Tag Archives: Westport Country Playhouse

Roundup: Bus Shelters, Cell Tower, Strawberry Moon …

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Westport has taken a big step toward adding more bus shelters.

Last night the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-0, with 1 abstention, on a text amendment. It adopts a definition for “bus shelters,” and exempts them from being considered a “structure.” That removes many obstacles from where they can be located.

Transportation and employment advocates have pushed for more bus shelters for years. Before last night bus shelters were deemed to be structures, and could not be located within the 30-foot setback along roads.

Thus, except for one shelter near Stop & Shop, bus riders on the Post Road must stand in all kinds of weather, on sidewalks or even the roadway.

Approval for new bus shelter locations will be made by the director of Public Works, in consultation with the Police and Fire Departments.

Among the people working for years for this change are members of the ad hoc Bus Shelter Working Group (Pippa Bell Ader, Harold Bailey, Ross Burkhardt, Ron Corwin, Jennifer Johnson, Melissa Kane and Larry Weisman), plus Peter Boyd of Sustainable Westport, and Planning & Zoning director Mary Young.

Click here for full details of the text amendment.

Waiting for the bus. (Photos courtesy of Planning & Zoning Commission Bus Shelter Working Group)

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Earlier this month, “06880” reported on a proposal to build a cell tower on private property at 92 Greens Farms Road.

An information session is set for Monday (June 28, 5:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium

To provide written comments before the session, email selectman@westportct.gov.

A cell tower been proposed for the property on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

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Though the Westport Country Playhouse will not host any live productions this summer, the famed theater is opening up for special events.

They include cabaret performances tomorrow (Saturday, June 26, 8 p.m., with Tonya Pinkins and Brad Simmons, and another cabaret July 24); an in-person screening of the virtual production “Tiny House” (Tuesday, June 29), and more. (Click here for details.)

Playhouse managing director Michael Barker filmed a “welcome back” video. Click below to enjoy.

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Longtime Westporter Herman Smith died June 17. He was 84

Herman lived in The Villages, Florida for nearly 20 years, but called Westport and Danbury home. He was the second of 4 generations of Westport residents, following his father who started a business in the 1940s.

Herman was educated in the Westport school system, from kindergarten through his graduation from Staples High School in 1955. He then attended the Engineering Institute of Bridgeport. He was also honorably discharged from the United States Air Force, and served in the National Guard.

Herman was in management at United Parcel Services, working in the South New England District for over 30 years. He retired in 1995.

Herman Smith

Herman was an original member of the Gents, and a long time member of the African American Club at The Villages. He enjoyed his time with the Frogs and Flakes, and the ROMEOs with his neighbors on Lawson Loop.

He was also a collector of baseball hats, an avid golfer and a world traveler.  He and his wife Mary Fran traveled  to over 25 countries, and visited all 7 continents.

His favorite spots and activities included his gardens in Westport, boating on Candlewood Lake, golfing at the Villages, watching the ocean at Daytona Beach Shores and making memories at Disney with his family.

He was predeceased by his parents, John Herman and Jane Smith, and sister, Jane “Patsy” Smith. Herman is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Mary Frances; children Mark of The Villages, Florida; Susan of New Haven, and Scott (Jane) of Westport, CT), and grandchildren Brandon, Jacob and Joshua.

Herman’s family will celebrate his legacy by establishing a scholarship in his name to advance the education and talents of promising youth. In lieu of flowers, they ask for contributions to that scholarship once it is established. Donations may also be made to another charity that fittingly honors Herman’s kind spirit, generous soul and full life.

A memorial service is planned for July 10 (11 a.m., Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, The Villages, Florida). A celebration of Herman’s life will also be held in Connecticut in September.

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Last night’s Strawberry Moon was marred by a few clouds. But Daniel Johnson was one of many Westporters who gathered at Compo Beach. He captured this great shot:

(Photo/Daniel Johnson)

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Today in “Westport … Naturally”: Miggs Burroughs spotted this white deer in his Old Hill backyard. It (or a relative) has appeared once a year, for the past several years. Miggs writes:

“According to Native American legend, the appearance of an all-white deer signifies an abundant harvest. I must say, I have more weeds this year than ever.”

(Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

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And finally … in honor of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s vote last night that will lead to more (much-needed) bus shelters in Westport:

Celebrating 90 Years Of Westport Playhouse: Lawrence Langner Remembers

On June 29, Westport Country Playhouse opens its virtual season with the regional premiere of “Tiny House.”  (Some in-person seats are available too.)

