March 2, 2015

Miller Backs Bill to Cap Monthly Fixed Charge on Electric Bills

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D-Essex/Chester/Deep River/Haddam) is calling for approval of legislation that would cap the monthly fixed charge on residential electric bills.

Rep. Miller Tuesday submitted testimony in favor of S.B. 570, “An Act Concerning Electric Savings And Fixed Bill Fees”, a bill under consideration by the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee.

Rep. Miller emphasized he favors capping the monthly fixed charge on electric bills at ten dollars, saying it is fair and constant, not subject to change.

“Our recent utility hike on this fixed charge was done under the guise of investing to correct deferred maintenance,” Rep. Miller said. “I feel as though it was really a thinly veiled excuse to enrich utility shareholders.”

Lawmakers last year passed a public act that implemented several reforms to protect electric consumers. Included in the public act was a new provision that begins in July requiring that every residential customer’s monthly bill must display their rate for the coming month.

Rep. Miller contended that the providers should make the case for regular rate hikes as needed.

“Customers may practice conservation, including solar installation, among other emergent technologies, in efforts to reduce and limit their use, to save money,” Rep. Miller said. “Senate Bill 570 is a good bill and ought to pass.”

Rep. Miller is House Chair of the Planning and Development Committee.

Explore a Sustainability-Palooza! Today at the YMCA

Sustainability-Palooza_image_lgMark your calendars for Sustainability-Palooza!, on Saturday, Feb. 28, at the YMCA, 201 Spencer Plains Road in Westbrook, from 1 to 3 p.m.

This free event will showcase representatives from local companies, farms, groups, clubs and agencies. Attendees will learn about local farming and gardening, transportation choices, energy conservation, raising backyard livestock, reuse and recycling, solar energy, nutrition and cost-effective sustainability practices.

Sponsored by the Shoreline Basic Needs Task Force, this showcase of local resources seeks to help shoreline residents increase self-sufficiency through sustainable efforts.

The Shoreline Basic Needs Task Force is a collaboration of community groups and concerned people, working to affect change that increases self-sufficiency among vulnerable individuals and families in need along the Connecticut Shoreline.

For more information, contact Patty Dowling at pdowling@shorelinesoupkitchens.org or (860) 388-1988

Legal News You Can Use: The Do’s and Don’ts of a “Good” Divorce

Divorce_photoWe are delighted to introduce a new column today, which will be a monthly feature written by attorneys at Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law in New London. This month’s column discusses ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of a “Good” Divorce’ and is written by Attorney Robert G. Tukey. He is a Director at Suisman Shapiro whose practice concentrates in family law.

The Do’s and Don’ts of a “Good” Divorce

Unfortunately, more than 40 percent of marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. Divorce can be financially and emotionally devastating and especially stressful for children involved.
If you are faced with the prospect of divorce, it is in your family’s best interest to approach it from an amicable perspective. As many divorced couples understand, it is possible to have a healthy breakup and start a new life.

Do be respectful and maintain a cordial relationship with your spouse. Try to keep the lines of communication open. Be reasonable about expectations, and cooperate with your spouse to achieve the best results for your family.

Do put your kids first, and ensure they know they are not the cause of the divorce. Make sure you and your spouse send a consistent and coordinated message to your children.

Do get professional counseling if needed, for yourself and your children.

Do document everything. Understand your assets and liabilities. Get appraisals, and make copies of important documents.

Don’t draw your children into your arguments, and never question them about your spouse’s activities. Always be respectful of your spouse in front of the children, and remember the Golden Rule: if you do not have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Kids do better when they maintain close relationships with both parents.

Don’t violate custody or visitation agreements, including the Automatic Orders that attach to every divorce. These Automatic Orders include not taking the child(ren) out of state without written permission or consent from the other party, maintaining an open line of communication between the child(ren) and the non-custodial parent, maintaining the child(ren) on any existing medical coverage, and completion of the Parenting Education Program for the benefit of the child(ren).

Don’t attempt to shield property or assets from your spouse. All items of value must be disclosed. Your credibility is your most important attribute, which cannot be restored should untruthfulness be exposed during the divorce process.

Do hire an experienced attorney. Beware of online divorce websites, which promote do-it-yourself divorce as a cheap and easy alternative to working with an attorney. While the Internet can be a good resource for information, you can also receive bad advice online.

