Middlesex Middle School Book Fair

Come choose a book!
Come choose a book!

November 18th through November 20th from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Middlesex Middle School Library

Please come to browse lots of great titles this year, purchase from our teacher "wish lists" and kick off your holiday shopping!

Please help us in supporting the Book Fair this year. We hope to see you there!

 

November 2014 Local Theatre Shows

Marlene S. Gaylinn
Marlene S. Gaylinn

ON CT & NY THEATRE
  By Marlene S. Gaylinn                                
  CT Critics Circle / ctcritics.org                                                  November/2014

“THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND”
Music Theatre of Connecticut, Norwalk, CT

  Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC), co-founded by Artistic Director, Kevin Connors and Managing Director, Jim Schilling, has moved from its tiny space in Westport to a larger, completely outfitted facility in Norwalk called the Melissa & Doug Theatre. The setting is still intimate but there is considerably more seating and performing space plus there seems to be room to expand. This is very big news for Norwalk because this fairly large city lacked a theatre with a professional staff that could regularly produce live shows. I’m therefore surprised that except for the usual “Ribbon Cutting,” there were no remarks by Mayor Rilling in the program and he did not attend the theatre’s opening night.


  If there is such a thing as a “theatre warming,” “The World Goes ‘Round,” a hot and highly entertaining revue of the songs by Kander & Ebb was a great choice to open this organizations 28th season with.This is the successful, composing team of “Chicago,” “Cabaret,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” etc. The cast of Equity performers, directed by Kevin Connors, consisted of three women and two men plus a full-sounding, three-piece band led by David Madore. David Heuvelman was the technical director.

The show is composed of 27 songs divided by two acts. The title piece, “And The World Goes ‘Round” begins the program with Trisha Rapier and her vibrant voice. Melissa Price shines brightly in “Colored Lights,” and both women give a biting rendition of “Class.”

Cute little Kathy Calahan is outstanding in “All That Jazz,” and when joined with Aaron Young, the pair evokes lots of laughter in the “Arthur in the Afternoon” segment.

  Eric Kincaid is hilarious when describing his addiction to “Sara Lee” coffee cakes and his rendition of “Mr. Cellophane,” cannot be not be topped by anyone. Aaron Young also stands out with a very moving “Kiss of the Spider Women.”

  As an ensemble, the performing highlights are: “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup, ” “Ring Them Bells,” “The Money Song” and others.  Additional floor space now allows a little dancing, which was devised by Jeri Kansas.  Appropriate, mood lighting was by Michael Megliola. Diane Vanderkroef created some lovely costumes, although some appear to be hastily made and need re-fitting (when you sit close you notice every detail).

MTC’s “The World Goes ‘Round is great entertainment and suitable for everyone.  

Plays to Nov. 23        Tickets: 203 454 3883
“Driving Miss Daisy”- Jan.30-Feb.22             Senior/Student Discounts                               

 

SOUTH PACIFIC
Westchester BroadwayTheatre, Elmsford, NY

  Westchester Broadway theatre is offering a wonderful revival of “South Pacific,” If you haven’t seen the show or heard its wonderful songs, you must have been raised on some lonely island because every high school in the country eventually produces it.

  The story is based on James Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific.” The 1949 award-winning musical starring Mary Martin and Enzio Pinza won 10 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize before closing in 1954.  The 1958 film featured Mitzi Gaynor and Rosano Brazzi.  Interestingly, the film caused some controversy because Rogers and Hammerstein were pressured to remove the song, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.”  It contained a strong message about racial prejudice and the fear was that our culture was not ready to deal with this issue.  Luckily both men stood firm on the song’s inclusion and the movie was a big success.
  The action takes place during on two remote islands in the South Pacific.  One island is an American military base that saw little action during WWII except for one strategic maneuver that takes place near the end of the show.  The other Island,  “Bali Ha’i,” is an unspoiled paradise where all the servicemen’s desires are fulfilled by the natives – only its “off limits.”

Our main focus is placed on two pairs of sweethearts who are torn apart by the cultural and racial prejudices of that period.
  Nellie (Haley Swindal), a nurse at the base, is attracted to plantation owner Emile de Becque (George Dvorsky) – until she discovers that he has two, bi-racial children by an island native, and recalls her Southern upbringing.

