April 5, 2020

Register Now for ‘Race Against Hunger Virtual 5K’ to Benefit Connecticut Food Bank

WALLINGFORD/OLD LYME/LYME — Connecticut Food Bank and JB Sports are teaming up to host a virtual 5K to help feed Connecticut residents struggling with hunger during this critical time. The Race Against Hunger Virtual 5K will run from April 13 through April 19 and is presented by Stop & Shop.

Event proceeds will help Connecticut Food Bank as it faces increased operational costs to source, transport, and distribute food. In recent weeks, demand for food across Connecticut Food Bank’s network of 600 partners and programs has grown due to job losses and to increased need to have food on hand to sustain households that may need to shelter in place for extended periods.

Race Against Hunger is a virtual event perfectly suited for a time when people are encouraged to avoid crowded public settings. Participants can register and run or walk at any time between April 13 and April 19 at a location of their choosing. Participants complete their run or walk and send in their results and the event coordinator will compile a results database. 

Participants of Race Against Hunger may register any time before April 19 and run at any point between April 13 and April 19. JB Sports and Connecticut Food Bank ask participants to follow current health recommendations and avoid running or walking closer than six feet from anyone during their virtual run or walk.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented economic challenges for our communities,” said Beverly Catchpole, Senior Director of Development for Connecticut Food Bank. “We invite people to join our virtual 5K and help us continue to meet the growing need among our neighbors.”

Race Against Hunger is organized by Connecticut Food Bank and JB Sports.

“As we try to navigate through the challenges that coronavirus has brought to our lives, it is more important now than ever that we work together to help our neighbors whose lives have been impacted,” said Rudy DiPietro, Senior Vice President of Sales & Operations at Stop & Shop. “We are proud to be teaming up with Connecticut Food Bank in the Race Against Hunger to ensure all of our neighbors have access to food and nourishment.”

JB Sports, one of the top event management companies in Connecticut, also coordinates the Faxon Law New Haven Road Race and PLR Shamrock & Roll 5K.

Race Against Hunger is presented by Stop & Shop, with additional support from Webster Bank, Prudential, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, ConnectiCare, IRIS, Barrett Outdoor Communications, 99.1PLR, Star 99.9, WEBE 108, WICC 600, 95.9 The FOX and 94.3 WYBC.

To learn more about Race Against Hunger, visit www.jbsports.com or email kaitlin@jbsports.com

Editor’s Notes:
i) Connecticut Food Bank is committed to alleviating hunger in Connecticut by providing food resources, raising awareness of the challenges of hunger, and advocating for people who need help meeting basic needs. Connecticut Food Bank partners with the food industry, food growers, donors, and volunteers to distribute nutritious food to people in need. The Connecticut Food Bank distributes food through a network of 600 partners and programs in Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, and Windham counties – where nearly 270,000 people struggle with hunger. Last year, Connecticut Food Bank distributed food to help provide 22.5 million meals. Visit us on the web at www.ctfoodbank.org, like us on Facebook and follow @CTFoodBank on Twitter and Instagram

ii) A neighborhood grocer for more than 100 years, today’s Stop & Shop is refreshed, reenergized and inspired, delivering new conveniences for customers. Committed to helping its communities enjoy better food and better lives, Stop & Shop has a longstanding history of giving back to the neighborhoods it serves with a focus on fighting hunger and helping children to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC is an Ahold Delhaize USA Company and employs nearly 60,000 associates and operates over 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. To learn more about Stop & Shop, visit www.stopandshop.com

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Closures & Cancellations: Latest News

We are being inundated with closures and cancellations, and so will run all the new ones together in this post and then prepare a summary at the end of the day.

Ivoryton Playhouse: Opening of Forbidden Broadway Comes to Ivoryton scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, has been postponed.

Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, “The Kate”: All performances through April 30 are postponed.

South Lyme Union Chapel: Lenten Soup Night, scheduled for Monday, March 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. is cancelled

SECWAC (Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council): March 20 and 26 programs cancelled.

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Essex Winter Series Presents LINÜ Guitar Duo This Afternoon

LINÜ Guitar Duo comprises Jiji (left in photo above) and Gulli Bjornsson.

DEEP RIVER/ESSEX Essex Winter Series (EWS) presents its Fenton Brown Emerging Artists Concert, featuring LINÜ, a vibrant and talented guitar duo comprised of Gulli Bjornsson and Jiji, on Sunday, March 8 at 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River. 

Gulli Bjornsson and Jiji are two aspiring young artists searching for new ways to promote classical music. Both virtuosic and versatile, they have received multiple accolades for their guitar playing and have backgrounds in composition, film, electronic music, visual arts and theater.

Their diverse backgrounds, classical training and contemporary influences all come to fruition as Bjornsson and Jiji present unique programs of classical music, improvisations, arrangements and new compositions on classical and electric guitars. In recital, they have performed in a wide array of venues, including: Le Poisson Rouge, National Sawdust, Dominican Guest Concert Series, Morse Recital Hall, Mengi, Hannesarholt, Yale British Art Gallery, East Meadow Public Library and Yale Cabaret.

Bjornsson and Jiji met at Yale School of Music in 2015 and have been performing together and creating music ever since. Their primary teacher was Benjamin Verdery.

The EWS season will continue on March 29 at Valley Regional High School with BeethovenFest, a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th with seven world-renowned artists: David Shiffrin, clarinet; William Purvis, horn; Marc Goldberg, bassoon; Ida Kavafian, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; and Timothy Cobb, double bass.

