October 17, 2017

‘Overabove,’ Co-founded by Old Lyme’s Visgilio, Expands with Opening of West Coast Office 

The staff of OverAbove gather for a group photo in front of their premises at the Witch Hazel Works in Essex.

ESSEX – Overabove, a strategic marketing and communications firm based in Essex, Conn., has expanded its business footprint and enhanced its offerings with the opening of a Los Angeles office. The firm’s new office is located in Manhattan Beach on the Manhattan Beach Studios’ Media Campus – a facility where media arts, studio production, new technology and ideas converge.

The creative space is just south of Hollywood and bustling with the kind of activity at the heart of Overabove’s culture and services. Seasoned industry leader Tara Walls has been appointed to lead the firm’s new office.

As Head of Entertainment for Overabove, Walls will draw upon nearly 25 years of experience in the Hollywood entertainment industry to connect brands with television shows, feature films and talent. She’ll leverage industry relationships and tap her experience in brand integration and promotional partnerships, as well as with music and influencers, to craft customized entertainment partnerships to elevate brands of all sizes. She’ll also create original content to give brands exposure.

Walls’ depth of experience in identifying and structuring relationships between Hollywood properties and brands will bring strong added value to Overabove’s clients. While Walls only recently joined Overabove in a formal capacity, she’s been an extension of the Overabove team for more than a decade – collaborating with the firm on a number of entertainment partnerships for shared clients.

A resident of Los Angeles, Walls joins the Overabove team after serving as executive vice president of brand integrations & entertainment partnerships at FRUKT and Rogers & Cowan. She previously worked as a product placement executive at two Hollywood film studios.

“We are thrilled that our business footprint will now reach from coast to coast and that our new office is in such an ideal, exciting location – spearheaded by someone as talented and experienced as Tara,” said Ralph Guardiano, principal and co-founder of Overabove. “We know that these enhancements will greatly benefit our clients’ strategic and creative plans and look forward to seeing the results.”

Old Lyme resident John Visgilio, principal and co-founder of Overabove with Guardiano, added, “The opening of our West Coast office along with Tara’s hiring is part of our continued evolution to keep our clients’ brands above the noise, make our offerings as extensive and accessible as possible, and tap new growth opportunities.”

Share

Old Lyme’s DeMeo is One of ‘Five Women Painting,’ Opening Reception, Friday

‘Sunset through the Branches’ by Rosemary Cotnoir is one of the featured works in ‘Five Women Painting.’

The ninth annual Five Women Painting show Oct. 6 through 9 at the Essex Art Association Gallery features a large selection of new works by Pam Carlson, Rosemary Cotnoir, Claudia Van Nes, Kathleen DeMeo and Janet Rayner.

The gala opening party is Friday, Oct. 6, from 5 to 8 p. m when a selection of wines, homemade appetizers and desserts will be offered and all five artists will be on hand to greet visitors.

The show showcases a wide diversity of styles, medium, sizes and price point by these five established artists. DeMeo, who lives in Old Lyme, primarily does abstract monotypes and Cotnoir from Essex paints large semi-abstract oils and does stone sculptures, Carlson, also from Essex, paints water scenes and landscapes in acrylic, Rayner from Haddam uses pastels for her realistic paintings while Chester resident, Van Nes works mainly in watercolor.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m., Rayner will give a pastel demonstration and on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 1 to 4 p.m., Van Nes will create a painting using pen and ink and watercolor, and Carlson will give an acrylic demonstration.

There will be a free drawing for a painting during the exhibit as well.

The show is Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and by chance that afternoon; Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Essex Art Association Gallery is at 10 North Main Street, Essex.

For more information, call 860-767-8996 or visit the ‘Five Women Painting’ Facebook page.

Share

Award-Winning Photographer Presents ‘Tools of Travel Photography’ at CT Valley Camera Club Meeting

Shadows of camels and their riders in the Sahara desert in Erg Chebi, Morrocco (Photo by David H. Wells)

The guest speaker at next Monday’s (Oct. 2) meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be award-winning photographer/videographer David H. Wells, who will give a presentation titled, “The Tools of Travel Photography.” The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn.  All are welcome.

Wells uses whichever technology he feels is most appropriate for the specific situation to create visual narratives. He is based in Providence, RI, affiliated with Aurora Photos and is also a photo-educator. One editor described him as a “… specialist in intercultural communication and visual narratives that excel in their creative mastery of light, shadow and sound, stills and video.”

Wells became the photographer he is today by first trying on the styles and/or methods of other well-known and historic photographers. Then he mastered the challenging discipline of color slide film. He fused all of these experiences, over 30-plus years, to develop his own style, built on a mastery of light, exposure and tonality, framing and composition with predictable and consistent control over focus and depth of field.

As a photography educator, he leads students to learn how to master consistently these same elements of photography. He was featured in Photo District News as one of “The Best Workshop Instructors.”

A Sicilian sunset (Photo by David H. Wells)

His project on the pesticide poisoning of California farm workers was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Over the years he has worked on assignment for such magazines as Fortune, Life, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Sunday New York Times, Time, etc. He also worked for corporations such as Consolidated Natural Gas and DuPont as well as for non-profits such as the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund.

His work has been featured in more than 50 exhibitions and he has taught workshops at the International Center for Photography in NYC and at the Maine Media Workshops. He has received two Fulbright fellowships, a grant from Nikon/N.P.P.A., a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation’s Program of Research and Writing on International Peace and Cooperation.