There are many nuances in divorce and custody cases that make “cookie cutter” divorce kits inappropriate. It’s very important to protect your interests by hiring a knowledgeable attorney, because there are numerous things that cannot be changed after final judgment.

Do explore your options regarding alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration. In addition to facing the emotional trauma of separating a family unit, the process of dividing years of accumulated assets can be complicated and overwhelming. Divorce through the Connecticut State Court can take months, or even years, of time-consuming and expensive Court appearances.

The process of mediation is an attempt to resolve disputes outside of Court with the help of a neutral third party who can achieve a common ground and a mutually agreeable resolution. If the parties are unable to reach consensus, arbitration allows the parties to efficiently present their respective positions to an impartial, neutral third party decision-maker, similar to a trial judge, called an Arbitrator.

Through arbitration couples have much more control over scheduling and privacy. Both spouses and their attorneys agree on the Arbitrator, hearing time, and location. They also approve the rules and procedures ahead of time. The Arbitrator’s decision is binding, so appeals rarely become an issue in the future. The proceedings can be completely confidential and only the final decision will be approved and filed with the court.

Attorney Robert G. Tukey is a Director at Suisman Shapiro whose practice concentrates in family law. Contact him via email at rtukey@sswbgg.com or via phone at (860)442-4416 with questions regarding divorce and custody matters.

Letter from Paris: ‘Loi Macron’ Indicates a Sea Change in French Politics

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

In January 2015, in a forceful declaration, French president François Hollande officially announced a break with the Socialist program, which had been the basis of his 2012 presidential campaign. It was a sharp turn toward a more liberal, market-oriented policy. The Loi Macron, named after the young (33-year-old) Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron, was to embody the new trend.

Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Macron

Expecting that the law would not pass, the government decided to use a joker – the article 49.3. It was a gamble since, in the event that the motion de censure (vote of no confidence) of the opposition succeeded, the government of Manuel Valls would be disavowed and fall. But the motion de censure received only 234 votes when it needed the absolute majority of 289. The law passed.

The article 49.3 is included in the constitution of the Fifth Republic. It allows the government to act in force to push a text through the Parliament without the need of a vote. It is a powerful but dangerous device. It has been used 82 times since 1958.

The last time was in 2006 when Dominique de Villepin, under the presidency of Jacques Chirac, tried to promote the Contrat Premiere Embauche, or CPE (first hiring contract). The students demonstrated in the streets. Shortly thereafter the CPE received national funerals. The champion of article 49.3 was Michel Rocard who in the late 1980s used it 28 times.

After 200 hours of consultations and 1,500 amendments granted by the government, it looked as though each article had been accepted separately. And yet, by the time of the final vote on Feb. 17, the far right (Front National), the far left (Front de Gauche), most of the right (UMP), and the 40 Frondeurs, or splinter group from within the Socialist party, joined in an alliance to put road blocks to stop the government’s proposal. Manuel Valls and Emmanuel Macron made their concluding speeches among jeers and interruptions. On the face of many deputies could be seen a rather despicable sarcasm.

In fact, the manoeuvre of the government deserves to be applauded since, to push a text in force, was the only way for the Executive to succeed. The Loi Macron reperesents an enormous task attempting to reform the fabric of French society. It meant dismantling the century-old system of privileges and protected niches enjoyed by whole segments of the population, including the five million civil servants, known as notaires — in France, notaires are a specific type of French attorneys overseeing all legal transaction while collecting taxes on behalf of the government, doctors, veterinarians, taxi drivers, auction houses officials, etc.

All the professions are regulated and benefit from a a special satus. The right to work on Sundays, and allowing intercities busses were hard-won victories. Only indirectly, the Loi Macron dealt with unemployment and ways to jump-start the economy.

The law is insufficient and has its defects, but is a step in the right direction. It represents a real effort to bring changes and to satisfy Brussels. Angela Merkel, in Paris for more discussions about the Ukraine, expressed her satisfaction.

Nicole Prévost LoganNicole 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.

