December 15, 2017

Enjoy an ‘Ivoryton Playhouse Christmas Radio Hour’ with David Pittsinger & Friends, Dec. 21-22

David Pittsinger performs in ‘The Man of La Mancha.’ File photo.

World-renowned artist David Pittsinger will be performing a holiday show on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 2 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m.

An old fashioned Christmas celebration of holiday standards and sacred songs featuring David with his wife, Patricia Schuman and Carly Callahan, Katie Weiser and Charlie Widmer.

Set in a 1940s radio station, the show will take you back to the days when the radio had pride of place in the living room and the family gathered round in the evening to listen to their favorite shows.

Since it’s going to be cold outside, come on down to the Ivoryton Playhouse to warm your heart with music we all know and love.

This concert is a benefit for the 106-year-old Playhouse to further its mission to provide theatre of the highest quality to the residents and visitors of our community.

Tickets for this special event are $50. Seating is limited; call the theatre box office at 860.767.7318 to reserve your seat for these two special events.

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

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CT River Museum Offers Range of Winter Wildlife Programs, Activities

Eagles on Ice: White-headed adult eagles can be seen in numbers along the lower Connecticut River. Photo by Mark Yuknat.

Winter along the Connecticut River brings many things – including cold winds and grey skies.  But the change in seasons also signals a shift in the ecology of New England’s Great River.  The osprey, the swallows and the egrets may be gone, but in their place now are mergansers, goldeneyes, and the highlight – bald eagles.  These once rare, majestic birds can be seen fishing along the unfrozen lower Connecticut River, a testament to one of the greatest environmental recoveries of the last half century.  To highlight these winter wonders, Connecticut River Museum (CRM) has planned a range of programs and activities.

Connecticut River Museum is happy to again partner with Connecticut River Expeditions to offer Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises in February and March.  These popular trips offer visitors a chance to get out on the River in winter to see eagles, as well as other winter species that visit the estuary such as harbor seals.

This seal is relaxing on the Connecticut River ice. Photo by Bill Yule.

Cruises aboard the environmentally friendly R/V RiverQuest provide passengers with a comfortable, heated cabin supplied with hot coffee and tea, as well as binoculars to aid in spotting and narration from a staff naturalist.  These cruises depart Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at various times in the morning and early afternoon, and are $42 per passenger.  Museum members get 10 percent off and group rates are available.

In addition, the Museum will offer its annual Eagles of Essex exhibit, which offers a wealth of information about bald eagles and their return to the lower Connecticut River.  Patrons can try their hand at building an eagle nest, and marvel at life size silhouettes of Eagles and other large raptors, a map showing good shore viewing locations, and other displays.  On the opening day of the season, Saturday, Feb. 3, the exhibit will host Family Activities related to the return of the Eagles from 1 to 4 p.m., free with Museum admission.

On Saturday, Feb. 17 and March 17, award-winning photographer Stanley Kolber returns to CRM to offer his annual Bird Photography Workshop.  Kolber has been photographing birds for years, and takes great pleasure in sharing his experience with aspiring photographers of all levels, through anecdotes, slides, and question and answer.  In addition to helping skills development, his greatest pleasure in giving workshops is the opportunity to kindle and encourage his audience’s interest in the natural world.  He hopes that young people as well as adults will attend the workshops, so that he can impart some of his own enthusiasm to the next generation.  These popular programs are also free with Museum admission.

Species other than Eagles visit our River during the winter months. Photo by Joan Meek.

A Live Birds of Prey Show will be offered on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m.  CRM will partner with Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation Organization for this annual show, which features a bald eagle and several other species of raptors.  Visitors will be able to get an up close look at the birds while learning more about the lifecycle and ecology of these magnificent animals.  This event will be held at the Centerbrook Meeting House and is free to the public.

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

For more information, call CRM at 860.767.8269 or RiverQuest at 860.662.0577.

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Letter From Paris: A Six-Month Performance Review for Emmanuel Macron

Nicole Prévost Logan

Six months into his mandate, French President Emmanuel Macron has been working at a dizzying pace to fulfill his campaign promises.

Hubert Vedrine, former minister of foreign affairs and expert in international and strategic affairs, made the following comment : “Emmanuel Macron immediately embodied the stature of a chief of State. ”

“The French people are impossible to reform”, said Macron during his campaign.  This is why he set out not to reform but to transform France from top to bottom.  First he brought “parity” men/women into the government. 

The “moralization” of the two legislative chambers was his second objective, which meant bringing an end to the opaque system of financial privileges long enjoyed by the deputies.  Like a breath of fresh air, the professional politicians who, since the beginning of the fifth Republic, had been playing musical chairs, faded away .They were replaced by influential members of the civil society, without any political experience.