For more information on David H. Wells, visit his website.

Connecticut Valley Camera Club is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers. The club offers a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills. Photographers of all levels of experience are welcomed. The club draws members from up and down both sides of the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook; from East Hampton to Old Lyme; and along the shoreline from Guilford to Gales Ferry.

For more information, visit the club’s website at https://ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com/. The Club’s meeting dates, speakers / topics and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage/

 

Share

Essex Steam Train Offers ‘Three B’s’ (Beer, Bratwurst, Beautiful fall foliage) Cruise, Thursday

It’s the “Three B” cruise! Beer, Bratwurst, and Beautiful fall foliage on the Connecticut River. A great night is in store for you from the minute you smell the brats sizzling on the grill to the last sip of beer as you glide into dock after the last rays of a stunning sunset.

This unique evening on Thursday, Oct. 5 runs from 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. Arrive 5:15 p.m. in Essex for departure at 5:30 p.m. for a two-hour cruise on the Becky Thatcher Riverboat. Return to Essex at 8:30 p.m.

The evening offers:

•    tastings of several carefully selected craft beers provided by Cellar Fine Wines and 30 Mile Brewing Company
•    a buffet of brats and all the fixin’s
•    gift bag including an engraved beer glass as a memento

Note this event is for adults 21+.  Ticket prices are $60 in advance/ $70 Walk-up (pending availability.)

Visit EssexSteamTrain.com for tickets and more information.

Share

‘Bikes for Kids’ Hosts Annual Fundraising Bike Ride Today, Choice of Four Rides

Dave Fowler hard at work on refurbishing a donated bike.

‘Bikes for Kids’ is holding its 2nd Annual Charity Ride on Sunday, Oct. 1.  The charity which was founded by Chuck Graeb is now run by retired Lyme-Old Lyme Schools teacher Dave Fowler.

Bikes For Kids is a  Connecticut based non-profit organization founded in 1989 that brings smiles to children one bike at a time. Volunteers collect, repair, and safety test donated used bicycles. The refurbished bicycles, along with new helmets, are given away to individuals of all ages and needs.

Donated bikes from ‘Bikes for Kids’ bring smiles ‘one bike at a time.’

Most donated bicycles remain in Connecticut, but some have reached children in other states and countries. More than 1,000 bicycles are given away annually. Requests for bicycles come from local and state social service organizations, churches, schools, non-profits, and individuals. 21,000 bicycles have been donated to date.

Support this charity by participating in the Annual Charity Ride.  All rides start in Essex. There will be four rides to choose from.

  • The Family Ride will have two options – a 3-mile or a more challenging 12-mile ride.
  • The Intermediate Ride will be 27 miles
  • (for the die-hards) there will be a 55-mile ride through 7 towns.

These rides go through some of the most beautiful sections of Connecticut’s River Valley. Depending on the route you select, you can ride through Essex, Deep River, Chester, Haddam, Killingworth, Westbrook and Clinton.  After the ride, all cyclists are invited for food, fun and tours at the new ‘Bikes for Kids’ Wheelhouse in Essex.

Visit this link for more information.

Visit this link to register for a ride.

Share

‘I Hate Musicals: The Musical’ Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse

Equity member Stephen Wallem plays the lead in Ivoryton Playhouse’s upcoming production of  “I Hate Musicals: the Musical.”

Simpsons’ television writer and producer Mike Reiss is back in Ivoryton with his hilarious world premiere of I Hate Musicals: The Musical. It’s the story of a cranky comedy writer trapped in the rubble of an LA earthquake.  His life is playing out before his eyes in the form of a musical — and he hates musicals …  With numbers sung by everyone from Sigmund Freud and Satan, will he learn to be less cranky?

Previews for I Hate Musicals: The Musical begin Sept. 27 and then the show opens at the Playhouse Sept. 29 and runs through Oct. 15.

Stephen Wallem*, a SAG Award-nominated actor best known as Thor Lundgren for seven seasons on the Emmy-winning Showtime series “Nurse Jackie”, will lead the cast as Alvin, the comedy writer. Stephen worked as a stage actor and After Dark Award-winning cabaret singer in Chicago before moving to New York to make his television debut on “Nurse Jackie.” Other television appearances include Randall on Louis CK’s surprise limited series “Horace and Pete” and Chad on “Difficult People.”

I Hate Musicals: The Musical features new music composed by Walter Murphy, composer of the 70’s classic A Fifth of Beethoven (which was included in the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever. The play is one man’s zany ride through relationships with mothers and fathers, analysts and wives and with a host of surprising characters making unexpected appearances. Ultimately, the story is a traditional one about life, love, show business, and the importance of being kind.

Reiss, who is writer and producer for the long running TV show, The Simpsons, also created the animated series The Critic; the webtoon Queer Duck and worked on the screenplays for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs; Horton Hears a Who!; The Simpsons: The Movies; and, My Life In Ruins. Ivoryton audiences turned out in droves in the June 2013 for his hilarious play, I’m Connecticut, which was a huge popular and critical success and Comedy is Hard in September of 2014 with Micky Dolenz and Joyce DeWitt.

Directed by James Valletti, the cast includes Playhouse favorite R. Bruce Connelly*, and Will Clark, Sam Given*, Amanda Huxtable*, Ryan Knowles*. The set design is by Dan Nischan, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina.

Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Share

Final Day Today of Community Music School’s Free Preview Week

Community Music School, located at 90 Main Street in Centerbrook and 179 Flanders Rd. in East Lyme, welcomes the general public to visit during Free Preview Week Sept. 11 through 15. Children and adults can tour the School’s studios, meet teachers and staff, enjoy a free preview lesson, and learn about a vast array of programs for all ages including private and group lessons, adult cabaret, jazz ensemble, string ensembles, music therapy services, Kindermusik for babies and toddlers, and more.

During the academic year, Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Those interested in a 30-minute preview lesson are requested to call 860-767-0026 for scheduling.  The public is also welcome to observe any group class or ensemble during Free Preview Week.

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org/programs or call CMS at 860-767-0026.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 34 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.  Learn more at www.community-music-school.org or call (860)767-0026.

Share

Join CT River Museum Tonight for a ‘Taste of The Netherlands’

Spend an evening enjoying historic Dutch cultural traditions at the Connecticut River Museum and take a cruise aboard Onrust. Photo by Pim Van Hemmen.

On Saturday, Sept. 9, experience The Netherlands as the Connecticut River Museum hosts a night to support The Onrust Project.  Enjoy Dutch culture with samples of traditional food and drinks.  There will also be classic Dutch tavern games, music, and a cannon demonstration – all from the Museum’s beautiful north deck overlooking the Connecticut River. 

The Onrust is a reproduction of the famed Captain Adriaen Block’s 1614 era vessel that was the first European vessel to chart and explore Long Island Sound, parts of Rhode Island, and the Connecticut River.  Block’s accomplishments ushered in great changes that would forever alter life along the Connecticut River, help lead to the fur trade, and the eventual founding of New Netherlands and what would become Hartford. 

A Dutch drink tasting will take place with Mark Griswold and Stephen Gencarella.  Griswold and Gencarella are the talent behind the popular weekly radio show “Fermented,” which airs every Thursday night on iCRV Radio.  The two will share some of the history and interesting characteristics of traditional Dutch drinks.  One such beverage that will be sampled is genever – a spirit that is the forerunner of gin and has been popular since the 1500s. 

Catering by Selene, enjoyed by the Museum for their excellence and creativity in recreating historic recipes, will provide several traditional Dutch foods for people to sample.  This includes stamppot which is the Dutch name for any puree made of vegetables and often served with sausage.  There will also be bitterballen (tiny meatballs) and the delectable stroopwafel. 

Also taking place this night will be a cannon demonstration by Dan Walls.  Walls will not only shoot off one of Onrust’s reproduction cannons, but will share a little history on the evolution of such weaponry.  There will also be live music and some traditional tavern games for people to play.

The historic replica vessel Onrust is docked at the Connecticut River Museum through mid October for public cruises and programs. Photo by Judy Preston.

A Supporting level ticket will include a 45-minute cruise aboard the Onrust, a special mixed drink and a conversation with Greta Wagle, Director of The Onrust Project. 

The Standard ticket includes the drink and food tasting, music, games, and cannon demonstration and is $30 for members/$35 for non-members.  The Supporting ticket includes the above as well as the special cruise and is $50 for members/$55 for non-members (When reserving you will need to select a cruise time of 5:15 or 6:30 p.m.) Additional beverages will be available at a cash bar.  Participants must be 21 years of age or older and show ID.  To buy a ticket, visit the Connecticut River Museum’s website at ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

Funds will go towards supporting the educational mission of The Onrust Project, a nonprofit floating museum that provides the public with a living history experience of 17th century life and maritime exploration. 

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street in Essex and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. The Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River. For a full listing of Museum programs, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

Photo Credits:

  1. The historic replica vessel Onrust is docked at the Connecticut River Museum through mid October for public cruises and programs. Photo by Judy Preston.
  2. Spend an evening enjoying historic Dutch cultural traditions at the Connecticut River Museum and take a cruise aboard Onrust. Photo by Pim Van Hemmen.
Share

Final Days to See ‘Saturday Night Fever’ at Ivoryton Playhouse

Michael Notardonato plays ‘disco king wannabe’ Tony.

Put on your “Boogie Shoes” and get ready for Saturday Night Fever, one of the most loved dance stories of all time, which plays through Sept. 3, at Ivoryton Playhouse.

The year is 1979 and in Brooklyn, New York, Tony Manero, a young man with a dead-end job and an extraordinary ability to dance, has only one ambition in life … to become the disco king. When he meets Stephanie, who also dreams of a world beyond Brooklyn, they decide to train together for a dance competition and their lives begin to change forever.

Based on the 1977 film that became a cultural phenomenon, the electrifying score is packed with legendary hits from the Bee Gees including the classics: “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “Jive Talking,” “You Should Be Dancing” and “How Deep is Your Love?”

Caroline Lellouche plays aspiring dancer Stephanie.

Originally based on Nik Cohn’s 1975 New York Magazine article, “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night,” this stage adaptation premiered in the West End in 1998 at the London Palladium, and then at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre Oct. 21, 1999, playing 27 previews and 501 regular performances before closing Dec. 30, 2000.

Almost all of the songs from the original movie sound track are included in the stage musical. The album remained 24 weeks on the top of the U.S. album charts and stayed until March 1980 on the charts. In the UK, the album also achieved first place for 18 weeks and is one of the most successful movie sound tracks ever. In 1979, it won a Grammy as Album of the Year. In 2003 it reached #131 of Rolling Stone’s “500 best albums of all time”.

