Authors Posts by Heidi Sutton

Heidi Sutton

Heidi Sutton
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Sari Feldman, Amanda Geraci, Aria Saltini and Melanie Acampora star in a scene fron ‘Cinderella.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

A sweet little fairy tale waltzed into Theatre Three last weekend and quickly stole the hearts of the entire audience. The theater is closing its 2015-16 children’s theater season with the perfect choice: a classic retelling of “Cinderella.”

Many little princesses sat in the audience during Saturday’s opening to see Cinderella find her true love and live happily ever after.

With book, music and lyrics by Douglas J. Quattrock, Theatre Three’s version of this rags-to-riches story is full of singing, dancing, magic, quirky characters and lots of laughs. In short, your kids will love it.

From left, Jenna Kavaler and Amanda Geraci star in a scene from ‘Cinderella.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.
From left, Jenna Kavaler and Amanda Geraci star in a scene from ‘Cinderella.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the eight adult cast members all deliver stellar performances and clearly love the craft they have chosen. In a nod to the 17th century author of the modern Cinderella story, who is commonly referred to as the father of the fairy tale, the show’s narrator is named Charles Perrault. This “squire to the sire,” played by Andrew Gasparini, transports theatergoers to a faraway land ruled by King Utterly Charming (Steven Uihlein), who wants to retire to Boca and pass the crown on to his handsome son, Prince Charming (Hans Paul Hendrickson) — and yes, he is indeed charming. However, the king feels that his son should get married first and invites all eligible maidens to a royal ball.

The squire delivers the invitations to the home of the beautiful Cinderella (Amanda Geraci), who is still being treated badly by her wretched stepsisters (Sari Feldman and Melanie Acampora) and mean stepmother, played by newcomer Aria Saltini.

Left behind while the three meanies go to the ball, Cindy is visited by her fairy godmother, Angelica, wonderfully portrayed by Jenna Kavaler. Speaking with a Southern accent, Angelica quickly cooks up a beautiful gown and sends Cinderella on her way.

During Cinderella’s infamous missing shoe episode, Prince Charming interacts with all the little princesses in attendance, asking them for their shoe sizes as he searches for the glass slipper’s owner — a nice touch.

The songs, with Steve McCoy accompanying on piano, dominate the show. Geraci’s solo, “A Girl Like Me (And a Boy Like You),” is sweet as she dances with a broom and dreams of falling in love, and her duet with Hendrickson, “Here in Your Arms (The Waltz)” is delightful. Special mention should also be made of Gasparini’s solos, “Once Upon a Time” and “Take a Chance.”

The cast of ‘Cinderella’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.
The cast of ‘Cinderella’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Teresa Matteson’s costumes are on point, from Cinderella’s beautiful gown to Prince Charming’s crown. Feldman’s choreography ties it all together.

Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show and stay for a special photo with Cinderella and the Prince.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Cinderella” through June 11. The new season will begin on the Mainstage with “The Emperor’s New Clothes” from July 8 to Aug. 5 and the premiere of “The Misadventures of Robin Hood” from Aug. 5 to 13. All seats are $10. For more information, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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Councilwoman Valerie Cartright poses with, from left, Michele Pacala, Samantha White, Katie Zhao and Nicole Freeley. Photo by Heidi Sutton

This past Sunday the community room at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library was filled to the brim as the library, along with the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, local elected officials, and representatives from the Three Village Central School District, presented four local teens with the second annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award.

The contest was open to teens in grades 7 to 12 who live in the Three Village school district.

Two $500 scholarships were awarded: one to Katie Zhao for her children’s book, “Good Night, Judy,” about a little girl who is afraid of the dark and the noises at night. The second was awarded to  Michelle Pacala for her children’s book titled “Sal the Sock,” a story told in a sing-song, rhyming tone about a sock who loses his friends in the laundry. Nicole Freeley, author of “Rainbow,” and Samantha White, author of “Honu,” received Honorable Mentions. The four books will be added to the library’s Local Focus Collection.

The grand-prize winners then read their stories to young patrons in the Children’s Department.

“What I really like seeing is the way we’re working with the schools on this,” said Library Director Ted Gutmann, who hosted the event. “We’re all part of this same community, and it’s great in this day and age to see organizations like ours working together and promoting something which is certainly very worthwhile.”

Samantha Kelly and Niva Taylor, granddaughters of the late Helen Stein Shack, shared fond memories of their grandmother and how much she loved the Emma Clark Library. “Our grandma absolutely loved books and loved this library. This was her favorite place to take us in the entire world,” said Kelly in explaining why the family started this competition here.

