Friday, April 1, 2016

Will you be their mother? (or father, sister, brother!)

By Pat Blaufuss
Public Relations Manager


Westport Country Playhouse has partnered with Westport Animal Shelter Advocates (WASA) and the Pet Animal Welfare Society of CT (PAWS) around the Family Festivities show, “Are You My Mother?,” based on the popular book about a baby bird searching for its mother.

The pet adoption organizations will bring some of their dogs for possible placement with families, on Sunday, April 10, from 2 to 3:45 p.m., in the Lucille Lortel White Barn Center on the Playhouse campus. There will be a chance to meet dogs currently available for adoption with applications on hand to start the adoption process.

“The hope is to bring awareness of the pet adoption organizations to our audiences in between the performances of ‘Are You My Mother?’ and to get a few pups placed with new families,” said Peter Chenot, Playhouse director of marketing. “I have a family of rescued cats and a dog so this is near to my heart.”

Peter Chenot's trusty pal Rhody.
who found a loving home through animal adoption.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

#ArtIsEverywhere Special Event series

By Elizabeth Marks Juvilier
Director of Community Engagement & Special Events

Look around, what do you see? During the Playhouse’s presentation of Art/Red in rep, we invite you to explore the relationship between art and the world around you. Where do you see art? How can you create art? What is art?

Here are just a few of the fun receptions, in-depth discussions & hands-on activities that celebrate art: making it, owning it, creating it, believing in it. Hope you will join us!

“What do you see”
Bring out your inner artist at our 2016 Season Kick-Off Block Party on Saturday, April 9th 4-7:00pm. Inspired by the paintings of Georges Seurat, all you have to do is paint a small dab of color on our canvas. So, join up with other Block Party guests to create an amazing piece of art that will be displayed in the Playhouse lobby during the run of Art/Red in repertory. We'll supply the paint, you supply the points - no experience necessary!

Westport Art Scavenger Hunt
In keeping with the theme of our season opening productions of Art/Red in repertory, win fun prizes by finding local art pieces in everyday places during our #ArtIsEverywhere scavenger hunt!

Discussion series with Fiona Garland, Westport Art Historian

May 4 & 18: post-show ART discussion: Is Antrios a real artist or is he based on someone else? What are these all white paintings about? What constitutes art anyway? After you have seen the play Art, join us to learn more & have your questions answered!

May 11 & 25: pre-show RED discussion: In the play Red, Mark Rothko and his assistant examine what it means to create great art, who influences artists, which great masters does one build upon and which ones does one tear down. Join us for a pre-show discussion that will give context to Red, while exploring some of the great works and artistic movements mentioned throughout the play.

... and more to come!

Playhouse staff visit local elementary & middle schools

Wolf Pit Elementary School students perform original takes on Charlotte's Web

By Don Rebar

Associate Director of Marketing

Teaching artist Jennifer Katona
leads students in discussion.
Nearly fifty students from Norwalk's Wolf Pit Elementary School wrote, staged and acted in their own versions of E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, as the culmination of an in-school theater workshop led by Playhouse teaching artists Mina Hartong & Jennifer Katona.

After reading and discussing the full book in the classroom, fifth grade students in Mrs. McAuley's and Mrs. Panagiotidis' classrooms explored the art of theater through basic theater exercises in improvisation, cooperation, playwriting and acting skills. They then wrote plays which reflected their original takes on the story, and began rehearsing their versions of Wilbur, Charlotte, Fern and the rest of Mr. Zuckerman's farm.

Wolf Pit students take a bow following
their presentations in the Sheffer Studio.
These plays were presented in front of a packed house of parents, families and teachers in the Playhouse's Sheffer Studio in the Lucille Lortel White Barn Center, before the 4pm Family Festivities performance of Charlotte's Web. Following their own productions, students watched professional actors from Theatreworks U.S.A. present their musical adaptation in the Jason Robards Theater.

For many of these fifth grade students, this workshop offered a first taste of the benefits that theater arts activities can offer, such as improved confidence, self-esteem and creative writing skills. We hope to continue working with schools in our community and sharing our love of theater with young students in the days to come.



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Read Across America at Coleytown Elementary School


By Don Rebar

Associate Director of Marketing

On Wednesday, March 2, the Playhouse joined with nearly 45 million Americans to celebrate Read Across America, a nationwide event intended to promote children's literacy.