The production stars Michael Notardonato* as Tony and Caroline Lellouche* as Stephanie. Lellouche was seen last year in Ivoryton’s production of Chicago. Notardonato is reprising the role of Tony, which he has performed twice previously to critical acclaim.

The production is directed and choreographed by Todd Underwood and musical directed by Mike Morris, with set design by Martin Marchitto, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Lisa Bebey.

Be advised that Saturday Night Fever, in similar fashion to the movie, contains adult language and situations.

Saturday Night Fever opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse Aug. 9 and runs through Sept. 3. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Additional matinee performances on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m. and Sept. 2, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

(Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Photographs courtesy of Ivoryton Playhouse

*denotes member of Actors Equity

Share

Let’s Roar On! Free Concert Tonight in Centerbrook Benefits ‘Soft Foot Alliance’

Michael McDermott will lead a talented group of musicians in a free concert, Aug. 20, to benefit The Soft Foot Alliance, which is working to achieve a sustainable co-existence between humans and wildlife in and around the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

CENTERBROOK — On Sunday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m., join Ivoryton Playhouse favorite Michael McDermott and his talented group of musicians at a free concert to raise awareness and funds for The Soft Foot Alliance. The evening will be filled with songs of hope and promise – from “Fields of Gold” to “Here Comes the Sun”; from Celtic culture and heritage through American folk traditions to new works.

McDermott will be joined by Kathleen Mulready, another Ivoryton Playhouse alum who starred in Finian’s Rainbow and shared the stage with Michael in The Irish… and How They Got That Way; also Nancy Herzig on flute,  David Jarkey on piano, Susan Mazer on guitar, Celeste Cumming on cello and the wonderful Lorelei Chang will dance.

This painting of Cecil The Lion by David Roelofs will be up for auction at The Soft Foot Alliance Benefit Concert being held Aug. 20.

McDermott has been seen many times at the Playhouse – most recently in The Bells of Dublin: The Carol of the Bells. He was moved by the story of Cecil the Lion and began a correspondence with Brent Stapelkamp, who lives and works with the animals and people in and around the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

Stapelkamp formed The Soft Foot Alliance – a new Trust dedicated to improving the lives and landscapes of people living on the boundary of Hwange National Park – that is working to achieve a sustainable co-existence with wildlife. Lion, hyena, elephant, baboon and honey badger are the main focal species of the Trust’s work as they impact people’s livelihoods on the park’s boundaries.

“By designing actions that, firstly, improve the lives and the livelihoods of the people living with these animals, and secondly, promote the conservation of the animal, we hope to achieve co-existence between the two.” says Stapelkamp.

The concert will take place at Centerbrook Meeting House, 51 Main St, Centerbrook, CT 06409 at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20. There will also be a silent auction with some special prizes, including a portrait of Cecil painted by artist, David Roelofs.

The concert is free but seating is limited. Call 860-707-0732 to reserve your tickets today and join the campaign to support a sustainable future for the people and animals of Zimbabwe.

Visit The Soft Foot Alliance at www.softfootalliance.com

Share

Big Band Event at Brewers Essex Island Marina Today Benefits Local Charities

Bob Hughes plays his saxophone on the dock at Brewers Essex Island Marina.

ESSEX — Saxophonist and band leader Bob Hughes is inspired by views of the Connecticut River at Brewers Essex Island Marina, where he and his 16-piece orchestra, “The Bob Hughes Big Band,” are scheduled to perform on Sunday, Aug. 20, from 5 to 8 p.m.  Billed as an “Island Swing,” the fundraising event is sponsored by the Essex Council of the Knights of Columbus of Our Lady of Sorrows Church.

The Bob Hughes Big Band will present a fundraising ‘Island Swing,’ Aug. 20.

Hughes, a resident of Essex, has had a lifelong love affair with big band and swing music.  In addition to the rare and vintage saxophone that has accompanied him for more than 70 years on his musical journey, Hughes is proud of his library of arrangements that he has used to educate himself in the styles of such greats as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and his personal favorite, Stan Kenton.

View from Brewers Essex Island Marina, where the Bob Hughes Big Band will give a concert, Aug. 20.

Hughes has led his Essex-based band for 15 years and is extremely proud of the exceptional local musicians that have bonded under his leadership.  Together, they are helping to keep top-level swing music alive in this part of New England.

In addition to outstanding music and dancing, attendees of the Aug. 20 “Island Swing” event, which will run from 5 to 8 p.m., will enjoy an evening of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres supplemented by a buffet, wine, beer and soft drinks.  Tickets are $50.  All proceeds will support local charities.

For tickets or more information, call Ed McCaffrey at 860-575-4694 or visit http://www.olos-sxorg/2017_knightsofcolumbus_islandswing.pdf

Share

Cappella Cantorum Presents Men’s Chorus Concert Today in Centerbrook

Cappella Cantorum’s Men’s Chorus sings ‘Music from Around the World,’ Sunday. Members of the group shown in the photo above are from left to right, (front row) Norm Andrea, Dean Cloutier, Bob Stosse, Rolf Perterson, Barry Asch , Deborah Lyon, Len Dongweck, Tony Carrano, John Van Epps, Bob Johnson; (back row) Dud Bickford, Michael Minkos, Tor Hepburn, Alan Macgregor, Larry Morse, Fred Johnson, John Newman, Missing-Tom Speer, Ed Bosse. The Cappella Cantorum Men’s Chorus includes members from a dozen Shoreline Communities

CENTERBROOK — Cappella Cantorum will present the final Men’s Chorus Concert of this season, Sunday, July 9, at 3 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 109 Main St., Centerbrook,. The Chorus will present an extraordinary afternoon of great male choral music under the direction of Barry B. Asch with accompanist Deborah Lyon.

