Talent in a tutu: Mr. Westport shows his graceful side
His classmates know him as an outdoorsy sort of guy, one most at home in work gloves and mud shoes — the better to help out at the family landscaping business or volunteer at Westport High School's Memorial Garden.
Which is why the audience was startled to see Fletcher Ferreira step onto the high school stage in ballerina tutu and dainty shoes to display his other "talent" — dance.
Dubious dance skills aside, the Mr. Westport pageant crowd loved it. By evening's end, Mr. Ferreira had been voted Mr. Westport 2014, taking top honors among the ten contestants at the recent show — the biggest field yet in the annual fundraising favorite.
"He attempted to dance with the help of two accomplished female dancers," said Principle Cheryl Tutalo, WHS principal who emceed the pageant once again. "The girls were really good, graceful," she added, "but despite their best efforts, Fletcher — well he did try very hard."
Ms. Tutalo said she also thinks Mr. Ferreira's genuine congratulations of fellow contestants during the pageant's final group appearance probably drove more votes his way.
"He really captured the fun and supportive spirit of the whole event — the sportsmanship," she added.
Also stepping well out of character for a good cause was Rich Hartnett, who was voted first runner-up for his effort.
"For those of us old enough to remember, he dressed up as Richard Simmons, short shorts, curly hairdo and all" and led a group of fellow students through an exercise routine. "It was hilarious," Ms. Tutalo said.
In contrast, second runner-up Evan Turick displayed real talent with an original song and dance routine.
"He was outstanding — it gave the competition nice balance, there were funny moments and some amazing talent," she said. "The audience loved it."
The audience was also charmed by Chris Silvia's performance — a tribute in song to an exchange student from Italy with whom he has become close friends. While he sang, Power Point pictures of the girl (who was in he audience) provided the backdrop.
"Everybody was really moved — a wonderful tribute," Ms. Tutelo said.
She added that "all of the brave contestants" deserve credit for a "truly entertaining evening. They all deserve great credit."
The other contestants included Evan Canepa, Rich Hartnett, George Machairas, Jeff Napert, Scott Raudonaitis, Marc Weaver and Tom Yeargin.
This was the 12th year of Mr. Westport competition.
Money raised by the production helps the Westport Athletic Boosters meet the cost of awards nights and the purchase of Athletic Department equipment for both the high school and middle school.