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People to Watch in 2013

The individuals who are making a distinctive mark on Cape Cod in compelling ways

Dan Cutrona

Brazen Belles

Aanjes Larkin Hershfield apparently never listened when her mother told her not to be naughty.

The young Woods Hole native has gathered together a bevy of women—local teachers, actors, and, yes, even WHOI researchers—to form the Brazen Belles, a Cape Cod burlesque troupe that brings, “singing, dancing, acting, wit, sass, and of course, seduction to the stage,” says Larkin Hershfield.

It’s all in good, comedic fun, but if one is not roused by the performance, then check your pulse—especially with stage names like (from left) Bobbi Pins (Jodi Edwards), Mimi Outback (Amy Westburg), Savannah Boudreaux (Bethanie Edwards), Sundown Shenanigans (Katie Meyer), Pepper Grinds (Larkin Hershfield), Mini Teasecake (Leah Trafford), Coral Obsession (Bronwen Prosser), and (not pictured) Olive Mia (Isel Garcia-Renart). The Belles (www.brazenbelles.com) are shaking up demure Cape Cod with performances at the Landfall and Grumpy’s, but expect them to be shaking their tail feathers at other Cape-wide venues soon.

Lizzy Escher & Katy Escher

You can’t miss the bus, the funky one with an artichoke emblazoned on the side.

It’s a boutique on wheels that travels from Cape Cod to Boston and beyond, hawking Katy and Lizzy Escher’s eco-chic, hand-printed apparel line, ARTichoke (www.plantgrowcreate.com). The fashions feature the screen-printed designs of the Eschers and other independent artists on an eclectic range of dresses, tanks and tees, which are also sold in shops throughout the region.

The Escher sisters grew up in Brewster and attended Boston area colleges. With a name inspired by “the delicious and adorable” perennial thistle, ARTichoke was conceived so that they could collectively pursue their creative passions. “Our goal is to have a brick and mortar boutique on the Cape, a successful clothing line sold in stores throughout the country promoting local artwork, and a reliable bus that allows us to travel,” says Katy.

Andrew Gottlieb

Cape Cod is facing a waste water disaster.

And Andrew Gottlieb, executive director of the Cape Cod Water Protection Collaborative, is swimming upstream to prevent it.

His group provides legislative, financial and strategic guidance to all Cape communities and County Commissioners in a coordinated approach to enhancing drinking water and wastewater management efforts. But consensus, as we all know, is difficult to reach on the Cape, particularly over such a sensitive issue. The Harvard-educated Gottlieb, recently a Mashpee resident, has a resume as deep as the aquifer.

A principal with the Boston-based Serrafix Corporation, consultants on energy efficiency, sustainability and smart growth. Chief of the Office for Commonwealth Development, charged by former Governor Mitt Romney with overseeing and coordinating the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, the Executive Office of Transportation, and the Department of Housing and Community Development. Beyond the positions, this waste water expert has quietly developed a nationally recognized model for watershed protection funding.

Josh Delaney

Josh Delaney has always been ensconced in maritime history.

His parents ran an outdoor education center, and later his father, Richard, became executive director of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies after a tenure as director of Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management. Josh actually grew up in the old lifesaving station in Truro’s Pamet Valley.

After earning a master’s degree in history at Brown, he worked for the Boston History Collaborative, the History Channel, and the former Cape Cod Voice newspaper. Now
a financial analyst at Cape Cod Five, Josh has written his first novel of historical fiction, Pieces of Eight. Critically acclaimed and independently published, it is a Cape Cod tale about swashbuckling pirate Sam Bellamy, his dalliance with accused Eastham witch Goody Hallett, and the wreck of his ship Whydah (www.capecodlegends.com).

“I write about legends in ways that tie folklore to history,” Delaney says. Next up? A tale of Captain Kidd and Hannah Screecham of Cotuit.

David Drake A.K.A. Tawny Heatherton

The Boston Globe recently commented that Tawny Heatherton “came out of nowhere.”