The Playhouse had the good fortune of teaming up with the amazing students & teachers at Coleytown Elementary School for this nationwide day of reading. As the Playhouse's representative, I had a wonderful time reading P.D. Eastman's beloved Are You My Mother? with kindergarten & 3rd grade classes at the Westport school.

When I arrived at the school, I was warmly greeted by school librarian & Read Across America coordinator Maggie Parkhurst, who walked me to Ms. Deering's classroom, where her kindergarteners were sitting in a circle, discussing several Dr. Seuss books that they had previoulsy read. We were shortly joined by Mrs. Hawkins' 3rd grade class, who served as 'big brothers & sisters' for the younger students.

As we traveled through the illustrated pages of P.D. Eastman's classic tale, we had great fun following Baby Bird on his journey to find his mother. Between pages, the students excitedly voiced the sounds that each character made (the baby bird's 'tweet', the kitten's 'meow' and - our absolute favorite - the power shovel's loud 'SNORT'). Afterwards, the students discussed their favorite Are You My Mother? characters and their reactions to the book.

As someone who spends the majority of their time behind the scenes at the Playhouse, it really was a great pleasure to meet & play with these exciting, thoughtful students - all while sharing the virtues of reading. So, a huge thank you once again to Maggie Parkhurst, Ms. Deering, Mrs. Hawkins and the kindergarten & 3rd grade classes at Coleytown Elementary!

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Minds in Motion at Bedford Middle School

By Samantha Goober

Artistic & Management Associate

On Saturday, March 19th I had the pleasure of attending Westport’s Minds in Motion event as a workshop leader. I spent the afternoon at Westport’s Bedford Middle School, playing theater games and having a ton of fun with some local kindergartners and first graders.

I taught two hour-long classes, each with nine energetic students who had a clear eagerness to learn and an excitement about theater. Titled “Theater in Motion”, my classes focused on movement and games, where the kids were able to embrace their inner monkey or kangaroo, learn about stage directions through a special game of “Simon Says”, and even create stories of their own. I’m honestly not sure who had more fun, myself or the kids.

I was also lucky enough to be joined by a special assistant during my second class, Westport 4th grader Jojo Treisman. After hour-long sessions of dancing and moving and acting it out, the kids somehow left class with energy to spare. Attending Minds in Motion was a great experience, and I hope to be able to represent the Playhouse at next year’s event.

Works by Israel Horovitz, Peter Kellogg & Stephen Weiner highlight New Works Initiative

By Charlie Nork, Individual Giving Manager
& Samantha Goober, Artistic & Management Associate

The month of February was a busy one for the Playhouse’s New Works Initiative, which was created to develop new plays and musicals through workshops and reading opportunities.

During the week of February 22nd, the Initiative’s inaugural project, a new play by Israel Horovitz titled Out of the Mouths of Babes, came to the Playhouse's Sheffer Studio in the Lucille Lortel White Barn. Actors Estelle Parsons, Judith Ivey, Francesca Choy-Kee and Angelina Fiordellisi, along with director Barnet Kellman and Mr. Horovitz, spent the first half of the week working on the text and staging a reading to be performed for an audience. On Wednesday, these four very talented ladies performed a reading in an open rehearsal setting in the Sheffer for a group of our New Works Circle members and special guests. After hearing his play read for an audience, Mr. Horovitz went home that night to make some more changes to the script.

The Out of the Mouths of Babes team.
Director Barnet Kellman, playwright Israel Horovitz,
Judith Ivey, Angelina Fiordellisi, Estelle Parsons
& Francesca Choy-Key.
The next day, the group moved into the Jason Robards Theater for a public reading of Babes that night. The play was a hit, with much adoration from the audience, and much appreciation from Mr. Horovitz: “The response to both readings of Babes was so helpful… and gave us all a major shot of confidence with the project.” Out of the Mouths of Babes will be playing a full production at New York’s Cherry Lane Theater this June.

