Thursday, January 28, 2016

Notes from Annie's Garden: Scotland Road

By Annie Keefe
Associate Artist

I like playwright Jeffrey Hatcher. I like the interesting topics he chooses to write about. He likes a good thriller as much as I do. He’s looked at art theft and the Nazis in A PICASSO, hauntings in THE TURN OF THE SCREW, (what’s not to like about possessed children?) and MURDER BY POE (‘nuff said). So while trolling the play catalogs a couple of years ago I saw the title SCOTLAND ROAD. It meant nothing to me as a title or a place so I read the description and was hooked. I chased down the script and settled in to read. The goosebumps begin with the stage directions on page 1. Be sure to listen to them on February 8th to see what I mean.

I thought I knew a lot about the Titanic. I’d seen the films A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, and the most recent TITANIC. I’ve seen THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN and the musical TITANIC. SCOTLAND ROAD is a very different story. A young girl named Winifred is found floating on an iceberg in the middle of the North Atlantic. She says only one word: Titanic. A mysterious man named John has only one goal – to prove she is a fake. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues in a white room on the coast of Maine, a game with formidable opponents. Enter Miss Kittle, the last survivor of the disaster, brought in to test this young woman. The tables turn when Winifred recalls an earlier confrontation with Miss Kittle, one that took place on board the fated liner the night it sank, three quarters of a century before. By the play’s end, one of the characters is dead, all the character’s identities have been questioned, and a shared secret is revealed.

SCOTLAND ROAD is part thriller, part science fiction, part ghost story and all good theater! And what a cast has come onboard! Beth FowlerDaniel Gerroll, Patricia Kalember, and Liv Rooth will make up the ‘crew’ of SCOTLAND ROAD. We’ll want all hands on deck so won’t you join us on Monday, February 8th at 7 PM?

Playwrights, Composers & Creatives Gather for New Works Initiative

Over our 85-year history, 43 new plays and musicals have made their premiere at the Playhouse, most recently last season's A.R. Gurney comedy, "Love and Money," co-produced with New York's Signature Theatre.

The Playhouse is building upon this rich history with the launch of the New Works Initiative, which will provide support for new pieces in development for the stage.”

“Brand new plays and musicals by both new and veteran playwrights and composers will be given a chance to grow,” said Artistic Director Mark Lamos. “Our goal is to nurture and nourish new writing and seek exciting projects for our five-play seasons, as well.”

Over the course of the next month, playwrights, actors and other creatives will gather at the Playhouse for workshops and other developmental opportunities for two new pieces: “Out of the Mouths of Babes” by Israel Horovitz, in partnership with New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre, and “The Rivals,” with book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg, music by Peter Weiner, based on the 1775 play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

This new program is funded by the Playhouse’s New Works Circle. Founding members are Howard J. Aibel, Ania Czekaj-Farber, Sandra and Neil DeFeo, Kate and Bob Devlin, Michele and Marc Flaster, Susan Jacobson and David Moskovitz, Judy and Scott Phares, Barbara and John Samuelson, Barbara and John Streicker, and Johnna G. Torsone and John McKeon.

“Due to the passionate generosity of our New Works Circle members, we will now be able to continue at an even higher level the Playhouse's long history of supporting the development of new work,” said Lamos.

View the Playhouse's script submission policy -->

Learn How the Family Festivities Series Supports Childhood Development

By Charlie Nork
Individual Giving Manager

The Playhouse’s “offseason” (a relative term!) means it’s time for Family Festivities. Our winter children’s theater initiative runs until April, and if you have young ones in your life, you don’t want to miss out! But did you know that Family Festivities is about so much more than providing entertainment for future theater-goers?

Geared toward promoting children’s literacy, leadership, and problem solving skills, the Playhouse’s youth initiatives provide opportunities for kids to learn and grow through play and exposure to the arts. Designed for families with children between the ages of 3 and 13, Family Festivities offer a series of musicals based on popular children’s literature. We present works by the country’s top companies producing theater for young audiences, ensuring local children and families see the best touring productions around.

Attending quality live theater can have a lasting impact on children. It can, of course, create and sustain a life-long appreciation for the arts. It can inspire community awareness and service. Theater also helps close academic achievement gaps by improving reading and language development skills. Our Family Festivities are designed to promote literacy beyond just attending a play, which is why you can purchase children’s books related to the show at the Playhouse, and also donate a gently used book of your own for a child in need, thanks to long partnerships with Barnes and Noble and Read to Grow.