It’s very 2021-ish: a new comedy about downsizing, going green, escaping urban life, and fresh starts.

Which makes it a far cry from “The Streets of New York.” That was the first Playhouse production ever. But it too was right for its time: Set in the Depression of 1837, it was extremely topical during the Great Depression.

The Playhouse curtain rose for the first time on June 29, 1931. Ninety years to the day — and over 800 plays — later, a new season begins. 

Twenty years after founding the Westport Country Playhouse, Lawrence Langner published a memoir: “The Magic Curtain.” Here is an excerpt, about that very first year.

While the Theatre Guild was undergoing periods of varying fortune during the depression of the thirties, Armina [Langner’s wife] and I were carrying on parallel activities during the summers at the Westport Country Playhouse. We built the Playhouse in the year 1931, in order to establish a Repertory Company of our own, and to carry out our own ideas as regards plays and production.

The Westport Country Playhouse is situated in a 100-year-old orchard just off the Boston Post Road. A more attractive spot for a country theatre could hardly be imagined. This red barn nestling amid old, gnarled apple trees was a haven of peace and tranquility compared with Broadway, and some of the happiest days of my life have been spent driving to and from our farm [in Weston] to the Playhouse and rehearsing in the open air under the old trees.

The original barn — later a tannery — in an orchard.

There we were free to try out our creative ideas without interference, and without facing financial disaster if they failed. New plays and the classics could be essayed without reference to the tastes of Broadway. Actors could attempt new roles without facing the terrors of the New York opening nights, and new directors and scenic artists could be given a first chance to show their talents.  And furthermore, the younger generation could have an opportunity to gain experience in the theatre.

The dramatic critics of the local papers welcomed us as a relief from the tedium of movie going and transmitted their pleasurable experiences to our audiences, who enjoyed us as a gay addition to the life of the community. Even the stagehands, the traditional enemies of the managers in the large cities decided, after a few preliminary skirmishes, to make their peace with us, and became our personal friends and collaborators in our happy undertaking.  And the spirit which animated the beginnings of the Country Playhouse continues right down to today, as each new season brings fresh talents into the theatre and offers new opportunities in untried fields to the older actors and stage directors.

Early days at the Westport Country Playhouse. (Photo/Wells Studio)

Some of this spirit of pleasurable accomplishment undoubtedly springs from the atmosphere of the Playhouse itself. Remembering the toy theatre of my youth, and especially the “tuppence-colored” theatre with its gay proscenium of bright red and gold, its bright red curtain and red-and-gold-curtained side boxes, I asked Cleon Throckmorton, noted scenic designer of the Provincetown Players, to carry out this idea in a barn theatre.  Throckmorton, who had designed the famous Cape Playhouse at Dennis, Massachusetts, responded with enthusiasm and made the stage the same size as that of the Times Square Theatre in New York and elsewhere.  This gave our Playhouse a distinction over most summer theatres, and made it possible to use it as an incubator for plays for the theatres in other cities.

The first experiment in Westport was to be Repertory with an Acting Company which was to compensate me for the loss I felt with the disbanding of the Theatre Guild Acting Company. Armina and I threw ourselves with enthusiasm into forming this company, which we christened the New York Repertory Company.

The interior, 1933.

I asked Rollo Peters, who had done such invaluable work in the early days of the Theatre Guild, to become a member of the Company and to put his varied talents as a scenic artist, actor and stage director at our disposal. He did so, and also helped find the large red barn and unearthed the script of [Dion] Boucicault’s old Victorian melodrama, The Streets of New York, which was to form our first offering.

Other actors who joined the Acting Company were Romney Brent, Dorothy Gish, Winifred Lenihan, Moffat Johnston, Fania Marinoff, Armina Marshall, Jessie Busley and Tony Bundsman. As I wished to open the Repertory Company in a great hurry, for sixteen hours a day the carpenters and electricians were busy at work transforming the red barn (which had formerly been used as a tannery for leather hatbands) into our theatre.

Another view of the Westport country Playhouse, 1930s.

Our opening play, “The Streets of New York,” which had been played all over the world, and which appropriately dealt with the depression of 1837 and was hence topical in the depression of 1931, was produced with incidental music selected by Sigmund Spaeth, and colorful Victorian painted scenery and drops by Rollo Peters, who also played the leading role opposite Dorothy Gish.

