ACT co-founder celebrates au pairs on Mother’s Day
Many families gathered last Sunday to celebrate Mother’s Day as a family. The Diamond family of Ridgefield did so, too, with their three young children — Luke, Cora and Rosia — and their au pair, Marilyn Davila Lopera.
For Katie Diamond, it is important to remember au pairs on Mother’s Day, as they become an integral part of the families for which they work.
Having hosted au pairs since 2015 from the cultural exchange program Cultural Care, Diamond is pleased with the high-quality girls from Colombia, South America, who help her with her busy acting, producing, and directing schedule.
“My children adore our au pairs, and we think of them as the older sister in the family,” she said. “The au pairs are included in every family activity and trip and will receive cards and presents from the children on the holidays. There are numerous au pairs from South America working in Ridgefield.
“To find an au pair that is best matched for a family,” continued Diamond, “you go online like you would for a dating service. You are shown each person’s background, security information, personality traits, photo, and anything else you might need. The au pair is given the same type of information about the family, so that an effective match can be made.”
The Cultural Care au pairs have to acquire a certain proficiency level in English and sign a one-year contract. They can stay on longer if they wish, but can be no older than 26. While in the United States, most of the girls take college courses locally and work on improving their English. Their agency keeps in constant touch with the au pairs and provides monthly get-togethers for them. The au pairs do not feel isolated and enjoy learning about a new culture by becoming part of a family.
While Diamond is busy producing the first ACT (A Contemporary Theater) musical, Mamma Mia, she is at ease knowing that her children, ages, 4, 5 and 7, are being taken care of by Marilyn.
The children help the 22-year-old Colombian native with English, while she teaches them some Spanish, Diamond said.
Since the au pairs stay for only one or two years before going back to their country for more education, the children learn to transition from one girl to the next.
Leaving the city
Diamond has lived in Ridgefield for four years, coming from New York City, where she was an actress. Her two favorite roles were in Jersey Boys and The Pirate Queen on Broadway. After having children, the Diamonds decided to move out of the city to Ridgefield because of the many cultural events that were available through the town.
As a newcomer, Diamond joined the board of the Ridgefield Playhouse and reunited with Dan Levine, who is now the co-founder of ACT.
Together, the two of them directed and produced Jesus Christ Superstar and The Who’s Tommy for the Playhouse, but wanted to do more.
On June 7, 2017, they acquired the auditorium at Schlumberger with the help of many key donors interested in the arts.
Exactly one year after obtaining the auditorium, ACT’s first production will open its doors and then be a host to upcoming productions of Evita, Working, Spelling Bee, and new shows never before produced.
The goal of the theater is to be a premier venue for viewing the highest quality Equity theater in the area. The theater will be similar to the Westport Playhouse, but will feature musicals.
The theater, on 36 Old Quarry Lane, will also offer summer theater workshops for children.
On the board of directors for ACT are Stephen Schwartz (well-known Ridgefield writer and producer of numerous award-winning Broadway musicals), Larry Morley (technical director at Radio City Music Hall), Jack Mehler (Broadway lighting and scenic designer), Susan Batten (actor and film producer), Beowulf Boritt (Tony Award-winning director), Christian Borle (Tony Award-winning actor), and Bryan Perri (musical director and conductor for Wicked on Broadway). Through the combined efforts of the talent in this group, a theater experience at ACT will be exceptional and memorable.
In the June production of Mamma Mia, there will be 20 actors, 11 of them Equity actors and three strong local actors. Playing the lead of Donna will be Juliet Lambert Pratt, a New York City actress who is also a resident of Ridgefield.
Diamond feels ACT is in a perfect location.
“We are close enough to the city to draw quality New York City actors,” she said. “These actors can rehearse in Ridgefield but still go back to the city at night. We hold auditions in both New York City and in Ridgefield so that we can combine talent from two different areas.”
Run like mom
On Mother’s Day, Diamond participated in the Run Like a Mother 5K.
Her three children ran in the final leg of the race with her, while her husband and au pair stood on the sidelines cheering her on.
According to Diamond, “I run for exercise. I will also be running in the Ridgefield Academy 5K, which is sponsored by the school that my children attend. I did run the Boston Marathon when I was a college student at the Boston Conservatory of Music. With my new role, I don’t have time to train for numerous marathons.”
Diamond is very happy with her life in Ridgefield and the direction in which it is going.
She will also continue to host au pairs to help her out with her active lifestyle and to provide a big sister-like helper for her children.