Donations help support children’s programming at the theater by keeping ticket prices accessible for everyone, and even providing free tickets to families who otherwise couldn’t attend. Series Sponsor and Playhouse Trustee Darlene Krenz has been a sponsor of Family Festivities for a long time: “We have been Playhouse subscribers since we moved to Westport 40 years ago. At that time, programs for children were held on Fridays in the summer. My young children thoroughly enjoyed them. Today, in many families, both parents work. Scheduling our children’s series on Sunday gives families an opportunity to attend together. Today, I bring my grandchildren to the plays. It gives them an opportunity to see live theatre – quite different from their phones and iPads. I support this program because I believe all families should have access to quality entertainment that isn’t just on a screen.”

Since school-based arts funding has been significantly reduced in recent years, arts education programs such as Family Festivities are more critical than ever for our young people. Click here if you’d like to support this important work, too.

Chicken Dance's Elvis Poultry Struts Around Westport

By Don Rebar
Community Engagement & Digital Content Manager

Elvis Poultry, the king of 'bawk & roll', has been roosting at cool places around town leading up to Sunday's performances of CHICKEN DANCE! Find out where this bird has flocked to by viewing the gallery below, or by following #WheresElvisPoultry on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Enjoying a tasty shake at Shake Shack Westport! #shakerattleandroll

Meeting some new friends at Westport Barnes and Noble.

Why did the chickens cross the (Post) Road?

Taking a stroll along the Saugatuck.

Finding birds of a feather on Wakeman Town Farm!

Enjoying a CRUNCHY ELVIS parfait at the Granola Bar.

Verifying the facts at Stew Leonard's.

Working up a sweat at Joyride Westport.

Red carpet arrival at the Playhouse!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Community Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Playhouse

Photos by David Vita
Director of Social Justice/Director of Membership
The Unitarian Church in Westport

Hundreds gathered at the Playhouse on Sunday, January 17th for the 10th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, organized in partnership with TEAM Westport, the Interfaith Council of Westport and Weston, and the Playhouse.

This inspirational event was highlighted by a stirring keynote address by Dr. Marilyn Ward Ford, a Quinnipiac University Law professor and the secretary of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization founded by Dr. King in 1957. As part of Dr. Ford's presentation, students from Regional Center for the Arts in Trumbull delivered a theatrical reading of Dr. King's landmark "I Have a Dream" speech.

Choral renditions of civil rights anthems were performed throughout the afternoon by the Staples High School Orphenians and the Serendipity Chorale  The presentation ended in song as the Serendipity Chorale performed Pete Seeger's arrangement of "We Shall Overcome," as the audience and participants locked arms in solidarity.

Dr. Marilyn Ward Ford delivers a stirring keynote speech on the history of race relations and the Civil Rights movement, as well as her assessment on America's present state of inequality.

Luke Rosenberg directs the Staples High School Orphenians in renditions of Down in the Valley to Pray and Shenandoah.

Clayton Farris, Kiara Rosario, Devon Slattery and Sarah Williams - all students at Regional Center for the Arts in Trumbull - take a bow after delivering a theatrical version of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Gigi Van Dyke of the Serendipty Chorale leads the award-winning multi-cultural musical group in song.

The Serendipity Chorale perform Steal Away, Total Praise and We Shall Overcome.

Monday, December 21, 2015

What does the Playhouse mean to you?

By Don Rebar
Community Engagement & Digital Content Manager

Since #GivingTuesday (Dec. 1), WCP supporters have continued to share what the Playhouse means to them. What did they have to say? See below!

What makes the Playhouse special to you? Tell us in the comments!

MLK Commemoration to be held at Playhouse

By Don Rebar
Community Engagement & Digital Content Manager

The Playhouse has teamed up with the Interfaith Council of Westport and Weston and TEAM Westport to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King on Sunday, January 17 at 3pm.

Rev. Ed Horne of United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston, chair of the Celebration’s organizing committee, said, “In light of recent race-related incidents on city streets and college campuses, this year’s program will lift up not only the legacy of Dr. King but also help us envision ways we might move forward to fulfill his dream of a more just and inclusive society.”

Dr. Marilyn Ford, the Neil Cogan Public Service Professor of Law at Quinnipiac University, will be the commemoration's keynote speaker. Dr. Ford’s teaching and research has delved into issues of civil rights, as well as Native American law and land claim issues.

