Tag Archives: Westport Country Playhouse

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.

Friday Flashback #226

This could be one of my favorite “old Westport” photos ever. And not just because it shows the spot where I live today.

Westport Country Playhouse public relations manager Pat Blaufuss found it in the archives. There is no photographer’s credit, but it’s dated 1969.

There’s the Playhouse, midway up the right side of the photo. (Click on or hover over to enlarge). It’s been modernized, but looks pretty much the same.

Saugatuck Congregational Church on the left has not changed much. Neither have the gas stations: the one that is now Quality just east of the church, and the (now) Mobil across the Post Road. The buildings with (among others) Winslow Park Animal Hospital were there then too (lower right).

But the rest of the area is unrecognizable.

The big Victorian at the top was the Pine Knoll Inn. It was demolished in the early 1980s, making way for Playhouse Square and the Playhouse Condominiums behind it.

The long rectangular building with a white facade directly opposite the gas pumps was a car wash. I’m not sure what the white building set back from the Post Road in the entrance to Pine Knoll was, though I dimly recall the original Viva Zapata’s restaurant being somewhere around there.

And the smaller white structure to the immediate right of the Quality (then Tydol, later Getty) gas station, on the Post Road?

Originally a Dairy Queen, in the 1960’s it became the Crest Drive-In. It was a classic hangout for Staples students, a place for guys to show off their cars and girls to get guys to pay for their burgers.

Eventually the Crest gave way to Sam Goody, Alphagraphics and Qdoba. Today it sits as empty as the lot behind it was, that day in 1969 when an unknown photographer took this time capsule shot.

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.

Roundup: Beachside Avenue, Playhouse Cocktails, More


The equipment is in place. Plans have been made.

And the date is set. Replacement work on the Beachside Avenue bridge over I-95 begins January 4. It’s expected to last through September/

The $1.5 million project includes realignment of Beachside Avenue.

During the project, traffic will be detoured past the Greens Farms station, and New Creek Road. Longer detours will be needed for trucks that cannot fit under the railroad bridge.

Beachside Avenue I-95 bridge, at Greens Farms Road.


All summer long, the Westport Country Playhouse was dark.

But bright conversation took place online, via virtual chats with artists. It was called “Coffee With …”

The series continues this Thursday (November 19, 7 p.m.), with artistic director Mark Lamos. He’ll talk about the upcoming season, casting, his career, and anything else you ask.

Questions can be emailed to info@westportplayhouse.org by noon Tuesday. Then click on Facebook Live or YouTube.

The winter series is called “Cocktails With …” Mix it up!


And finally … on this day in 1969, half a million anti-Vietnam War protestors poured into Washington, DC. They were following up on Moratorium to End the War protests a month earlier, held in cities and towns around the country.

It is considered to have been the largest demonstration ever in the capital. President Nixon said, “I understand that there has been, and continues to be, opposition to the war in Vietnam on the campuses and also in the nation. As far as this kind of activity is concerned, we expect it; however, under no circumstances will I be affected whatever by it.”

Roundup: COVID, Outpost Pizza, New Cop, More


Here’s one way to look at Westport’s COVID numbers: Since March, we’ve had 516 cases (483 confirmed and 33 probable).

Here’s another: With a population of 26,213, 1.97% — nearly 2% — of the entire town has been infected. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)


Outpost Pizza — an outpost of the Stamford spot — opens Monday. It’s in the mini-shopping plaza with Coffee An’, across from the new Hudson Malone restaurant (most recently, 323). The space was formerly a dry cleaner.

Need a job, as well as a pie? Outpost is looking for cooks, prep workers, cashiers and drivers. Call 203-323-7678. (Hat tip: Jerri Graham)

(Photo/Jerri Graham)


The Westport Police Department has sworn in a new officer: Dominique Carr.

The Hartford native earned a BS in justice and law administration at Western Connecticut State University, where he also played football. He comes to Westport from the Windsor Police Department.

Welcome to Westport, Officer Carr!

Officer Dominique Carr


If you missed “Pride and Prejudice” — Staples Players’ 2nd radio play of the fall — you’ve get another chance this Sunday (November 15, 6 p.m.).