Paul Hennings, staff member from Senator John Flanagan’s (R-East Northport) office, brought certificates for all of the winners on behalf of the senator. Three Village school district BOE President William Connors, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Scanlon, Three Village Art Department Chairperson Jennifer Trettner, R.C. Murphy Junior High School English Department Chairperson Cathy Duffy, R.C. Murphy Junior High School Librarian Betsy Knox and Emma Clark board of trustees member Debra Blair were all in attendance to show their support.

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) presented the winners with certificates from the Town of Brookhaven. “I think this is an amazing way to continue the legacy of Helen Stein Shack. I think that allowing kids to express themselves in an artistic manner — a positive artistic manner — is important,” said Councilwoman Cartright.

“You are the future leaders … keep expressing yourself. In a world today where there are so many negative things going on . . . you need to have outlets —  positive outlets — and these [books] are positive outlets, not only for you, but it puts a smile on the faces of those who actually view it,” she added, saying “I thank the community and of course the parents for encouraging our young ones to continue to do great and positive things in our community.”

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Ann Moran, left, and Ernestine Franco, right, receive a Certificate of Appreciation from Councilwoman Jane Bonner, center. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Sound Beach Civic Association hosted its third Lasagna Dinner fundraiser last Friday night at the Sound Beach Firehouse. The event drew about 90 people and raised over $900 for the Sound Beach Civic Veterans Memorial Park. According to Civic Association President Bea Ruberto, the funds are used to buy replacement flags and maintain the plantings at the park.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) made a special appearance to support the wonderful cause. “I came here to eat because I can never get enough lasagna and enough meatballs,” she quipped before presenting a Certificate of Appreciation to Ann Moran and Ernestine Franco of the Sound Beach Civic Association for their many hours of volunteerism.

Bonner commented that every time she drives past the memorial, which is located on New York Avenue across from the post office, “it’s always very, very beautiful, and the flags are always in great shape.”

Bonner thanked the civic for hosting this fundraiser “because honoring our veterans is not something we do often enough and this community is on the map because of what you’ve done,” adding “There is such a heart in Sound Beach and such a spirit of volunteerism in this community … You all go above and beyond and are shining examples.”

If you would like more information on upcoming events of the Sound Beach Civic Association, visit www.soundbeachcivic.org.

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Director Daniel A. Miller, pictured here with the ‘film ladies’ from the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council,’ from left, Honey Katz Phyllis Ross, Barbara Sverd, Lyn Boland and Wendy Feinberg, delves into the effects of climate change in his latest documentary. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The intimate setting of the Gillespie Room at The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook served as a perfect venue for the screening of the award-winning documentary, “The Anthropologist,” last Monday evening.

The film explores the impact of climate change in different parts of the world. The event, attended by over 80 community members, was the third movie in the Port Jefferson Documentary Spring 2016 series. Director Daniel A. Miller made a special guest appearance and held a Q-and-A at the end of the night

Catch the next film in the series, “Waiting,” on April 4 at The Long Island Museum at 7 p.m.

To learn more about this season’s films or to purchase tickets in advance, call 631-473-5220.

Carson Higgins (Huey Calhoun) and Breanna Bartley (Felicia) star in 'Memphis.' Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

Well, hockadoo! The John W. Engeman Theater was full of soul last Saturday night, engaging theatergoers with a sizzling production of “Memphis” that raised the roof and culminated with a five-minute standing ovation.

Directed by Igor Goldin (“West Side Story” and “Evita”) and choreographed by Antoniette DiPietropolo, the rock ‘n’ roll musical is loosely based on the life of “Daddy-O” Dewey Philips, a Memphis disc jockey who dared to play the music of black artists in the late 1950s, when segregation was still the norm in the South. With book and lyrics by Joe Dipietro and original music and lyrics by David Bryan — a member of rock band Bon Jovi — the production ran on Broadway from 2009 to 2012 and won four Tony Awards, including best musical in 2010.

The story follows Huey Calhoun, who, in his quest to find the sounds of early rock ‘n’ roll, finds himself in a black nightclub on the seedy side of town. Owned by Delray, the club features his sister Felicia, a black singer with whom Huey quickly falls in love and vows to get on the radio so the world can hear the music that Delray says is “just Negro blues sped up.”

Breanna Bartley brings down the house during a musical number from ‘Memphis.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro
Breanna Bartley brings down the house during a musical number from ‘Memphis.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

Carson Higgins is the lead as Huey, a role he has played in the past and has by now perfected. Higgins makes Huey likable and endearing and draws the audience in from the beginning. An incredible actor and singer, Higgins’ rendition of “Memphis Lives in Me” is unforgettable.

Breanna Bartley is perfectly cast as Felicia. With a smooth singing voice, she shines in the musical numbers, especially in “Someday” and “Colored Woman.”