“Methuselah’s Guide to Online Dating …” at Spring Street Studio Tonight

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CHESTER – Leif Nilsson has added a new show to the current Concert in the Garden season.  He is offering a sneak preview of “Methuselah’s Guide to Online Dating: For Those with Reading Glasses” on Saturday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

This theatrical production, written by Ira Sakolsky and Todd Little of Riverway Studio, includes music, improvisation and scripted elements.  Scenes from this interactive play will be performed at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery at 1 Spring St, Chester Center.  Audience participation and feedback are encouraged.

All are welcome: a $10 donation is requested and the event is BYOB.

For more information call 860-526-2077 or log on http://www.nilssonstudio.com/events/.
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Book Discussion on America’s Role in World War 1 at Essex Library, March 19

Up and out of the trenches, American troops attack in 1918. Photo published by Editions de la Martiniere, Paris, France.

Up and out of the trenches, American troops attack in 1918. Photo published by Editions de la Martiniere, Paris, France.

ESSEX — The American History Book Club of the Essex Library will hold a discussion on , “Yanks,” a book by John S. D. Eisenhower about America’s role in World War 1 on Thursday, March 19 at 6 p.m. at the library. The library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex, and members of the general public are invited to attend the discussion. Copies of the book, “Yanks,” are available on loan at the Essex Library, although the supply is limited.

John S. D. Eisenhower, who was the son of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a graduate of Point and a retired Brigadier General in the Army Reserve. Eisenhower, who died in 2013, was also a prolific author of books about war, including, “Better Wood,” an account of the Battle of the Bulge, and “Agent of Destiny, a life of General Winfield Scott,” among others. In all, 12 different war books by Eisenhower are listed for sale on Amazon.

About “Yanks,” the Book

American troops march in line to the front in 1918. Photo published by Editions de la Martiniere, Paris, France.

American troops march in line to the front in 1918. Photo published by Editions de la Martiniere, Paris, France.

“Yanks” is the story of the two million U.S. Army troops who went to Europe to fight in World War 1 against Germany. Eisenhower asserts in an Epilogue to his book that Germany would have won the war, if American troops had not joined the fight with the allies. As the author put it, “If the United States had not entered the war — or had elected not to send an expeditionary force abroad — there would never have been a Second World War; Germany would have won the first one.”

Whether America’s World War 1 allies, France, Great Britain and Italy, would agree with this conclusion, it is undeniable that when the fresh American troops joined the war weary allied troops in 1917, a path was opened to the defeat of the German army.  Crucially, in the summer and fall of 1918, American Army forces turned back five major German army attacks, and then advanced significantly into German occupied territory as well.

The Leadership of General John J. Pershing

Major General Pershing lands at Bordeaux in June 1917.  Photo from "Yanks" by John S.D. Eisenhower and published by The Free Press, New York.

Major General Pershing lands at Bordeaux in June 1917. Photo from “Yanks” by John S.D. Eisenhower and published by The Free Press, New York.

As “Yanks” makes clear, the personification of the America’s involvement in World War 1 was General John J. Pershing, the commander of American Army forces in Europe. Early on, the British generals had suggested that the arriving American troops should be used to fill in the rosters of the British lines, as needed. Pershing, vehemently, rejected this suggestion, making it a rule that American troops would fight only in American units. They would, definitely, not serve as  “fill ins” in the British lines at the front.

Also, when the allies and Germans were negotiating the armistice that ended the fighting in World War 11, Pershing argued strenuously that the war should continue until Germany’s unconditional surrender. Not only was Pershing’s voice not heeded, but he could have been disciplined for expressing a dissident point of view, although that did not happen.

“Yanks” is sometimes dense with detail, as the author meticulously reviews the battles in which the American troops were engaged. However, the book is well worth reading, so as to learn America’s role in a major chapter of world history, World War 1.

The Death Toll of World War I

Although not mentioned in “Yanks,” World War 1 is considered to be the deadliest conflict in human history. The death tolls were staggering. America lost 116,526 killed, Great Britain 908,371, France 1,357,000, Germany 1,777,700 and Austria/Hungry 1,200,000. Also, Russia lost 1,700,000 until the new Communist government removed Russia from the conflict.

