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Arts and Leisure

Arts and Leisure

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Arts Center Sets Toy Design Competition

As part of its next exhibition, “Toy Stories” opening Jan. 27, the Westport Arts Center is hosting a toy design competition for children ages 5 – 14.

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“Toy Stories” will present 30 major artists who work with toys in a range of media. Contributed photo

“Kids can submit up to three designs on paper for fun-to-play-with objects—be it an educational toy, action figure, product to play with outdoors, stuffed animal, doll series, or animated mechanical robot,” said Danielle Ogden, director of education. “We encourage a maximum level of creativity, fantasy, and imagination.”

Entries are due by Friday, Feb. 10. Details on how to apply are available at http://www.westportartscenter.org Local educational toy makers, Melissa & Doug, will serve as judges for the competition.

The first place winner will have his/her toy design exhibited in the WAC Gallery for the last week of “Toy Stories,” and will have a soft toy replicated by Child’s Own Studio, a company specializing in custom-made soft toys.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

In Bloom

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The Great Hall of the Westport Public Library on Friday will open a new exhibit featuring the work of Westporter Mary Ann Nelson (r), a self-taught artist specializing in botanical illustration and botany. There will be a reception from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Neilson said her training in theater design, graphic design and illustration gave her “a good running start.”  Although botanical illustration emphasizes scientific accuracy over art, Neilson prefers a less scientific approach. Some of her work goes beyond strict botanicals to compositions involving sharply focused floral subjects with soft dappled backgrounds. Her work has been exhibited widely both in the United States and Europe. The exhibit will remain on view for the next three months. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untemeyer for WestportNow.com

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WestportREADS 2012 Kicks Off With Film

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The Westport Public Library today launched WestportREADS 2012 – its annual community reading event which has as this year’s selection “I Was Amelia Earhart” by Jane Mendelsohn. The book revisits the mystery of the 1937 central Pacific disappearance of the aviation pioneer and author as she attempted a flight to circumnavigate the globe. Today’s event was a showing of the 2009 film “Amelia” starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere. On Jan. 11, author Mendelsohn will appear at the library at 7:30 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

‘Feliz Navidad—We Wish You a Merry Christmas’

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There was a special treat tonight for residents of the Westport Health Care Center as Weston resident Jose Feliciano entertained with his “Feliz Navidad,” a song he wrote in 1970 that has become one of the most performed Christmas songs of the 20th century, and other selections. Feliciano, 66, has donated his time and talent to the Center during the holiday season for about 15 years, according to Rita Papazian, a spokesperson for the facility. This year they decided to open it to the news media. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/20/11 03:48 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Enthusiastic Reception for Jose Feliciano

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Weston resident Jose Feliciano and musical colleagues tonight entertained residents of the Westport Health Care Center, 1 Burr Road, across from Kings Highway Elementary School. Several of the staff danced to the holiday sounds. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Westporters Join In

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Suzanne Sheridan on guitar and Bob Cooper on keyboard were among Westporters playing with Jose Feliciano tonight in a holiday celebration at the Westport Health Care Center. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/20/11 03:35 AM Comments (2) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

The Spirit of Christmas

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The Westport Health Care Center tonight hosted Weston resident Jose Feliciano and fellow musicians to its annual holiday party. Feliciano has been performing at the skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility for 15 years. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/20/11 03:30 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Orphenians Entertain Board of Ed Meeting

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The Staples High School Orphenians brought holiday cheer to the Board of Education tonight at the start of its weekly meeting at the school. In the absence of musical director Justin Miller who was unavailable, the group was led by Will Bitsky, a senior and president of the choir. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/20/11 01:54 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Descendants Join in Honoring 18 St. John Place

By Dave Matlow

In another recognition of preserving Westport’s heritage, Peter and Jackie Spera on Friday received a Westport Historical Society (WHS) plaque adding their 1931-built home at 18 St. John Place to the WHS list of notable Westport homes. But it was not an ordinary ceremony.

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Joining in Friday’s ceremony were (l-r) Janet Alley, a friend of Joanne Koeller, Koeller, Bob Weingarten of the WHS, and current owners Peter and Jackie Spera. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

When the Speras purchased the house in December 1999, they did not know that descendants of the original owners currently reside in Westport. But that all changed in September 2010.

That is when Westporter Joanne Koeller, a granddaughter of the original owners, Selleck and Dorothy Warren, her maternal grandparents, stopped by to introduce herself. She had spent much of her youth in the house with her grandmother, who died in 1999 at 103.

