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Arts and Leisure

Arts and Leisure

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Granger at the Movies: ‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Passengers,’ ‘Why Him?’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Searching through history often reveals untold stories that are gems: “Hidden Figures” is one of them.

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During the early 1960s, several African-American women worked for NASA, providing the mathematical data needed to launch America’s first successful space mission.

But, every day - in a myriad of ways - their integrity and perseverance were challenged by the hostile racism and inherent sexism of that period.

Graduating from college summa cum laude at the age of 18, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) was, perhaps, the most brilliant mathematician of her time.

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Monday, January 02, 2017

Academic Honors for Staples Soccer

For the 14th time in 16 years — and the eighth season in a row — the Staples boys soccer program has been honored with a national award for academic excellence.

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The 2015 Staples High School boys varsity soccer team -– Academic All-Americans. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Armelle Daniels photo

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America gave the Wreckers a Team Academic Award — the only boys public high school soccer teams in Connecticut to be so named. The Staples girls team also earned Academic All-America honors.

To qualify, a squad must have a 3.25 grade point average of all varsity players. The award is given for the previous academic year. In 2015, Staples’ varsity players had an average GPA of 3.40 — tying the 2014 team, and just .03 points behind the record, set in 2013.

“I’ve always said that our players are some of the smartest and most creative people at Staples,” said head coach Dan Woog. “We want our guys to be as strong in the classroom as they are on the field. What’s especially gratifying about this award is that it’s won as a team. I’m proud that the NSCAA recognizes our team as one that strives for academic excellence.”

Woog said that indications are good that the 2016 side should also qualify for the Academic All-American honor.

01/02/17 02:17 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Kicking Off First Night

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The Westport Center for Senior Activities today for the first time hosted the opening event of the 23rd annual edition of First Night Westport Weston. The Survivors band played the big band sounds to an enthusiastic audience. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

12/31/16 03:44 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Granger at the Movies: Top 10 List for 2016

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Susan Granger’s Top 10 List for 2016:

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MOVIES: (in alphabetical order):

“Arrival”
“Deadpool”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Hell Or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Manchester By The Sea”
“Moonlight”
“Sully”
“Zootopia”

ACTOR:

Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea”
Ryan Gosling in “La La Land”
Hugh Grant in “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Michael Fassbender for “The Light Between Oceans”
Jake Gyllenhaal for “Nocturnal Animals”
Tom Hanks in “Sully”
Michael Keaton in “The Founder”
Viggo Mortensen for “Captain Fantastic”
Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool”
Denzel Washington in “Fences”

ACTRESS:

Amy Adams in “Arrival” & ”Nocturnal Animals”
Annette Bening in “20th Century Women”
Taraji P. Henson in “Hidden Figures”
Isabelle Huppert in “Elle”
Natalie Portman in “Jackie”
Emma Stone in “La La Land”
Meryl Streep in “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Tilda Swinton in “A Bigger Splash”
Alicia Vikander in “A Light Between Oceans”
Rachel Weitz in “Denial”

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Monday, December 26, 2016

‘Bettyville’ is 2017 WestportREADS Selection

WestportREADS, organized annually by the Westport Library since 2001, has chosen “Bettyville” by George Hodgman as its 2017 selection.

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“Bettyville” by Geroge Hodgman: “witty, tender memoir.” Contributed photo

The 2015 book tackles questions about the author’s identity as a gay man, as a writer and as a son. Described as a “a funny and heartbreaking memoir, it chronicles a complicated mother-son journey.” the library said.

Its publisher describes it as a “witty, tender memoir of a son’s journey home to care for his irascible mother—a tale of secrets, silences, and enduring love.”

A keynote talk with Hodgman​ is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. in the McManus Room.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Swing Band to Kick Off First Night

By James Lomuscio

There’s something new at Westport’s 23rd annual First Night this year – the Westport Center for Senior Activities debuts as a venue with its hosting of the Survivors Swing Band.

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First Night buttons are on sale for $15. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The performance on Saturday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. will kick off the alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event, which itself is a survivor. It and Hartford’s are the only remaining First Nights in Connecticut.

“We’re actually putting performers in there that we have used in the library in the past,” said Barbara Pearson-Rac, president of First Night Westport Weston.

Adding the new location gives the town’s seniors, who comprise more than 20 percent of Westport’s population, an opportunity to have the center open and active that night, she said.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Granger at the Movies: ‘La La Land,’ ‘Nocturnal Animals,’ ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Opening with a fabulous fantasy sequence of morning commuters caught in congested traffic on Los Angeles’ freeways, “La La Land,” Damien Chazelle’s dazzling contemporary musical chronicles longing, love and lingering wistfulness.