And she did. Accomplished actor, director and writer David Drake’s female impersonation is supposedly the niece of the 1960s ingénue singer and actor Joey Heatherton, who famously made Ed Sullivan stand up straight.

“I didn’t set out to create a drag persona to become a star or make a better living,” says Drake, who has performed as the inexplicable Tawny locally at Provincetown’s Crown & Anchor and in various venues in New York. “It was an exploration of the kind of women on TV and in the movies who dazzled me as a youth,” he says. “These women were beams of light for me as a kid, then they disappeared.” Tawny came to life when Drake flipped a wig after dressing for Halloween as Sen. John McCain’s wife Cindy.

No stranger to the stage, Drake is the Obie award-winning writer, director and actor of the one-man show about urban gay life, titled The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me. He also has directed shows at the Provincetown Theater Company and at venues internationally.

Kate Wilkinson

Universalism first came to Provincetown in 1820 when two small girls retrieved a waterlogged book on the beach.

They took the book home, dried it out, and soon The Life of Rev. John Murray, Preacher of Universalist Salvation swept the town like a Nor ‘easter, transforming “a community weighed down with the fear of hellfire and judgment with the joyous awareness of God’s universal love for all beings.”

Nearly 200 years later, Rev. Kate Wilkinson, the young, newly ordained pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House on Commercial Street (www.uumh.org), has taken joyous awareness to higher levels in
Provincetown. “We work,” says Wilkinson, “to provide a safe and reflective community for gay, lesbian, straight, transgendered and bisexual people, encompassing a broad diversity of beliefs and religious backgrounds.”

This Cornell University graduate worked as an editorial assistant at Houghton Mifflin Company in Boston before earning a Master’s of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology in 2008. “I held on to my love of words, but sought something that also involved my deepening commitment to social justice, my ability to listen to others, and the pleasure I take in creating spiritual spaces,” she says.

Brenda Withers & Robert Kropf

Cue the lights. The Harbor Stage Company in Wellfleet is the latest luminary to brighten the shores of this inventive harbor town.

 “A theater by the sea that’s right on the edge,” as the founders call it, the ensemble of professional theater artists from Boston and New York perform in the former home of the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (W.H.A.T.).

Kropf and Withers met Amanda Collins, Jonathan Fielding, Stacy Fischer, and Lewis Wheeler years ago while performing at W.H.A.T., and all have collaborated on more than a dozen plays over the last decade. “We are committed to establishing a haven for artistic expansion and expression, and presenting the most challenging texts on the contemporary landscape,” says Withers, who was not only a former fellow of the esteemed Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, but also the co-author with Dartmouth College friend Mindy Kaling of Matt and Ben, a well-received romp of a play that supposes the screenplay of Good Will Hunting literally fell into Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s laps.

Withers’ mix of accomplishment and invention is representative of the Harbor Stage Company (www.harborstage.org), which will no doubt draw creative spirits in seasons to come on Cape Cod.

Ian Ives

Ian Ives is director of Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable.

The affable biologist is fast becoming the face of Audubon on Cape Cod, especially considering the looming retirement of sister sanctuary Wellfleet Bay’s Bob Prescott.

Overseeing protection of more than 480 acres of open space, including six sanctuaries with trail networks open to the public, he is responsible for staff, ecological and budget management, environmental education, community outreach, and fundraising.

A strong advocate for endangered species conservation and wetland protection throughout the Commonwealth, he works closely with the Cape Wildlife Center, the Falmouth Land Trust 300 Committee, the Barnstable Land Trust, Harwich Conservation Trust, and most recently the Cape Cod Wildlife Collaborative to promote the stewardship of Cape Cod’s wildlife and habitats.

Carly Tefft, Rayssa Ribeiro & Molly Parmenter

“The sweetest of all sounds is that of the voice of the woman we love.”