This performance will be followed by a reception.

“Music From Around the World”  includes: Brothers, Sing On! Viva L’Amour, Cantique de Jean Racine, Ezekiel Saw de Wheel, Johny Cash Medley and Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen.

Tickets are $20 at the door or www.CappellaCantorum.org

Share

See Heartwrenching ‘West Side Story’ at Ivoryton Playhouse Through July 30

Arianne Meneses (Consuelo) and Jason Daniel Rath* (Pepe) rehearse a scene from West Side Story.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is transported to modern-day New York City in the breathtaking musical, West Side Story, which opened at the Ivoryton Playhouse July 5. With book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the original 1957 Broadway production ran for over 700 performances before going on tour, and garnered six Tony nominations.

Mia Pinero makes her debut at Ivoryton as Maria in ‘West Side Story.’

The story is set in the Upper West Side of New York City in the mid-1950s and explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. When, Tony, a Jet, falls in love with Maria, a Shark, the young lovers struggle to keep their love alive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice.

The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre when it was first produced; West Side Story remains one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas of our time.

The film version starring Natalie Wood, Russ Tamblyn, Richard Beymer and Rita Moreno won 10 Academy Awards and in 2009, Karen Olivo won a Tony for her portrayal of Anita in the Broadway revival.

Stephen Mir* plays Tony in the Ivoryton Playhouse production of ‘West Side Story’ opening July 5.

Stephen Mir* returns to Ivoryton to play the role of Tony and Mia Pinero* makes her Ivoryton debut in the role of Maria.

The production is directed and choreographed by Todd Underwood and musical directed by Mike Morris, with set design by Dan Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Elizabeth Cipollina. Executive Producers are Michael A. Dattilo and Frank Perrotti

Tonight, Tonight, won’t be just any night!  Don’t miss the experience of this show live on stage at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

West Side Story opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Wednesday, July 5, and runs through Sunday, July 30. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Pictures by Ivoryton Playhouse

Group rates are available by calling the box office for information. The Playhouse is located at 103 Main St. in Ivoryton.

Share

Learn About the Private Life of an Unloved Bird This Evening at CT River Museum

The Connecticut River Museum in Essex presents, “Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird,” with author Katie Fallon this evening, Thursday, June 15, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Join Fallon, author of this fascinating book about vultures, for a reading, book signing, and discussion of the essential roles that vultures play in healthy ecosystems.

This event is free to members of the Museum and $5 for non-members.

Seating is limited; call 860.767.8269 ext.110 to register.

The Museum is located at 67 Main St., Essex, CT 06426.

Share

Letter From Paris: (Old Hand) Putin Meets (New Kid) Macron With Surprising Results

Nicole Prévost Logan

The hour-long press conference held jointly by long-standing Russian President Putin and newly-elected French President Macron in the Palace of Versailles on May 29, was a spectacle not to be missed.

Vladimir Putin

Emmanuel Macron

Putin had been absent from the high-powered week during which US President Donald Trump met with heads of state at the new NATO headquarters in Brussels and at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily. Macron seized an opportunity to invite the Russian president. The timing, location and format of the encounter of the two presidents were a smart move on the part of Macron.

He was not organizing a “state visit” – lest he offended Angela Merkel – but asking the Russian leader to be present at the inauguration of an exhibit marking the 300th anniversary of the visit of Tzar Peter the Great to France. The two presidents met in the grandiose 17th century palace of the French monarchs. Putin would probably find similarities between the ornate rooms and his elegant home town of St. Petersburg.

The visit was organized under the sign of culture and meant to revive the historical ties between the two countries. Macron mentioned how much Peter the Great had wanted to open up his country to the West and learn about its military architecture, crafts, and sciences. Putin contributed proudly an even earlier historical fact – the marriage at Queen Ann of Kiev, daughter of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, to French King Henry I, in 1051.

During the press conference, the supposedly “novice” French president appeared self-assured, and totally in charge of the proceedings. He described how he envisaged cooperation with Russia. His road map for Syria was to guarantee humanitarian aid to the population and emphasize that the use of chemical weapons would constitute a red line that would be met with an immediate response from France.

Macron added that failed states lead to chaos. Hence the necessity to keep Bachar el Assad until ISIS is eradicated. In Ukraine, he stressed that an agreement should be reached within the framework of the Minsk accord. The objective there is both to stop progression of the spheres of influence of Russia in the region and the escalation of violence. He did not say the word ‘Crimea,’ however, implying that its return to the Ukraine was not on the agenda.

In his statement, Macron declared that during their three-hour-long conversation they covered all topics, including areas of disagreement. As he mentioned the treatment of homosexuals and transgenders in Chechnia, he turned toward Putin and told him to his face, “We will monitor the progress you make in that area.”

During his talk, Putin looked fidgety, ill-at-ease, squirming, and with shifty eyes. He mumbled his comments. He did say though that he would be ready to engage in a dialogue. Then, turning toward the audience of international media, he almost pleaded with them, saying, “You have to convince public opinion that the sanctions are stifling Russia. Tell the world they have to be lifted.”