The entire supporting cast is wonderful, with powerful voices and the moves to match. Standouts include Kathryn Markey as Huey’s sassy mother Gladys; C. Mingo Long as Delray; and Jarred Bedgood as Gator, who doesn’t speak or sing until the end of Act I but then treats the audience to a moving rendition of “Say a Prayer.”

Hidden from view but not to be overlooked is the six-piece powerhouse band. Musical Director James Olmstead, who doubles on keyboard, returns to the Engeman to lead a talented group of musicians, including Josh Endlich on percussion, Russ Brown on bass, Joe Boardman on trumpet, Brian Schatz on reeds and Douglas Baldwin on guitar, all playing Bryan and Dipietro’s rousing score.

Set design is handled neatly by D.T. Willis and works well, utilizing sliding panels and a second level to tell the story, and the gorgeous period costumes by Tristan Raines are spot-on, pulling the production together successfully. Don’t miss this wonderful high-energy production, a perfect ending to a night out on the town.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport, will present “Memphis” through May 8. Show includes some adult language and staged violence. Running time is 2.5 hours, including one 15-minute intermission. Free valet parking. Tickets are $74 on Saturday evenings and $69 for all other performances, and may be purchased by calling 631-261-2900 or by visiting www.engemantheater.com.

Carson Higgins leads the cast of ‘Memphis’ at the John Engeman Theater. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro
Carson Higgins leads the cast of ‘Memphis’ at the John Engeman Theater. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

By Heidi Sutton & Ernestine Franco

Winter was a long time coming to Long Island this year. The first snow did not fall until the weekend of Jan. 23, and then it fell with a vengeance — some areas of the Island were covered with more than 2 feet of snow. Following this, we went into the deep freeze the weekend of Valentine’s Day, with temperatures plummeting to minus 20 with the wind chill. To really confuse people, animals and plants, the thermometer reached 56 degrees two days later and we had a rainstorm.

So this year, it is not just gardeners who can’t wait for spring. Everyone may be checking out All-America Selections’ recently announced National Winners for 2016 — new varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables that will do well in any climate throughout the United States and Canada. With fun names like Tomato Candyland Red, Strawberry Delizz and the exotic Mizuna Red Kingdom, these cultivars are the best of the best, beating out thousands for superior taste, disease tolerance, unique colors and flavors, higher yield, length of flowering and harvest, and overall performance.

Here’s what the judges had to say about these award winners:

None of these AAS winners are bred or produced using genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For a complete list of 2016 new plants winners chosen by the AAS by region, visit their website at www.all-americaselections.org.

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Children and their parents flocked to the St. James Lutheran Church in St. James last Sunday afternoon for a Scandinavian Children’s Heritage Fair.

Representing Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland, the event was hosted by the Sons of Norway. Children took part in a Little Vikings tour by playing Uff Da Bingo while learning Norwegian words, weaving Danish heart baskets out of felt and decorating shields and swords. They also took part in Norwegian rosemåling (decorative painting), rock painting and troll making.

Guests were also able to sample delicious traditional desserts including Lefse, Norwegian Krumkaker cookies, heart waffles, sandkaker and Swedish coffee bread. The event also offered many types of Scandinavian-themed souvenirs for sale.

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Dana Urbinati and her team of students took a break from rehearsals Monday night to pose for a photo. Photo by Heidi Sutton

For the past 29 years, students  at Comsewogue High School have showcased their eclectic talents with the community at “A Night for Jason,” a student-run variety show produced in honor of Jason Mariano, a child in the school district who succumbed to leukemia in 1987. This year’s event will take place on Friday, March 18, at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.

The money raised from the event benefits Friends of Karen, a tristate children’s charity with an office in Port Jefferson, that offers emotional, financial and advocacy support for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families in order to keep them stable, functioning and able to cope.

“This is always such a great way to keep our students involved in caring for our community,” said Dana Urbinati, a teacher at the high school and coordinator of the event. “Along with the talents and energy of everyone involved, we want people to know that the funds raised are going to help some very special families in our communities.”

A diverse  mix of talents have graced the stage in the past and this year is no exception. Emceed by Jason Kellar, Eli Smith, Aleyna Kaya, Nicholas Keller and Ethan Wright, the evening will feature 22 acts including musical performances by the high school’s Jazz Band and female choir, Tapestry, along with singing, dancing, comedy and student bands. “This is an extremely talented, hardworking group and I’m just so grateful that we are able to help such an amazing charity,” said Urbinati.

Comsewogue High School is located at 565 N. Bicycle Path, Port Jefferson Station. Tickets for this one-night event are priced at $12 in advance by calling 631-474-8179 or $15 at the door. For more information about Friends of Karen, call 631-473-1768.

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A fairy house (Bayport Flower House). Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Town of Brookhaven’s annual Home & Garden Show welcomed spring early last weekend. More than 1,400 people visited the event at the Holtsville Ecology Site that featured over 30 local vendors offering a plethora of home improvement ideas. In addition, free adult educational workshops and hands-on classes for children were offered.

