Darienite joins in on the holiday happenings
The last time Darien native Dan Micciche watched Santa shimmy down the face of one of Stamford's downtown buildings, he was only a little kid.
This year, Micciche, 25, is returning as an integral part of the entertainment for the event, known as Heights and Lights, which has long ushered in the holiday season for the many visitors who gather at Stamford's Landmark Square. The free event, which is organized by Stamford and the city's Downtown Special Services District, begins at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.
"I'll be bringing three of my friends," Micciche said last week. Those friends -- fellow Broadway performers Sasha Weiss, Weston Olson and Meg Doherty-Scannell -- will not be doing any rappelling. Rather, they will be providing some holiday music for the sing-along.
In addition to the sing-along, the event will feature the aforementioned Santa and friends as they make their way down 22 stories, performances by children's musical groups and a fireworks display. Following the descent, Santa will head to Latham Park to light the holiday tree.
The park is where Micciche and his friends will be performing.
It is a homecoming for Micciche, who now lives in New York City. He also has strong ties to Stamford, as it was the city's non-profit community theater company, Curtain Call, that really fostered his love for musical theater. Not only was he a performer, but he also was given the chance to become a rehearsal accompanist at a young age.
"I really honed my craft at Curtain Call," said Micciche, who had equal praise for his teachers at Darien High School, from which he graduated in 2003.
Set on a career in musical theater, he started early. In addition to playing piano, acting and singing, he also studied dance.
"I was tap dancing when I was 4 years old," he said, adding that his parents, who now live in Florida, were always supportive of his dreams.
As to whether there had been any relatives who had taken to the stage, Micciche said the arts were always an important component of growing up, but "through the entire family tree, there had never been a performer. But I just immersed myself in it."
After high school graduation, Micciche headed off to the Boston Conservatory of Music, where he studied musical theater, musical direction and conducting.
Upon graduation, he moved to New York City, where he did some off-Broadway stage work before heading out in the Theatreworks/USA touring company of the children's production "Freedom Train." From there, he successfully auditioned to play Mary Sunshine in "Chicago" on Broadway, before heading out once again to perform in the show's national and international touring companies, which included performances in Japan and Thailand.
Only recently has he had a moment to pause, enjoy his New York City home and explore his passion for musical direction. This past summer he was the conductor for the "Big River" performance staged at the Summer Theatre of New Canaan.
Micciche said he also is looking forward to being part of the magic of Heights and Lights.
"It's going to be really fun," he said.
Landmark Square is at One Landmark Square, Stamford. Latham Park is on the corner of Bedford and Forest streets. Sunday, Dec. 5, 4:30 p.m. Free. 203-348-5285, www.stamford-downtown.com.
Here are some other opportunities throughout the area to celebrate the holidays:
Want to see Santa at work? Make a stop at Santa's toyland this holiday season thanks to the Danbury Railway Museum. One need only hop aboard a vintage train to be whisked away to see all the action, to enjoy a visit with the jolly old elf himself and to receive a free gift. "Santa's Railyard" begins Sunday, Dec. 5, and runs every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 18-19. Admission is $8; 2 and under, free. On Dec. 11, 18, trains run every half-hour, noon to 3:30 p.m.; on Dec. 5, 12, 19, trains run every half-hour 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Reserve tickets online at www.danbury.org or call 203-778-8337. The Danbury Railway Museum is at 120 White St. (at the corner of White Street and Patriot Drive) in the old Danbury Train Station.
Ready for some strolling? At both ends of Fairfield County, visitors will have a chance to take a walk, enjoy some seasonal sites, do some shopping and watch some entertainment at holiday strolls. The ninth annual downtown Milford Lamplight Stroll continues Saturday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be horse and carriage rides, as well as traveling carolers. For more information, visit www.downtownmilfordct.com.
In downtown Greenwich, area residents are invited to the second annual Greenwich Holiday Stroll. The event features music, ice sculpture competition and other events. The event runs 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5. Parking is free all day Saturday. For more information, visit www.Greenwichreindeerfestival.com or call 203-531-3047.
Think ginger. The New Canaan Historical Society will welcome one and all to its annual open house, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4, at its Town House building, 13 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan. Children's workshops, which including constructing gingerbread homes, take place from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.,; a silent auction features professional and homemade gingerbread homes. There also will be tea time from noon to 3:30 p.m. ($10 for adults; $5 for children). Call 203-966-1776 or visit nchistory.org.
Raise your eyes to the skies. Stamford Museum and Nature Center, 39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford, will host the planetarium show "The Star of Bethlehem," at 7 p.m., Dec. 10 and 17, at its observatory. For adults and children 5 and older. Admission: $3 adult, $2 children, free members. Call 203-322-1646, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.stamfordmuseum.org.
Museum takes a global view. Learn about winter holidays from around the world and right here in Connecticut when the Barnum Museum, 820 Main St., Bridgeport, hosts its annual Holiday Fest and Gingerbread Contest from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 11. The event begins with a 1 p.m. talk by Diane Smith, a journalist and author of "A Connecticut Christmas." Later, learn the traditions, create some crafts, sip some hot chocolate and enjoy some cookies. To become a part of the contest, however, children (12 and under) will need to go www.barnum-museum.org to get the rules, or call Jaime Knoedler at 203-331-1104, Ext. 102. All entries must be delivered before 1 p.m., Dec. 11. No cost to enter; prizes will be awarded. Winners will be announced at 2:30 p.m., during the event. Admission: $5, adults, seniors and college students; $2 (4 to 17 years old); free, under 4. 203-331-1104, www.barnum-museum.org.
The jolly old elf makes a visit. Santa will be making his 25th annual stop to the Burr Mansion this year, when the Junior Women's Club of Fairfield celebrates "A Visit to Santa's House," from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 11, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12. The entire home, located at 739 Old Post Road, will become a winter wonderland, complete with craft and entertainment rooms, and, of course, a place for Santa to hear the wishlists of area children. There will be food for purchase (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.), as well as an opportunity to get a photo with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Remember to bring a camera. Advance tickets are $5 (adults, children 2 and older) and are available at a number of Fairfield locations. Tickets at the door are $6. For more information, visit www.jwcfairfield.com.
There are several events planned throughout the region to celebrate Hanukkah. For instance, Temple Sholom, 300 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich, along with organizations across the area, will be hosting a community, post-Hanukkah celebration, "Keep the Lights Burning," at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12, which will feature a concert by the Israeli Defense Force's Musical Ensemble. Guests also may enjoy dancing, games, goodie bags and food. The event is free. Visit www.templesholom.com or call 203-869-7191. Meanwhile, the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism will host a Hanukkah party Dec. 12, at Bedford Middle School, 88 North Ave., Westport. The day begins with services at 10 a.m. and will continue with a party featuring food, arts and crafts and games. To register, call 203-226-5451. Visit www.humanisticjews.org.
Meanwhile, what is the holiday season without an appearance by Scrooge. The Wilton Historical Society will present the No Strings Marionette Company's "Scrooge, A Christmas Tale," at 1 and 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19. Fifteen large-scale marionettes will bring Charles Dickens' tale to life. Tickets are $15 per member; $18 per nonmember. To purchase, visit www.wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257. The Wilton Historical Society is at 224 Danbury Road, Wilton.