French journalists raised questions about the spread of fake news on the social networks and in magazines like Sputnik and Russia Today intended to destabilize the leader of the En Marche movement during the campaign. Macron retorted that those people are not journalists and will not be treated as such.

Journalists also asked what the French government was going to do about the hacking of 70,000 documents belonging to then-candidate Macron 40 hours before the first round of the vote. Macron responded that he was not going to dwell on those events, adding, “What I want to do is to move on.”

From the exchanges between the two protagonists, it was clear that Macron was in control of the situation. His message was clear and direct. The days when Putin disregarded the EU as being too weak were now over. The power dynamic was the correct one for Macron to use and Putin understood that.

This was a textbook situation where the two protagonists, although not liking each other, could work out a resolution from which both could profit. Since 1990, Putin — a major player behind the war in Syria — has been shattered by the implosion of the Russian empire. Moreover, since sanctions are hurting his country severely, the give and take of negotiation is therefore possible.

Now, we can only hope that effective action will match the quality of this performance by Macron.

Editor’s Notes:
i) This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.
ii) Nicole is, in fact, now back in Essex, but events in France are currently moving so fast that she’s continuing to write for us from this side of the Atlantic in an effort to keep readers over here up to date.  Merci, Nicole!

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

Share

On Board the ‘Onrust;’ Famed Re-creation of Adriaen Block’s Boat Sails up Connecticut River

The ‘Onrust’ docked at Saybrook Point Inn and Spa.

It was “a momentous occasion,” according to Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs when a group of dignitaries and invited guests gathered to board the re-creation of Adriaen Block’s boat Onrust last Thursday.  Dobbs pointed out that it was, “400 years ago — 403 to be precise” since the original Onrust commenced its exploration of the Connecticut River ultimately exploring it upstream to just a little further north than present-day Hartford — a distance of approximately 60 miles from Long Island Sound.

Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs takes a brief break from his duties as host on board the ‘Onrust.’

While overwintering (1613-1614) in New York Bay, the Dutch explorer Block’s first ship, the Tyger (Tiger), caught fire and burned to the waterline.  Working through the frigid winter, Block built a new ship from the salvaged remnants and named it the Onrust, Dutch for ‘Restless.’

It was the first vessel built by Europeans in New York State and the first yacht built in the New World.  In 1614, Block and his crew set off to explore coastal New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island with the intent of developing trade partnerships with Native Americans.  During his time on the water, Block became the first known European to travel up the Connecticut River  

The re-created Onrust was launched in 2009 by The Onrust Project, an all-volunteer non-profit out of New York, which built the vessel after painstakingly researching traditional Dutch shipbuilding techniques.  

To reach the Saybrook Point Inn at Old Saybrook, Conn., where the guests boarded the ship, the Onrust followed a similar path to the one that Block took in 1614.  It departed from Kingston, N.Y., traveled to New York Bay, traversed the treacherous Hell Gate, entered Long Island Sound and sailed to the mouth of the Connecticut River. 

While preparations were made to launch, Connecticut River Museum Board Chairman Tom Wilcox told the guests now assembled on board the Onrust, “This is a most auspicious occasion,” and correctly predicted they would have, “a lovely sail.”  Despite an earlier threat of rain, the weather cooperated completely with warm temperatures and clear skies.

Steven Tagliatella, owner of the Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, addressed the guests on board the ‘Onrust.’

Another guest on board was Steven Tagliatella, owner of the Saybrook Point Inn, who spoke effusively about the upcoming trip to the Connecticut River Museum describing the Onrust as “a spectacular sight.”  He also took the opportunity to mention the new tourism coalition he has formed to promote tourism in the state, noting that the Onrust offers “a wonderful opportunity” for tourism.

Connecticut State Historian Walter Woodward speaks on the theme of ‘restlessness,’ echoing the name of the boat — ‘Onrust’ translates from the Dutch to ‘restless.’

Walter Woodward, Connecticut’s State Historian, really spoke for everyone aboard when he said, “To be on this boat on this day is so exciting,” but then asked the guests to take themselves back in time to the spring of 1614 when Block brought the boat he had built the previous winter and named Onrust – Restless – to the mouth of the river the natives call Quinitticut. Woodward declared that Block, “was as restless as his little vessel,” explaining, “The 47-year-old trader-explorer was anxious to make up the losses he had experienced the previous winter, when his ship the Tyger had accidentally caught fire.”

Woodward pursued the theme of ‘restlessness’ as he continued, saying, “Then as now, the word restless had many meanings … A generation of restless Europeans … both Dutch and English would come to this river, first in search of trade with the indigenous people, and soon after, in the quest for their land and resources.”

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna (center in sunglasses) chats with a guest during the trip up the Connecticut River.

Woodward added, “Some were restless too in a godly way – troubled in mind and spirit, seeking a place to serve God as their consciences demanded.”

He also noted that, “For those already here, the arrival of the Onrust heralded a new native restlessness – first, as the indigenous people jostled with each other for control of the distribution of European trade goods … and later to fight the efforts of these insurgents to drive them from their homes.”

Jennifer White-Dobbs enjoys the glorious river views with her son (right) and a guest.

