Bravo! Bravo!
for CT Shoreline Summer Theater

Summer theater is alive and well in Connecticut!  One of the things that our vacationers and guests here at the award-winning Inn at Harbor Hill Marina might not realize is our great accessibility to some award-winning theater.  Everything from drama to musicals can be found within 30 minutes of our inn.  So if you’re considering a getaway to the Connecticut Shoreline it’s smart to book your room and buy your tickets as soon as you’ve decided on dates.  You won’t be disappointed!

Let’s take a look at what the 2016 seasons at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, the Norma Terris Theater in neighboring Chester or the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton have to offer.

Goodspeed Opera House

The Goodspeed Opera House – East Haddam, CT

The Opera House was originally built by a local merchant and banker, William Goodspeed. Construction began in 1876 and finished in 1877. Despite the name, it was not in fact an opera house, but rather a venue for presenting plays.

Goodspeed Musicals was formed in 1959 by a group of concerned citizens after the state of Connecticut had condemned the building. The state agreed to sell the building to the group for one dollar, provided they acquire enough funding to restore and maintain it. They did and the Goodspeed Opera House was rededicated on June 8, 1963. Since 1968, Goodspeed Musicals has sent 19 productions to Broadway and productions have won more than a dozen Tony Awards, while Goodspeed Musicals itself has won two special Tonys, one for outstanding contributions to American Musicals and the other for outstanding achievement by a regional theatre.  Goodspeed has produced over 250 musicals, including over 70 world premieres. Critic fellows from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT travel to the Goodspeed each summer to practice reviewing full productions.

Tours of many of the Goodspeed facilities can be scheduled in advance for a small fee. Tickets to the opera house or theatre productions should be ordered in advance as most performances in the relatively small theater sell-out quickly.

See more at:  http://www.goodspeed.org/about/all-about-goodspeed#sthash.h4XjQFMH.dpuf

Bye Bye Birdie
June 24th – Sept 4th
Bye Bye BirdiePut on a happy face! Army-bound rock star Conrad Birdie’s farewell appearance in Sweet Apple, Ohio is the talk of the town. But it’s a teenage crisis for new “steadies” Hugo and Kim: she just won the chance to give Birdie one last kiss before boot camp. Kids, parents and show folk collide in the Goodspeed debut of the hip-swiveling musical comedy set at the dawn of the sensational ’60s. – See more at: http://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2016/bye-bye-birdie#sthash.Ppo9G80b.dpuf

 

Chasing Rainbows – THE ROAD TO OZ
Sept 16th – Nov 27th
Chasing...An awkward girl with a golden voice blossoms into Judy Garland in the inspirational new musical about the bumpy road to “Oz.” The future superstar’s complicated childhood comes alive with heartbreak, hope and the music that made her famous. “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “You Made Me Love You” and “Over the Rainbow” sweeten the story of Judy striving to hold onto her family. A love letter to gifted underdogs who reach high—and how the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. –
See more at: http://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2016/chasing-rainbows#sthash.svODEEum.dpuf

The Norma Terris Theatre – Chester, CT
Norma Terris
In 1984, Goodspeed Musicals added a second performance venue—the Norma Terris Theatre—in nearby Chester, Connecticut. Dedicated in 1984, the theatre is named in honor of the actress Norma Terris, a patron and trustee of the Goodspeed Opera House during her later years. In 1987 she established

The Norma Terris Fund to develop the careers of new actors and to promote musical theatre.  While the main stage presents a mixture of revivals and new musicals as part of its 3 production season, The Norma Terris also presents three new musicals each season. Several original plays debuted here or at the opera house before going on to Broadway and winning Tony Awards.

A Sign of the Times
July 29th – Sept 4th

Sign of timesA NEW ’60’s MUSICAL – 1965. The pulse of a changing era lures Cindy from Middle America to the swirl of Manhattan. –

See more at:  http://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2016/a-sign-of-the-times#sthash.vuurWYeM.dpuf


The Ivoryton Playhouse – Ivoryton, CT

ivoryton playhouseThe original building was built in 1911 and in 1930 became the home of the Ivoryton Playhouse, believed to be the first self-supporting summer theatre in the United States.
The theater gained in prestige to the point that invitations to work there were highly prized in the theatrical profession. Established actors like Henry Hull and Norma Terris (theater named for her in Chester, CT) signed on to perform at Ivoryton, and newcomers like Katharine Hepburn and Cliff Robertson came along to help mold the Ivoryton legend. Ivoryton’s fame as one of America’s leading summer showplaces continued to grow until the outbreak of World War II, when the theatre went dark for several seasons but reopened the Playhouse after the war and presented a parade of stars such as Marlon Brando, Betty Grable, Groucho Marx, and many others.