It will be re-streamed by the high school radio station, WWPT. Click here for the link. NOTE: It’s available on the website only — not on the radio dial itself.

Seniors Sophie Rossman and David Corro rehearse “Pride and Prejudice.” (Photo/Kerry Long)


Speaking of teenagers and the arts: High school students throughout Fairfield County are invited to apply for the just-announced Westport Country Playhouse Youth Council.

Meeting 6 times a year (virtually, to start), members will learn about the workings of a professional theater. They’ll also contribute creative solutions for how the Playhouse can broaden its appeal to a more diverse community.

Youth Council members will also participate in a speaker series, attend Board of Trustees meetings, create an event, and have behind-the-scenes access to the Playhouse.

The application deadline is November 20. Click here for more information.


The Leonard Schine Preserve got a spruce-up last weekend. And we can thank a bunch of SLOBs.

The group — okay, they’re actually Staples High School’s Service League of Boys — worked with Meg Armstrong and Barry Guiduli at the Natural Playground, a hidden children’s gem off Weston Road.

(From left): Nick Seitz, Ben Berkley, Bruno Guiduli, Gabe Maiolo at the Leonard Schine Preserve.


I don’t spend a lot of time at Sherwood Island. (I know. My bad.)

But Chris Swan does. The other day, he sent photos of what seemed to me like a strange sight.

But, Chris says, horses (and riders) are a regular occurrence at Connecticut’s first state park.

(Photos/Chris Swan)


And finally … today is a day to honor our veterans. As Billy Ray Cyrus sings, some gave all. And all gave some.

Roundup: High School Mock Election, Playhouse Video, More


Bipartisan politicians gathered in front of Staples High School yesterday. The mission: introducing a statewide initiative to educate Connecticut students about the voting process.

All week long, the state Department of Education is partnering with the lieutenant governor to hold a virtual mock election.

Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz headed the dignitaries. She noted that 20% of all 20-year-olds vote in elections — but 80% of 80-year-olds do.

First Selectman Jim Marpe noted that Westport has already received 9,500 requests for mail-in ballots for the presidential election. So far, 4,700 have been returned, via mail or the Town Hall drop box.

State Senator Tony Hwang said that his parents — who escaped from communist China — knew that the ability to vote was “foundational” to a democracy.

Will Haskell graduated from Staples in 2014. Four years later, he was elected to the State Senate. He said that young people are underrepresented in Hartford and Washington, but that “all voices are valued.”

State Representative Jonathan Steinberg — another Staples grad — added that “young people want to be engaged, in positive ways.”

From left: 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas, State Senator Tony Hwang, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, members of Staples’ Social Studies Honor Society, and State Representative Jonathan Steinberg. Also in attendance: State Senator Will Haskell, and Westport 6-12 social studies coordinator Lauren Francese. 


Saturday’s Remarkable Theater screening celebrating 90 years of the Westport Country Playhouse was a smash.

Response was so great — both at the Imperial Avenue drive-in and online — that it will remain available on demand through tonight (11:59 p.m.). Tickets are $25. (Ticket-holders from Saturday: Your unique link is also live through tonight.)

The Playhouse is just $20,000 of their goal for the event. Funds help make up for the loss of the gala this year. Click here for an on-demand ticket, and to make additional gifts.


The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities is hosting a series of online discussions called “CCM CARES – Getting Comfortable With The Uncomfortable.”

CARES stands for “Communities Advancing Racial Equity Series,” On the panel today (Tuesday, October 19, 6:30 p.m.): Westport 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

To register, click here. You can watch without registering on Facebook Live(Hat tip: Peter Gold)

First Selectman Jim Marpe


And finally … on this date in 1973, Richard Nixon fired Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, after they refused to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. After what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, Cox was finally fired by Robert Bork, the #3 man at the Justice Department.

 

Roundup: Alysin Camerota, Artists Collective, Subtle Racism, More


Former CNN anchor Dave Briggs interviews his former colleague — current anchor of CNN’s “New Day” — Alisyn Camerota on Instagram Live today (Saturday, October 3) at 5 p.m. The pair of Westporters will talk about their town, and the world. Just search on Instagram for @WestportMagazine.