Jackie Spera responded by giving her a tour of the house. Subsequently the Speras contacted the WHS to document the origin of the house and to acquire a historic plaque that designates the year the house was built.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

‘Broadway Boys’ Rehearse for Playhouse Shows

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“The Broadway Boys,” led by Jesse Nager (r) who has performed on Broadway in “Xanadu,” “Fame on 42nd St.,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Good Vibrations”, and “Mary Poppins,” rehearse today for the popular annual concert at the Westport Country Playhouse this weekend. The performers, hot male voices currently working on the New York stage, will offer Broadway show tunes and traditional holiday favorites on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.  The program includes three Staples High School graduates, Drew McKeon (drums), Dan Asher (bass) and Justin Paul, its musical supervisor.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/17/11 12:18 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Waiting His Cue

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Staples High School graduate Drew McKeon awaits his cue during a rehearsal session today for the two performances this weekend of “The Broadway Boys” at the Westport Country Playhouse. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/17/11 12:14 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Bow for ‘Seasons Readings’

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The cast of “Seasons Readings” takes a bow after performing to a full house tonight at the Westport Woman’s Club. Readings of holiday-themed plays and stories by writers including Ann Patchett and David Sedaris, and directed by Carole Schweid, were followed by an eggnog and dessert reception. Pictured (l-r): Bob McDonald, Westport’s Susan Terry, Florence Phillips, Susan Vanech and Norman Allen.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Westport Jazz Scene


The Westport Arts Center tonight presented another in its series of Thursday night jam sessions. Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

12/16/11 03:41 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Orphenian Cheer

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Staples High School senior John Morris and junior Grace McDavid-Seidner perform with fellow members of the Orphenians at the group’s annual performance todayfor the Westport Rotary Club at the Inn at Longshore. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/13/11 09:50 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

‘Holiday’ Bow

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The cast of the script-in-hand performance of “Holiday” takes a bow tonight at the Westport Country Playhouse. The popular script-in-hand series is curated by Anne Keefe, the Playhouse’s artistic advisor. The romantic comedy written in 1928 by Philip Barry, who also authored the well known “Philadelphia Story,” was remade as a film in 1938 starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/13/11 04:10 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting Ready for Tonight’s Playhouse Reading

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The cast of tonight’s Westport Country Playhouse script-in-hand reading of “Holiday,” which debuted in 1928 and created by playwright Phlip Barry, pose for a photo during a rehearsal today. The performance is directed by Playhouse artistic advisor Anne Keefe. All tickets are $15. Pictured are (front row, l-r):  Bill Heck, Maggie Lacey, Betty Gilpin, Rebecca Brooksher, Jodi Stevens; (center row) Brian Carter, Chad Kinsman, Kiernan Campion; (back row) Jack Gilpin, Jordan Coughtry. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/12/11 06:46 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, December 11, 2011

GrooveLily in Playhouse Holiday Performance

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The Westport Country Playhouse tonight presented “Striking 12,” a critically acclaimed holiday concert-musical by the band GrooveLily.Taking a bow after the performance were (l-r) Brendan Milburn, keyboard and vocals, Valerie Vigoda, electric violin and vocals, and Gene Lewin, drums and vocal. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

12/11/11 04:20 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Saturday Night Fun


As part of its holiday offerings, the Westport Country Playhouse tonight presented “Striking 12,” a holiday concert-musical by the band GrooveLily. Among those in attendance was Rep. Jim Himes and his wife Mary. Board of Trustees sponsors were Ann Sheffer and Bill Scheffler and Meredith and David Bukzin, corporate cponsors First Niagra and Peirson & Smith, and the program was also supported in part by a grant from the Peterson Foundation. Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

12/11/11 04:15 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Saturday, December 10, 2011

71st Annual Candlelight Concert Opens

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Westport’s Staples High School 71st annual Candlelight Concert opened tonight with the traditional processional by junior and senior members of the choir as the combined members of the choir, chorus, and chorale sang “Sing We Noel,” the 16th century French carol. There will be additional performances on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

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A Tradition Continues


Highlights of tonight’s opening night of Westport’s Staples High School 71st annual Candlelight Concert.Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

12/10/11 04:18 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sadness Touches Tonight’s Candlelight Concert

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Sadness touched tonight’s Candlelight Concert at Westport’s Staples High School as Thursday’s tragic homicide took the life of the Kuti Zeevi, the husband of Nava Zeevi, longtime piano accompanist for the concerts. Stepping in at the last moment was Todd Simmons (l) of Westport, the assistant director of the Westport School of Music. He and choral director Justin Miller listen to the combined Chorus and Chorale. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

12/10/11 04:15 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, December 09, 2011

David Pogue on Being a Children’s Book Author

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Westporter David Pogue, TV personality, New York Times technology columnist and book author, participated in a panel discussion tonight with other authors of children’s novels at Westport’s Writers Workshop on Sylvan Road South. Pogue, whose recently released book, “Abby Carnelia’s One and Only Magical Power,” told attendees that his book is far less fantasy than it is realism—“actual realistic repeatable magic.”  Pogue describes the book as “hyper-realistic” because a youth could actually do what the main character does. “By the end of the book a child reader may say to himself, ‘I have something that this character has and this is a spark to me,’” he said. Pogue said that he gets a lot of e-mail from youths who read the book and “I respond to every single kid’s e-mail—think what it is for the kid to get a note back from the author of a book he or she has just read.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Friday, December 02, 2011

