From The Mississippi Delta: a powerful drama now at the Westport Country Playhouse

The Westport Country Playhouse is now presenting on stage the drama “From the Mississippi Delta”.  This tale is based on the true life story of the author, Endesha Ida Mae Holland, Ph.D.  It follows her incredible struggles from a poor black girl living  in segregated  Mississippi in the 1950s to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, to her relocation to Minnesota where she attends college and graduate school.  It is a tale of the human spirit and the ability to finally overcome the seemingly impossible  challenges of poverty and a  cruel racist society.  The play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and has been produced in theaters across the country including Off-Broadway.

There are three actors in the play, all who play multiple roles. The main characters are the mother and daughter, with the third actor also taking on the role as narrator.   They weave the true story of the author and her family.  The main character, Phelia  is inspired by her mother Ida (also called Aint Baby), to work hard and strive for a better life.  Her mother has left the long days of the cotton fields behind as has become a midwife in her rural community.  Her talents and dedication earn her the name,  “Second Doctor Lady”.   She owns her own modest home and rents out rooms to support her children.   The play turns dark when her daughter, Phelia at age 11 is raped by a local white man.  Soon Phelia is caught up the seediness of a local carnival and becomes a prostitute at age 12.  She eventually will drop out of school. 

Fate will change the life of young Phelia when she meets with a civil rights group that comes to town, the  Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.   They convince her to join their movement .   Her mother is against her involvement, and in time their house is firebombed.  Her mother, Aint Baby perishes is the fire which is blamed on Klansmen.    Despite this tragedy, Phelia struggles onward and we follow her remarkable journey as she  moves north to Minnesota and attends college.   It is an incredible story of the human spirit that will remind you of the struggles so many have endured on the road to equality.  The play has all the elements of a compelling drama:  struggle, tragedy, hope, inspiration and finally redemption. 

Westport Country Playhouse will stage from October 18 – 30th. So make plans to see this fascinating drama.

The three-member cast includes Claudia Logan as Woman 1. She is from Detroit, a graduate of SUNY Purchase, and now lives in Brooklyn. Credits include Westport Country Playhouse’s “Don Juan” (2019), Dallas Theater Center’s “Penny Candy,” HBO’s “Random Acts of Flyness” and “The Deuce,” and Netflix’s “Tales of the City.” Tameishia Peterson portrays Woman 2. Born in Dayton and raised in Memphis, she is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Michael Howard Studios, and Fiasco Conservatory. She now lives in New York. Credits include Starz’s ““Power Book II: Ghost,” Hulu’s “WuTang: An American Saga,” and Netflix’s “The Perfect Find.” Erin Margaret Pettigrew plays Woman 3. She is a first generation Los Angeles native after having roots in Belize and the American South. Her artist-journey has been shaped with many communities and creators such as Manhattan Theatre Club, Page 73 Productions, JAG Productions, and more, while facilitating and learning alongside institutions such as UCSB, NYU, and CUNY.

Playwright Endesha Ida Mae Holland, Ph.D. was born in Green­wood, Mississippi. During the 1940s and 1950s, Greenwood was an impoverished Delta community where Black people lived in fear of their lives. It is her life story that is the basis for this play.

Goldie E. Patrick. is the director of this production. The Detroit native is an proud alumna of Howard University where she is currently a professor of hip-hop theater. Based in New York City, for over 20 years she has passionately worked in and built artistic collaborations in Black theater as a playwright, director, and producer.

The creative team includes Jason Ardizzone-West, scenic design; Heidi Hanson, costume design; John Alexander, lighting design; Michael Keck, sound design; Ann James, intimacy coach; Dawn-Elin Fraser, voice and speech coach; Sean Sanford, props supervisor; Melissa Sparks, production stage manager; and Tré Wheeler, assistant stage manager.

The play is recommended for age 15 and up. Running time is approximately 90 minutes with one intermission. For the Playhouse’s 2022 season only, plays are consolidated to a two-week performance schedule instead of the usual three-week run.  Please support great local theater, and come see professional performance at the Westport Country Playhouse.

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court Westport Ct

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The perfect Newport escape awaits at the Hamilton Hoppin House

Newport Rhode Island is a famous and desirable destination.  With its rich history of sailing and tennis, to its Gilded Age Mansions that line Bellevue Avenue, Newport has been a sought after vacation location for generations.   Though the stately mansions of the Gilded Age are now museums, we have found an inn where you can experience the elegance of Newport without having to be a Vanderbilt.