All concerts begin at 3 p.m. and are general admission. For tickets call 860-272-4572 or visit www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2020 season is generously sponsored by Masonicare at Chester Village with co-sponsors The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories, and hospitality sponsors Guilford Savings Bank and BrandTech Scientific.

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Fourth Annual Festival of Women’s Plays Takes Place at Ivoryton Playhouse Today

Sharon Goulner’s play is Savior.

IVORYTON:  The Ivoryton Playhouse has announced the date of its Fourth Annual Women
Playwrights Initiative – 4 x 4 in 2020.

Over 170 plays from all over the country were submitted to the initiative and the four finalists will be traveling to Ivoryton from Washington State, California, Indiana and Maryland to have their work presented in a series of staged reading on Saturday, Feb. 22, with a snow date of Sunday, Feb. 23.

The Initiative includes the Ellie Award and a $500 stipend for each of the four women playwrights chosen and provides a safe, nurturing environment for the development of new, one-act plays with a director and actors.

The plays are by and about women and the issues that shape their lives, and the workshop culminates in a festival of staged readings, which will take place at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton, CT 06422.

Crystal V. Rhodes’s play is 1200 miles to Jerome.

At 2 p.m., there will be two readings presented.  Savior by Sharon Goldner finds two modern moms at a yoga class dealing with an absurd yet very familiar situation – what do you do when your five-year-old tells you he is the messiah?

1200 miles to Jerome by Crystal V. Rhodes relates the daunting experience of the Franklin family, who are traveling through the Deep South with a fugitive in tow in the 1940s. It is a journey in which “driving while black” could mean the difference between life and death.

At 7 p.m., the festival will continue witha  performance of Court by Holly Arsenault, which takes an intimate look at divorce and custody battles from a child’s unique, funny and raw perspective.

Deanna and Paul by Dagney Kerr concludes the event. In this play, Deanna is a quirky waitress with a strict no tipping policy and Paul a surly customer with a tight lid on his heart. Their lonely worlds collide one day in a small-town diner, where one cup of coffee can change everything.

To purchase tickets for the Women Playwrights Festival, call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Holly Arsenault’s play is Court.

Tickets are priced as follows: $20 — adult; $15 — senior; $10 — student for one performance.

Buy tickets for both performances at these special prices: $30 — adult; $25 — senior; $10 — student. Call the box office at 860.767.7318 to book two-performance packages.

Check the Playhouse website for additional workshops and special festival deals with local restaurants.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT  06442.

Dagney Kerr’s play is Deanna and Paul.

For more information about the Women Playwrights Initiative and to read biographies of the playwrights, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

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Essex Winter Series Continues with Concert by Classical Guitar Duo, LINÜ, March 8

ESSEX – The Essex Winter Series (EWS) season continues March 8 with the classical guitar duo, LINÜ, performing at John Winthrop Middle School, Deep River. The virtuosic and versatile Gulli Bjornsson and JIJI are aspiring young artists searching for new ways to promote classical music. They have received many accolades for their guitar playing and have backgrounds in composition, film, electronic music, visual arts and theater.

Essex Winter Series’ 43rd season concludes on March 29 at Valley Regional High School with BeethovenFest, a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th with seven world-renowned artists: David Shiffrin, clarinet; William Purvis, horn; Marc Goldberg, bassoon; Ida Kavafian, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; and Timothy Cobb, double bass.

All concerts begin at 3 p.m. and are general admission. For tickets call 860-272-4572 or visit www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2020 season is generously sponsored by Masonicare at Chester Village with co-sponsors The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories, and hospitality sponsors Guilford Savings Bank and BrandTech Scientific.

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Letter From Paris: France is Embroiled in a Pension Reform Crisis, But Seems to be Doing Fine … or is it?

Nicole Prévost Logan

Reform of the retirement system was at the core of French President Emmanuel Macron’s 2016 campaign. He wanted to simplify the system and make it universal. The reform is so highly sensitive – one might even say explosive – that several prime ministers have fallen in similar attempts (1986, 1995, 2008.) Although close to 60 percent of public opinion is favorable to the reforms, the opposition is orchestrated into an angry movement by the unions and the Left.  

In a nutshell, the objective of the reform is two-fold: first, to prevent the system from being in the red in the 2020s and second to achieve social justice. This latter aim is being sought by suppressing the 42 régimes spéciaux (special systems), which grant privileges to certain groups of the population, such as civil servants, train workers (SNCF) bus and subway employees (RATP), personnel of the Paris Opera, members of the two legislative assemblies, etc. Some of these benefits include calculating the amount of retirement after the last six months of employment rather than the last 25 years.  And not surprisingly, these régimes spéciaux cost the French government billions every year.

The pension system in France is based on “repartition,” meaning that the active population pays for the retired one.  The problem is that in 1950, there were four working people for each retiree. Demography will soon reduce the ratio to 1 to 1.  In the US, the retirement system is based on “capitalization,” that is, individuals are free to invest their accumulated capital in a pension fund or other types of investment as they wish.  The Scandinavian countries use both systems – “capitalization” and “repartition”- simultaneously. 

For an American reader, it must be hard to comprehend the over-regulated retirement system in France, which applies not only to the 5.6 million civil servants  but also to the private sector.  A special dispensation is even required for retirees to be allowed to work.

The Macron plan is based on a points system.  Throughout one’s professional life, each hour’s work is translated into “points.” Variables – such as the political or economic environment – may impact the points’ value.  Employers and unions will determine together the value of each point.  Hence the anxiety of the people regarding this unfamiliar system.

France has the most generous retirement pension in Europe but it’s costing the country dearly. Photo by Hans Ripa on Unsplash.