The following Monday, February 29th, another exciting new work made its way to the Playhouse. After spending the prior week rehearsing in New York, director John Rando brought a company of ten talented Broadway actors to the Sheffer Studio for a performance of a new musical adaptation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1776 play The Rivals, with book & lyrics by Peter Kellogg and music by Stephen Weiner. After a brief final rehearsal, about 75 New Works Circle members and invited guests filled the Sheffer studio to experience a lively and hilarious fresh take on the play. After watching the cast’s talent ooze from the studio and hearing the audience’s laughter fill the room, Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Weiner were incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to work on their show, and thanked the New Works Circle for making that possible.

In just two short weeks, the Playhouse was brightened by two new and exciting pieces of theater. We are excited for the projects lying ahead for our New Works Circle & Initiative. If you are interested in becoming a member of our New Works Circle or would like more information on the project, please contact Artistic & Management Associate Samantha Goober at sgoober@westportplayhouse.org or (203) 571–1141.

Notes from Annie's Garden: The Grand Adventure of Repertory Theater

By Anne Keefe
Associate Artist

It’s always fascinating to try something new, even when the concept is really old.

Sitting in the first read thru of ART and RED yesterday and imagining being able to experience both of these beautiful plays in the same week made me think of one my very first jobs in a professional theater.

I was 22, right out of college and working at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey. Situated on the Princeton campus, this enormous theater accommodated in excess of 1000 people. The Artistic Director was Arthur Lithgow, father of John and it was a Rep (Repertory) Company. We did a six show season, mostly classics and they rotated – in Rep. That is to say, one could experience a 10:30am fully mounted production of Macbeth – usually full of bussed in students, and then come back that evening at 8pm to see a fully mounted production of say, Mice and Men. We would sometimes have 3 or 4 productions in rotation, so it was never dull. Traditionally regional theaters do a run of four to five weeks of the same play, much as we do in Westport (though over a shorter period of time).

The traditional Rep Company operates like McCarter used to, a format that is now not nearly as common. I think the main reasons are time and space and probably given the strains on most nonprofits, you would have to include money! Doing Art and Red in rep will mean our terrific technical crew will be not only building two high quality sets in the time they would usually use to build one. Once they are built and the actors join the process, we will be working out the technical kinks prior to opening on two complete shows – each with their own sets, costumes, props, lighting cues and sound cues – rather than one. And then, almost every day, our wonderful technical crew will be switching the sets you see on the stage from a gorgeous modern apartment to a grubby artist’s studio. All this to give our audience the opportunity to experience these two shows – two shows that ‘speak to each other’ in a way, about the business of making and owning art. Mark Lamos has assembled TWO spectacular casts and rehearsals for both have begun today in earnest. So after a long winter, the Playhouse is waking up and gearing up for a grand experiment.

I hope you will take advantage of this ‘grand adventure’ and join us for both Art and Red (Art plays on the even days, Red on the odd). And when you do, imagine how the work of all the theater professionals working at your Playhouse contributed to the process we will all share. See you in the lobby!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

First Rehearsal of Art/Red in Rep

By Peter Chenot
Director of Marketing 

And the 2016 Season has begun! ... well, for us anyway.
 
Today marked the first rehearsal of the first play(s) in our 2016 Season. Excitement filled the room as the casts and designers of Art/Red in Rep met for the first time as a group and got to work on this incredible project. 

Benton Greene, John Skelley, Stephen Rowe,
Sean Dugan, Patrick Andrews, and Mark Lamos.
During the month of May, we will be running Yasmina Reza’s Art and John Logan’s Red in repertory on our Playhouse stage. Art will be performed on the even days and Red will be performed on the odds. Director Mark Lamos has long been intrigued by the idea of how these two plays speak together about art. “Producing these two plays in rep connects and intensifies their multi-layered insights on the mysteries of art. I urge our audience to enrich their experience by seeing both.”


Managing Director Michael Ross and Artistic Director Mark Lamos.
He spoke to the assembled crowd of Playhouse staffers, designers, actors, stage managers and more, about his vision for the two plays. Together they mark the first time since the early days in Playhouse history that we have produced two shows at the same time.
Scenic Designer Allen Moyer.





We were then given a design presentation by scenic designer Allen Moyer. The set model is full to scale and is an important part of the rehearsal process as Mark and the actors begin to stage each show.
The set model of Red.







The sets for Art and Red will live together on the stage and need to be transformed daily during the run of the show. With Moyer's ingenious design  Rothko's studio will also become the set for Art.