Dr. Ford will be joined onstage by students from Regional Center for the Arts in Trumbull, who will read excerpts from Dr. King’s writings and speeches. The program also includes choral music from the Staples High School Orphenians and the Serendipity Chorale.

The 2016 MLK Commemoration is free & open to the public - no reservations required. A light reception will be held after the program. Childcare is available.

For the latest updates & information, visit Facebook.

Generations explore together at Family Festivities Pre-Show Workshops

By Don Rebar
Community Engagement & Digital Content Manager

Family Festivities workshop participants
discuss the topic of family.
The Playhouse’s Family Festivities series is intended to give young audiences and their families a great theatrical experience, and a series of pre-show workshops provide children, parents, family and friends with a unique opportunity to spend quality time with one another through creative play.

Professional arts educators Mina Hartong and Jennifer Katona are at the helm of these workshops, free and open to Family Festivities attendees. Together, Mina and Jennifer select fun activities that build on the thrill of live performance by exploring each play’s themes in a fun way.

“The last workshop we held was for the Berenstain Bears,” Jennifer recalled. “The theme of the show was family and so the workshop was designed around things they like to do together. Some families shared out images of celebrating holidays, birthdays, trips to the zoo.”

List of favorite family activities from
the Berenstain Bears' workshop.
A lecturer in the City College of New York’s School of Education, Jennifer has been a theater educator for almost 25 years and enjoys introducing young people and their families to the theater – many for the first time.

“It’s exciting to provide an opportunity for families to play together in a new way,” said Jennifer, herself a mother of two.

For Mina, a theater educator at Regional Center for the Arts, a performing arts magnet high school located in Trumbull, these workshops hit closely to her “heart and mind,” and provide a unique chance for young people to discover the arts at an early age.

“I have met some families at our events who are at the Playhouse for the first time,” Mina said. “I also meet a lot or parents who want more theater activities and classes in theater for young children. So we fill that void.”

Mina Hartong leads
a jumping activity.
As the 2015/2016 Family Festivities series continues, Jennifer and Mina will continue to create and lead family workshops for Chicken Dance, Charlotte’s Web, Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey and Are You My Mother?, while sharing their passion for creative exploration.

“I have been a theater person all my life,” added  Mina, a Fairfield County native. “I always enjoy seeing children arrive with their families excited about seeing live theater. A lot of them dress up and come with their grandparents and they are just pumped to see a live show. I love that.”

“Watching families create theater together and role play is a wonderful gift,” Jennifer added.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Still searching for that perfect Holiday gift?

By Don Rebar
Community Engagement & Digital Content Manager

Still searching for that perfect Holiday present? Playhouse tickets are a great way to share a fun & memorable experience with a loved one of any age.

WCP Mug & Gift Certificate
Playhouse Gift Certificates are available in any denomination & can be used for any Playhouse-presented event, including the Family Festivities Series, Script in Hand Playreadings or any mainstage production.

You can also share our ambitious & exciting 2016 Season with friends & family by giving a 2016 Season Subscription or a 2016 Season Flex Pass. Subscriptions & Flex Passes are a great way to see world-class, homegrown theater for a fraction of the cost of seeing theater in New York - right in your own backyard.

When you give a 2016 Subscription, set of 2016 Flex Passes, or Gift Certificate of $50 or more, your order can come pre-wrapped in a free WCP Mug - all set and ready to go.

Family Festivities Gift Certificates also make a great stocking stuffer for parents & little ones. You can redeem these special certificates for any 2015/2016 Family Festivities show, like Chicken Dance, Charlotte's Web, Moon Mouse and Are You My Mother?, and add a companion book from one of the shows to make it a gift set.

To order your Playhouse gift, visit

* All mugs & companion books must be picked up in-person, at the Box Office. Offer valid through December 24, 2015 at 2pm.

Newman's Own Foundation to Match Year-End Gifts

By Don Rebar
Community Engagment & Digital Content Manager

When you make a year-end gift to the Playhouse this Holiday season, your generosity will be DOUBLED thanks to Newman's Own Foundation.

Through Thursday, December 31, 2015, any tax-deductible donation made to Westport Country Playhouse will be matched dollar-for-dollar, allowing the Playhouse to continue its role as a vibrant cultural resource.