France is the ‘Etat-providence’ (Welfare State) par excellence and the most generous in Europe.  The retirement age is 62 in France as compared to 65 in the UK.  It can be as low as 52 as in the case of train conductors.  More than 13 percent of the Gross Domestic Product is devoted to funding pensions.

The French government announced its plan to reform pensions on Dec. 5, 2019.  The reaction was immediate:- a general strike of all public transport. That meant no subway in Paris, except for two lines (which are automated), no buses, and very few trains.  That ordeal lasted for weeks without even a respite during the Christmas and New Year vacations.  Life for working people, who had to commute from the suburbs, became a pure nightmare.  Videos showed stampede scenes at stations.

On Jan. 28, 2020  the Gare de Lyon was packed as usual with passengers waiting for TGVs and suburban trains.  Suddenly a deafening sound resonated under the glass and steel structure.  Several explosions followed and pink smoke filled the station.  It turned out that dozens of the men getting off the train, wearing black parkas with yellow stripes, were firefighters on their way to join a demonstration at the Bastille. They were just getting warmed up, using their talents with pyrotechnics to blast powerful fire-crackers. 

After 50 days, the strikes had partially stopped.  The street demonstrations continued and have become a way of life in the city.  The left-wing unions and radical groups keep the momentum going and direct their actions to strategic areas such as blocking the main ports or shutting down oil refineries .

Tens of thousands people in black robes marched near the Bastille on Feb. 3.  They were some of France’s 70,000 lawyers, who have been on strike for five weeks – an absolute first.  The atmosphere was peaceful.  Not a single policeman in sight, no police vans nor water guns. 

I went down to take pictures.  ‘Why are you on strike?’  I asked a young lawyer. ‘We have our own retirement system,’ she answered, ‘which is autonomous and, furthermore, has a surplus.  Now the government has announced that the contributions toward the pension fund will double from 14 to 28 percent.’ Actually, what she said is not entirely accurate — the increase will be gradual: it will not start until the late 2020s and will not apply to all equally. 

French President Emmanuel Macron.

The launching of this crucial pension reform is like stepping into an anthill.  Wherever the government goes, it cuts into well-entrenched benefits, provoking an outpouring of protests.  Every time the government helps one group financially, this assistance has to be paid for by depriving another group.  This in turn feeds the popular mistrust for the government . 

After consultation with all the unions at the Hotel Matignon (seat of the Executive Power), an agreement was reached with the CFDT (Confederation Française Democratique du Travail), the most reformist of the unions.  For Laurent Berger, the CFDT leader,  the “age pivot” (retirement age) of 64 was a “red line” not to be crossed.  The Prime Minister agreed to pull back from it and replace it with a “cocktail of measures” to generate 12 billion Euros in order to balance the pension system. 

A parliamentary commission  of 80 deputies from all parties from the RN (Rassemblement National of Marine LePen) to LFI (La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Melanchon) was appointed.  The government’s proposal was met with a ridiculous number of 22,000 amendments, (19,000 by LFI alone.)  Their obvious strategy was total obstruction of the process.  A general debate in the Parliament will follow.  If time runs out because of the municipal elections in 36,000 towns on March 15, the Prime Minister may resort to Executive Orders. 

In this crisis, I believe both sides are to blame: the government’s project may not have been prepared well enough and appeared confusing.  The opposition consistently refuses to enter any dialogue.  It is a French cultural trait:- first you flex your muscles then – possibly – you may be willing to come to the negotiating table.  But keep in mind that compromise is a dirty word in France.

The proposed retirement reform has somehow triggered other requests.  Seeing an opportunity, demands for higher wages and benefits are snowballing.  Some teachers in public schools are striking for pay raises.  These school students take their cue from their teachers and march in the street, or block their classrooms to protect their future pension rights — an odd sight indeed for 12- or 13-year olds!

The unrest (accompanied by violence) is dragging on.  There does not seem to be an end to it.

France appears to be functioning on two different levels — on the one hand, there is a France of  angry people, who feel very sorry for themselves. On the other, there is a dynamic France doing rather well, which has become economically attractive to foreign investors thanks primarily to labor market reforms. 

At the same time, Macron has chosen to keep above the in-fighting and focus on his role as the president of the only nuclear power of Europe, strengthening its defense and security while seeking a more integrated European Union.

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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State Sen. Needleman Announces Candidacy for Re-election in 33rd District, Includes Lyme

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

ESSEX/LYME — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) announced his candidacy yesterday for re-election to the 33rd State Senate District. First elected to his seat in 2018, Senator Needleman represents the town of Lyme along with those of Colchester, Chester, Clinton, Essex, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, and Portland.

“It is an honor to be able to represent the 33rd Senatorial District, and I’m excited to continue serving my constituents,” said Sen. Needleman. “My time in the General Assembly has been an incredible experience, and I truly enjoy fighting for my district to ensure we build a stronger future for them and all the citizens of Connecticut. I humbly ask my constituents for the opportunity to do so for another term.”

Needleman serves as Senate Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, Vice Chair of the Planning and Development Committee, and is a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding, Transportation, and Commerce Committees.

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Artist Director Mihae Lee Celebrates 10 Years with Essex Winter Series, 2020 Season Opens Today

Essex Winter Series Artistic Director Mihae Lee.

DEEP RIVER – Essex Winter Series’ (EWS) 43rd season marks a milestone for Artistic Director and pianist, Mihae Lee, who celebrates her 10th year of programming for EWS.