Emmanuel Macron

As a rule, the French do not really like to work during the summer.  Breaking with that tradition, Macron spent four months talking with the trade unions.  He invited – separately – the leaders of the different groups (CGT, FO, CFDT)  in order to hear their demands and make his own proposals.

The result was amazing.

The loud manifs (street demonstrations), which traditionally are the main tool of the trade unions, rapidly run out of steam.   On the basis of the summer negotiations, changes in the labor code were formulated into executive orders before becoming law.

Macron used the same strategy – divide and conquer – to defuse the revolt of the mayors. 

There are 36,000 municipalities in France.  Some of the communes are tiny with as few as 200 inhabitants, and feel unfairly treated as compared to the large and wealthy urban centers like Paris, Lyons or Marseille. When Macron announced he would drastically slash down the dotations (subsidies) made by the State, the local officials went up in arms. 

What did Macron do? 

He invited 1,500 mayors to the Elysée Palace and developed his plan to help the small communes .

Thanks to his work experience in the financial and business world, he focused on a crucial economic problem: the cost of French labor is not competitive enough. The main reason?  The cost of labor is bloated by the inclusion of “social charges.” Macron plans to have the entire population share the burden by paying a general tax.  The other pillar of his financial program is to stop demonizing capital income by reducing the tax to a flat rate of 30 percent  – a win-win system to encourage the French population to invest.

Emmanuel Macron has been described as having a velvet smile contrasting with the steely expression of his blue eyes. From the youthful, exuberant attitude he projected during the electoral campaign, he has evolved into the image of an authoritarian leader. He delegates the day-to-day running of the country to his prime minister Edouard Philippe, who is doing his job efficiently and with discretion.  This leaves Macron time to address the big picture, particularly regarding the new place of France on the world stage.

On Sept. 26, in a major speech at the Sorbonne, Macron showed his unwavering ‘Europhile’ vision. He proposes a ‘re-invention’ of Europe with action led by countries willing to make changes. To ensure the future of the Eurozone, he proposes a single budget, a ‘Super Minister’ of economy and the creation of a European IMF. He wants a “protective Europe” in relation to workers and consumers. He believes strongly in giving a central role to culture in defining the European identity.

During his visit to Abu Dhabi for the inauguration of the new Louvre museum on Nov. 8, Macron met with “MBS” (Saudi Arabia prince Mohammed Ben Salmane ) and with “MBZ” (Abu Dhabi crown prince, Mohammed Bin Zayed)  A feverish round of diplomacy took place in which the president succeeded to  “exfiltrate” the Sunni Lebanese minister Saad Hariri from Saudi Arabia and acted as a mediator in the growing fracture of the Persian Gulf.

On Nov. 28,  after a two-hour speech to 800 students of the Ouagadougou University, in Burkina Faso, the Q and A session turned into an hilarious exchange. “Can you help us fix the frequent power outages on the campus?” asked a student. “But this is not my responsibility,” Macron answered, “Ask your president to deal with this problem.” The reaction of his audience – was at first a roar of laughter then deafening applause. A symbolic detail of the Macron’s visit to Africa was that he was accompanied on his trip by leaders of recent  start-ups instead of the CEOs of large companies such as Areva or Total.

The three-day visit to Africa in late November was an opportunity for the French president to break, not only with the colonial era, but also with the neo-colonial era of Françafrique launched by General de Gaulle in 1960.  At a summit meeting held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where the discussions at the summit meeting dealt mostly with the immigration crisis, Macron initiated a partnership whereby Europeans and Africans should share responsibilities.  Macron did not mince words when he told his audience : “The passeurs (smugglers) are not European, my friends , they are African.”

At a time when Angela Merkel is vacillating and Brexit is looming, the role of Emmanuel Macron in Europe is crucial. 

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

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.

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Child & Family Hosts Essex Holiday House Tour Today

File photo of a beautifully decorated home from the 2015 tour.

This Saturday, Dec. 9, will highlight a memorable stroll through Essex, one of New England’s most picturesque towns, for its 14th biennial holiday house tour.  Created and organized by the Essex Auxiliary of the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT, the tour consists of seven distinctive private homes beautifully decorated for the holidays, the Essex Historical Society properties, and the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Cryan’s special holiday train show.  The Essex Art Association will also offer free chili.

Home base for the tour will be the Essex Town Hall at 29 West Avenue, where tickets may be purchased or picked up, and where there will be a large Boutique with vendors offering clothing, jewelry, gifts, home décor items, holiday arrangements and other alluring items.  Several drawings for donations by the vendors will be held here at the end of the day, and, during the day, Santa’s Café will offer snacks and refreshments.  The Boutique will be open from 9:30 to 5:00, and admission is free.

Tickets for the tour are $30 in advance, $35 the day of the tour.  Checks payable to Child & Family Agency may be sent to:  Essex Holiday House Tour, 168 River Road, Essex, CT 06426.