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Aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) works as a barista at a café on the Warner Brothers’ studio lot, while brooding jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is tired of playing background music at bars and restaurants.  They “meet cute” several times before they actually connect.

Encouraging one another to follow their dreams, their careers move forward. She writes a one-woman show attracting the interest of an influential agent, while he joins a touring rock band, fronted by his old friend Keith (John Legend).

Not surprisingly, long separations take a toll on their romantic relationship as the seasons change.

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12/21/16 11:39 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rock and Roll Honor for Nile Rodgers is ‘Bittersweet’

Westporter Nile Rodgers and his Chic band have been on the annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot 11 of the past 15 years. Today that run likely came to an end—but not in a way that pleased him.

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Nile Rodgers greets fans at the Westport Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts last August.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

The funk band is not one of the inductees for the Class of 2017, announced today. But Rodgers, one of its founding members, is.

The Cleveland-based Rock Hall announced that Rodgers will receive the Award for Musical Excellence (not selected by voters) during a ceremony scheduled for April 7 in Brooklyn, N.Y

Rodgers joins Pearl Jam, Yes, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra and Journey (all voted in) as honorees.

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12/20/16 03:31 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Zsa Zsa Gabor: the Westport Connection

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Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor (l), who died today at 99, was a familiar figure in Westport in the 1950s and ‘60s. Her mother, Jolie (c), had a home at 5 Clifford Lane in Westport’s Old Hill area and Zsa Zsa and her sisters were frequent visitors. With them in this 1966 photo is Zsa Zsa’s sister, Eva, who married third husband plastic surgeon John Williams in her mother’s Westport home. (They were divorced 11 months later. Eva eventually married five times, Zsa Zsa at least eight times.) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) File photo

12/18/16 06:55 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Making Bird Masks

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Families constructed bird masks at a pre-show activity in the Westport Country Playhouse’s Sheffer Room today prior to the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. shows of “A Very Electric Christmas,” part of the Playhouse Family Festivities series. The show is about a young bird lost at the North Pole. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/18/16 12:56 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Gallery: Staples 76th Annual Candlelight Concert


Scenes from tonight’s final performance of the 76th annual Staples High School Candlelight Concert. WestportNow.com photos

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Post Performance Thanks

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Adele Cutrali-Valovic, orchestra director at Staples High School, turns to thank Luke Rosenberg, choral director, at the conclusion tonight of the final performance of the 76th annual Staples High School Candlelight Concert. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

12/17/16 10:23 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Continuing a Tradition

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By tradition, Staples music alumni tonight join in singing of “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “The Messiah” as the closing number of the last performance of the 76th annual Staples High School Candlelight Concert. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

12/17/16 10:20 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Staples 76th Annual Candlelight Concert

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Tonight’s performance of the Staples High School Candlelight Concert closed out the 76th year of the popular event. It began with a candlelight procession. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

12/17/16 10:18 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Christmas Concert at Saugatuck Congregational

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“A Chris Coogan Christmas Concert” tonight at the Saugatuck Congregational Church featured jazz pianist and vocalist Chris Coogan with the Chris Coogan Quintet as well as a solo performance by special guest, vocalist Michele Grace.. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) J.C. Martin for WestportNow.com

12/17/16 10:10 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Carols With Your Dinner

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The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce tonight sponsored the Fairfield County Chorale carolers on a tour through Saugatuck area restaurants. The Boathouse was the first stop on the annual event, now in its third year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Library Opening Delayed to Noon

The Westport Library will open at noon today because of the weather.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Farewell to Ken and Linda Smith

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Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe tonight offered congratulations and best wishes to Ken and Linda Smith, longtime Westporters who are moving to New Jersey to be closer to their daughter and family. “Their departure is going to leave a hole in our community,” said Kathie Bennewitz, who worked as a volunteer with the Smiths on various town projects. The reception was held at the Westport Historical Society, one of the nonprofits supported by the Smiths. Linda Gramatky Smith is the daughter of the late Hardie Gramatky, painter, author, and illustrator of “Little Toot” fame. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

12/15/16 08:40 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Westporter’s Indie Film Debuts Dec. 28

An independent film by a Westporter, starring a Westporter, and partially filmed in Westport premieres Wednesday, Dec. 28 in Bridgeport.

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Jason Byrd: Westport photographer.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

“Desolation Angeles/Rise of the BOAS” stars Neal Smith, a Westport resident and the founding drummer in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Alice Cooper. (See trailer here.)

Jayson Byrd, a Westport-based photographer, financed the two-hour black-and-white production and wrote the original screenplay.

