Sunday, January 15, 2017
Scenes from today’s 11th annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration at the Westport Country Playhouse. Dave Matlow and J.C. Martin for WestportNow.com
Saturday, January 14, 2017
It was a full house at the Westport Library today as Mark Schenker, dean of academic affairs in Yale College, addressed the theme of homecoming in “Bettyville,” the 2017 WestportREADS selection by George Hodgman. The book tackles questions about the author’s identity as a gay man, as a writer and as a son as he travels home to care for his irascible mother. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
Hope Ventricelli of the Westport Young Woman’s League (WYWL) today read a book in the popular “Biscuit” series to children at the Westport Library. It was the launch of a page-to-stage initiative by the Westport Country Playhouse, the library, and WYWL of a new, free-of-charge program, “Story Explorers,” which is intended to promote childhood literacy while also enhancing children’s experiences of attending the Playhouse’s Family Festivities shows. A musical production of “Biscuit” will be staged at the Playhouse on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 1 and 4 p.m., which is recommended for ages 4 to 8. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
Thursday, January 12, 2017
A large crowd tonight attended a Pop Up art show at the Westport Arts Center featuring works by members of the Westport Artists Collective. Some of the artists will appear Friday at a 10 a.m. talk at the Center. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Xenia Gross for WestportNow.com
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
By Susan GrangerSpecial to WestportNow
Chronicling the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and its intense aftermath, “Patriots Day” is a heavy-handed, by-the-numbers action-thriller about a community responding to an act of terror.
Assigned to duty on the finish line, feisty Police Sgt. Jimmy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) has a sore knee so he phones his wife (Michelle Monaghan) to bring him his knee brace.
Meanwhile, two Muslim rebels, Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) Tsarnaev, are calmly making nail-filled bombs and loading them into their backpacks.
When the explosions occur, there’s graphic carnage and predictable pandemonium, as first responders rush to help, inadvertently separating families by dispatching victims to different hospitals.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
By James Lomuscio
The Representative Town Meeting (RTM) tonight unanimously approved a $5 million request from the Westport Library to help transform it into a state-of-the art information and community center.
The town appropriation puts the Library three-quarters of the way toward its planned $19.5 million project scheduled to begin Aug.1.
Russel Baris, who serves on the library’s board of trustees, said fundraising efforts have already netted a $1 million state grant and more than $9 million in private contributions, with $4.3 million still to be raised.
Baris stressed that the town’s contribution boosts final fundraising efforts.
Members of the Westport Artists Collective today installed works of 15 artists who will be showcased in a Pop Up show at the Westport Arts Center on Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., which is free and open to the public. An artist talk will be held Friday at 10 a.m. featuring several of the artists. Pictured (l-r) are Collective members Tammy Winser, Susan Fehlinger, Nina Bentley, and Ira Ginsburg installing Ginsburg’s work. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Leslie LaSala for WestportNow.com
Artistic Director Carol Schweid (l) introduces actors in today’s 15th season debut of the Play With Your Food noontime play reading series at Westport’s Toquet Hall. The Westport productions continue Wednesday and Thursday with productions in Fairfield on Jan. 17 and Greenwich on Jan. 25. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
Monday, January 09, 2017
UPDATE Neat Coffee and Craft Cocktails in the one-time Vigilante firehouse at 6 Wilton Road has closed after little more than two years, according to a sign (inset) today on the entrance door. Owner Rachel Haughey said in an email: “We had wonderful regulars and are grateful to have served them (along with many others!) for the past two years. We’re sorry that we are no longer there for them and that it happened so suddenly, but the numbers just weren’t there. It was a labor of love, and we will miss all of the faces, smiles, conversations, and friendships that came from it. We look forward to continuing those relationships at our founding location in Darien.” Neat opened in Westport in September 2014 and closed for a week last July for renovations. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Actor James Naughton of Weston today entertained an enthusiastic group of Y’s Women at Temple Israel with stories of his career, beginning with his decision as an undergraduate at Brown University to give up soccer and baseball to pursue acting. Naughton, 71, a two-time Tony Award winner, spoke about the current activities of his extended family, all in show business, including daughter-in-law, Kelli O’Hara, also a Tony Award winner. Naughton, who lost his wife, Pamela, almost four years ago to pancreatic cancer, said he would be hosting a fundraiser in May at the Westport Country Playhouse to benefit pancreatic cancer research. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Sue Kane for WestportNow.com
The Westport chapter of Hadassah will host a “fun-raiser” on Thursday, Jan. 19 at Temple Israel featuring the Harvard Din & Tonics, Harvard’s signature all-male jazz a cappella singing group.
Doors open at 7 p.m. with the group, composed entirely of Harvard undergraduates, performing at 7:45 p.m.
The event benefits the pediatric ward of Hadassah Medical Organization, which has been and continues to be a leader in medical research and saving lives, an announcement said. Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is an American Jewish volunteer women’s organization.
Tickets are $54 per person or $90 per person for reserved seating. Payment can be made by credit card at http://www.hadassah.org/events/2017dintonic or send a check payable to Westport Chapter of Hadassah to Amanda Parker at 8 Partrick Lane, Westport, CT 06880.
Sunday, January 08, 2017
Justin Paul (c), a 2003 Staples High School graduate, was among winners tonight of the Golden Globes best original song award for “City of Stars” in the film “La La Land.” He accepted the award with composer Justin Hurwitz (l) and fellow lyricist Benj Pasek. “City of Stars” is the Ryan Gosling — Emma Stone duet that anchors the film’s emotional narrative, “La La Land” also won the Globe for Best Original Score as well as five other awards, including best-actor awards for Gosling and Stone and best musical or comedy. Its total of seven awards was a record breaker for the event. No film has won more than four Globes since 1979, when the crime drama “Midnight Express” received six. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo from NBC-TV
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
By Susan GrangerSpecial to WestportNow
Searching through history often reveals untold stories that are gems: “Hidden Figures” is one of them.
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.
Monday, January 02, 2017
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.
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.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
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
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
By Susan GrangerSpecial to WestportNow
Susan Granger’s Top 10 List for 2016:
MOVIES: (in alphabetical order):
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Hell Or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Manchester By The Sea”
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”
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”
Monday, December 26, 2016
WestportREADS, organized annually by the Westport Library since 2001, has chosen “Bettyville” by George Hodgman as its 2017 selection.
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.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
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.
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.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
By Susan GrangerSpecial 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.
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.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
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.
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.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
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
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
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Scenes from tonight’s final performance of the 76th annual Staples High School Candlelight Concert. WestportNow.com photos
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
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
“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
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
The Westport Library will open at noon today because of the weather.