“Westport Country Playhouse plays a valuable role in the cultural life of the region,” said Robert Forrester, president and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation. “We are pleased to award this grant and hope that our challenge inspires others in the community to likewise support the Playhouse.”

The Playhouse and Newman’s Own Foundation share a common connection in Paul Newman. Newman’s Own Foundation is the independent foundation created by Newman to continue his philanthropic legacy. Together, Paul Newman and his wife, former Playhouse artistic director Joanne Woodward, were instrumental in creating the Playhouse as it exists today.

If you would like to make a year-end gift and have your dollars doubled by Newman's Own Foundation, please visit the link below.

Meet Playhouse supporter Stephen Corman

By Charlie Nork
Individual Giving Manager

Stephen Corman (right) with Associate Artist Annie Keefe
at the 2015 Something Wonderful! gala.
When Stephen Corman retired after nearly 30 years at IBM, he started a second career – this time as a volunteer and philanthropist.  He has served as a Legislative Ambassador for the American Cancer Society, receiving its Courage Award, and runs the Prostate Cancer Education Forum at Greenwich Hospital, where he is also an oncology volunteer.  He took time from his busy schedule to explain why the arts – and Westport Country Playhouse – are quickly becoming just as important to him.

How did you first become involved with Westport Country Playhouse?
After attending the Playhouse for a number of years, we decided to help keep such great local theater stay afloat by not only attending, but by helping to sponsor its continuance.

2015 Woodward Internship class.
You've been a great supporter this year, including making a contribution to sponsor a Woodward Internship position next season. Why did you chose to support the Intern program?

I have made great friends at the Playhouse over the past year, and was introduced to a number of wonderful young people who were interning for the summer. But, even more so, I learned that a number of the people on the current staff were interns in the past. Since they are doing such a good job, I wanted to give more young people the same opportunity. Who knows? It may be the beginning of a long career for some of them. I decided to specifically fund the Development intern because it is a gift that can also give back. My intent is not only a financial commitment, but I also plan to take a hands-on role in helping develop this person.

You attended the Something Wonderful! gala this year, and purchased an item at the auction. How was your experience at the gala, and what item did you win?

The gala was fun. The glitz was fun. The performance was top notch and as good or better than a Hollywood Academy Award ceremony. I bid on an absolutely gorgeous kinetic sculpture. It was lit up on the lawn and swaying beautifully in the slightest breeze. It looked so good there that even after I won it, I decided to let it stay at the Playhouse through the duration of the season for others to enjoy. It now sits on my lawn and is different every time I look at it and changes constantly as the breezes blow.

Nationally recognized artist Drew Klotz,
with kinetic sculpture, "Red Moons,"
which Stephen won at the 2015 gala auction.
You've also pledged to make a legacy gift through your estate. Can you please talk about the gift you decided to make, and why you wanted to join the Langner Society?

I visited my sculpture four times while it was on the Playhouse lawn. Talking to the staff, I learned that many stated that they were going to miss it when I took it home. It looked so good there that I decided to change my will to bring it back to the Playhouse after I am gone. I am also making plans to continue supporting the Playhouse long after I am gone - in perpetuity, if possible.

Why do you give to the Playhouse?

I was reminded of the "family" nature of my relationship with the Playhouse by the many, many staff members who greeted me with a warm hug and words of affection recently at the Script in Hand reading of The Last Night of Ballyhoo. I have become more involved than just being a subscriber or even a donor. They say charity begins at home. What can be better than supporting members of your family?

Meet Lee & Sue Vincent, new WCP supporters

By Charlie Nork
Individual Giving Manager

Lee & Sue Vincent of Mystic, CT
Lee Vincent and his wife Sue, of Mystic, CT, are new donors to Westport Country Playhouse. Life-long theatergoers, they are quickly becoming big fans of the work onstage. Lee took a few minutes recently to talk about why he and Sue decided to become Playhouse supporters.

This is your first season as a Playhouse patron. What brought you to us this year?
How did we miss out on enjoying the Playhouse for our first 20+ years living in Connecticut?  Well, it’s a long way off from our home in Mystic. I saw the directional sign for WCP on I-95, and years before Google Maps I went looking to find it in the actual country -- like north of the Merritt Parkway. I think I tried to find the Playhouse again in 2005, the year it was being rebuilt, so I thought it had gone defunct. After driving quickly past your semi-hidden driveway dozens of times, one day last spring I found the Playhouse and had a look. I immediately ordered tickets for the next performance and added a gift. It was timely for us that Positano reopened, and the delightful Little Barn opened just a year ago. 

