up in our community, focusing on the recent tragedies against AAPI and Anti-Asian hate. All are welcome.
    • This is a Zoom meeting through the Westport Library: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84428376997?pwd=WlZOaks3a2JKZHEwMUZrd1RuVTR5UT09
    • Meeting ID: 844 2837 6997; Passcode: 048473,

Remembering Bobra Harris

Noted actress and former Westporter Anthonette Bobra Suiter Harris died Friday. She was 97 years old.

Born in 1923 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, her life spanned the early age of aviation and the automobile, to the space age and digital era.

An avid and early adopter of her prized iPhone and iPad, she stayed current and opinionated on all issues, especially political, and was always guided by her strong Catholic faith.

Moving to a small farm in Omaha with her family during the Depression, the family got along by trading eggs and produce for gasoline and other staples.

Bobra Harris

Her father’s self-taught love of the classics, from Plato to Shakespeare and beyond, led to her appreciation of opera. Every Saturday, the family  gathered around the radio to hear live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera. Bobra imagined herself singing professionally.

She enjoyed watching movie matinees during the golden age of Hollywood. That — and talent — led to an audition for Lerner and Loewe for the Broadway company of “Brigadoon,” touring in Chicago. Loewe listened to her from a seat far up in the balcony, and hired her on the spot.

FShe had roles in “Kiss me Kate” and “Carousel” in New York. She married Broadway dancer Bill Harris in 1950, a year after meeting in “Brigadoon.”

Her first child arrived in 1953. Bobra continued to act in early television. She specialized in Tennessee Williams’ plays, with a lead in “Summer and Smoke.” The Harris family moved to Old Mill Beach in 1956. A number of theater friends had already moved there.

When her youngest son started school she went back to acting in earnest. She spent the next 27 years on the CBS soap opera “The Guiding Light,” and appeared in numerous small parts on the second cast of Saturday Night Live with Jim Belushi. She had bit parts in “The Godfather,” “Marathon Man, ” “Trading Places,” “The Awakening” and others.

Her last appearance at the Westport Country Playhouse was in a 1974 production of “Tobacco Road.”

She was a founding member of the Actors’ Workshop with Keir Dullea, in Westport.

In her spare time she served as president of the Westport Young Woman’s League. She was also an avid bridge player.

A proud member of SAG and AFTRA, she was made a voting member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decades ago. She received DVDs to vote on for the upcoming Academy Awards at the time of her death.

She would pounce on the New York Times Sunday crossword, and usually completed it.

A remarkable woman of great strength and perseverance in the face of adversity who relied on her faith to get her through, she lived for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She made a great effort every day to stay in touch, support, and mentor them with a quick phone call, text or email.

She was predeceased by her husband of 50 years, William R. Harris Sr., in 2000; her middle son Scott Anthony, a career CIA officer who died in 2008, and her 3 brothers. She is survived by her sisters, Rosemary Anderson of McLean, Virginia and Jeri Rizzuto of Omaha; sons Bill Jr. of Westport and Craig of Longmont, Colorado, 5 grandchildren and 2 great grand-children.

A mass of Christian burial will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday (March 24) at Assumption Church, with burial to follow at Assumption Cemetery on Greens Farms Road.

Donations in Bobra’s name may be made to the AAAA Scholarship Foundation, which is establishing a memorial permanently endowed scholarship in her and her husband’s name, or the Smilow Yale Cancer Center.

 

Pic Of The Day #1430

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, from the Westport Country Playhouse. (Don’t worry — it’s the wonders of photo editing software!) (Photo from the Playhouse, via Suzanne Ford and Facebook)

Roundup: Parks & Rec Signups, Playhouse, Help Wanted …

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Registration for Westport Parks & Recreation spring and summer programs begins online on March 22 (9 a.m.). Click here for all offerings, including sports, Camp Compo and RECing Crew. Click here to register.

The Parks & Rec office remains closed to the public. Staff is available via email (recreation@westportct.gov), phone (203-341-5152 weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and mail (260 Compo Road South, Westport, CT 06880).

For registration, check your online account tnow. Log in, then click “Manage Family Members” on the bottom right. To view more details, click the name of a specific family member. Make any changes, then hit “save.” For address changes, email recreation@westportct.gov.

If you cannot log into your online account, do not create another profile. Email recreation@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-5152.

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Speaking of recreation:

These residents were spotted yesterday on Longshore’s first fairway.

They had not asked to play through. Nor were they wearing proper attire. Sad!