The 2020 season opens with a concert by Lee joined by esteemed violinist Ani Kavafian and 11 performers who have all been a part of EWS’ Emerging Artists program. The concert takes place Sunday, Jan. 12 at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School in Deep River and will feature Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Schubert’s Trout Quintet.

The Emerging Artists – young, up-and-coming musicians – have all performed at past concerts and most have participated in EWS’ community outreach program. Many attained degrees from Yale School of Music and The Juilliard School.

Performing on Jan. 12 are Yoobin Son, flute; Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet; Adrian Morejon, bassoon; Katie Hyun, violin; Edson Scheid, violin; Keiko Tokunaga, violin; Andy Lin, viola; Joann Whang, cello; Luke Fleming, viola; Mihai Marica, cello; and Joe Magar, double bass.

The EWS season continues on Feb. 16 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert at Valley Regional High School in Deep River featuring the Jeff Barnhart/Jim Fryer International All-Star Jazz Band performing music of the 1920’s and 1930’s. The band of seven seasoned players includes Grammy-winning, New York jazz icon Vince Giordano.

On March 8, the classical guitar duo LINÜ performs at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River. Gulli Bjornsson and JIJI are two aspiring young artists searching for new ways to promote classical music. Both virtuosic and versatile, Gulli and Jiyeon have received multiple accolades for their guitar playing and have backgrounds in composition, film, electronic music, visual arts and theater.

The final concert of the season is BeethovenFest, a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary on March 29 at Valley Regional High School with seven world-renowned artists. Performing Serenade for String Trio in D Major and Septet in E-Flat Major are David Shiffrin, clarinet; William Purvis, horn; Marc Goldberg, bassoon; Ida Kavafian, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; and Timothy Cobb, double bass.

All concerts begin at 3 p.m. and are general admission. For tickets, call 860-272-4572 or visit www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2020 season is generously sponsored by Masonicare at Chester Village with co-sponsors The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Tower Laboratories, and hospitality sponsors Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.

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Remembering the Haiti Earthquake: Join an Interfaith Service This Afternoon, All Welcome

ESSEX — Sister Cities Essex Haiti presents an Interfaith Service, Remembering the Haiti Earthquake 10 Years Later, this Sunday, Jan. 12, at 4 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3 Cross St., Essex. This service will celebrate the generous heartedness and hopefulness of all in Haiti and here in the US who have supported Sister Cities Essex Haiti since its founding in 2010.

All are welcome to join members of the organization in this remembrance of having hearts and hope for Haiti through prayers, readings, and song.

Places of worship are invited to ring their bells at 4:53 p.m. in observance of the quake’s occurrence.

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Death Announced of Barbara Woodman Wyden

Barbara Woodman Wyden

Barbara Woodman Wyden, born July 1, 1922 passed away on January 4, 2020, at Davis Nursing Home, Wilmington, N.C.

Barbara graduated from Radcliff in 1941. She worked for Newsweek Magazine as editor of International News. Other newspapers that she worked for were the Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles times and then settling down to the New York Times as editor of the women’s section. Barbara was a ghost writer as well; writing all of Joyce Brothers books as well as many others. Barbara befriended Kaye Summersby, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s driver during World War II, and wrote “Past Forgetting” using much of the information from Eisenhower’s diaries. Kaye died before the book was published, so Barbara left the dairies to her brother, Richard Woodman, who contacted the Eisenhower Library and donated those pages of the diaries that she had. They are now in a section of the Library dedicated to his wartime efforts.

Barbara was preceded in death by her father, Clarence Woodman, her mother Katherine Woodman and her sister, Virginia Woodman Cordes.

No services are planned at this time.

Arrangements are being handled by Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington NC 28403.

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Celebrate the Season with ‘An Actor’s Carol,’ a Delightful Twist on ‘A Christmas Carol,’ at Ivoryton Through Sunday

Michael Iannucci

IVORYTON – The Ivoryton Playhouse provides a fresh take on Dickens’s timeless A Christmas Carol with their production of Charles Evered’s An Actor’s Carol, which is on stage currently through Sunday,  Dec. 22.

It tells the tale of Hugh Pendleton, an actor drained of artistic passion after having played the character of Scrooge one too many times, which leads to Pendleton encountering three ghosts of his own. A cast of four actors plays 17 different characters in this hilarious new look at a classic that reminds us that the most jaded among us can find magic in the holiday season – and in the theater as well.

An Actor’s Carol made its premiere in 2015 in Palm Springs in a production starring Hal Linden, the Tony- and Emmy-winning actor, best known for starring on the 1970s sitcom “Barney Miller.” The play won the Outstanding Original Writing Award in the staged reading category of the Desert Theatre League Awards.

The playwright, Charles Evered, an award-winning playwright and filmmaker, is a graduate of Yale School of Drama and a former naval officer. He has written screenplays for major studios and directed two features of his own. Evered also wrote for the hit TV shows Monk, starring Tony Shalhoub. Currently, he is Professor of Playwriting at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) where he served as the department’s first artistic director.

Evered says, “An Actor’s Carol is a comedy, but unlike other spoofs and satires of A Christmas Carol, it has heart and truth, particularly about theater.”

This production is directed by Sasha Bratt with set design by Dan Nischan, costumes by Lisa, and lighting by Marcus Abbott.

Michael Iannucci* will be returning to the Ivoryton Playhouse where he previously appeared in The Games Afoot and Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, to take on the role of Hugh Pendleton/Scrooge. He will be joined by Lev Harvey, who was recently seen in Shear Madness, Alec Silberblatt* who was here for Biloxi Blues and Moira O’Sullivan who has appeared in Ivoryton in  Biloxi Blues, Coney Island Christmas, and It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.