Chicago
June 29th – July 24th, 2016
Chicago
Winner of Six 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, CHICAGO has everything that makes Broadway great: a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz; one show-stopping song after another and the most astonishing dancing you’ve ever seen.
See more at: http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/chicago

Rent
August 3rd – August 28th, 2016
RENT
RENT is an inspiring musical with songs that rock and stories that resonate.  Set in the East Village of New York City, RENT is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the TONY Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, RENT has become a pop cultural phenomenon – exuberant, passionate and joyous.  See more at:
http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/rent

Man of La Mancha
September 7th – October 2nd, 2016
Man of LaMancha
One of the world’s most popular musicals, MAN OF LA MANCHA, the “Impossible Dream” musical, is based on Don Quixote, and tells of the adventures of a delusional Spanish knight who sallies forth on a quest to restore chivalry to the world, and to claim his lady love.

Winner of 5 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  See more at:
http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/man-of-la-mancha

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Story
October 26th – November 13th, 2016
Tenderly...America’s favorite girl singer comes to life on stage in this exhilarating and inspiring musical biography. TENDERLY, THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL is not a typical “juke-box musical.” It offers a fresh, remarkably personal, and poignant picture of the woman whose unparalleled talent and unbridled personality made her a legend. With her signature songs woven in and out, we learn both the story of her successes on film, radio, and TV, as well as her struggles in her personal life.
See more at:  http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/tenderly-the-rosemary-clooney-story

So, as we titled this BLOG post, Bravo!  Bravo! for our Connecticut shoreline theaters.  We love them, and are sure you would too.

Lighthouse Tours
   on the Connecticut shoreline.

The Inn at Harbor Hill Marina is located within a short distance of a number of beautiful and historic lighthouses. Did you know that people are fascinated by lighthouses? The historic naval and military review before construction, the folklore, the design and the locations all conjure up a vision of the history of the United States at sea.

When we named the rooms in our ‘Main Inn’ some years back, they were named for famous lighthouses on the southeastern portion of the Connecticut shoreline and three important lights in Long Island Sound.

Aside from history there is something mystifying about a lighthouse. I don’t know if it’s the vision of a structure standing alone out on the ocean and the apparent danger the house is constantly exposed to during storms and in protection of our harbors. Maybe it’s the countless books, movies, documentaries, and stories associated with the lighthouse. Who hasn’t seen a movie that has a wayward ship crashing up on the rocks by a lighthouse, lost at sea in a horrible storm or a soaking wet stranger arriving on the doorstep shivering and disoriented. This is the stuff books and movies are made of… mystery and adventure.

A very unique tour shoves off three times a week from New London and explores historic lighthouses in Long Island Sound. Some of “our” lighthouses and historic forts along the shoreline can be seen during wonderful lighthouse cruises that are offered by the Cross Sound Ferry (longislandferry.com). Enjoy two hour tours of history narrated by local experts while zipping aboard the SEA JET, a wave-piercing catamaran capable of cruising at speeds in excess of 30 knots (35 mph). Hit the high seas with all of the comforts and travel in air conditioned comfort with ample windows, airline seating and spacious outdoor decks.

If you’d like to strike out on your own and plan a self-guided daytrip from the inn here are our suggestions for lights of interest that are all within a half hour drive and can be seen by land. Pack a picnic and choose a waterfront stop along the way, smell the salt air and just enjoy!

Stonington Harbor Lighthouse, Stonington, CT – 1823
Stonington Lighthouse

In the early 1800’s, Stonington became a center for shipbuilding, whaling, and fishing industries, prompting the need for the current Stonington Harbor lighthouse to be built in 1823 at the entrance to the harbor. It was the first lighthouse built in Connecticut.

The lighthouse was offered for sale and the winning and only bid came from the Stonington Historical Society. In 1925 it was completely refurbished and opened it to the public as a museum. The Old Lighthouse Museum still operates today, and boasts as the only lighthouse on the Connecticut mainland that is regularly open to the public. The original whale oil light from the first Stonington light is one of the many items on display at the museum.