Pansies in a variety of colors (Bloomin Haus). Photo by Heidi Sutton
Pansies in a variety of colors (Bloomin Haus). Photo by Heidi Sutton

The event will continue on March 19 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and March 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 per adult, children 16 and under are free. For more information, call 631-758-9664, ext. 18.

Adult workshops, Saturday, March 19
11:30 a.m. — Guide Dog Foundation/America’s VetDogs with Susan Stevens, Certified Health Coach
1 p.m. — Tree Care & Organic Options for the Homeowner by Evan Dackow of Jolly Green
2:30 p.m. — Composting by Mike DesGaines of  TOB Dept of Waste Management
4 p.m. — Dahlias, the Bloom With Many Faces by Joe Lysik and Joe Bonomo
5:30 p.m. —  Caring for Your Houseplants by April Perry, Ecology Staff

Kids Workshops, Saturday, March 19
Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Recycled Birdfeeder Activity by Nicole Pocchiare of TOB Dept of Waste Management
1:30 to 3 p.m. — Water Conservation Craft by Molly Hastings — Environmental Educator/Park Ranger, TOB

Adult workshops, Sunday, March 20
11:30 a.m. — Hydrangeas on Long Island by Judy Ogden, Ogden’s Design & Plantings Inc.
1 p.m. — Herbs in the Kitchen by Anne Marie O’Neil,  President of HALI
2:30 p.m. — The Carmen’s River: An Amazing Natural Beauty by John Cardone, author and photographer
4 p.m. — TBA

Kids Workshops, Sunday, March 20
Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Gardening Fun With Kids by Kelly Smith, Ecology Site horticulturist
1:30 to 3 p.m. — Gardening Fun With Kids by Rosa Goncalves, Ecology Site horticulturist

Please note: Kid’s classes while supplies last and adult workshops subject to change.

From left, Hans Paul Hendrickson, Steven Uihlein, Andrew Gasparini and Dana Bush in a scene from ‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

When Theatre Three announces the return of a perennial favorite, “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit,” everyone knows that spring is just around the corner. Even more fitting, this year marks 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter, who created all of the wonderful characters in the production, from Mrs. Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail to Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and the McGregors. Written by Jeffrey E. Sanzel and the late Brent Erlanson, the show mimics Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” closely with a kinder, softer story line. Sanzel directs a talented cast of eight adult actors to bring us this delightful musical that has become a wonderful tradition for families all over the Island.

The cast of ‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.
The cast of ‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

The story follows a mischievous Peter Rabbit who, because of his insatiable appetite for parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, string beans and lettuce, is constantly drawn to Mr. McGregor’s garden despite his mother’s wishes. Many trips to the garden patch with his cousin, Benjamin Bunny, eventually wear down the farmer’s patience, ending in a great chase scene through the theater, which is reenacted in slow motion later on.

The show opens with a sweet rendition of “Morning” by Mrs. Rabbit, played by Amanda Geraci, and never loses its momentum. Marquéz Catherine Stewart, Jenna Kavaler and Melanie Acampora are the good little bunnies Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail, respectively, who spend most of the show trying to find their “wayward brother” Peter, played with unbounded energy by Hans Paul Hendrickson. Dana Bush returns as a patient Mrs. McGregor after a few year’s absence and Andrew Gasparini tackles the role of Mr. McGregor for the very first time, playing the stingy and cranky farmer perfectly, sans the desire to eat the rabbits. Steven Uihlein, who plays the role of cousin Benjamin Bunny, rounds out the cast and does a terrific job.

Imagination plays a big part in the show, as the set design is sparse, utilizing a trapdoor on stage as a rabbit hole and constructing a makeshift scarecrow. Costumes, designed by Teresa Matteson, are on point, from Mr. McGregor’s overalls to the little white tails on the rabbits. Kudos to Michelle Manda for a terrific job on the lighting, especially during a Mission Impossible scene when Peter and Benjamin attempt to retrieve Peter’s clothes from the scarecrow.

The musical numbers, written by Kevin F. Story and accompanied on piano by Steve McCoy, are all showstoppers, especially “One More Time Around,”  “Beware! Mr. McGregor!” and “Peter’s Socks,” which Stewart, also the choreographer, has converted to a fun hip-hop piece. All of the songs are incorporated into the finale, a perfect ending to a Theatre Three classic.

Souvenir bunnies in various colors are up for sale during intermission, and the entire cast is in the lobby after the show for a meet-and-greet.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” through March 26. Children’s theater will continue on the Mainstage with “Cinderella” from April 16 to June 11, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” from July 8 to Aug. 5 and “The Misadventures of Robin Hood” from Aug. 5 to 13. All seats are $10. For more information, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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