Keeping to his theme, Woodward ended with the words, “I know you are restless to get underway, so let me conclude by saying it is a privilege to be here today to mark the moment in time, when Adriaen Block and his Onrust entered the river he named Fresh River, and a world-transforming era of restless change began.”

The Essex Sailing Masters of 1812 greeted the ‘Onrust’ with bright melodies in front of the Museum.

Before introducing the next speaker, Dobbs noted, “The amount of research to build this vessel was amazing,” and also that it had taken, “Around 250 people to build the Onrust.” He explained that the Onrust will be a floating exhibit at the Museum through early October, open for dockside tours, school and Scout programs, along with public cruises and charters.

The guests vigorously waved Dutch flags as the ‘Onrust’ pulled into the Connecticut River Museum’s dock.

Dobbs then presented Emily Boucher, who brought a message from Senator Chris Murphy, which she read aloud to the guests on the Onrust. In the message, Murphy expressed the wish that he could join everyone on the trip, and noted he was pleased with the financial assistance the state had given the Museum which, “was going to allow it [the Museum] to not float away.”

A crew member prepares to fire the cannon to announce the boat’s arrival at the Connecticut River Museum.

Finally the Onrust departed from Saybrook Point inn and sailed serenely up the Connecticut River offering spectacular views in all directions. As the three-man crew prepared for arrival at the Museum during the first hour of the popular RiverFare event, one crew member fired a celebratory cannon. Meanwhile, Essex’s very own Sailing Masters of 1812 provided a cheery, musical fanfare as the historic vessel approached the Museum’s dock. 

It was indeed a wonderful and “momentous” voyage!

For more information on the Connecticut River Museum and the Onrust, visit the Museum’s website.  The Museum extends special thanks to Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa, Essex Meadows, the Sailing Masters of 1812, and The Onrust Project for their efforts in arranging the vessel’s arrival. 

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street in Essex and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River. For a full listing of Museum programs or to buy tickets for the Onrust, RiverFare, and many other events go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

Share

‘Million Dollar Quartet’ Opens Wednesday at Ivoryton Playhouse

Emily Mattheson as Dyanne, Jamie Pittle on drums and John Rochette as Elvis in rehearsal for ‘Million Dollar Quartet.’ Photograph by George Pierce.

IVORYTON — What would happen if rock-n’-roll legends Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash all got together for one night only to give one of the most epic jam sessions the world has ever known? That’s what happens in Million Dollar Quartet, the Tony-winning musical that brings to life this legendary session that occurred on Dec. 4, 1956 at Sun Records Studio in Memphis, Tenn.

Million Dollar Quartet opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on May 31, and runs through June 25, 2017. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Sam Phillips, the “Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll” who was responsible for launching the careers of each icon, brought the four legendary musicians together at the Sun Records studio in Memphis for the first and only time. The resulting evening became known as one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll jam sessions in history.

The jam session consisted largely of snippets of gospel songs that the four artists had all grown up singing. The recordings show Elvis, the most nationally and internationally famous of the four at the time, to be the focal point of what was a casual, spur-of-the-moment gathering of four artists who would each go on to contribute greatly to the seismic shift in popular music in the late 1950s.

John Rochette who plays Elvis Presley in the upcoming musical at Ivoryton Playhouse.

During the session, Phillips called a local newspaper, the Memphis Press-Scimitar and the following day, an article about the session appeared in the Press-Scimitar under the headline “Million Dollar Quartet”.

The jukebox Million Dollar Quartet written by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, brings that legendary night to life with an irresistible tale of broken promises, secrets, betrayal and celebrations featuring an eclectic score of rock, gospel, R&B and country hits including; “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Hound Dog,” and more.

The Broadway production premiered at the Nederlander Theatre on April 11, 2010, with a cast featuring Eddie Clendening as Elvis Presley, Lance Guest as Johnny Cash, Levi Kreis as Jerry Lee Lewis, Robert Britton Lyons as Carl Perkins and Hunter Foster as Sam Phillips.  The musical transferred to New World Stages in July 2011 and closed on June 24, 2012. A US national tour and International productions followed.

The musical was nominated for three 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical. Levi Kreis won the award for Best Featured Actor for his portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis.

This production is directed by Sherry Lutken, who was last here in 2015 with Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story; Eric Anthony is Musical Director; Set Design is by Martin Scott Marchitto and Lighting by Marcus Abbott. Costume Design is by Rebecca Welles

The Ivoryton Playhouse production stars: Luke Darnell* as Carl Perkins, Joe Callahan* as Jerry Lee Lewis, Jeremy Sevelovitz* as Johnny Cash, John Rochette* as Elvis Presley, Ben Hope* as Sam Phillips, Jamie Pittle as Fluke, Emily Mattheson as Dyanne and Kroy Presley as Jay Perkins.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Share

Community Music School Offers New Music Therapy Group Classes


Community Music School is offering new music therapy programs this summer.  In addition to one-on-one music therapist sessions, CMS is debuting three new group classes beginning in June led by board certified music therapist, Amy Hemenway.

Music Therapy Group Class for Young Children with Autism begins June 28 at 10am for ages 2-5. This group will consist of 6, 30-minute group sessions to target various skills including communication, joint attention, gross/fine motor skills, socialization and other sensory-related needs. The final 15 minutes of each session will be reserved for parent/guardian feedback and questions with the therapist.