Mystic Seaport Lighthouse, Mystic, CT – 1966
Mystic Seaport Lighthouse

Mystic Seaport Light is a lighthouse at the south end of Mystic Seaport, 2 miles upriver from Noank, Connecticut. The light is a two-story white shingled structured topped with a glass-enclosed lantern constructed in 1966. It was formally dedicated in August 31, 1967, but remained unlit due to active navigational regulations imposed by the United States Coast Guard. The Mystic Seaport light is now an active light, but not an official aid to navigation.

The structure was used as an example of a lighthouse for Mystic Seaport visitors, but was not part of an exhibit until a 2008 renovation. The interior of the lighthouse was equipped with five LCD televisions to display two short educational films that highlight the history and architectural diversity of American lighthouses.

Morgan Point Lighthouse, Noank, CT – 1823 – Privately owned residence.
Morgan Point Lighthouse

To help mariners enter the Mystic River and the harbor, the Morgan Point lighthouse was built in 1823.

In the great New England hurricane of 1938, local residents reportedly took refuge inside the base of the tower during the hurricane, believing correctly that it was one of the safest places to be during a storm.

In 1991, a Connecticut native became the third private owner after seeing an ad for the lighthouse in the Wall Street Journal. “I had harbored the dream for 40 years of living a CT lighthouse. “When I found it, we were going to own it, that’s all there was to it.”

As a private residence, the lighthouse and the surrounding grounds are now closed to the public, although the structure is well-kept and remains an important visual landmark for maritime traffic coming into Mystic Harbor

Avery Point Lighthouse, Groton, CT – 1943
Avery Point Lighthouse

Avery Point Lighthouse is located on the east side of the Thames River entrance. You can visit the lighthouse situated on the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus. Avery Point is the last lighthouse in Connecticut to be built in 1943. The first light used consisted of eight 200-watt bulbs as a white light. In the late 1990’s some of the funding to restore the deteriorating structure came from sales of over 2000 personalized bricks from individual donors as part of a new landscaped walkway. Many of the services and materials were donated by the local townspeople to help complete the restoration in 2006.

New London Harbor Lighthouse, New London, CT – 1760, 1800
New London Harbor Lighthouse

New London Harbor Lighthouse is the fourth oldest lighthouse in the country and one of the earliest American lighthouses with a flashing light.

The original New London Harbor Lighthouse was built on the west side of the entrance to New London Harbor in 1760, before the United States was established as an independent nation.

On May 7, 1800, Congress appropriated funds to rebuild the lighthouse. It was removed in 1801 when the current stone tower was built. In 1855 a fourth-order Fresnel lens replaced the original 11 lamps with 13-inch reflectors. Illumination was converted to oil-vapor lamp in 1909 and acetylene in 1912. The light was electrified in 1930. The present keeper’s house was built in 1863.

New London Ledge “Haunted” Lighthouse, New London, CT – 1909
New London Ledge Lighthouse

This one-of-a-kind building was one of the last lighthouses built in New England, and it represents a rare case of an early 20th century offshore lighthouse that is not of cast-iron construction. By the early 1900s, New London, with its protected harbor at the mouth of the Thames River, had made the transition from whaling center to industrial city. New London Ledge Light was built because New London Harbor Light wasn’t sufficient to direct vessels around the dangerous ledges at the entrance to the harbor. When it was first lighted, the New London Day reported that the light could be seen up to 18 miles away.

The stately red brick building with its mansard roof and granite detailing makes a striking picture standing off by itself near the entrance to Connecticut’s New London Harbor, at the extreme eastern end of Long Island Sound. The lighthouse reportedly owes its distinctive French Second Empire style to the influence of the wealthy home owners on the local coast, who wanted a structure in keeping with the elegance of their own homes. Many of the large homes near the shore in the area were destroyed in the great hurricane of September 21, 1938.

Probably the best-known part of this station’s history and lore is the lighthouse’s infamous ghost, “Ernie.” It’s been claimed that in the 1920s or ’30s, a keeper learned that his wife had run off with the captain of the Block Island ferry. Distraught, the keeper jumped — or fell — from the roof of the lighthouse to his death, the story goes. Before the station was automated, the Coast Guard crew on duty reported various strange happenings: mysterious knocks on their bedroom doors in the middle of the night, doors opening and closing, the television being turned on and off repeatedly, and even having the covers pulled off the end of their bed. Falling back to sleep after being awakened by a strange noise was often a problem. If there’s any truth behind the legend, it’s elusive.