(Photo/John Richers)

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Alisyn Camerota is starring in a new role.

The Westport resident — a journalist, author, and anchor of CNN’s morning show “New Day” — has been elected as a Westport Country Playhouse trustee.

Camerota led a community conversation 3 years ago on “Female Power Unleashed:  Politics and Positive Change.” She was featured in a documentary celebrating the theater’s 90-season history last fall, and has been a Playhouse subscriber and supporter for several years.

She’ll serve with artist, economist, producer, fellow Westporter — and new board chair — Anna Czekaj-Farber. Former chair Barbara Streicker of Westport remains on the board.

Playhouse managing director Michael Barker lauds Streicker for her leadership during the pandemic

The 2021 season is scheduled to begin in April — online and in-person. Safety guidelines will be announced soon.

Alisyn Camerota

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4-year-old Elodie Kubik was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa. She is missing a critical protein that binds the layers of the skin together, making it extremely fragile and causing severe pain and wounds. There are no treatments for this life-threatening disease.

Elodie’s mom’s friends organized a Plunge for Elodie n 2018. It grew into an international movement, raising $700,000 to fund critical research aimed at curing EB and other rare diseases.

This year’s virtual Plunge (March 28) honors the life of Sophia Ramsey, who died just after her 1st birthday. She was the daughter of Westport Public Schools employee Tricia Lash’s friend and coworker. Click here for details.

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Finding Westport — the great local listing location, with both a website and social media posts — is starting a “Help Wanted” section. If you’re a business looking for help, contact Jillian@findingfairfieldcounty.com.

And if you’re looking for work, click here.

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Very quietly —  but for 70 years — Abilis has helped people with special needs throughout Fairfield County. The non-profit currently serves over 800 people — and their families.

Last year, COVID forced them to hold their biggest fundraiser online. They raised over $400,000. This year’s goal: top that.

It’s virtual again. Comedian Brett Walkow (“The Tonight Show,” Seinfeld’s “Comedian,” Comedy Central, much more…) hosts the May 1 (6:30 p.m.) show. It’s 90 minutes packed with entertainment, laughs, and a live auction.

The event is free (though of course there are many opportunities to donate). To register, click here (button is on upper right — hard to find!). For sponsorship information, call 203-531-1880 ext. 161, or email flatow@abilis.us.

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And finally … John Philip Sousa died on this day in 1932. He was 78.

Newcomers: We Need You!

I’ve been writing a lot of “Remembering…” posts lately.

In just 3 months, Westport has lost many memorable residents. Doris Jacoby, Lee Greenberg, Shirley Mellor, Jack Shiller, Joan McCarthy, Gloria Cole Sugarman, Matt Johnson … they and several other notable men and women died.

Lee Greenberg was an important part of Westport from the 1940s through her death last month at 103.

They left lasting imprints on our town. The arts, recreation, religion, medicine, human rights, youth activities — no part of Westport life was untouched by their efforts and energy.

Some of their contributions were professional. Much of it was volunteer work. All of it made our town a better place.

Many of those men and women were longtime Westporters. They were active into their 80s, 90s, even (Lee Greenberg) their 100s.

But they began when they were in their 30s and 40s,

Now it’s time for a new generation to take their place.

Specifically, all you newcomers.

The past year has seen an influx of arrivals unrivaled since the 1950s. The impetus then was the post-war baby boom. Today, it’s a global pandemic.

But the opportunity is the same: a chance to make a mark on your community.

You chose this place over others for reasons — the schools perhaps, or the beaches, Longshore, the Library, the arts, the restaurants, the sense you got that people here really care about the environment, social justice and neighbors in need.

An iconic Longshore scene. (Photo/Robert Augustyn)

Whatever those reasons, they are part of something bigger: community. You got the sense that Westport is more than just a collection of nice homes in a beautiful setting.

You understood, perhaps without realizing it, that Westport is a place where people get involved.

None of the many parts that make up Westport happened because they were destined to. They exist because people made them happen.

And they will continue to exist because — and only if — other people take up the cause.

We have Longshore because a group of officials — elected and volunteer — had the foresight to buy a failing country club moments before a developer snatched the land to build 180 homes.

We have an outstanding school system because we support it. With our tax dollars, sure — but also with countless volunteers, who give untold hours to every aspect of it.

We have music and arts and civic organizations and sustainable agriculture and sports teams and a remarkable Remarkable Theater and a ride-on-demand program for the same reason.

People had a vision. People cared. People acted.

The Remarkable Theater was a pop-up hit last summer.

