John Hetherington Honored As 55th Gridiron “Fall Guy”

Honored at the Country Club of New Canaan



Robert Doran, Emcee

On Wednesday, April 23 and Friday evening, April 25, John Hetherington was honored with a dinner and show as the Gridiron Club of New Canaan’s 55th “Fall Guy” at the Country Club of New Canaan. “The Bow Tie Goes to the Runner”, included songs and skits portraying the life and times of New Canaan’s always-in-a-bowtie retired District 125 State Representative. Each year, the past Fall Guys select a New Canaan citizen who exemplifies the true spirit of community service, and the Gridiron Club performs an original musical comedy showcasing his life. This “roast” was attended by almost 300 guests, and Hetherington thoroughly enjoyed watching the troupe of businessmen-by-day sing and dance their way through his personal history.

Material for the show was gathered by a research team who interviewed Hetherington’s wife, Hope, their son Kells and daughter, Jane, as well as long-time friends Randy Taylor and John Wilkinson, and numerous Connecticut state politicos. Gridiron Club President, Eric Thunem said, “Everyone we interviewed had nothing but kind words to say about what a fine man John Hetherington is. The show reflected that, but we still had some great laughs.”

Emceed by Robert Doran, the Gridiron cast performed life-sketches including “NAVY BEANS”, in which Ensign John Hetherington (Frederick Whitmer) of the Navy JAG corps defends his own legal expertise at courts-martial in the face of a boisterous Navy Captain (Bill Walbert). Hetherington’s avocation for Civil War re-enactments was on display in “GETTYSBURGER”, as Hetherington (Frank Sisson) tried to keep the peace with General Robert E. Lee (Eric Thunem), General Ulysses S. Grant (Steve Pond), and the Lincolns (Frederick Whitmer and Rob Avery). Hetherington’s love of sailing was featured in “ALL IS LOST… AND FOUND”, with his two pals, Jack Riley (Frank Sisson) and Randy Taylor (Bruce Wilkinson) singing their way through rough seas as captain John Hetherington (Bill Walbert) fixes things and guides them home.

“MAJOR MEDICAL” featured Hetherington’s legislative experiences in Hartford as state reps argued over the prospects of medical marijuana laws and representative Harry (Robert Curry) seemed to be on the same side as a nonagenarian intruder (Eric Thunem). The show wrapped up with a stirring rendition of the Sinatra classic, “My Way”, as Hetherington (Frank Sisson) and the Speaker of the House (Bill Walbert) serenaded the statehouse in “SHY AND RETIRING”.

The show was written by head writer and Broadway veteran, Bill Brown (“The Wiz”), and Gridiron veterans Frank Sisson, Frederick Whitmer and Eric Glerum. Brown celebrated his 20th Gridiron anniversary as a writer, and Director Frank Sisson marked his 15th year at the helm. This year’s show also featured Musical Director, Will Duchon. Producers were Robert Doran and Bill Walbert. Dr. John Kerchoff ran the teleprompters, with Patty Beyer and Eniko Szatai on costumes and props.

At the end of the show, the Fall Guy was invited up to say a few words, which included his heartfelt thanks to the entire cast and crew. Mr. Hetherington was gracious, and remarked at the “creativity and hard work” that went into the production. At the end of the traditional “Ladies Night” performance on Wednesday the 23rd, Mrs. Hetherington was equally gracious, complimenting the Gridiron Club on a thoroughly enjoyable show, and recited her own poetic thanks to the cast and crew.

Each year the Gridiron Club event raises money for the Fall Guy’s charity of choice. The 2014 recipient is The Wounded Warrior Project.

The Gridiron Club of New Canaan welcomes new members. For information about membership or participation, please contact John Murphy or Eric Thunem.

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