Stephen Schnetzer & Felicity Jones
in Broken Glass. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
As you mentioned, it's quite a trip from Mystic to Westport. What is it that keeps you coming back to the Playhouse?
Everything. The Playhouse is not just a place that good theater comes to, or through, from somewhere else. It’s where good theater is created, like the totally innovative staging for Broken Glass. Being invited to Tech Talk and rehearsals “hooked” us, and we learned a lot more about theater in a hurry. A Script-in-Hand evening like The Last Night of Ballyhoo is something we’ll surely do again during the winter. The price is great, and with a performance like that, who needs sets? We thought that the Playhouse would be a place where newcomers would probably not be noticed. But the warm and personal welcomes we have received from the staff and the helpful box office crew have been wonderful.

You mentioned Tech Talk, our series that gives donors a sneak peek at tech rehearsal before each show opens. You and Susan were able to attend a few events this summer. Did they help you appreciate or understand the production more?

Besides the Tech Talk itself, watching part of rehearsal for the play that we were soon to attend helped me not to miss some fast-paced dialogue when we returned. You are very smart to include new donors, even at a modest level, in the Tech Talk invitations. I have never learned so much about theater in a short time as this summer. I told (Playhouse Associate Producer & Director of Production) David Dreyfoos I was amazed at how many problems such as set completion (with materials never used before or not yet received) went on even past the Sunday before a Tuesday preview performance. So it seems to me that being the Westport Country Playhouse can be like going on a risky, high speed bobsled ride. Yet David told me, “The show has always gone on.”

What other theaters do you and your wife visit in the area?

Being close to Rhode Island, we love and support Granite Theatre in Westerly and Rhode Island College in Providence. We also attend the University of RI, plus Trinity Rep and the Gamm in Pawtucket. Belatedly, like with the Playhouse, we just started to patronize Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. I am on the Board of Music on the Hill in Rhode Island, and my son is Director of Development for Paul Taylor American Modern Dance. 

Scott Drummon, Carson Elrod,
Sarah Manton & Claire Karpen
in Bedroom Farce. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
What was your favorite Playhouse production this year?

Tough question, for sure. Hearing The Liar translated in that acutely contemporary iambic pentameter was one of the treats of a lifetime of theater-going. The Liar is a late renaissance work, but it may have been the freshest play in any theater this year. Also, I came to see Bedroom Farce twice, just to see the “fight scene” again. It was triple-strength comedic perfection.

Would you like to experience Tech Talk, too?  New donors – at any level – receive a complimentary invitation to this special insider-only experience.  Click here to make your gift today.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Playhouse Favorite Jake Robards is “Promising” in Off-Broadway Play

By Samantha Goober
Artistic & Management Coordinator

Jake Robards and Jolie Curtsinger lead a post-show
talkback with New Works Circle Members
Last night, I had the privilege of attending Michelle Elliott’s new play, Promising, at The Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row in NYC, along with Managing Director Michael Ross, Associate Artist Annie Keefe and 6 members of the Playhouse’s New Works Circle and their guests. This play was much more than an opportunity to support a man who, with his family, has supported the Playhouse for years. This was a chance to see a new play up close, both as audience members and from the perspective of a leading actor, who was gracious enough to give us a private talk-back following the show.

The New Works Circle is a fund developed this year by Westport Country Playhouse donors for the purpose of supporting new plays, both at home on the Playhouse stage and in the greater theater community. Our group gathered for a pre-show dinner at the (delicious) West Bank CafĂ©, then headed just across the street to The Beckett Theatre, situated in 42nd Street’s famous Theatre Row building. All were excited going into the production, not just for the opportunity to see a new play, but for the chance to see a familiar and beloved face front and center on the stage. 

Promising, directed by Broadway vet Terry Berliner, tells the story of a ‘promising’ young politician and what an ‘alleged’ scandal does to his career, his image, his relationships, and his life. Undeniably contemporary and unafraid of pushing the envelope, Promising is exactly what a young theater professional (like myself) is looking for in a new play. Jake Robards plays this politician in question, providing a captivating portrayal of a man the audience just can’t seem to figure out. 