Performance times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.

Tickets are $35 adult / $32 senior / $20 student / $15 children under 12 and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates and subscriptions 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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Shop & Stroll at 15th Biennial Holiday House Tour in Historic Essex, Dec. 7; Benefits Child & Family Agency

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

ESSEX — The town of Essex opens their homes this December to support Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT. On Saturday, Dec. 7, the Essex River Valley Auxiliary of the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT presents a self-guided walking tour through six distinctive houses, beautifully decorated for the holidays in downtown Essex.

Visitors can also get a jump start on their holiday shopping by visiting the Holiday Boutique, featuring hand-crafted clothing, bespoke jewelry, unique home décor, festive holiday floral arrangements and more. The Holiday Boutique opens at 9:30 a.m. and is located at Essex Town Hall at 29 West Avenue.   Santa’s Café located in the boutique will offer snacks and refreshments.

Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT is the area’s oldest children’s non-profit organization in Southeastern CT, a cornerstone Agency helping children and families since 1809.  With over 10,535 children and families served each year, the Agency aims to provide high- quality and holistic mental health treatment to all members of the community. The Essex location offers a variety of programs, services, and therapeutic models with the goal of not only nurturing children and families but the entire community.

The Essex Auxiliary has proudly devoted itself to supporting the Agency for over 25 years, providing over half a million dollars in unrestricted funds.  Most recently, the Auxiliary raised funds to create an outdoor therapeutic area at the Essex Child Guidance office. All proceeds from the holiday house tour benefit the programs and services provided by the Agency.

This is the 15th-holiday house tour presented in Essex, and a wonderful opportunity to see some of Essex’s historic homes that showcase elegant, architectural features in their original settings. Tickets are available for purchase online at https://www.childandfamilyagency.org/for $30 in advance or $40 on the day of the event at the Essex Town Hall at 29 West Avenue, Essex, CT.

Editor’s Note: In 1944, a group of 12 women organized to aid the Agency and its work, creating the Child & Family Agency Auxiliaries.  Nearly 600 men and women from five auxiliaries give generously of their time and talent through caring for children, fundraising events, and educational services. Through multiple events each year, the dedicated volunteer members of the Essex River Valley Auxiliary take pride in funding programs that improve the lives of children and their families.

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Death of LymeLine Contributor, Former NY State Senator Jerome ‘Jerry’ Wilson Announced

The late Jerome (Jerry) L. Wilson.

ESSEX — It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our beloved contributor, Jerome ‘Jerry’ L. Wilson. Mr. Wilson, 88, passed away Friday, Nov. 1, in Essex. We have not yet heard the details of services for Mr. Wilson but will publish them as soon as we receive them.

Mr. Wilson was a great supporter of our online news ventures and contributed more article and photos to ValleyNewsNow.com and LymeLine.com than we can count. Coincidentally, Mr. Wilson was room-mates at Colgate University with John ‘Jack’ Turner, who was the founder of LymeLine.com in 2003. Most of Mr. Wilson’s articles were published on ValleyNewsNow.com, which was founded by Lon Seidman in 2009. Both sites are now owned by Shoreline Web News LLC.

Mr. Wilson was passionate about the importance of local news and determined to keep it very much on the front burner.  He would pursue stories with the grit of a rookie journalist, never giving up until he had answers or comments from everyone he believed should be involved. A character in every way imaginable, Mr. Wilson had a heart of gold and we will miss him dearly.

He led a storied career as a Democratic State Senator from Manhattan, an on-air political correspondent and editor for WCBS-TV, and a lawyer. He was perhaps best known for his determined and ultimately successful efforts to change the New York state law, which required a spouse to prove adultery as the sole way to gain a divorce. New York was the only remaining state in the country with this provision when then Senator Wilson took up the issue. By the time the new law was passed in September 1967 with Sen. Wilson leading the state judicial committee that had proposed it, four additional grounds for divorce had been added.

This past Tuesday, Nov. 5, the New York Times published an article about Mr. Wilson at this link by NYT Obituaries Reporter Sam Roberts.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Wilson’s wife Ulla, his four daughters, two stepsons, six grandchildren, and four step-grandchildren.

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Reading Uncertainly: ‘The Meaning of Human Existence’ by Edward O. Wilson

Who are we?

Edward O. Wilson, the eminent Harvard biologist and noted student of ants, describes our strange species in a remarkable and memorable book. In 15 brief, succinct and challenging chapters, each less than 10 pages, he suggests that, at once, we are far more and far less than we imagine.

His is a daunting title but the contents live up to expectations.

First, far less: homo sapiens have existed through a modest six millennia, a mere blip in the 13-plus billion years of our universe, the 4.5 billion years of this earth and the 400 million years of other “species on earth.” And this earth is but a “mote of stardust near the edge of our galaxy (an estimated hundred billion star systems make up the Milky Way galaxy) among a hundred billion or more galaxies in the universe.”

And even among the other species here on this planet, “how bizarre we are as a species … we are chemosensory idiots” when compared to most of them. “Our species is almost unconscious of most stimuli.”

But we are unusual.

We have the “capacity to imagine possible futures, and to plan and choose among them,” the “ability to invent and inwardly rehearse competing scenarios of future interactions.”

Dr. Wilson compares the “humanities” to “science.” The humanities tell us “what,” “the particularities of human nature back and forth in endless permutations, albeit laced with genius and in exquisite detail,” while science increasingly is needed to tell us “why.”

Are we trapped in our own egos?