It took him three years to complete the film, shooting at more than 30 Connecticut localities, including Westport, according to a news release.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Granger at the Movies: ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ ‘Loving,’ ‘Allied,’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

“Guilt is a tireless horse. Grief ages into sorrow and sorrow is an enduring rider,” wrote Dean Koontz - a quote which perfectly describes the tone of Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea.”

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Even before this story begins, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) has suffered unimaginable tragedy. Now his beloved older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), a Cape Ann fisherman, has died, and Lee has been named guardian of Joe’s teenage son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).

That means surly Lee, who has been working as an apartment janitor/handyman in Quincy, outside Boston, must return to his hometown of Manchester by the Sea, the working class suburb whose tight-knit residents view him as a social pariah.

While Lee wants to do right by his family, he’s reluctant to move back to a place that’s filled with painful memories and the inevitability of running into his foul-mouthed ex-wife (Michelle Williams), who has re-married and is expecting a baby.

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12/13/16 04:02 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Orphenians in Holiday Concert at Rotary

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The Westport Rotary Club today hosted the Staples High School Orphenians for a holiday concert. The annual apperance at holiday time took place at the club’s weekly meeting in Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Feeling the Music

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Luke Rosenberg, director of the Staples High School Orphenians, leads the group in a holiday concert today at the weekly meeting of the Westport Rotary Club. This is the fifth holiday season for Rosenberg, who on leads the Orphenians in the annual candlelight concert on Friday and Saturday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Gallery: Orphenians at Rotary Club


Scenes from today’s StaplesHigh School Orphenians annual holiday concert at the weekly meeting of the Westport Rotary Club. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com and WestportNow.com photos

12/13/16 02:15 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, December 12, 2016

Green Room Celebrating

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Anne Keefe (r), Westport Country Playhouse script-in-hand reading curator, celebrates in the Green Room tonight with actors Maria Tucci (l) and Zoe Winters following their reading of “Collected Stories.”  Keefe announced the next three dates of the highly successful script-in-hand series - Feb. 6, March 13, and April 24. She said the titles will be announced later. All tickets are $20 and are available at the box office or online.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/12/16 10:26 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Rehearsing for Tonight’s Playhouse Reading

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Actors and staff members paused today during a rehearsal for tonight’s Westport Country Playhouse Script In Hand reading of Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama “Collected Stories” by Donald Margulies. The production is about a conflict between an established artist and her adulatory fan who becomes a protege, disciple, colleague, and friend. The reading is directed by Anne Keefe, Playhouse associate artist and curator of the play reading series. There are still a few tickets available, according to a Playhouse spokesperson. It starts at 7 p.m. Pictured: (standing, l-r) Anne Keefe, director and script-in-hand curator, Martha Stout, stage directions and Ed Herman, stage manager with actors (seated)  Zoe Winters (l) and Maria Tucci. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holiday Sounds at the Library

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The Westport Library today presented before a packed McManus Room audience the Pizzazz Strings Ensemble playing holiday selections that included Baroque master Vivaldi, Strauss, waltzes and Jazz and pop Christmas and Hanukkah favorites. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com

12/11/16 05:27 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Honoring Our Heritage: 213 Greens Farms Road

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The owners of the house at 213 Greens Farms Road, opposite Nyala Farms, are the newest recipients of a Westport Historical Society (WHS) historical plaque. Bob Weingarten, WHS plaque historian, presented the plaque to Jennifer and Gary Zimmerman who have occupied the house since 2000 and are Westport residents since 1996. According to Weingarten, the house dating to the eighteenth century and now known as the Ripley House, c. 1780, was built by Hezekiah Ripley, third minister of the Greens Farms Cogregational Church, serving for 54 years. He also served as chaplain in General Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/11/16 12:05 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Honoring Our Heritage: 33 Meeker Road

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The owner of the house at 33 Meeker Road, off Sturges Highway, is the newest recipient of a Westport Historical Society (WHS) historical plaque. Bob Weingarten, WHS plaque historian, presented the plaque to Scott Rochlin, who redeveloped the circa 1800 house, known as the Meeker House. In October, the Historic District Commission also honored Rochlin with a preservation award, citing him “for his rehabilitation efforts and special permit application as an alternative to its demolition.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

12/10/16 09:01 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Pogue’s Saving Money Tip: Book Hotels by Phone

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Westporter David Pogue, author and tech expert, returned to the Westport Library today to talk about his latest book, “Pogue’s Basics:  Money; Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) About Beating the System.” One of his tips: book hotels by phone for the cheapest rates. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

12/10/16 04:48 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Autographed Copies for Fans

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Westport author and tech guru David Pogue autographs his latest book today for fans at the Westport Library.  “Pogue’s Basics: Money: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) About Beating the System ” was published Nov. 22. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner WestportNow.com

12/10/16 04:43 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

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