Anna Czekaj-Farber, Barbara Streicker, Scott Phares,
Judy Phares, Jake Robards and Howard Aibel after Promising
After the show, Jake and fellow actor/producer Jolie Curtsinger joined us for a talk-back. She spoke about the writing process and what it’s like, both as an actress and a producer, to be involved with a new play. Curtsinger is Co-Artistic Director of the producing theater company for this production, InProximity. She noted that the process of “birthing a new play”, as they’ve done with Promising, is one that has changed her perspective on producing theater. Now that she’s developed a new play, producing new work is what she wants to focus on. 

Jake also offered some interesting insights on working on a new play as an actor. He noted that the collaboration between actor and playwright, as well as that between playwright and director, are so important in the development of a new play. The New Works Circle was thrilled to watch and learn about a new play, and looks forward to more outings like this one in the future. If you’d like more information on the New Works Circle, or would like to become a member, please email Samantha Goober at

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why Give to the Playhouse? Find Out Why from Our Supporters!

By Charlie Nork
Individual Giving Manager

Click on photos to enlarge
What role does theater play in your life? What roles have you played in creating art like you’ve seen on the Playhouse stage? Producing art and programs with the highest artistic quality takes a great deal of support beyond our accessible ticket prices, and that's where our donors have made a real difference.

Everyone who contributes to Westport Country Playhouse has their own personal reasons for doing so. Whether it's supporting the quality shows produced onstage, our wonderful children’s programming, ticket subsidies for college students and families, or the central role WCP plays in the community, Playhouse donors give because they know they’re making that difference. As we approach Giving Tuesday (on December 1st), we want to highlight the amazing people that make theater happen here at the Playhouse: you.

Just like you, these supporters believe that art and community should come first. They’ve donated their time as Playhouse volunteers, and/or their resources as donors, and as this season of (thanks)giving approaches, we’d like to applaud their support. It doesn’t take much to make a difference, and here are three easy ways you can help:

  • Spread the word! Social media plays a huge role on Giving Tuesday via the hashtag #GivingTuesday. Help us spread the word about Westport Country Playhouse by sharing our Facebook posts and tweets on December 1st. The more people we can reach, the better! (And if you haven’t already, please make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Twitter.) 
  • Volunteer! There are many opportunities to participate in the collaborative process of creating theater. If you have time, special interests or special skills, you may want to consider volunteering for the Playhouse.
  • Make a gift! Help support Theater Worth Talking About with a contribution of any amount, this year.

Our donors, patrons, and supporters make us who we are. Thank you for being a part of this community!

Share the Gift of Live Theater This Holiday Season!

By Erin Focone
Marketing Associate

Theater tickets make great gifts, and Westport Country Playhouse gift certificates are the perfect item to give to the theater lovers in your life. Playhouse gift certificates can be used for any Playhouse-presented event including the Family Festivities series and Script in Hand Playreadings, as well as subscriptions or single tickets to our 2016 Season productions!

And with every gift certificate purchased over $50.00 you will receive a complimentary Westport Country Playhouse mug. All wrapped up and ready to go!

To purchase your gift certificate call 203.227.4177 or stop by our Box Office Tuesday – Friday from 12pm – 6pm.

*WCP Mug offer valid for gift certificates of $50.00 or more. Gift certificates packaged with mugs must be picked up in-person, at the Box Office. Offer valid through December 24, 2015 at 3pm.

Meet Kelly Richards, Our New House & Events Manager

By Don Rebar
Community Engagement & Digital Content Manager

Although our 2015 mainstage season is over, the Playhouse is still buzzing with activity as we get ready for many upcoming community and rental events. With that in mind, it's our pleasure to welcome our newest staff member, House & Events Manager Kelly Richards.

If you're planning on attending our upcoming Script-in-Hand Playreadings, Family Festivities shows, or any number of community events in the coming months, chances are that you'll see Kelly ringing our famous cow bell to signal the start of each performance.

We had a few moments to sit down with Kelly and get to know her better. If you see her at an upcoming show or event, please help us welcome her to the Playhouse!

Where were you before starting at the Playhouse? 

I was the Director of Patient Relations at a dental practice in the Prudential Tower in Boston.

What interested you about working at the Playhouse?

I have always been involved in theater, was a theater major in college and did some work in LA for a few years. Was looking to leave dentistry (which was never a dream!!) and get back to doing something I cared about!

What is your favorite thing about working at the Playhouse so far?

Being in the off-season I have seen a lot of community involvement with the Family Festivities series and rentals we have had here. It’s nice to see such a great relationship between our community and the Playhouse.

