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Candidate Statements

Representatives for the 21st District Continue to Support Christie’s failed Policies

June 23, 2015

Chris Christie sent New Jersey up the river with the Exxon oil spill settlement, and the Republicans in the State Assembly refused to hold him accountable. The legal battle between the state of ...

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Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on June 16

June 19, 2015

RECOGNITION OF ACADEMIC SCHOLAR Board President, Richard Mattessich, presented a Board of Education certificate of achievement to Westfield High School graduating senior, Jorge Ledesma.  ...

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Today's Events

Police Blotter

In Westfield, Wallet Reported Stolen From Home, Car Window Smashed

June 24, 2015

June 23, 2015 4:15 p.m. A resident of the 700 block of Prospect Street reported that her vehicle had its window smashed while it was parked in the 200 block of Clark Street. There are no suspects ...

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Columns

The Floor Plan

Indoor Comfort, Outdoor Living

It's that time of year. The time when we get to expand our living spaces and spend more time outdoors. When you're looking to decorate an outdoor space, you want to have all the comforts of ...

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ViaNutrition

What is the Difference Between Infrared and Traditional Saunas?

I love, love, love the infrared sauna. It is so peaceful and makes you feel shut off for a half an hour. The benefits of that alone are brilliant. The benefits are far-reaching for your well-being ...

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Experts of H.O.M.E.

Tips for Backyard Entertaining

Summer is in full swing. Is your home ready for entertaining? It’s time to enjoy your home, inside and out. Here are some of our favorite hacks for backyard fun this summer. To chill ...

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Monday with Millicent

Westfield Art Association (WAA) Members Exhibit Artwork at Mulberry House in Westfield

Come View the Exhibit and Stay for Lunch or Dinner Westfield, New Jersey, is buzzing about the first in a series of exhibitions that will be presented by Members of the Westfield Art Association ...

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Personal Fitness: In the Studio

What is Personal Training? First in a 4-Part Series

After the brutal winter we had this year - which was almost immediately followed by mid-summer-esque temperatures - we weren't left with much spring time to gradually shed off our heavy winter ...

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Lindabury Legal Corner

Shareholder and COO of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper Named Chairman of LEGUS Law Advisory Board

Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper is proud to announce that shareholder William R. Watkins has been named Chairman of the Advisory Board of LEGUS. To read about it, click here.   ...

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Lost in Suburbia®

Getting Under My Skin

“What do you think this is?” my husband asked me, pointing to his elbow. “That is your elbow,” I stated matter-of-factly. “No, these red spots,” he ...

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Westfield Area Y

Westfield Area Y's Summer Enrichment Class Makes Camouflage Hats for Wild Animal Day

The Westfield Area Y’s Summer Enrichment Class at the Robert & Virginia Bauer Branch located at 422 East Broad Street in Westfield recently made a special project for Wild Animal Day. The ...

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In the Schools

Elmo Visits Lincoln School

Kindergarten students performed many great Sesame Street songs at the Lincoln Sing-A-Long with special guest--Elmo. Pictured are Lincoln students having a great time! A special thanks to ...

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Point View WealthPoints

Don’t Fight the Euro Central Bank: Carry On with These Three Dividend Payers!

It’s no coincidence that our stock market has more than tripled in the last six years, since our Federal Reserve depressed interest rates to near zero in late 2008.   The pessimists fear ...

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The Academic Coach

The Summer Plan

The 2014-2015 Academic year is done! Now families can take a deep breath, celebrate successes, and enjoy some free time. But there is one last thing to do and we can help. Chyten Millburn ...

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Westfield Native Jessica St. Clair Talks About Her Hit Show, Playing House, and Hometown Inspiration

By SARA CARPIEN

June 18, 2014 at 10:18 PM

WESTFIELD, NJ — Jessica St. Clair, co-star/creator of USA Network comedy Playing House, hasn’t forgotten about her home town, Westfield. In fact, she weaves memories of growing up here into the hit show.

Playing House was created by real life besties St. Clair and Lennon Parham, who met while studying improv comedy at the renowned Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York.