In Chapter 11, The Collapse of Biodiversity, we seem to be knocking off many species, only to find more.  But “ … without nature,  finally, no people!” “The human impact on biodiversity, to put the matter as briefly as possible, is an attack on ourselves!” This re-confirms the famous Pogo adage, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Wilson suggests we remember the acronym HIPPO: Habitat loss; Invasive species; Pollution: Population growth; and Overharvesting. These may be the most important challenges our species face.

Has the human creation of religions helped? Wilson is dubious.

Religion’s “history is as old or nearly so as that of humanity itself. The attempted resolution of its mysteries lies at the heart of philosophy.” But “the great religions are also, and tragically, sources of ceaseless and unnecessary suffering.”

He adds: “the true cause of hatred and violence is faith versus faith, an outward expression of the ancient instinct of tribalism. Faith is the one thing that makes otherwise good people do bad things.” Many will find this offensive but it is a considered opinion, backed up with solid examples. Wilson summarizes thus, “the best way to live in this real world is to free ourselves of demons and tribal gods!”

He returns to the balance of science and the humanities; the latter describe “the human condition,” while science “encompasses the meaning of human existence.”  We are “an accident of evolution,” from herbivore to carnivore, from wanderer to static, from small families to multiple “tribes.” And “when an individual is cooperative and altruistic, this reduces his advantage in competition to a comparable degree with other members, but increases the survival and reproduction rate of the group as a whole.” No wonder we have conflicting views of how to respond …

Dr. Wilson’s conclusion: “Are human beings intrinsically good but corrupted by the forces of evil, or the reverse, innately sinful yet redeemable by the forces of good? Are we built to pledge our lives to a group, even to the risk of death, or the opposite, built to place ourselves and our families above all else? Scientific evidence, a good part of it accumulated during the past twenty years, suggests that we are both of these things simultaneously. Each of us in inherently conflicted.”

“If the heuristic and analytical power of science can be joined with the introspective creativity of the humanities, human instinct will rise to an infinitely more productive and interesting meaning.”

After each chapter, I had to stop and reflect on Wilson’s ideas, taking many notes.

And I plan to re-read it in its entirety next year.

Editor’s Note: ‘The Meaning of Human Existence’ by  Edward O. Wilson, was published by W. W. Norton  & Co., New York, 2014.

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction, which explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farm Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His late wife, Ann, was also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visited every summer.

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Enjoy ‘Cruise Blues & Brews’ Festival Today in Chester

Jake Kulak (center) and the Lowdown (Jason LaPierre at left and Jeremy Peck at right) will be performing at the ‘Cruise Blues & Brews’ Festival at Chester Fairgrounds, Sept. 21. The band recently won the $10,000 grand prize in Foxwood’s ‘Battle of the Bands.’

CHESTER — The blues-rock power trio, Jake Kulak and the LowDown just won the “Battle of the Bands” $10,000 grand prize, sponsored by the Foxwood Resort Casino. The band has been wowing audiences all over the state. They have also won the CT Blues Society Band Challenge, they were voted Best Blues Band in the CTNOW’s Best of Hartford Reader’s Poll and they were nominated as Best New Act of the Year at the New England Music Awards.

Jake Kulak and the LowDown will be one of the seven top CT Blues Bands performing at the 5th Annual Cruise Blues & Brews Festival, Sept. 21, at the Chester Fairgrounds. Other bands that will be appearing include: Ninety Nine Degrees, Clayton Allen Blues Band, Ramblin’ Dan and the Other Cats, Cobalt Rhythm Kings, Blues on the Rocks, and Vitamin B-3.

Ramblin’ Dan Stevens is another of the featured blues musicians at the ‘Cruise, Blues & Brews ‘Festival on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Chester Fairgrounds.

The Cruise Blues & Brews Festival will also feature hundreds of antique and unique cars on display, a food court with a variety of food trucks, locally brewed craft beer on tap, a marketplace of vendors, a kid’s play area full of activities, trophies, games and prizes.

All proceeds from Cruise Blues & Brews Festival support the At-Risk Boys Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Established in 2013, The At-Risk Boys fund has awarded over $80,000 in grants to organizations throughout Middlesex County. These grants have helped hundreds of boys and young men achieve success and a better life.

The 5th Annual Cruise Blues & Brews Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (rain or shine), at the Chester Fair Grounds.  Admission is a $10 suggested donation, and kids are free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate during the Festival.

To learn more about this fun-filled festival, visit www.cruisebluesandbrews.com

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See America’s Favorite Comedy Whodunnit ‘Shear Madness’ at Ivoryton Playhouse Through Oct. 6

Patrick Noonan (left) and Jordan Ahnquist play the lead male characters in ‘Shear Madness’ opening at the Ivoryton Playhouse, Sept. 18. Photo courtesy of Shear Madness.

IVORYTON – Shear Madness, one of the most popular comedy productions in the world, is opening in Ivoryton on Sept. 18. This iconic production was first produced in Boston in 1980 and has been delighting audiences ever since with its unique blend of madcap improvisation and spine-tickling mystery.

This unique comedy-whodunit takes place today in the Shear Madness hairstyling salon and is chock full of up-to-the-minute spontaneous humor. During the course of the action, a murder is committed and the audience gets to spot the clues, question the suspects, and solve the funniest mystery in the annals of crime. The outcome is never the same, which is why many audience members return again and again to the scene of the mayhem.

Voted “Best Comedy of the Year” seven times by the Boston Globe and recipient of the title “Best Play of the Year” by both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Philadelphia Enquirer, Shear Madness has also received the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America and has been inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame, the first play ever to receive that accolade.