  After a passionate scene performed entirely in pantomime, Lt. Joe Cable’s (Zach Trimmer) love for the native girl, Liat (Alison Chi) is similarly stunted because his strict, white culture will not accept a mixed marriage. 

George Dvorsky is a perfect, Emile de Becque.  He’s a good actor, has a rich voice, and one cannot help falling in love with him as he sings the tender, “Some Enchanted Evening.”  His “This Nearly Was Mine” is a heart breaker.

Co-star, Haley Swindal (“Nellie”) sings well but she doesn’t appear to be much younger than her worldly sweetheart -- which is important to the plot.  Although no one can match Mary Martin, Swindal surprises us when she girlishly lets down her hair while announcing, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.” Her “Honey Bun” scene is also eye-popping!

Luther Billis (Bill Dietrich) a clever, outspoken, rough and tumble sailor, livens up the lazy, tropical atmosphere while Bloody Mary (Joanne Javien), an aggressive islander who sells grass skirts and shrunken heads, steals the stage.  A smart operator, this native of Bali Ha’i wants to marry her lovely daughter to Lt. Cable.

The lively variety of nurses, sailors, and island girls are fun to watch. The choreography by Michael Lichtefeld is quite innovative.  We loved the comic, dance sequences in the “Thanksgiving Follies.” Charles Repole directed and Leo Carusone is in charge of the orchestra.

  In keeping with the South Pacific theme, the theatre’s Dinner Menu offers “Nellie’s Sliced Baked Ham” among other popular choices.  Tempting, Luxury Desserts of “Chocolate Molten Lava Cake” and “Turtle Cheese Cake,” plus “Bali Ha’i Island Dream” and other specialty drinks are extra.  Parking is free.

Plays to Nov. 30th
And
Dec. 31-Jan. 25, 2015    Tickets: 914-592-2222.

October 2014 Local Theatre Shows

Marlene S. Gaylinn
Marlene S. Gaylinn

Marlene S. Gaylinn shares her reviews on local theatre in Connecticut and New York in the Marchedition of her newsletter, On CT & NY Theatre. This month's shows are:

INTIMATE APPAREL
Westport Country Playhouse, Wspt. CT.

In choosing “Intimate Apparel, “ a delightful play by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, Westport Country Playhouse has ended its theatre season on a high note.

Sensitively directed by Mary B. Robinson, this is a bittersweet portrait of a spinster seamstress who is struggling to survive the 1905 “melting-pot” of New York City. It’s a story that may be familiar to many of us who have had a single relative or family friend we respectfully referred to as the “Tanta” (“Auntie”).  However, despite the play’s predictability, when “Esther” steps out of this family album, the fate of this plain looking, woman who just happens to be black is absorbing and touching.   Which proves that takes a fine writer, director, and a talented cast to take a simple story and turn it into a masterpiece.

Because Esther has gained a reputation for creating women’s fine lingerie, she is able to pursue her trade by mingling with various classes of society. In order to transition smoothly from place to place, Allen Moyer has neatly created sliding cubicles that depict the living quarters of Esther, complete with Singer sewing machine and a colorful, crazy quilt. Mayme, a prostitute who plays ragtime on her piano just fits into another cubicle, and Mr. Marks, the kind-hearted, Orthodox, Jewish fabric seller has his own intimate square of living space.

Appropriately situated above these boxes is the large, luxurious bedroom of Mrs. Van Buren, a wealthy, white, society lady. Each living space has one thing in common, a dweller with a lonely heart. And so, we are examining alienated people from various classes of society from the African-American perspective.

Nikki Walker is a sensitive, yet strong survivor, Esther. Aleta Mitchell plays her authoritative boarding house mistress. Leighton Bryan is the benevolent, society lady, and the gentle Jewish merchant is Tommy Schrider. The muscle-flexing Isaiah Johnson, who has more of an Irish accent than a West Indian, is Ester’s double-crossing scoundrel. The original, ragtime music by Fitz Patton is outstanding.
       