What are you most looking forward to at the Playhouse? What are your goals for the coming year?

I am looking forward to the new season and really getting to be able to be in the house with the patrons and have the feeling of theater again!!!

If you could rename your position based on your first few weeks, what would you call it?

Honestly, the events I have managed so far have basically run themselves….so I would say Events Onlooker :-)

Family Festivities Kick-Off Party Recap

By Don Rebar
Community Engagement & Digital Content Manager

Hundreds of children, parents and families visited the Playhouse to enjoy family-friendly games, activities, music, food and more at our annual Family Festivities Kick-Off Party.

Held on the Playhouse grounds on Sunday, November 8, this interactive afternoon celebrated the beginning of our 2015/2016 Family Festivities series, which includes  productions of Fancy Nancy's Splendiferous Christmas, Chicken Dance, Charlotte's Web, Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey, and Are You My Mother?

Playhouse staff assisted young audiences and other visitors in a number of creative activities. Children saw themselves transform into a number of fantastic characters by playing dress-up with costume pieces on the Playhouse stage. In the lobby, young attendees could color their own puppets and create their own stories inside the Playhouse puppet theater.

Students from the Suzuki Music School of Westport displayed their talents with amazing renditions of modern classics, such as Pharrell Williams' "Happy" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin,'" mixed in with more traditional selections from the classical canon. Later in the day, Westport's own music duo Jay and Ray shared songs from their "Music for Everyone" collection and got kids and adults singing and dancing with a fun, interactive concert.

Guests enjoyed activities from several community partners, including complimentary chips and queso from Qdoba Mexican Eats, as well as and face painting by Animate My Face. Children could also explore a fire truck and learn fire prevention and safety from the Westport Fire Department.

See more pictures of the fun!

The Suzuki Music School of Westport's Teen Ensemble

Young students & teens from the Suzuki Music School of Westport

Having fun with the Westport fire truck

Smiles all around from Qdoba, one of our community partners

Jay & Ray play 'Music for Everyone'

Coloring a puppet

Getting colorful with Animate My Face

Photos by Kat Gloor & Peter Chenot

Notes from Annie's Garden: THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO

By Annie Keefe
Associate Artist

The Last Night of Ballyhoo (1999)
With Carolyn Michel, Bradford Wallace,Stacy Barnhisel. 
Photo by Pam Nelligan
BALLYHOO?  What’s a ballyhoo?

There are a lot of reasons why THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO jumped out at me when I was looking for Script in Hand titles, not the least of which was the importance of its playwright.  Alfred Urhy wrote the often produced DRIVING MISS DAISYTHE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO is the play that followed his success with DAISY, and further explores some of his southern Jewish roots. It centers around the most important cultural event of the year: The southern Jewish cotillion called Ballyhoo.  It won the Tony for Best Play in 1996.

I had a vague memory of seeing it at the Playhouse in 1999.  What I remembered most was sitting in the theater in July or August and seeing a Christmas tree onstage.  As a former Properties Mistress – the person responsible for collecting all the things on the set, from candlesticks and ashtrays,  to – say Christmas trees – my first thought was “Wow, must have been hard to find all that Christmas stuff in the summer.”  I connected that Christmas tree with the title, and since I was looking for something for a December slot, it seemed like something worth rereading.  Then on the first page, when I remembered that the family in the play decorating said tree was Jewish, I kept reading, only to rediscover this deliciously funny and touching story.

Next I remembered that the play starts on the night that GONE WITH THE WIND premiered in Atlanta, Georgia.  Joanne Woodward tells a very funny story about being taken to the film’s premiere and seeing the stars in their limos when she was a child in Atlanta.  I feel like she might have tried to jump into a car with the stars – but let me get back to you on that detail!

The story of this southern Jewish community and their conflicting desires to ‘fit in’ is as touching as it is humorous.  As I kept reading it just seemed to be a really good holiday story for the Script in Hand audience.  I realized I really liked and empathized with all these people and began to think of our wonderful stable of actors and just who might be perfect at bringing them to life. 

So - as the holidays approach with all the frenzy of shopping and eating and travelling and gift giving, I hope you will consider giving yourself the gift of an evening in the theater with the folks in THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO.  Consider sharing that gift with a friend or family member and double the fun.  The shopping, mailing, travelling and celebrating will all be there the day after December 14th!  You might walk away with a little more holiday spirit!