Tickets are also available in advance at www.childandfamilyagency.org; at the Griswold Inn Store, One North Main, and Walker Loden in Essex; Centerbrook Cheese Shop in Centerbrook; Saybrook Country Barn in Old Saybrook; Lark in Chester; Celebrations in Deep River; Bowerbird in Old Lyme; Walker Loden in Madison and New Haven; and the Child & Family Agency in New London, (806)443-2896, ext. 1403.

All proceeds from the tour go to funding Child & Family Agency’s programs addressing the mental health, educational, and healthcare needs of children and their families to promote the well-being and development of all children.

Services are offered from birth through high school in southeastern Connecticut and include child guidance, early childhood development, and after-school academic, recreational, and artistic activities.  Adult services include parenting education as well as prevention training for scholars and professional practitioners.  Healthcare services address both physical and mental health issues facing children.

Office-based, community-based, and home-based mental health services are available from New Haven to Stonington, and 14 school-based health centers provide healthcare options to children in Waterford, New London, Groton, Norwich, and Stonington. Child Guidance centers are based in Essex, New London, and Groton.

Last year, with a professional staff of more than 190, Child & Family provided services to over 18,000 children and their families in 79 towns in New Haven, Middlesex, and New London Counties.

In other words, your enjoyment of the Essex Holiday House Tour will benefit thousands of children in our neighborhoods, so come and help us celebrate the holidays by exploring lovely historic homes, including a mansion, in a picture-book setting!

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Carol Stroll Down Main Street, Then See ‘Trees in the Rigging’ in Essex Today

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights. Photo by Jody Dole.

Kick off the holiday season in Essex with the annual Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Lighted Boat Parade.   The Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Board of Trade, and the Essex Historical Society combine to present this annual event that includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street where spectators are invited to bring their own lanterns or flashlights and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars.

Participants can gather at the Essex Town Hall at 4 p.m. The stroll steps off at 4:30 p.m. beginning on West Avenue and ending at the Connecticut River Museum with a parade of vessels dressed out in holiday lights and passing in review along the Connecticut River.  Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum. The Connecticut River Museum will also be open that evening for all to attend the 24th Annual Holiday Train Show at a reduced admission of $6.

Register Your Boat for the Lighted Boat Parade

A critical and crowd-pleasing part of this free community event is the parade of boats dressed in holiday lights that sail along Essex’s waterfront. The decorated boats are part of a friendly competition.  A modest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize will be awarded to the best dressed boats. Winners will be invited to receive their prize and participate in a photo-op on Monday, Nov. 27 at 4:30 p.m. at the Connecticut River Museum.

Registration is required to participate in the boat parade that usually begins around 5:15 p.m. from the south end of Essex Harbor. To register, send emails to: kperkins@ctrivermuseum.org. Information should include: vessel name; type of boat and description; owner(s) name; contact information (phone and preferred email); decorating scheme (if known at time of registration). Registration must be received by Monday, Nov. 20 at 4:30 p.m.  

To make your own lanterns at home:
Step 1: fill an empty aluminum can with water and freeze. This will make it easier to punch holes for the design in the can.
Step 2: using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the can to make a connect-the-dots style picture of a holiday design. Use plenty of holes to allow the light to shine through.
Step 3: punch two holes near the rim to attach a wire handle.
Step 4: after the ice is melted, attach a votive or other small candle to the inside bottom of the can.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am – 5 p.m.  For more information, call 860.767.8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

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It’s Holmes for the Holidays! Final Day to See ‘The Game’s Afoot’ at Ivoryton Playhouse

Hard at work in a rehearsal for ‘The Game’s Afoot’ are, from left to right, Katrina Ferguson, Michael Iannucci, Molly Densmore, Erik Bloomquist, Craig McDonald and Maggie McGlone Jennings. Photos by Anne Hudson.

IVORYTON – On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the Ivoryton Playhouse continues the Halloween season with a murderously funny thriller set in William Gillette’s Connecticut Castle – Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot.

It is December 1936 and Broadway star William Gillette, admired the world over for his theatrical portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast-members to his Connecticut castle for a weekend of revelry. But when one of the guests is stabbed to death, the festivities in this isolated house of tricks and mirrors quickly turn dangerous. Then it’s up to Gillette himself, as he assumes the persona of his beloved Holmes, to track down the killer before the next victim appears.

In the vein of the best “whodunit” murder mysteries, the plot takes many twists and turns. The dialogue is witty and face-paced; there’s suspense within the laughter and even when you think you’ve figured out who the bad guy is, you will start to question yourself when the plot takes an unexpected twist.

An intense moment during a rehearsal for Victoria Bundonis and Craig McDonald.