Special Performance of “The Nutcracker”

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The Westport Country Playhouse today hosted about 870 students for two preview performances of “The Nutcracker” ballet performed by the Ballet Etudes Company under artistic director Nanette Vallas. The students were from Norwalk, Wilton and Stratford. According to Bruce Miller, Playhouse company manager, “For many, this is the first live theater experience. To see kids their age doing this is a spark to them.”  He said this is the 13th consecutive year of student matinees for “The Nutcracker” and in that time, more than 10,000 youngsters have benefited. “Nutcracker” performances continue at the Playhouse this weekend at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m each day. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Tough Audience

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Youngsters get set for a special performance today of “The Nutcracker” at the Westport Country Playhouse.. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Getting Ready for Weekend Performances

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Students from the Ballet Etudes Company under artistic director Nanette Vallas perform “The Nutcracker” today fpr student audiences at the Westport Country Playhouse in preparation for this weekend’s public performances. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/02/11 11:20 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

WN on the Scene: Art Basel Miami


Helen Klisser During, WestportNow contributing photographer, art advisor, and director of visual arts at the Westport Arts Center, was in Florida for several days this week for Miami Art Basel, one of the world’s premier arts fairs. Taking place each November/December, the creative event welcomes artists from all over the world and is widely regarded as “the place to be” in the art world. Here are some highlights of Miami Art Basel as seen through her lens. Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

12/02/11 08:42 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Film Shot in Westport Selected for Sundance Festival

The Sundance Film Festival has selected a feature film, “Hello, I Must Be Going”—written by 1985 Staples High School graduate Sarah Koskoff and shot in Westport over the summer— for its 2012 competition and scheduled it for a coveted first day showing.

Selection of the the film, directed by Todd Louiso, who is married to Koskoff, was announced on Wednesday. It stars Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbott, John Rubinstein, and Julie White.

The festival said the film is about a divorced, childless, demoralized woman named Amy Minsky who at 35 is condemned to move back in with her parents. Her prospects look bleak – until the unexpected attention of a teenage boy changes everything, according to a Sundance announcement.

Much of the filming was done for three weeks in and around the Saugatuck Shores waterfront home of Koskoff’s parents, Michael and Roz Koskoff, with additional scenes shot on Main Street, the Westport train station, and Fast Fitness on Post Road East. (See WestportNow Aug. 1, 2011)

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Monday, November 28, 2011

New Yorker Editor Addresses Y’s Women

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Dorothy Wickenden, executive editor of The New Yorker and a Weston native, addressed the Y’s Women today in the Great Hall of Westport’s Christ and Holy Trinity Church about her book “Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West.” In 2008, Wickenden came upon a collection of her grandmother’s letters in the family home. The letters revealed vivid written accounts of Dorothy Woodruff, her grandmother, and a childhood friend, Rosamond Underwood, as they taught school in a remote corner of Colorado in 1916. The letters form the basis of the book, which has received positive reviews. Celie Rosenau for WestportNow.com

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Opening Bow for “The Seafarer”

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The cast of “The Seafarer” by Irish playwright Conor McPherson and directed by Ruth Anne Baumgartner takes a bow following tonight’s opening night performance at the Westport Community Theatre at Westport Town Hall. It runs through Dec. 11 with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. and Thursday, Dec.1 at 8 p.m.  All tickets are $20. The performers and their respective town of residence: (l-r) Rob Pawlikowski (Roxbury), Al Kulcsar (Fairfield), Damien Langan (Bridgeport), Will Jeffries (Bethel), and David Hartigan (White Plains. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Heida Hermanns Piano Competition Winner

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The first prize of $5,000 for the 2011 Heida Hermanns International Piano Competition today was awarded to Yue Chu and presented by Westport’s Frederic Chui, honorary chair of the event, now in its 40th year. Chu, born in China, won his first competition at age 8, and at the age of 10 was among the youngest conductors chosen to lead the youth orchestra and choir in his hometown of Tianjin.  At present, Chu lives in Philadelphia, where he is working on his Artist Diploma at the Curtis Institute of Music. “I did not know of this competition until three weeks ago when my teacher (at Curtis) mentioned it to me,” said Chu. “I did not expect to win the prize. My goal is to share music. I enjoyed doing that yesterday and today.”  He said this weekend was his first ever visit to Westport and was thankful to the Barry Katz family for hosting him. Katz is a member of the Board of the Westport Arts Center. Other winners were (l-r)  Sejoon Park (honorable mention - $500), Soyen Park (honorable mention - $500), Esther Park (third place - $1,500),  Zhennie Li (second place - $2,500), and Silvie Cheng (honorable mention - $500). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

11/21/11 12:17 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

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