St. Joseph’s First 2015 Fish Fry Hailed a Success, Fries Continue Fridays Thru March 27

IMG_7354 (1)The Lenten Season at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Chester kicked off last Friday with a tremendous turnout at the Fish Fry Dinner.  Started last year as a combination faith/fundraising event for the church community, the Fish Fry was so successful that it grew from 104 dinners the first night to 240 dinners the last night.

After its successful kick-off on the Feb. 20, the remaining dinners will run every Friday through March 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Hall located at 48 Middlesex Avenue (Rte. 154) in Chester.

Menu includes $12 for Fish and Chips, Fried Shrimp, Clam Strips and Baked Tilapia (all seafood dinners include coleslaw and fries); $5 for Children 12 & under Macaroni & Cheese and French Fry Dinner.   Also available are Soups ($4); French Fries ($2); Mixed Green Dinner Salad ($6).    All meals include Bread & Butter, Drinks and Dessert.   Meals are also available for Take-Out.

St. Joseph’s is a thriving, active, and growing community.  The Fish Fry offers great food, the enthusiasm of the staff is wonderful and there’s no clean-up afterwards for guests.

St. Patrick’s Celebration Benefits Ivoryton Playhouse, March 15

Pictured: from the left – Kathleen Mulready, Annie Kerins, Morgan Crowley and Michael McDermott in the 2011 production – The Irish …and How they got that Way. Photo: Anne Hudson

Pictured: from the left – Kathleen Mulready, Annie Kerins, Morgan Crowley and Michael McDermott in the 2011 production – The Irish …and How they got that Way. Photo: Anne Hudson

IVORYTON:  On Sunday, March 15, at 2 p.m., join Playhouse favorite Michael McDermott and his group, Cead Mile Failte, to celebrate Celtic culture and heritage through stories and song. The afternoon will be filled with traditional Irish music including “That’s An Irish Lullaby”, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”, “Star Of The County Down”, “Carrickfergus”, and, of course, “Danny Boy”.

Michael will be joined by Kathleen Mulready, an Ivoryton Playhouse favorite who starred in Finian’s Rainbow and shared the stage with Michael in The Irish… and How They Got That Way Michael has been seen many times at the Playhouse – most recently in The Bells of Dublin: The Carol of the Bells and he will be back in April – though this time it will be Italian arias and not Irish ballads that he will be singing.

He has been performing with Cead Mile Failte for several years and says, “”Cead Mile Failte means A Hundred Thousand Welcomes in Irish Gaelic.  This has always been a saying that has warmed and inspired my heart and is especially meaningful for me here in Ivoryton which is like my second home. For me, the month of March is a time of renewed hope, that feeling of spring just around the corner.  We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and feel the weather change with the old saying, “in like a lion out like a lamb” when strong gusts of wind push out winter and warmer, greener days are joyfully welcomed.”

He adds,  “And boy, do we ever need that now!”

He explains the origins of the group as being a combination of,  “this inspiration from nature, combined with my deep love for Irish music,”  So the group Cead Mile Failte was formed and, “As a group, we strive to create that feeling in our concerts – the feeling that all are welcomed to share in the stories and music that the Irish tell so well.  At our concerts you will find friendly hospitality, good conversation, and great music – a hundred thousand welcomes!”

The St. Patrick’s Celebration to benefit the Ivoryton Playhouse will take place at Centerbrook Meeting House at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 15. Tickets are $30 and include light refreshments after the concert.

For tickets and information, call 860.767.7318.

Seating is limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

 

Essex Winter Series Hosts Male Vocal Ensemble ‘Chanticleer’ Tomorrow

Essex Winter Series hosts the 12-member male vocal group 'Chanticleer' March 1 at Old Saybrook High School.

Essex Winter Series hosts the 12-member male vocal group ‘Chanticleer’ March 1 at Old Saybrook High School.


AREAWIDE –
The Grammy award-winning male vocal ensemble Chanticleer will perform on the Essex Winter Series (EWS) on Sunday, March 1, at 3 p.m. at Old Saybrook High School. Chanticleer has been hailed as “the world’s reigning male chorus” by The New Yorker, and under its newly-appointed music director, William Fred Scott, the 12-voice ensemble will perform a program of music from the sixteenth century to the present titled, “The Gypsy in My Soul.”

The appearance by Chanticleer will mark the first appearance by a professional chorus in the 37-year history of the Essex Winter Series, currently under the artistic direction of Mihae Lee.