The Cleveland Examiner writes about The Game’s Afoot, “From the intriguing opening mini play within a play to the surprise last scene a split second before final curtain, The Game’s Afoot gives you everything you love about great live theatre. Billed as a comedy thriller you will find yourself swept along for a wild and funny ride.”

The Game’s Afoot is directed by Playhouse Artistic Director Jacqueline Hubbard and features Ivoryton favorites Erik Bloomquist, Victoria Bundonis*, Katrina Ferguson*, Michael Iannucci*, Maggie McGlone Jennings and Beverley J. Taylor, as well as Craig McDonald*, making his Playhouse debut as William Gillette and Molly Densmore* as the beautiful Aggie.

Set design is by Daniel Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott, sound by Tate R. Burmeister and costume design by Kathleen T. Gephart.

The Game’s Afoot opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse runs through Nov. 19. 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.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Flag Tribute to Veterans with Lymes’ VFW Post #1467 This Morning in Essex

A short Flag Tribute to Veterans will be held this morning at 10 a.m. in the Essex Town Park across from Saint Johns Episcopal Church assisted by 15 members of the Lymes’ VFW Post #1467 in their uniform of blues and grays with VFW caps and white gloves.
All are welcome to come and stand in tribute to the flag of the United States of America and honor our veterans.  The ceremony is anticipated a round half an hour.
The outline of the ceremony is as follows:
– Opening of Funeral Flag (1 minute)
– Opening Prayer Lymes’ VFW Post #1467 Chaplain Capt. (Ret) Larry Olsen (2 minutes)
– “Amazing Grace” Recorded Music (2:30 minutes)
– Lymes’ VFW Post Rifle Volley followed by TAPS
– Echo TAPS by Charles and Susan DeLinks in honor of those who died in service to our country (3 minutes)
– Scottish Bag Pipe marching music (2 minutes)
– Playing of Armed Forces Medley: Service members invited to come up, touch the flag, and stay with their left hand as their theme is played (5 minutes)
– Pledge of Allegiance Led by St. Johnʼs Youth (2 minutes)
– “God Bless The USA” by Lee Greenwood Recorded Music (4 minutes)
– The United States National Anthem Recorded Music (2 minutes)
– Dismissal: Observe silence while the flag is folded (3 minutes)
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Letter From Paris: The State of the Continent – A Snapshot of European Politics

Nicole Prévost Logan

Is the far right forging ahead in Europe?

The political landscape of the European Union (EU) has shifted somewhat to the right during the past few months.  At the core of this trend is the fear of losing one’s identity following the recent surge of migrants.  Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to open wide Germany’s borders – and hence Europe’s – has had a lasting impact.  Max Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign  Relations, based in London, has suggested that the trauma resulting from the decision for Europeans can be compared to that of the 9/11 attack for Americans.

Sebastian Kurz

In Austria , the legislative elections, held on Oct. 17,  gave 31.5 percent of the votes to the conservative People’s Party (OVP) led by Sebastian Kurz.  At age 31, Sebastian Kurz may become the youngest ever Chancellor of that small alpine country of eight million people with a robust economy.  He is not xenophobic nor racist and disapproves of anti-semitism.  However, Kurz may have to strike an alliance with the far right Freedom Party (FPO), which finished in third place behind the declining social democrats (SPO).

To understand Austria, one needs to remember a few facts: it  has been subjected to a flux of Kosovar and Bosniac refugees following  the late 1990s conflict in the Balkans;  it has never been a colonial power and does not have a bad conscience with regard to the economic fate of sub-Saharan migrants. According to French political commentator Christine Okrent, Austria has never gone through the process of “denazification” and considers itself to have been a victim during World War II.  The nostalgia of its past as part of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian empire still lingers.

Andrej Babis

To complete this snapshot of European politics, the Oct. 20 and 21 legislative elections in the Czech Republic saw Andrej Babis’ party arrive in first place. The 63-year-old tycoon – nicknamed Trump 2 –  proclaims to be anti-immigration, but pro-Europe and pro-NATO. He shares his ideas with the other members of the central European “Visegrad group” (Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.)

Angela Merkel, after her somewhat disappointing results in the last September elections, is reaching out to the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Greens in order to give her Christian Democrat party (CDU) a comfortable majority. These negotiations may keep her off the front stage until the end of the year.   

In France, Marine Le Pen has practically collapsed after the disastrous debate against Emmanuel Macron on May 3 between the two rounds of the presidential elections. She has become an inaudible adversary in the National Assembly.  Marion, her even more right-wing niece, was clever enough to jump ship last spring.  Marine’s co- president, highly educated Florian Philippot, was ejected from the National Front (FN).  Several legal pursuits for financial “improprieties,” both for her activities as European deputy and in France, are still looming against her. 

After six years of being in the limelight , Marine Le Pen is now in the process of redefining herself. 

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

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.

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‘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.”

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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.

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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/

 

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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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.
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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

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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

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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

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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

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