Shear Madness is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running play in the history of the USA. The flagship Boston company has given birth to 50 productions in the U.S. and Shear Madness has been translated into 23 foreign languages, playing worldwide in a host of cities including Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Paris, Rejkavik, Rome, Tel Aviv, Melbourne, Johannesburg and Seoul. Over 12.5 million people worldwide have joined in the fun.

The production features veteran performers Jordan Ahnquist*, Patrick Noonan*, and Lisa McMillan* who have performed these roles many times – most recently in the off-Broadway production. They will be joined by Ivoryton Playhouse alum Bill Mootus* and Siobhan Fitzgerald* and Lev Harvey will be making his Playhouse debut.

The production is directed by Robert Lohrmann with set design by Daniel Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Liz Saylor.

Shear Madness opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Sept. 18  and runs through Oct. 6. 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 $55 for adults; $50 for seniors; $25 for students and $20 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. Discounted tickets after 6pm on Thursday evenings – get half price adult ticket (subject to availability). Six-Tix are only available at the Playhouse Box Office window and do not apply to special events.  Limit 4 Six Tix per person.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Essex Business Launches New Product Line Bursting with Bubbles; Includes Jewelry Cleaner, Shower Aromatherapy, Calcium Supplement

The full range of FizzBenefitz products shown in this photo includes a jewelry cleaner and shower aromatherapy.

ESSEX — Centerbrook-based manufacturer Tower Laboratories Ltd., has launched a diverse line of effervescent health and personal care products. The line, called FizzBenefitz, includes

  • Shine Better Jewelry Cleaner
  • Shower Better Aromatherapy
  • Well Better Vitamin C and Calcium Supplements
  • Hydrate Better Kids Hydration

Tower Laboratories has been in the business of effervescent product manufacturing for almost 40 years. The company produces denture cleaners, antacids and other over-the-counter tablets under various store brands. With FizzBenefitz, Tower Laboratories is hoping to develop its own brand recognition.

“We are excited to launch our own unique line of effervescent products and we think consumers will find a lot to like about FizzBenefitz,” said Matt Needleman of Tower Laboratories. “Effervescence gives people a multi-sensory experience that you don’t find in other types of products. For our health supplements, it has the added benefit of eliminating the stress of taking pills. Our products are always made with convenience for the consumer in mind.”

The full FizzBenefitz line is available for purchase online at fizzbenefitz.shop

Editor’s Note: Tower Laboratories, Ltd. is a privately held company founded in 1979 and the country’s leading supplier of store brand effervescent products. Tower Laboratories, Ltd. also produces a number of effervescent products for contract customers consisting of prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs, dietary supplements, medical devices, personal care products and specialty applications. The company is headquartered in Centerbrook, CT, with manufacturing facilities in Clinton, CT and Montague, MI.

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Death of Suzanne Brown Announced; Memorial Service to be Held in Old Lyme, Aug. 25

Suzanne Brown

ESSEX — Suzanne “Suzie” Brown, our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend, passed away Aug. 5, 2019, from complications after a fall in her home. She joins her beloved husband, Templeton “Temp” Brown of 58 years. We will celebrate them both by living their example of truth, love, and commitment.

Suzie celebrated beauty in life by picnicking in the countryside, arranging flowers from her garden, traveling the world, and savoring languages, cuisine, literature, colors, and the natural world. She cherished her family. We all have cultivated deep artistic roots because she showed us how to appreciate beauty in everything around us, every day of her life.

Suzie lived in Winnetka, Ill. for over three decades, and then returned to her childhood state of Connecticut to begin a new adventure with our dad, Temp, in Lyme. She had a wonderful group of friends, old and new, first from her many years in Illinois, and then more recently centered in Lyme and at the Essex Meadows Senior Retirement Community, in Essex. Suzie loved and appreciated the connections she made in Essex Meadows with her neighbors, staff, care-team, and her dear friend, Len Lonnegren.

Suzie will be remembered forever by her family, daughter Lisa Brown and her husband Mark Lellman; grandson Matt Lellman; and granddaughters, Leah Lellman (husband Josh Hisley) and Heidi Lellman (husband Jake Bonnerup); and great-grandson, Theo Bonnerup; daughter Suzanne Butz and her husband Ted Butz; grandsons Teddy Butz and Robert Butz (wife Jen Butz); and great-granddaughter, Hayden Butz; and daughter Maren Brown and her wife Patricia Morrison.

A Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Lyme Land Trust, which was dear to both mom and dad’s deep appreciation of preserving nature for future generations to enjoy.

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‘Cabaret’ Opens at Ivoryton Playhouse, Runs Through Sept. 1

Katie mack stars in ‘cabaret’ at the Ivoryton Playhouse as Sally Bowles.

IVORYTON – “There was a cabaret and there was a master of ceremonies and there was a city called Berlin in a country called Germany. It was the end of the world … and I was dancing with Sally Bowles and we were both fast asleep.” So begins the international classic musical and winner of eight Tony awards –  Cabaretwhich opened last night in Ivoryton to rave reviews. The show runs through Sept. 1.

Join other members of the audience at the Kit Kat Club as the Emcee takes us back to those tumultuous times with unforgettable musical numbers including,  “Wilkommen,” “Cabaret,” and “Maybe This Time.”

This Broadway classic is set in 1931 Berlin as the Nazis are rising to power. Cabaret focuses on the nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, and revolves around American writer Cliff Bradshaw and his relationship with English cabaret performer, Sally Bowles, as the world spins out of control.