The Hamilton Hoppin House also known as Villa 120 is a beautifully restored Italianate villa style mansion.  Built in 1856, the house which is built in the wooden “stick style” is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Designed by Richard Upjohn, a famous 19th Century architect who helped popularize the Italianate design in the United States.   He was the founder of the American Institute of Architects, and designed many houses of worship and did extensive work in the Northeast including in the Hudson Valley.   Italianate style is known for its square or rectangular design, a flat roof with an overhang supported by corbels, and large oversized first floor windows. All of those details are here, as well as a beautiful large covered front porch supported by arched columns.

As lovely as the grounds and exterior of the house are, when the front door swings open, you know immediately you are in a special place.  The wide front hall runs from the front door to the back of the house.  You have to stop and take in the high ceilings, the complex wood floor, and the beautiful staircase lined with rich millwork.

Beautiful details and stain glass illuminate the stairway

Three large rooms are found on the main floor including a dining room, the breakfast room and the music room.  All are connected to the main hall by tall, grand hardwood double doors.  The 8 bedrooms are located on the second and third floor of the mansion.  As you ascend the stairs you will notice the stain glass window that illuminates the stair and hall.  The second floor hall is wide and nearly as grand as the first floor.

The Music Room

 We stayed in the Aquidneck room, which is named for the island on which Newport is located. The room is large and painted a soft relaxing shade of blue. Though renovated, the room still  retains its historic charm with hardwood floors, and large windows with wooden shutters. The king size bed is lined with crisp white sheets and comfortable pillows that ensured a restful sleep.  Modern touches included a renovated bath with shower, wi-fi, and a large screen tv with cable.  A gas fireplace in the corner is the perfect romantic touch to this room.

Aquidneck Room

Breakfast is included and the guests can gather on the first floor where coffee, tea, juice, muffins, fruit and other items are available.  You can also order eggs and sausage if you so desire.  The owner was present both days and entertained the guests with wonderful stories of the house, Newport and his own experiences.  It made our breakfast very special.

The Breakfast Room

The house is only a short 5 minute drive into downtown Newport.  There you can park and explore the narrow historic streets lined with 200 year (and older) homes.  There are also great shops, bars, music venues, and restaurants along Thames Street and down on the wharves. Of course Newport offers great scenery from a ride along Ocean Drive, to the famous Cliff Walk.  As Newport becomes a destination for collector car enthusiasts with two car museums, and the success of Audrains Concours Motor Week, the demand for upscale lodging will be high.  With ample parking and minutes from downtown, we can see the Hamilton Hoppin house being a future gathering place for auto enthusiasts. 

Though the mansion is grand, it still is able to convey a special warm and intimate atmosphere. These qualities makes it the perfect spot for an event, a small wedding or just a romantic getaway.   For a short time you can experience the history and grandeur of Newport by staying at the Hamilton Hoppin House.

The Hamilton Hoppin House (Villa 120)

20 Miantonomi Ave, Middletown, Newport, Rhode Island

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Unique “experiences” await at Hemlock Hill Farm in the Hudson Valley

Brunch with Rescued Donkeys

Life should be an accumulation of memorable experiences.  Events which we can enjoy and that we can reflect upon later only to recall with fondness.

This past weekend we discovered such a memorable experience tight here in the Hudson Valley at Hemlock Hill Farm in Montgomery New York (Orange County).  An easy 1 hour drive from Westchester. 

This small farm is tucked up on a hillside surrounded by woods. Upon exiting your car you will immediately notice the quiet and the serenity of this place.   Hemlock Hill Farm offers several “experience” options.  On this particular beautiful October day we decided to try the “Brunch with Rescued Donkeys”.   We were greeted by our host Kaity who introduced us to the three rescue donkeys, who were friendly and adorable.  The donkeys are all in a fenced in field but they did stay close by as we prepared to sit down for brunch.

The brunch table was artistically and tastefully set on a rustic, century old picnic table.  Green boughs and pumpkins lined the center of the table, and china plates, teacups and silverware completed the setting.  On a separate table was a beautifully arranged display of prepared foods and baked goods.  All were made fresh by Kaity. 

Rustic and elegant, the perfect setting for brunch

We were treated to quiche, pumpkin muffins, apple cider donuts, mini apple pies, and more.  There were also veggies, pita and hummus.  Mason jars offered either small salads, or a potpourri of fruit and nuts.  The presentation was attractive and imaginative.  Coffee, tea and apple cider were also served.  It was indeed a memorable brunch. As we enjoyed the fresh made meal, the donkeys wandered about in the enclosed field.

A beautiful assortment of freshly made menu items

After our delightful brunch we entered the barn to meet the rescue horses, and the very friendly rescue goats.  The baby goats were especially happy to greet us.  There were also chickens on the property which provide the farm with fresh eggs.  It was great to interact with these animals.

