By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)
Westport, CT – A delightful mix-and-mingle, that has become a new and fond tradition, kicked off a season that already shows great promise.
Held early evening Tuesday April 26 in and about the Lucille Lortel White Barn Center at Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, “Taste of Tuesday” treated 400 subscribers to wine, sushi and live music, preceding the opening of “Beyond Therapy”, the first performance of the facility’s 2011 season.
Jen Bond Huisking, Community Relations Liaison, recalled how the “Taste of Tuesday” tradition got started. “The first event of the series was in 2007, designed as an audience cultivation event,” she said. “It was a way for us to build energetic audiences for the first preview play. It offered a very attractive price point for the package, allowing someone to experience the Playhouse at a reasonable cost for the first time or to allow a regular subscriber to bring friends.”
Huisking added, “We definitely wanted a pre-show party but also to partner with local businesses that support our programming. We always have live local music, and wines from Castle Wines & Spirits, which samples six different wines each Tuesday event.”
Playhouse Director of Marketing David Byrd contributed some additional background. “There are five plays that debut through the season, which runs April through the first week of November, and the ‘Taste’ is held before each first performance,” he said. “Besides Castle Wines, we are featuring this evening food from Matsu Sushi and Westport guitarist Gene Pino.”
Byrd further explained, “Originally the event was just value added, but then, due to its popularity, it became a subscription-only opportunity. Lucky for us and our partners, we have sold out all the ‘Taste of Tuesday’ events for the year, capping attendance at 400 which allows us to accommodate the group easily and ensures a positive experience.”
Byrd said “Beyond Therapy” is a fun season starter. “By Christopher Durang, the play is a wickedly funny look at the lives of the single and those in search of relationships,” he said. “Our program for the year is very eclectic and each play complements the next, hand picked by our artistic director, Mark Lamos, with our audience in mind.”
“Taste” is one of a series of ancillary events the Playhouse hosts. Others include nights out for realtors, the gay community, ladies only, couples and young professionals. “We’ll work with any group that wants to engage with us,” said Byrd.
Paul Teoh, co-owner of Matsu Sushi, was glad to support. “We have been in Westport for eight years and gained a lot from the town,” he said. “We like to support the local community and give back through events like this. We’ve been supporting the Playhouse for the past two years.”
Thoroughly enjoying the soiree, Jeanne Bodnar, with Dave Walker, both from Ridgefield, said, “I’ve been a subscriber for 20 years. It’s great. This is our second year doing the ‘Taste of Tuesday.’”
“It’s a great addition,” said Walker. “Jeanne won a nice piece of jewelry at one last year.”
“We like the mingling, you get to see a great play and the price is right,” Bodnar added.
Jinah Yun, from Stamford, another attendee, agreed with Bodnar’s assessment. “I’ve been a season ticket holder for two years and have been to every ‘Taste of Tuesday’ in that time,” she said. “We always get these tickets. The music and wine tasting is nice and many friends are here. And it’s great to be one of the first to see a new show.”
Playhouse staffer Huisking best summed up the experience. “This is a great way to come together and celebrate live theater.”