Now it’s the newcomers’ turn. Every group in town needs help.

We need you because you are smart. You are energetic. You are motivated. You are young.

First, we need you to step up. Then we need you to take over.

Whatever your interest, there is a spot for you.

The Westport Young Woman’s League. The Westport Woman’s Club. AWARE.

Earthplace. Wakeman Town Farm. Friends of Sherwood Island. Aspetuck Land Trust.

Boy Scouts. Girl Scouts.

The Westport Arts Advisory Committee. Westport Permanent Art Collections. MoCA Westport. The Westport Country Playhouse.

The Westport Country Playhouse is 90 years old. New blood will keep it going for another 90.

Westport PAL. Westport Soccer Association. Westport Baseball and Softball. Any other sport you can think of.

The Westport Weston Family YMCA. The Senior Center.

PTAs. The Westport Library. The Maker Faire.

Al’s Angels.

TEAM Westport.

The Democratic Party. The Republican Party. The League of Women Voters. The Representative Town Meeting. Every board and commission in town.

You can’t do it all. You can’t do it alone.

But if you pick one or two areas of interest — and every other newcomer does the same — then we’ll have enough volunteer man and womanpower to propel this place to unfathomable heights.

And 40 years from now, whoever is writing the 2061 version of “06880” will remember your legacy too.

Roundup: Vaccines, Christopher Plummer, More

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United Way of Connecticut is expanding availability and access to vaccine scheduling.

Beginning Monday (February 8), 125 contact specialists will take phone calls to schedule appointments from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week. They can book up to 10,000 appointments at 12 locations across Connecticut. Call 877-918-2224.

For more vaccine information, click here. The state is focused on vaccinating residents 75 and older, but priority groups will expand this month as more vaccine becomes availabl.e

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In the wake of Christopher Plummer’s death yesterday in Weston, Hedi Lieberman sends along this video of a “CBS Sunday Morning” profile from 2011. It includes scenes of the legendary actor at the venue where he made his American stage debut in 1953: the Westport Country Playhouse.

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Yesterday’s Friday Flashback offered some long-forgotten views of Westport during the 1950s construction of I-95 (Connecticut Turnpike).

They showed Saugatuck and the South Compo areas. But Beachside Avenue was also impacted and altered, as a new bridge rose then between Greens Farms Road and Burying Hill Beach.

Nearly 7 decades later, it’s being replaced. The result is a novel look at the area — whether you’re driving past on Greens Farms, or underneath on the highway.

(Photo/Scott Smith)

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Longtime Westporter John Caggiano died peacefully at home last month, of complications from Alzheimer’s.  He was 82 years old.

Growing up in Brooklyn, his family instilled in him a great love of his Italian heritage. It stayed with him all his life.

John studied art after high school, then went into advertising. He spent most of his career at Doyle Dane Bernbach, rising to creative director and driving award-winning campaigns for Volkswagen, IBM, Sony, Hershey and Colombian Coffee. He brought originality and flair to every project.

After retirement John pursued art with a passion, honing his sketching and painting skills at the Silvermine, Rowayton and Westport Arts Centers, and the Westport Senior Center. His work was often seen at local art shows.

He enjoyed the many activities activities Westport offers, including boating, tennis and golf at Longshore, and Old Mill and Compo Beaches.

John loved animals. He loved walking his rescue dog Bella around Compo Beach and Winslow Park. He was known and adored by both the humans and dogs who visited these spots.

John is survived by his wife of 57 years, Anita; his son Marco, daughter-in-law Elena, and beloved grandchildren Caroline and John; son Roman; sister Linda Brienza (Dr. Gene); sister-in-law Dolores Paliseno, and nieces and nephews.

John was filled with bluster and heart.  He was known for his humor and his legendary stories.

Donations in John’s memory can be made to the Westport Senior Center, 21 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT, 06880, or Homes With Hope, PO Box 631, Westport, CT, 06881.  A memorial service will be held in late summer.

John Caggiano

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The other day, Rindy Higgins gave herself a 72nd birthday present: a penguin mold.

Here’s the result, on the corner of Madeline Avenue and Harbor Road. At least, it looked like that a couple of days ago. It’s all melted now.

(Photo/Rindy Higgins)

Just wait. There’s a winter storm warning for tomorrow. An accumulation of 5 to 7 inches is forecast.

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Next up in the Westport Astronomical Society’s free virtual lecture series: “Mapping the Haystack While Finding the Needles: How Crowdsourcing Science is Solving Big Data Problems in Research.”