On Monday night, June 29, 1931, the theatre was opened by old Daniel Frohman, then in his 80s and Dean of American producers, who made a charming speech with a crackling thunderstorm as an obligato accompaniment. But the storm subsided, and soon the audience fell under the spell of the delightful acting and singing, and the colorful costumes and scenery.

“The Streets of New York”: the very first Playhouse production.

Both our play and our Playhouse were instantaneous successes, and the play itself was performed twenty-one times in our repertory. It was followed by “The Comic Artist” by Susan Glaspell and Norman Matson.  Then came “As You Like It,” with Rollo playing the part of Orlando and Armina as Rosalind, followed by Ibsen’s “Pillars of Society” and Will Cotton’s “The Bride the Sun Shines On.”

At the end of the season we had a repertory of these five plays running in Westport and ready to bring to New York, and I conceived the daring plan of opening them one right after another in the same week, just to show New York what an Acting Company could actually do.

(“Tiny House” streams on demand from June 29 through July 18. Some tickets are available for an in-person viewing of the virtual production, on a big screen, on Tuesday, June 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 each. For more information and ticket purchases, both in-person and virtual, click here. or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.)

The original program.

RTM: Straightforward Meeting Last Night; Controversy Ahead

This is Peter Gold’s report on the June Representative Town Meeting. He is an RTM member writing for himself, not in an official capacity.

The regular June RTM meeting dealt with 2 noncontroversial items. A third item, dealing with police and fire pensions, was withdrawn and will be considered at a subsequent RTM meeting.

Andrew Wilk and Jeremy Price were reappointed to 4-year terms as trustees of the Westport Library. Price is currently vice president of the board of trustees, while Wilk is responsible for sourcing and producing many of the Library’s cultural events.

The RTM unanimously certified Homes with Hope and the Westport Country Playhouse as organizations eligible to receive grants under Connecticut’s Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit Program. corporations can make grants to eligible not-for-profit organizations in lieu of paying a portion of their corporate income taxes. No town funds are involved with the grants.

The maximum amount any organization can receive is $125,000. The Playhouse hopes to receive $14,210 to upgrade its parking lot with LED lights, and $10,500 to acquire assisted listening devices for the theater.  Homes With Hope is asking for $24,340 for roof replacement at the Bacharach Community housing

In addition to the regular monthly June meeting, the RTM will also meet next Tuesday (June 8) to consider overturning the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision to permit a 157-unit housing development, including 47 affordable units, at Hiawatha Lane.

The P&Z approved the development as part of a settlement of a lawsuit seeking to overturn its earlier denial of the project and revoke the town’s moratorium from the affordable housing requirements under Connecticut statute 8-30g. A two-thirds vote of the entire RTM (24 votes), is needed to overturn the P & Z’s decision.

Unsung Heroes #192

Heroes come in many forms. Some of them are larger than life. Some do dramatic things. Others do their thing behind the scenes, invisible to most. They may not change lives. But to the people they impact, their work is huge.

Today, Pat Blaufuss singles out some of her heroes:

The members of the Westport Country Playhouse box office staff have been real troupers. In the past year they have handled nearly 3,000 season ticket holders through postponements and revisions, ticket exchanges, credits and refunds, on-demand access orientation and more. They are the front lines of what we do.

In March 2020, the start of the season was postponed from April until July, with fewer productions. All season ticket holders had to be contacted, and their season packages adjusted accordingly.

In April, Playhouse management realized that postponing until July 2020 was unrealistic. The pandemic made a season impossible. It was postponed until 2021.

Box office staff again contacted all patrons. Some donated their 2020 season tickets. For other patrons, the box office processed credits for 2021 or refunds.

The box office staff were furloughed for the second half of 2020. Some returned late in the year; others in early 2021.

From left: Jake Krasniewicz, Josh Sinclair, Selena Dillon. (Photo/Beth Huisking) 

With the pandemic continuing into 2021, and following guidelines from theater artists’ unions, the state and the science, the 2021 season plan was revised as an online experience. The box office staff again reached out to all patrons, converting their tickets into on-demand virtual access or credits for the 2022 season.

Since transitioning to a virtual season, the box office staff has worked with patrons to make sure they are able to access the 2021 season digital content.

No one outside the Playhouse office sees what they do. To Pat Blaufuss, they are heroes.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

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.