So wrote 17th century French essayist Jean de la Bruyere. Too bad de la Bruyere never got to hear the Cape’s Carly Tefft, Molly Parmenter, and Rayssa Ribeiro.
The Boston Globe called 19-year-old Sandwich singer-songwriter Tefft “a phenomenon on Cape Cod.” Now studying music at Boston’s distinguished Berklee College of Music, Tefft wrote her first song when she was seven, a ballad about Santa Claus, and performed at Coffee Obsession in Falmouth at 15. She has a new album out in the spring, called Loud and Clear.

As lead singer of a unique keyboard and electric drum band called Stimulus Package, tiny 24-year-old Rayssa Ribeiro, often attired in sequins and four-inch heels, performs with a Latin flair (her mother was a professional singer in Brazil). One can often find her at Cape Cod bars, belting out “She Wolf,” “Love You Like a Love Song,” or “Call Me Maybe.”

One might be misled by the shy 29-year-old working behind the bar at Island Merchant in Hyannis. But then Parmenter takes the stage. Influenced by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell, this
Centerville resident sings and plays acoustic guitar with stinging sincerity.

Dennisport Revitalizers

For years, downtown Dennisport was a wasteland of vacant storefronts and tired structures.

However, with vision, investment, hard work, and some Yankee ingenuity, Dennisport today is poised, with a long-term comprehensive plan, to become a centerpiece village—thanks to the major efforts of a group of industrious individuals.

Fred McFadden (far left) represents Summit Realty Partners, which owns a block of Dennisport buildings. Nicole Merriman (second from left), owner of the inventive self-serve Hot Diggity Dog Wash and Boutique, and Alyson Bucchiere (second from right), owner of Buckies Biscotti, are two businesswomen who took major risks to open new locations in the once-struggling downtown. Tom Huettner (far right), a Dennisport resident and partner in the landscape design firm Second Nature Gardenworks and Donald J. Robitaille (center), a long-time summer resident, are the past and current chairs of the Dennisport Revitalization Committee, which has developed initiatives, programs, and charrettes to increase excitement around the revitalization.
“It’s been a collective effort,” says McFadden, “and it’s paying off.”

Eric  Hieser

Eric Hieser is executive director of the decorated Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis.

It ranked last spring by U.S. News & World Report as the top academic high school in Massachusetts and 15th in the nation. Hieser recently played host to 20 high school principals from China, looking for ways to improve Chinese education. How is that for respect?

Now in his tenth year at Sturgis, Hieser has presided over a dramatic rise in testing scores and an increase in student population from 415 to 800 with the opening of a second campus. Sturgis attracts students throughout the Cape and beyond, offering a highly respected International Baccalaureate Programme, recognized by the world’s leading universities.

Having held leadership positions in four American international schools and serving on the boards of the Massachusetts Center for Charter Public School Excellence and the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, Hieser is just starting to hit his stride. “Education energizes me,” he says.

Mitchell Sogin & Sue Huse

So, what do you do?

In her own words, Sue Huse says she focuses on “analyzing extremely large datasets generated by next-generation sequencing and microarray technologies for understanding the human microbiome and the effects of toxic exposures during early life development.” In laymen’s terms, it means she’s a heck of a lot smarter than the rest of us.

An assistant research scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), with a joint appointment as assistant professor in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, Huse is working to improve human health and better understand the genetic code passed on to future generations.

Her colleague, Mitchell Sogin, is director of the Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution at MBL where Huse works. He is credited with being the first scholar to understand the potential of next-generation sequencing technology for studying microbial diversity.

J. P. Shipman

Producer J.P. Shipman plays lead character Dean Hampton in the loosely scripted reality show, OnTheLine.

It follows the meanderings of a fictional TV production company as it attempts to document extreme sports (www.onthelineseries.com). “The goal,” Shipman says, “is to keep the production completely authentic while capturing the excitement of reality TV.”

The latest creation, OnTheLine: Extreme Sailing, captures the excitement of America’s Cup style racing with character development and romantic spectacle. A pilot has been sent to several major Hollywood production companies for review and editing. Having filmed last summer in Newport, the crew is now scouting Cape and Island locations for the spring. Beating to windward like a pro, Shipman is hopeful of finding a course upwind for his productions.

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