“Intimate Apparel” may be one of the best plays of this season. 

Plays to Nov. 1 Tickets: 203-227-4177

 

OUR TOWN AT LONG WHARF
New Haven, CT

One should congratulate Gordon Edelstein for selecting Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” as the opening play of Long Wharf Theatre’s 50th season.  He should also be given an A+ for innovative thinking.  This classic work with universal appeal, ponders the cycle of life and the sobering fact that we are all bound to die. And yet, few of us are able to fully appreciate each, significant moment while we are alive.

In reflecting on this all-encompassing concept, Edelstein wove Long Wharf Theatre’s history into his production by incorporating several, former actors as well as portraits of deceased, theatre personalities into the play’s cemetery scene.  He filled the stage with a cross-section of local performers who are enrolled in its various, community-based programs, and situated “Our Town” in a thoroughly homogenized community that is more of a wishful Utopia than a fact. 

Edelstein’s vision is not a deterrent because in the end,  “… the play’s the thing” and the hope is that you will suspend belief that this is supposed to be 1901 in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire.   If you ignore the daily, horse-drawn milk wagon, the newspaper delivery boy, stay at home moms preparing full, hot breakfasts and feeding backyard chickens, and simply give your trust to the god-like narrator, you will be both touched and enriched by the work itself – as was the very receptive, opening night audience.  After all, we are used to taking the same liberties with Shakespeare  – so acceptance of such mixed-up oddities are now considered commonplace.

 And yet, for me first impressions are hard to dismiss. I was introduced to “Our Town” via a high school subscription to a series of plays.  I had to convince a girlfriend to travel with me from the Bronx to Houston St., in lower Manhattan, on a Saturday evening, and I shall never forget my chagrin when we entered this small theatre a bit earlier than the crowd.   Since the curtain was open and there was no scenery except for two workmen’s ladders set against the bare, brick, rear wall of the stage, we began to wonder if we were in the wrong place.  “Was there even going to be a play that night?” Well, I have to say that in all my years as a theatre columnist, this performance turned out to be the most unexpected, theatrical experience I ever encountered.  I don’t remember any of the other plays I saw in the series but I shall never forget this highly imaginative production of Wilder’s masterpiece as performed by this unknown theatre
group.  So there!  I guess I’m a purest.

At Long Wharf, Edelstein tenderly directs Jenny Leona and Rey Lucas as the young sweethearts Emily and George.  Don Sparks and Linda Powell play George’s parents while Christina Rounder is Mrs. Webb, and Leon Addison is her husband.  Myra Lucretia Taylor, like the clear voice of God, takes full command as our Stage Manager/Narrator.   This unique production of “Our Town” brings its own, homespun atmosphere to the stage.
Plays to Nov. 2   Tickets:  203-787-4282

2014 JR Forever Memorial Walk/5K Run

JR Forever
JR Forever

Sunday, October 5th at Pear Tree Point Beach (12:30 check-in, 1:15 start) 

This year's event includes a 5K run which will follow the Pear Tree Point loop twice around. Recipients of this year's proceeds are the Darien Junior Sailing Team to help rebuild facilities that were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and JR's Ray of Hope that provides financial donations to families in Darien who are experiencing major tragedies. Register on line or through the mail. Details on www.jrschoen.org.

Genealogy Drop-In Help

Will you discover royalty in your family?
Will you discover royalty in your family?

Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon
On the Second Level

Do you want to get started on your family history? Or do you know exactly where you're getting stuck and need help. Skilled genealogist, Steve Anderson, can help! He can help you find elusive ancestors' military records, census data, birth certificates and more using Ancestry.com Library Edition, Heritage Quest, and FamilySearch. 

To find him, just come to the Second Level and ask the Reference Librarian for Steve! 

Steve is the president of the Middlesex Genealogical Society

Donate Blood and Your Library Overdue Fines are Waived

One donation can help save the lives of up to three people. Source
One donation can help save the lives of up to three people. Source

Wednesday, August 27th

From 1:00 p.m. until the last appointment at 6:15 p.m.

Darien Library will be hosting the American Red Cross for a blood drive in August. Registration that day will be in the Community Room then donations will occur in the Red Cross' specially equipped bus in the parking lot. Visit the Red Cross' website to schedule an appointment. 