The “Playhouse at the Drive-In” event just got more remarkable.

As noted yesterday, the Westport Country Playhouse celebrates its 90th season on Saturday, October 17 (5 p.m.) with a a benefit event and screening at the Remarkable Theater drive-in (the Imperial Avenue parking lot).

Yesterday, The Artists Collective of Westport got approval from the Playhouse to hold their Affordable Art Trunk Show that afternoon, at 3.

Over 25 artists will be masked, in (socially distanced) cars — and as much “affordable art” as they can display on easels and tables.

The volume and flow of pedestrian traffic looking at the art will be carefully monitored by Collective volunteers.

The Playhouse and Artists Collective enjoy a great partnership, including meeting and exhibition at the WCP’s Sheffer Barn.


This Monday (October 5, 8:30 a.m.), the Coalition for Westport sponsors a Zoom talk on “subtle racism in Westport.” TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey is the guest.

To register, email kbernhar@optonline.net.

 


Lindsey Baldwin is a Staples High School senior. She’s an EMT. And she just received kudos from State Senator Will Haskell, for another type of community service.

Last year Lindsey set up donation bins at various pharmacies and dental practices. She collected 2,000 toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and floss cartridges. She also created a fundraiser on Facebook, and collected $1,430.

In February, Lindsey traveled to Honduras with CapeCARES. The on-profit sends volunteers to remote areas. They provide free medical and dental care.

She brought those 2,000 dental products with her. Many villagers had never had access to toothbrushes. It was an important moment for them — and for Lindsey, who returned to Westport grateful for all she has, and the opportunity to serve.

Lindsey Baldwin, in Honduras.


And finally … of course:

 

Westport Playhouse Stage Meets Remarkable Theater Screen

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.

… at an old-fashioned drive-in.

Roundup: Halloween, VFW, WCP, More


No one knows what Halloween will look like this year. Besides, we’re still a week away from Labor Day.

But — as regularly as Starbucks rolls out pumpkin spice latte — a Halloween store has popped up in Westport.

This was is in Compo Shopping Center. It replaces Olympia Sports.

Although I’m sure on November 1, it too will be gone.


Two Westport non-profits have received Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act tax credit grants.

The Joseph J. Clinton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 399 grant will pay for roof improvements and energy conservation. The Westport Country Playhouse grant will go toward driveway and parking lot paving, and HVAC hardware replacement. have received grants provided under the Connecticut’s Neighborhood Assistance Act tax credit program.

Both organizations received help from the town of Westport, in their applications to the state Department of Revenue Services.

VFW on Riverside Avenue


And finally … happy 75th birthday, Itzhak Perlman!

Roundup: Walking Trails, Young Performers, More


Aspetuck Land Trust reports:

“There are no downed wires on our 150 open spaces, including our 43 trailed nature preserves. But there are a lot of downed trees!

“We’ve already cleared many of our trails, including nearly 20 miles in Trout Brook Valley. A special thanks to our volunteer trail stewards for pinpointing downed trees and helping with cleanup efforts.

“For information on the status of particular trails or preserves, click here. As we get back to normal (or whatever passes for normal these days), please consider making an additional donation to the Aspetuck Land Trust to help with storm cleanup.

“Also consider replanting your own lost trees and shrubs with natives from our Fall Plant Sale. Up to 50% of your purchase will be tax deductible. We will add many new natives trees and shrubs for pickup at Gilbertie’s Farm in Easton next month. Details and availability will be on our website August 25.”


Did you miss “Friday Night THRIVE Live!,” the virtual showcase hosted by Westport’s Broadway star Kelli O’Hara, featuring teenage talent from throughout the area (including our town)?

No problem! The event — named for the Teens Having Resilience In a Virtual Environment program, created by Westport Country Playhouse, and Shubert and Long Wharf Theatres — lives on. Click below to enjoy:


And finally … 43 years ago today, Elvis Presley died at his Graceland estate in Memphis. He was 42 years old — meaning he’s now been dead longer than he was alive. Here’s his 1956 appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which energized teenagers and scandalized their parents:

Want more of those swiveling hips?