The original 1966 Broadway production became an instant hit, winning eight Tony Awards in 1967 and four in 1998.  The show has inspired numerous subsequent productions in London and New York, as well as the 1972 film of the same name.

Cabaret is an unusual musical that has changed many times over the past 50 years to reflect the changes in the world, but the musical’s implicit warning about the temptations of fascism, nationalism and prejudice — the way they can sneak up on you when you’re having fun — has never seemed dated or irrelevant.

“It’s such an important piece of theatre, in what it says about the world and how quickly things can change,” says Playhouse Artistic Director, Jacqui Hubbard. “I think it is even more relevant today than when it was first performed over 50 years ago. Underneath the humor, the sex and the fabulous music is a constant alarm sounding, telling us to pay attention.”

Sam Given takes the lead male role in ‘Cabaret.’

The production stars Sam Given* as the Master of Ceremonies. Sam has appeared in Ivoryton in Godspell, A Chorus Line, I Hate Musicals: The Musical and in his own one-person show with his alter ego, Millie Grams. He has recently been seen as Ziggy Stardust inRebel Rebel: The Many Lives of David Bowie. 

Katie Mack* as Sally Bowles and Andy Tighe* as Cliff will be making their Ivoryton debuts. The cast also includes Will Clark, Carlyn Connolly*, Corrie Farbstein, Taavon Gamble*, Jade Genga, Aliah James, John Little*, Amanda Luppachino, Amani Pope, Carolyn Popp*, Renee Sutherland, Emerson Valentina, Max Weinstein and Jayke Workman. 

The production is directed and choreographed by Todd Underwood and musical directed by Michael Morris with set design by Daniel Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Katie Bunce.

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 are on Saturday, Aug. 17, and Aug. 31, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $55 for adults; $50 for seniors; $25 for students and $20 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.

Pictures courtesy of Ivoryton Playhouse

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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High Hopes Appoints New Board Chair, Trustees

Newly-appointed High Hopes Board Chair Jacqueline Kangley of Hadlyme leads a rider on the organization’s grounds. Photo credit: Michael Fanelli .

OLD LYME — High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. has appointed Jacqueline Kangley of Hadlyme as its new chair of the board of trustees for a two-year term.

Kangley was introduced to therapeutic riding by her Essex Elementary School classmates and has been a volunteer at High Hopes since 2004. She has been a Trustee since 2015 and currently volunteers in the therapeutic riding program and serves on the Program, Marketing Advisory, Event, and Development Committees.

She has co-chaired the ‘Concert in the Barn’ and served on many Auction, Décor, and other Benefit Committees. She is a past recipient of the Sally H. Aubrey Award, and the 2018 Path Intl. Region 1 Volunteer of the Year for her outstanding contribution to High Hopes.

“High Hopes is a unique, vibrant community with an important mission. For over 15 years, I’ve watched participants, instructors, volunteers, and horses work together to improve each others’ lives in very measurable ways. I am grateful to be a part of the High Hopes team and value this opportunity to help guide the organization,” said Kangley of her appointment.

As her first order of business Kangley thanked John Catlett as well as outgoing trustees Seymour Smith and Katherine Gibson. Catlett is stepping down as Chair but will continue as a trustee at the Old Lyme non-profit. Kangley said, “Under John’s leadership, High Hopes has ushered in its 45th year with a strong respect for its past and a clear vision for the future. He has overseen the launch of the ‘Share Hope’ Endowment Campaign, the implementation of a new strategic plan, and encouraged an active, engaged board.”

Kangley concluded, “John, Seymour, and Katherine exemplify the dedication and commitment of the over 650 volunteers who help keep High Hopes running. Thank you for all they have done to support High Hopes’ mission.”

Handing over the gravel, Catlett commented: “Jackie is an outstanding choice to lead High Hopes as it begins to implement its latest Strategic Plan and transitions to the public phase of its endowment campaign. Jackie’s long involvement with the organization gives her a deep understanding of High Hopes and positions her well to take on this important role. I’m sure she will help lead the organization to an even stronger position to help impact the lives of those who depend so much on High Hopes.

Two new trustees were also welcomed to the Board, Sarah Kitchings Keenan and Margaret (Mac) Mummert. Each will serve for a three-year term.

Sarah and her husband Christopher reside in Essex with their three children, Ryan, Maggie, and Ashley. Her son, Ryan, has been an active High Hopes participant for five years; both of her daughters have attended the High Hopes Unified Summer Camp. Sarah has served as a member of the High Hopes Development Committee and is currently Treasurer of the Essex Elementary School Foundation.

Mac Mummert of Lyme.

Lyme resident Mac Mummert and her husband, Earl, are veterinarians and have owned four small animal practices. Her special interests include internal medicine and oncology. She has served in many local civic organizations including the Lyme Garden Club, the Child and Family Agency and is a Past President of the SE Connecticut Professional Women’s Network.

Mummert has also served on the vestry of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and was District Commissioner of the Connecticut Valley Pony Club. Mac has two children, Brian and Anya. Anya has been a participant at High Hopes since she was five and now works as a volunteer twice weekly.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Old Lyme, CT. Established in 1974, High Hopes serves over 1500 people each year with a unique range of therapeutic riding, carriage driving, and equine earning programs. Ninety-six percent of the organization’s workforce are volunteers who find their own lives enriched by our training, and the power of the horse-human interaction.

Participants include children, teens, adults, and seniors. Horses can build physical strength, emotional resilience, and cognitive development. Families in crisis learn how to trust; veterans deal with PTSD; teens at risk of substance abuse learn self-respect and children in wheelchairs feel the freedom of movement.

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