Dr. Lucy Fortson of the University of Minnesota speaks February 16 (8 p.m.). Click here for the link.

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And finally … in one of his most famous roles (“The Sound of Music”), Christopher Plummer’s voice was dubbed by Bill Lee. Here is a clip from that film, with his singing “Edelweiss” himself:

Remembering Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer — Emmy, Tony and (oldest ever) Oscar winning actor who died today at 91, at his Weston home — was a familiar presence in restaurants like Da Pietro’s, and other local venues.

A Connecticut resident since the 1950s, he was a longtime member of the Westport Country Playhouse’s board of trustees. But his association with the renowned theater goes much further back.

He first appeared on the Westport stage in 1953, in “The Starcross Story.” It starred Eva Le Gallienne, a 55-year Weston resident, and soon became his Broadway debut. Later that summer, he was in “What About Maisie.”

The next year, Plummer returned with “Home is the Hero.”

Plummer was a member of the Playhouse’s board of trustees since 2002.  He championed the theater’s 2005 renovation with his words, “It is obvious that we must continue to cherish this gem of a theater, which has not only found its way into our hearts, but surely harbors more history within its walls than almost any other playhouse of its kind on our continent.”

Christopher Plummer (2nd from left) with (from left) his wife Elaine Taylor, Playhouse artistic director Anne Keefe, and Playhouse trustee and Broadway actor James Naughton.

In a Moffly Media interview recently, Plummer said that Playhouse productions during the Lawrence Langner era were tryouts for Broadway. “We always had a very elegant audience, black-tie for opening nights.”

He was a member of the initial Playhouse artistic advisory board. In 2001 he appeared in their 9/11 tribute, :For the Children.”

Plummer joined the Playhouse board of trustees in 2002.  He was a key supporter of the theater’s renovation, along with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, saying “It is obvious that we must continue to cherish this gem of a theater, which has not only found its way into our hearts, but surely harbors more history within its walls than almost any other playhouse of its kind on our continent.”

In 2005 he inaugurated the renovated Playhouse with a benefit event: his one-man show, “A Word or Two, Before You Go.”

In 2010 Plummer delivered the Westport Library’s Malloy Lecture in the Arts. Held that year at the Playhouse, his topic was “Remembering Archie (Archibald MacLeish–The Poet and the Man).” Plummer combined MacLeish’s poetry with his personal reminiscences of the poet, and was interviewed by Playhouse artistic advisor Anne Keefe about his own career and memoir “In Spite of Myself.”

Last fall, he appeared in a video tribute to the Playhouse, shown at the Remarkable Theater.

If you have a Christopher Plummer story or memory, click “Comments” below

MLK Celebration: A Week Of Introspection And Inspiration

This year more than ever, it’s important to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

And — now more than ever — it’s vital to do it on more than just Martin Luther King Day.

Layla F. Saad

The town is already gearing up for next Sunday’s conversation with Layla F. Saad, author of the compelling “Me and White Supremacy.” The livestreamed event is set for 12 noon. (Click here to register. Click here for more details.)

But that’s just the start of a week-long series of virtual events. For the first time, Westport is expanding its MLK celebrations beyond a single keynote.

Rev. Alison J. Patton of Saugatuck Congregational Church says, “In recent years we have shifted the focus of the Dr. King celebration from a remembrance of his groundbreaking leadership to an occasion to deepen our understanding of the continuing impact of systemic racism. There’s a need to equip ourselves to more effectively unmask and dismantle racism in our lives and community.”

Saad’s talk will be followed 2 days later by a panel discussion on “Me and White Supremacy: What Can I Do Next?”

The January 19 session (7 p.m.) focuses on the process outlined in Saad’s best-selling workbook, a 28-day challenge “to combat racism, change the world and become a good ancestor.” Click here to register.

The week culminates with “New Works/New Voices,” an evening of original monologues in response to Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy” (Thursday, January 21, 7 p.m.). It’s a world premiere, with Gracy Brown, Tenisi Davis, Tamika Pettway and Terrence Riggins sharing new works exploring themes surrounding racial justice. Click here to register.

Monologue authors ready for world premiere.

There’s more next month. February will include many opportunities for “profound personal engagement on the impact of white supremacy and privilege,” says TEAM Westport’s Bernicestine McLeod Bailey. Details will be announced soon.

TEAM Westport is co-sponsoring the Martin Luther King celebration, with the Westport Libraray, Westport Country Playhouse, Westport Weston Interfaith Council and Westport Weston Interfaith Clergy.