Another experience offered is “glamping”.  This activity has grown enormously in the past few years.   The term describes traditional outdoor camping blended with a more upscale modern and comfortable aesthetic.    The tent on the farm was the perfect combination of the rustic outdoors and romantic comfort.  This is the perfect place to escape and disconnect.  The cream colored tent includes a large nicely made bed with decorative pillows, comforter and even an electric blanket.   The tent has a mini fireplace which is actually an electric space heater, a chair and some board games.   Outside the tent is surrounded by hand laid stone walls and more seating, a table, a cupboard and cooking stove add to the ambiance. You have your own mini compound.   I can imagine stepping out of the tent at night and looking up at the stars of the Hudson Valley sky as they softly illuminate the farm.

The farm offers other experiences as well and we encourage you to check out their website.  The farm is minutes from area attractions including Angry Orchard Cider, City Winery, orchards and of course all the great hiking in the area.

We remember with fondness our afternoon we spent at the farm and look forward to returning once again.

Hemlock Hill Farm

211  Youngblood Road Montgomery New York    (Orange County) it is “net” not “.com”

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Audrain’s Concours Motor Week 2022. Recap of a great weekend in Newport

Audrain’s Concours Motor Week  2022 was a great success.  A bit of inclement weather could not dampen the spirits of those who attended this fantastic automotive lifestyle event held in historic Newport Rhode Island.   Audrain’s Motor week was filled with events, parties, vendors, a tour of classic vehicles, seminars, and the Bonham’s auto auction.  The week concluded with the spectacular Concours d’elegance featuring over 150 beautiful cars on the lawn of The Breakers overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The Gathering at Rough Point

We started our visit by heading to The Gathering at Rough Point, the mansion of Doris Duke (now a museum).   The lawn at Rough Point was the perfect venue for attendees to enjoy a fine display of automobiles while enjoying cocktails, wine and craft beer.  Local restaurants provided delicious food from oysters, lobster rolls, clam chowder to pizza.  There were several exceptional cars on the lawn including a Cadillac Cyclone concept car from the 1950s to the beautiful Pontiac Banshee concept car, which many attendees lamented that Pontiac should have put into production. There was an unveiling of a custom Land Rover which the builder had painstakingly converted into a classic “woody” wagon.  The craftsmanship was quite impressive. The panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean were the perfect backdrop for this memorable event. Friday afternoon also featured the Bonhams Auction at the Concours Village.  A fine selection of collector  cars were available for attendees to bid on.

Cadillac Concept Car
Jay Leno being interviewed at unveiling of a custom Woody Land Rover
The tour reaches Bellevue Avenue

Saturday provided more events including the Tour d’Elegance which stopped along the route in front of Audrain’s Museum and the Concours village.  The cars which were all part of Sunday’s Concours, took part in the driving tour around historic and scenic Newport.  Their arrival on Bellevue Avenue thrilled the crowd which enjoyed seeing this gathering of automotive classics. 

We also attended one of the many seminars.  This seminar hosted by Jay Ward (director of the Cars animated movies) and Vin di Bona (television producer) was entitled “Cars of the Silver Screen” and which was entertaining as it was informative.

Sunday was the pinnacle of Motor Week with the Concours d’Elegance on the lawn of The Breakers, the palatial summer home built in 1895 for Cornelius Vanderbilt II.  The 70 room mansion with its sweeping lawns overlooks the Atlantic Ocean which provides the perfect setting for a world class automotive event.

American pre war classics at the Concours

There were numerous classes of cars vying for awards including a special 30 under 30 Class which showcases cars from enthusiasts under the age 30, American Cars 1920-1932, American cars 1933-1940, American Luxury 1945-1980, American Sports,  Aston-Martin, British Sports Cars, Cadillac, Custom cars and Early Brass Era Cars.  It was a remarkable gathering of automotive history once again at Audrain’s. 

 A magnificent 1930 Bentley Speed Six owned by William Medcalf of Vintage Bentley took home the coveted ‘Best of Show’ trophy on  his matching-numbers Speed Six Bentley.  The  Bentley was supplied new to Viscount Mandeville, the 10th Duke of Manchester.

Best of Show

Audrain’s Concours Motor Week was a great success and a car lover’s dream.  Dates for the 2023 event have already been announced for Thursday September 28th to  Sunday October 1st 2023.   Tickets go on sale in the spring of 2023.   Audrain’s is not just a car show, it is a life style event.

Audrains Concours Motor Week

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