Blood donors and those who attempt to donate are eligible to have their overdue fines waived (does not apply to bills or replacement charges). 

Facts about blood donation from the Red Cross

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • Roughly 1 pint of blood is given during a donation.

Source

Bunny by the Darien Library Garden

A few weeks ago, the Library planted its first vegetable garden. Since then we've spotted a new friend who is *very* interested in our little garden plot...

June 2014 Local Theatre Shows

Marlene S. Gaylinn
Marlene S. Gaylinn

Marlene S. Gaylinn shares her reviews on local theatre in Connecticut and New York in the Marchedition of her newsletter, On CT & NY Theatre. This month's shows are:

Read Gaylinn's reviews.

  • "American Ballet Theater" at Metropolitan Opera House. Plays till June 28th
  • "Mary Poppins" at Westchester B'way Theatre. Plays till July 27th
  • "Sing for your Shakespeare" at Westport Country Playhouse. Plays till June 28th.

A Bonus review:

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

The sky was clear, the stars were bright, and it was a perfect opening night for “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” at Norwalk’s Pinkney Park.  This seldom-performed comedy, said to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest works is mainly about love and loyalty.  The plot is a bit convoluted so it would be wise to read the Program’s Synopsis before the show begins.

In short, two close buddies from Verona, “Proteus” (Ben Chase) and “Valentine” (Nicholas Urda) are coming of age and thinking about their future.  Proteus is sure that he’s in love with “Julia” (Medina Senchore) and is busy writing her love letters while his comic servant, “Speed,” (Matthew Dalton Lynch), cautions him about the nature of love.  Meanwhile, Valentine bid Proteus farewell and is off to Milan in his quest for new adventures.  Along the way, Valentine falls in love with Sylvia (Katie Wieland).  As luck would have it, Proteus is sent to Milan, and while there, he falls in love with Sylvia too.  If you find your way through the forest of love and loyalty, there are enough conflicts between the two men, the two women, the fathers, and even the servants to form a Gordian knot. And, like all fairytales everything neatly untangles in the end.

The clever stage set, by Brian Prather, features two, giant, volumes of Shakespeare.  One of the books lies flat and acts like a platform while its pages are used as steps.  The upright, volume, opened to the play, “The Two Gentlemen of Varona” serves as a backdrop.  The actors, clad in rich and colorful costumes by Grier Coleman, carry cardboard signs, pieces of architecture, trees and other props giving the overall impression of a child’s pop-up book.  The mood lighting by Harrick Goldman and sound design by Shannon Slaton is perfect. Every word can easily be heard.

Director Claire Shannon Kelly should be congratulated for seizing every opportunity to make this obscure comedy come alive.  The use of recorded, classical music is particularly effective.  As one member of our party declared, the lively interludes reminded her of the “Bugs Bunny” cartoons she loved as a child.  It’s very hard to single out any of the leading cast members. Nicholas Urda, Ben Chase, Medina Senghore and Katie Wieland are right in character and give outstanding performances. The hard-working supporting cast and crew deserve extra applause too. 

Tune your eyes and ears to Matthew Dalton Lynch’s interpretation of the clownish “Speed.”  We loved his rubber-limbed antics and major speech illustrating how love is blind.  The long pause, just before the word, “blind,” is sure to invite audience response while the popular phrase sinks in.

Another amusing highlight is “Launce”(Tom Pecinka) the servant to Proteus, who is accompanied by his dog, “Crab.” Crab is really Oliver, a 65-pound, adorable dog  (look for his trainer who sits in the front wearing a white cap).  The love for a pet is sweetly portrayed when Pecinka laments over the trouble his dog is always causing.  However, his love for Crab is so strong that the clown is willing to take full blame for wherever his dog makes a deposit. Oliver looks up with innocent expressions and plays his part well too.

Bring the whole family, come early and picnic in the park.  Blanket and low chairs have separate areas.  Flashlights and jackets come in handy. Bugs are not very annoying.

Plays to June 29 – Oudoors @ 7:30 pm.  Street Parking. Free/Donation requested.

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