The show follows two best friends, Emma and Maggie, who reconnect in their small childhood town of Pinebrook, CT. While Emma is visiting Pinebrook for Maggie’s baby shower, the two discover that Maggie’s husband is cheating on her. Emma decides to leave her high level position in China to help newly single Maggie raise her soon-to-be-born baby. Laverne and Shirley-type escapades ensue.

St. Clair, who graduated Westfield High School in 1994, has fond memories of growing up in Westfield and weaves them into the storyline in unique, and sometimes specific, ways.

The fictional town of Pinebrook is a lot like Westfield, she explained.

“It’s a small East Coast town where everyone knows each other,” she said.

“In one of the episodes, ‘Drumline,’ we break into the Pinebrook JCC pool,” said St. Clair, who then revealed, “We used to hop the fence and go swimming in the middle of the night senior year at the Shackamaxon Country Club.”

She sneaks Westfield into the show other ways, too, like when she drops in people's last names.

St. Clair has been named by Variety magazine as one of the 10 Comics to Watch. In addition to Playing House, has appeared in such movies as Bridesmaids, Enough Said and She’s Out of My League. But her theatrical roots were planted here in Westfield. Her first acting stint was a musical titled Logger’s Lament at Roosevelt School.

“I did a musical every year and played sports every year,” said St. Clair. 

She remembers one teacher who encouraged her from a young age.

“Drude Roessler, who happens to be the mother-in-law of USA Network President Chris McCumber, grew up in Westfield. She was my choir teacher,” said St. Clair. "My first production was written by Drude."

Other teachers who she said inspired her were advanced learning teacher Annesly Swicker, English teacher  Paula Roy and French teacher Madame Didier, who fueled St. Clair’s lifelong obsession with France, “which emptied my credit card every year.”

St. Clair’s character on Playing House is based on herself.

“One hundred percent pretty much just me,” she said. “People from my high school might be surprised that I’m a comedian. Back then I was just trying to fit in. I would keep some of my humor to myself. It wasn’t until college that I came into my own and became a comedian.”

When she met her “family” at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, St. Clair’s career started taking off, she said.

“Nobody that I knew was in show business,” said St. Clair. “I majored in drama and did improv comedy at Middlebury College, then lived at home my first year out of college and worked at CNN and at night would intern at the Upright Citizens Brigade, basically cleaning their bathrooms. Basically everybody from Playing House is from the Upright Citizens Brigade. Lennon I met from New York. The philosophy of Upright Citizens Brigade is to keep it in the family.”

She compared UCB to grad school, “if grad school was late night at bars, cleaning toilets and learning how to be a comedian.”

There, she met Amy Poehlor, a “kick-ass comedian who is fearless and also really nice. The second I was at the theater, I felt like a fish out of water. She came up to me and said, ‘Oh, hi, I’m Amy, I just wanted to thank you for helping out.’ Not only is she a fearless comedian but she also keeps it classy,” said St. Clair.

These days, St. Clair lives in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband, playwright Dan O’Brien, and eight-month-old daughter, Isobel Kelly O’Brien. She holds Westfield very dear to her heart.

“I miss [Westfield] very much. I wish I could raise my kids there,” said St. Clair. “I miss Mindowaskin Park. Walking around the downtown. Halloween – going trick or treating with that small town feeling. Going to The Brown Cow for ice cream. Feeding animal crackers to the Doberman in front of the shoe repair place. Playing sports there. Sledding at Galloping Hill and Echo Park.”

And, she added, “I especially miss the friendships that I made. My best friend, Brandi Kovac – her mom was the gymnastics coach at Westfield high school. We’ll end up in a Golden Girls situation,” she said.

When writing the show with Parham, St. Clair loosely based the story on her childhood friend who died from Leukemia in 2012.

“My childhood best friend, Kelly Feeney, a food writer for The New York Times, passed away and this show is a tribute to her in some way. She died of Leukemia about a year and a half ago. Her mother is like my second mother. This show is based on my real life friendship with Lennon, but the fact that it’s about childhood best friends, in a small town…it’s the fantasy of living in the town that you have such fond memories of and the devotion that you have to your lifelong friends,” said St. Clair.

The season finale aired Tuesday night on USA, but you can catch up on full episodes by clicking here.

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