Mark Lamos, Allen Moyer, Stephen Rowe, and Candice Donnelly.


Before Mark and the actors settled in for the first read through we were also given a glimpse of the costumes by designer Candice Donnelly.









May 3rd marks the official first performance of our 2016 Season. We can't wait to share these plays with you!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Notes from Annie's Garden: A.R. Gurney's 'The Cocktail Hour' - Then and Now

By Annie Keefe
Associate Artist


The cast of 'The Cocktail Hour,' 1990 at Westport Country Playhouse.
I was so moved when I saw the picture Pat Blaufuss unearthed from the archives showing the cast of THE COCKTAIL HOUR when it had its Playhouse debut in 1990, because it reminded me yet again what a small and wonderfully connected family we share in this business.

From Left to Right – That’s Fritz Weaver, playing Bradley.  I worked with him at Long Wharf right around that time in a production of SONG AT TWILIGHT (A play seen in our 2014 season here at the Playhouse).  His girlfriend at the time came in on extremely short notice to cover for an actress who had to leave the production.  After a week working with her, I went into the dressing room one night and said to Fritz-‘You’re a fool not to marry that woman, she’s terrific’.  He looked at me like I had two heads.  Two months later I received a beautiful bottle of Port with a note saying he and Rochelle had gotten married, and it was all down to me shaking him out of his comfort zone.

He later appeared in 2000 in the early days of Joanne’s and my tenure at the Playhouse in Gurney’s ANCESTRAL VOICES once again with Elizabeth Wilson (third from the left playing Ann).

Liz Wilson died recently at 94.  She was one of the great ladies of the American theater.  She appeared with Joanne and Paul in their first Broadway Play, PICNIC, the show where Paul and Joanne met.  Mike Nichols used her 7 times in various projects.  You might remember her from Catch22 or The Addams Family.  I had the great pleasure of working with her several times at Long Wharf.  Kind and as funny as they come!

Reed Birney as Erik Blake in Steven Karam's
The Humans, currently on Broadway
Then there is Reed Birney (second from left, here playing John).  Reed worked on Joanne’s production of THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING in 2005; he was a member of her informal play reading group for many years and he appeared in a couple of Script in Hand reading, including HARVEY as Elwood P. Dowd, and as the lead in CHAPTER TWO.  He’d currently appearing on Broadway in Steve Karam’s brilliant play THE HUMANS, and will surely get a Tony nomination for his work.

Finally, that’s Ann McDonough on the right (here seen playing Nina).  When I asked Ann to play the role of Ann, the mother in THE COCKTAIL HOUR, I was unaware that she had not only been in the play before, but that she had done it right here at the Playhouse.   She has done more Gurney plays than any actress I know, and this is the second time that she will have ‘graduated’ to another role in the same play.  Late last year she appeared in the Script in Hand reading of PAINTING CHURCHES, playing the mother opposite her real life husband, Jack Gilpin.  Many years earlier she had played the daughter in this play.  You might remember that the daughter in our production was played by her own daughter Betty Gilpin.


Cast of our upcoming Script in Hand
playreading of 'The Cocktail Hour'
That brings us to OUR terrific cast of THE COCKTAIL HOUR

JACK GILPIN
 – yes, father of Betty and husband to Ann McDonough, will join us again to play the father/husband opposite his real life wife, ANN MCDONOUGH, who has now ‘graduated’ to the role of the mother/wife.  CLAIRE KARPEN, who was last seen on this stage in BEDROOM FARCE in 2015 will play Nina, and she will be joined by our own JAKE ROBARDS playing John.  Jake is the son of Jason Robards for whom the mainstage theatre is named, a veteran of 5 Script in Hand readings and a member of our Board of Trustees.

I can’t wait to see what this great group of interconnected actors will bring to our stage on Monday, March 14th when they gather to read THE COCKTAIL HOUR, written by our dear friend, member of our Artistic Advisory Council, writer of last year’s hit play LOVE AND MONEY and 2014 Playhouse Gala honoree – A.R. (Pete) Gurney!



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.

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View the Playhouse's script submission policy --> WestportPlayhouse.org/aboutus/script

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 WestportPlayhouse.org.



* 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.