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Caffeine, Theater, and Cocktails

Originally Posted: March 01, 2006

Proud owners Jason and Theresa Belkin at the opening of Ham-
pton Coffee Company's Westahampton Beach location.

Coffee lovers of the east end rejoiced recently as the Hampton Coffee Company opened their third location in Westhampton Beach. First of its kind, the Cafe is built right into the new Bridgehampton National Bank at the prime six-corners location.

Caffeine aficionados can now do their banking and pick up their favorite latte, all in one stop. Now if only they could incorporate a shoe store...

A lighthearted opening on a Wednesday afternoon drew in a hefty after-work crowd of bankers as well as community members as they mingled in the bank and coffee shop. Wine and passed hors d'oeuvres may not be on the regular menu board, but they well complimented the coffee samples that owner Jason Belkin was sure to have everyone try. Finishing touches on the shop included photography by local artist Christine Wexler, focusing on the beaches and surfing here on the east end. The pictures helped warm our spirits as we wait for the warmer months to get here.

Mid-February, there are a few things you can almost guarantee - long lines at every corner store on February 13th as every boyfriend and husband searches for that perfect last minute card, and women lining up to see any number of local V-Day showings of the Vagina Monologues. Conceived by Eve Ensler, this series of short monologues are a collection that local theater companies can choose from to put on their own show.

Locally, the River Theatre Company put on two performances this month. We were lucky enough to catch them at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork's meetinghouse in Sag Harbor.

The cast of the Vagina Monologues.

The lobby was warm and cheery as guests mingled over home baked cookies and drinks for sale. Impressively, there were almost an equal number of men in the sold out audience as women, considering the title of the show. The men, however, didn't seem quite as interested in the knit, felted vaginas on sale in the lobby.

The show itself blended the perfect mix of humor - Liz Joyce's explanation of the multitude of types of sexual moans had the audience practically rolling on the floor. To the stoic group vignettes - the frank stories of abuse and violence, both here and overseas. These helped to exemplify the reason for the monologues - to bring awareness and an end to violence to women and girls.

We can't recommend enough that every woman get the chance to see the show, same as every teenage girl gets a copy of "Are you there God? It's Me Margaret." It is as eye opening as it is empowering, and the audience still manages to leave with a smile.

The simple setting of a blank stage paired with black clothes instead of costumes kept the focus on the stories as the women of the River Theatre Company breathed life into each of the monologues and drew the audience in. After the first or second reading, you forget they are holding cards for reference, and believe that it could be their own. We can't wait for the chance to see this group in other shows, not to mention next year's V-Day performances.

Ruth Appelhoff, Mickey Strauss, and Renee Steinberg at the
cocktail party for Guild Hall. Photo by Barry Gordin courtesy of
Alchimia Marketing and Public Relations.

Back in Manhattan, Guild Hall of East Hampton trustee Henry Schleiff and wife Peggy threw open the doors of their Park Avenue apartment for a cocktail party for the committee of Guild Hall's upcoming 21st Lifetime Achievement Annual Gala slated for March 13, 2006 at The Rainbow Room.

The intimate soiree was also the kickoff for Guild Hall's 75th Anniversary "Celebrating Creativity" festivities which will run throughout the year. Among the group on hand were Board Chairman Mickey Straus and wife Leila and committee members Barbara Slifka, Ninah and Michael Lynne, Pam and Ed Pantzer, Richard and Renee Steinberg, and Frieda Furman.

Veteran Broadway producer Roy Furman, president of the prestigious Academy founded 21 years ago to honor sustained excellence in the performing, visual and literary arts by a distinguished group of the East Ends' leading lights - Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Perry, Joseph F. Cullman, 3rd, Sidney Gruson, Sherrye Henry, Wilfredo Sheed, Elaine Steinbeck, Henry Geldzahler and Peter Jennings to name a few - announced this year's honorees.

In a departure from tradition, Furman noted that there would not only be a special Lifetime Achievement Patron of the Arts Award but the Academy would honor the over 60 artists who have been singled out for sustained excellence in their field - a veritable who's who in arts and letters.

Michael Lynne and Leila Strauss at the cocktail party for Guild
Hall. Photo by Barry Gordin courtesy of Alchimia Marketing and
Public Relations.

Members of an extraordinary collective of talent on the East End, previous award recipients include such luminaries as Robert A. M. Stern, Chuck Close, Steven Spielberg, George Plimpton, Edward Albee, Lauren Bacall, Itzhak Perlman, Jerome Robbins, Sidney Lumet, Cy Coleman, Betty Friedan, Larry Rivers, Jane Freilicher, Kurt Vonnegut, and Willem de Kooning.

Past Honorees committee to attend already include Alec Baldwin, Louis Begley, Lukas Fost, Jane Freilicher, Jane Wilson and Kurt Vonnegut. The Special Lifetime Achievement Award as lifelong patron of the arts will go to Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of The Blackstone Group, Chairman of the Board of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and serves on the Boards of numerous arts and business organizations.

Mr. Furman noted "It's very exciting to be celebrating Guild Hall's 75th Anniversary and in honor of that diamond anniversary celebration, we are making a change this year that will enable us to celebrate all 60 past honorees of the lifetime achievement awards who are so deserving and so talented". Many of the previous recipients will be in attendance. An additional highlight of the evening will be a special performance by two-time Tony Award Winner and Kennedy Center honoree the incomparable Chita Rivera.

Under the dynamic leadership of Gala Co-Chairs: Kelly Killoren Bensimon, Luly Duke, Frieda Furman, Patti Kenner, Ninah Lynne, Ellen Marcus, Cheryl S. Minikes, Hannah Pakula, Pam Pantzer, Bonnie Reiss, Laura Ross, Peggy Schleiff, Barbara Slifka, Leila Straus, Claude Wasserstein and Coke Anne Wilcox, the gathering will be a festive celebration of world-class artistic talent. Journal Co-Chairs are Renee Steinberg and Judy Springer.

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