Tickets, all general admission are $35, $5 for full-time students, and may be purchased on the EWS website, www.essexwinterseries.com, or by calling 860-272-4572.

Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for their “tonal luxuriance and crisply etched clarity,” San Francisco-based Chanticleer is known around the world as “an orchestra of voices” for the seamless blend of its 12 male voices ranging from soprano to bass and its original interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz and popular genres, as well as contemporary compositions. Chanticleer celebrates its 37th season in 2014-15, performing in 25 of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.

“The Gypsy in My Soul” follows the journey of the wandering spirit, inspired by the historical travels and trials of the Romani people, the borders they crossed, the music of the peoples they encountered, the beauty of the world they traveled, and the yearning for love, safety, and belonging shared by all people.

The March 1 Chanticleer Concert is sponsored by Essex Savings Bank.

Tickets on Sale Now for ‘Band Geeks!’ at Valley Regional HS, March 13-15

Valley Regional Musical Production cast members Nathan Russo and Miranda Holland “tune up” for their roles as Spitz and Natalia, Cuyahoga High Marching Band Marching Beavers in the upcoming production of Band Geeks! .

Valley Regional Musical Production cast members Nathan Russo and Miranda Holland “tune up” for their roles as Cuyahoga High Marching Band Marching Beavers Spitz and Natalia in the upcoming production of ‘Band Geeks!’

DEEP RIVER: – Valley Regional High School (VRHS) is soon to become Cuyahoga High for a few days in March when students there stage the musical production of Band Geeks!. Based on the book by Tommy Newman and Gordon Greenberg, with music and lyrics by Mark Allen, Gaby Alter and Tommy Newman, Band Geeks! is the story of the Cuyahoga High Marching Beavers who are down to a handful of members, dealing with dwindling funds and facing extinction.

When a troubled athlete is relegated to their ranks, the band must find a way to unite and save the Marching Beavers. A total of 122 Valley Warrior students, including 80 cast, 34 crew and 8 orchestra pit members, have taken on the challenge and are busy preparing to stage this high school marching band tribute with four performances on March 13 through March 15.

Performance times are Friday, March 13, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 14, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, March 15, at 1 p.m. Admission is $12 for all shows except the Saturday matinee is $10.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at VRHS in Deep River, Gather in Ivoryton, Toys Ahoy! in Essex, Celebrations in Deep River and The Wheatmarket in Chester.

More information is available at the school’s website at www.vrhs.reg4.k12.ct.us or by calling the school’s office at 860-526-5328.

TTYS Launches Six-Postcard ‘Parent Toolkit’ to Increase Marijuana Danger Awareness

ttysContinuing through June, 2015, Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau (TTYSB) is conducting a direct mail campaign to provide every household in the community with a “Parent’s Toolkit.” Not just for parents, the six-postcard toolkit is designed to enhance both the awareness of and the capacity for all adults in the tri-town area to share among themselves and to deliver valuable and consistent messages to youth about the dangers for young people in using marijuana before their brains have fully matured.

The toolkit counters the persistent myths and confusion around marijuana use, including that smoking marijuana is “no big deal,” and that “everything in moderation” is a prescription for child and adolescent health.

While we still need a machine—an fMRI—to literally illustrate the negative effects of marijuana on a young person’s brain, research clearly shows that marijuana use can hijack the brain’s sensitive construction process. Since human brain development continues through age 25, the rule — rather than the exception — for healthy youth development is delay, delay, delay any substance use, including the use of marijuana in any form.

The health of our children and young people is a measure of the health of our whole community. One researcher recently proclaimed: “Keep them alive ‘till 25!” She was talking to both young people and adults since youth have a responsibility to their futures selves. They can keep their healthy brain cells and process alive and well now to increase the likelihood that they will have the best chance of success for the rest of their lives.

Adults, meanwhile, can persist, in spite of the current controversies about marijuana decriminalization, medicalization and legalization — both in Connecticut and nationwide — to share among themselves the facts, rather than the myths, and to send consistent, science-based messages to our young people to ensure the greatest possibility of individual, family and community health.

The Parent Toolkit was originally developed by the Croton Community Coalition of Croton-on-Hudson, NY, and cited as a significant resource for community coalitions by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the premier membership organization representing those working to make their communities safe, healthy and drug-free.