Playwright Eugene O’Neill lived in New London for many years, and his famous play Long Day’s Journey Into Night was set in the town. During one scene in the play, the characters refer to the fog signal at New London Ledge, a sound familiar to residents of New London.

New London Ledge was the last remaining manned lighthouse on Long Island Sound when it was finally de-staffed in 1987.

Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse, Old Saybrook, CT – 1886
Saybrook Breakwater Light

Saybrook Breakwater lighthouse was built in 1886 as part of a channel system that was dug to guide ships into the shallow harbor. Even though its location was close to shore, keepers would only stay there on average only a couple of years due to its constant dampness, and it was difficult with the strong currents and constant winds to row ashore for supplies. There were also no assistant keepers assigned to help the keepers until 1917.

During the hurricane of 1938, New England’s worst hurricane, most everything including a 1,500-gallon tank of kerosene was swept away except for the tower, which actually withstood the force. Keeper Gross and Assistant Keeper Bennett were able to survive in the tower and kept the light burning.

Actress Katharine Hepburn lived for many years near Lynde Point Lighthouse and Saybrook Breakwater Light.

Lynde Point Lighthouse, Old Saybrook, CT – 1803
Lynde Point Lighthouse

With increased shipping traffic and fishing, Lynde Point Lighthouse was built in 1803 to guide ships coming through Long Island Sound where the Connecticut River empties into the sound at Old Saybrook. The first wooden lighthouse with a whale-oil lantern placed on top was criticized by mariners as being too difficult to see. They complained it was too dim and too short, and the evaporation from the nearby marsh would cause a constant fog obscuring the lighthouse, even though the air would be clear out at sea.

Welcome to our BLOG

So, while were somewhat late to the field of Bloging, we hope were not too late to share our tales of being innkeepers and the host of beautiful, delicious and fun-filled things there are to see and do here in our Mystic Country region on the scenic Connecticut shoreline. We also plan to share with you the host of special, unique and local places we love to escape to relax and rejuvenate. Actually, we take great pride in seeking out special little finds to share with our guests. So, as the saying goes, youre never too old to learn new tricks, and with that, let our blog-inn begin

Sue & Dave

Sue & Dave

We thought we would begin our first BLOG post by giving you a little background as to who we are, and how we wound up being Innkeepers here at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina. Both of us (Sue and Dave Labrie) were born in Hartford, CT. and grew up in East Hartford, CT. We met at the tender young age of just 14 years old through our mothers who worked together.

While we both went to differentschools, we began dating, eventually falling inn love and have been in love ever since. We eventually married, had two sons (Chris and Todd) and lived life like so many couples and families do.

Early on Sue was a stay-at-home mom while Dave began his corporate business career working as a technology specialist in the insurance industry. Eventually Sue became an accountant at a CPA firm and then after ten years of tax preparation left to open her own hair salon while Dave eventually moved on to become a business management consultant focusing on the healthcare industry.

While working hard, raising our two sons, saving for the future, and getting older with each and every day, we both began to feel that there had to be something more in life than just working hard and saving for the future. Well, with the loss of some very close friends too early in life we began to think about just how fast life passes by and began to develop a ten-year plan toward leaving the stresses of the business world behind, and finding something new and exciting to do, and something we could do together.

We were fortunate to have been able to travel early on in life and would often seek out bed and breakfasts and inns whenever we could. And like most inn-goers, we would often chat with innkeepers about their lives as innkeepers. Well, to make a long story short, we eventually decided to research the potential of owning and operating a B&B and eventually became innkeepers back in September 2002. Yep, just one year after the September 11th tragedy in New York City (as if we needed yet another lesson on just how short and unpredictable life can be). Anyway, if there was ever a situation that solidified our decision to find and do something new and exciting, and to do it together, it was that tragic event that did it for us. We have a saying that nothing in life is forever, including life so live and enjoy each and every day as though it was your last.

Having been innkeepers now for the past 12 years, we still wake each morning and realize just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country and to be working with each other and a great staff in such a rewarding field. So, if youre looking to broaden your view of New England in a place that offers beautiful scenery, water views, fun-filled things to do, beaches, interesting small towns and great culinary experiences; stay tuned.

Till our next post, be well, spend time with loved ones and happy travels.

Dave n Sue