Music Therapy Social Skills Group for Adolescents & Young Adults with Autism begins June 28 at 5:30pm for ages 13-22.  This group will consist of 6, 45-minute group sessions for individuals ages 13-21 that have high-functioning autism.  The final 15 minutes of each session will be reserved for parent/guardian feedback and questions with the therapist.  Group endeavors will involve lyrical analysis, songwriting and improvisation activities designed to promote self-expression, creative/musical expression, communication of thoughts/ideas, group collaboration and peer support.

Music Therapy Drum Circles are scheduled for July 14 and August 11 at 7pm.  This family-oriented event will promote socialization and creative/musical expression.  Individuals of all ages and abilities may participate.  Not restricted to music therapy students!

Amy Hemenway is a board-certified music therapist who enjoys providing clinical services to children, adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum.  She also has experience in working with individuals with a variety of cognitive, psychological and motor impairments.  She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Marywood University, Scranton, PA in 1998 and recently received her Master of Arts in Music Therapy degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Terre Haute, IN.

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org/therapy or call CMS at 860-767-0026.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 34 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.  Learn more at www.community-music-school.org or call (860)767-0026.

Share

Final Weekend to See ‘Biloxi Blues’ at Ivoryton Playhouse

Cast members of Biloxi Blues in rehearsal: Zal Owen, Conor Hamill, Ethan Kirschbaum, George Mayer, Alec Silberblatt, Chandler Smith, and Mike Mihm.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is leaving behind the music of Ol’ Blue Eyes and heading south to the steamy bayou country of Biloxi, Miss., with the opening of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues on Wednesday, April 26. This semi-autobiographical play details his experiences as a young man in boot camp before he was shipped off to serve in the Second World War.

Biloxi Blues is the second chapter in what is known as his Eugene trilogy, following Brighton Beach Memoirs and preceding Broadway Bound, and is the only one in which Eugene is not the central character. Biloxi Blues won the Tony Award when it opened on Broadway in 1985 and ran 524 performances.

Simon’s hit play follows the adventures of Eugene Morris Jerome and his fellow Army inductees as they struggle through basic training near Biloxi, Miss. in 1943. An aspiring writer who sees himself as an outsider observing the craziness around him, Eugene hopes to somehow remain “neutral … like Switzerland,” but finds himself having to make tough choices.

Biloxi Blues is a comedy with real depth about young men growing up, learning about life and how to live together and finally, going off to war. These men are universal soldiers – facing the same fears, anxieties, and loneliness that grip all young recruits about to encounter the ultimate test of combat. Simon brings his great sense of humor and humanity to every word of this play.

A film was also made of the play starring Matthew Broderick and directed by Mike Nichols with screenplay by Neil Simon.

Biloxi Blues is directed by Sasha Bratt and features Zal Owen* as Eugene, Alec Silberblatt* as Arnold and Mike Mihm* as Sergeant Toomey. Cast also includes Andee Buccheri, Conor M. Hamill*, Ethan Kirschbaum, George Mayer, Moira O’Sullivan and Chandler Smith. Set design is by Glenn Bassett, lighting design by Tate R. Burmeister and costume design by Lisa Bebey.

Biloxi Blues opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on April 26 and runs through May 14.  Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Share

Obituary: Death of Matilda A. Colihan (Tillie) Announced

In this submitted photo, the late Tillie Colihan is seen tending her flowers.

Avid gardener, conservationist, seeker of solutions to make the world and our local communities better places, Tillie Colihan died peacefully in her Essex Meadows home on May 2, 2017.

Born May 20, 1920 in Mount Vernon, NY to William and Rowena Alston, Tillie attended Madeira School in Greenway, VA, and graduated from Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, MA in 1940.  She made lasting friendships with classmates and served as alumnae secretary for both schools.

Not wanting to be left behind after her brothers enlisted in the Armed Services, Tillie joined the Red Cross in December 1943. She was assigned to the 85th Division, stationed in northeastern Italy, and served until the war ended.  She was awarded a Medal of Freedom for “gallantry in the line of duty and devoted service while under enemy fire.” (While immensely proud of her medal, Tillie always insisted, with undue modesty, she was just serving donuts and coffee to the G.I.’s.)

Following the war, she became a receptionist at the Young & Rubicam advertising agency in New York City.  There, she met William J. Colihan, whom she married in May 1948. Tillie and Bill settled in Greenwich, CT, where they raised four children, Alston Colihan of Washington, D.C., Jane Colihan of Brooklyn, NY, William Colihan of New York, NY, and Abby Colihan of Montpelier, VT.  During these years, Tillie took up yoga and developed an interest in natural foods and alternative medicine.

In 1980, Tillie and Bill moved to a house – designed by Bill and her brother, Henry Alston – on the Connecticut River in Essex. Tillie spent springs and summers in her field, surrounded by bluebirds and wildflowers.  She enthusiastically organized the making of trough gardens for May Markets. Wanting to share nature’s beauty, Tillie regularly brought flowers from her garden to the Essex Meadows Medical Center – a practice she kept up for many years. During the winters she and her husband traveled in the U.S. and internationally. Bill died at Essex Meadows Medical Center in July 1994.

In 1998, Tillie moved to an apartment in Essex Meadows.  Hours that she had spent in her garden she now spent feeding birds and keeping up with all things happening in the world.  In recent years she has enjoyed watching her four rarely-disciplined grandchildren, Dan, Jim, Dana, and Molly, turn out fine.

As she wished, there will be a small memorial service later this summer.

Share