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  The Bureau coordinates and provides resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

Join CBSRZ to Experience ‘Shabbat Across America’, March 13, Register by March 6

shabbat-artCHESTER – Whether you celebrate Shabbat regularly, or want to learn how to enrich your home Shabbat celebration, Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) invites readers to experience its joy at on Friday, March 13, at 6 p.m.

All are invited as CBSRZ again welcomes the shoreline community as part of a nationwide Shabbat Across America celebration hosted by more than 700 synagogues throughout the country.  Shabbat, the weekly Jewish day of rest, is when families and friends gather to observe a traditional service and enjoy a festive meal.

A wine and cheese reception for adults begins at 6 p.m. followed by a traditional family Shabbat dinner.  The main course is provided by Alforno’s of Old Saybrook.  Participants are asked to contribute side dishes and desserts.  Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg and Cantor Belinda Brennan will lead an interactive Shabbat service with all the rituals explained.

Capping the evening will be an Oneg Shabbat when all are invited to enjoy an array of homemade desserts and fellowship.

This special Shabbat Across America celebration is free of charge and open to the shoreline community, however, reservations are required and must be made by Friday, March 6.

CBSRZ is a warm and diverse Reform congregation serving the lower Connecticut River Valley and Shoreline region.  The congregation welcomes interfaith families, singles and nontraditional families.

CBSRZ is located at 55 Kings Highway East in Chester.  For additional information and to RSVP, call the office at 860 526-8920.

Become a Trained Tutor for Literacy Volunteers, Registration Open Thru March 2

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization.  Their mission is to train tutors to teach Basic Reading (BR) and English as a Second Language (ESL) to residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills.  This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a seven-session, 14-hour workshop program.  The workshops begin March 26 and run through May 12. A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to help students improve their skill in basic literacy.

If interested in becoming a tutor, contact the Literacy Volunteers office on or before March 2 by phone at (860) 399-0280 or by e-mail at jferrara@vsliteracy.org or you can stop by the office located in the basement of Westbrook’s Public Library weekdays between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

For further information, contact: John Ferrara (860) 391-1198

Old Saybrook HS Students, Staff Prepare for ‘West Side Story’ Production in Late March

Rehearsals for West Side Story are in full swing at Old Saybrook High School.

Rehearsals for West Side Story are in full swing at Old Saybrook High School.

The Old Saybrook High School (OSHS) Drama Department is excited to welcome one and all to their production of West Side Story that will be playing Thursday through Saturday, March 26 to 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Old Saybrook High School Auditorium.

Working on costumes is a balancing business!

Working on costumes can be a balancing business!

Written and produced through the combined efforts of Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, and Jerome Robbins and set in 1950’s New York City, West Side Story is a classic tale of romance and tragedy in which the Puerto Rican Sharks face off against the all-American Jets.  It is based loosely on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and follows the story of how, amid rivalry and violence, two high ranking members in opposing gangs fall in love and ultimately hope to inspire an end to the prejudice.

Jeanne Proctor, director of the musical and head of the OSHS Drama Department, expressed her excitement for the upcoming show, commenting, “We’ve got a great group of senior leaders, and it’s also going to be my husband Dan’s last production supervising the build crew, so it’s going to be a great last accomplishment for us all.” She went on to discuss the technical aspects of the show that make it hard to pull off, including the score, rhythm, choreography, and vocal challenges it presents to the students, noting,“It’s going to require a new level of precision from us — it’s a challenge, but we’re very excited.”

Senior Kara Newell who is both playing the female lead of Maria and choreographing part of the show for her senior project said, “This show is challenging in a different way from what we are used to – it’s very dance heavy, and everyone’s really trying their best with the choreography.  I’ve never seen us be this far along in any show this early in the year.  We still have a lot to do, but I can already tell it’s going to be a great way to end my senior year.”

Measuring carefully to set the stage.

Measuring carefully to set the stage.

As for what you should expect if you go see West Side Story, Jeanne Proctor added, “We’re embracing the challenge to make it uplifting. Our goal is for the audience to be in cathartic tears by the end of the show.”

Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the door or through the school at (860) – 395 – 3175.