Arts & Entertainment

The cast of ‘Frosty,’ from left, Courtney Fekete, Kate Keating, Matthew Rafanelli, Jacqueline Hughes and Samantha Carroll. Photo by Beth Hallisey

By Erika Riley

The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport kicked off its holiday season last Saturday with the opening of an annual favorite, “Frosty.” Richard T. Dolce skillfully directs the children-friendly classic with the help of a talented adult cast of five.

The story of “Frosty” will be familiar to fans of the “Frosty the Snowman” movie, with a few twists and turns along the way. Kate Keating returns to reprise her role as Jenny, the energetic young girl who builds a snowman and magically brings him to life. Keating effortlessly slips into the role of a little kid, and audience members will connect with her as soon as she sings a melancholy rendition of “No Friends.”

Kate Keating and Matthew Rafanelli star in 'Frosty'
Kate Keating and Matthew Rafanelli star in ‘Frosty’

Keating works alongside Courtney Fekete, who plays the role of Jenny’s mom and is also the mayor of Chillsville. She is tricked into signing a contract with the evil Ethel Pierpot (Samantha Carroll) who builds a machine to get rid of all the snow in Chillsville, sending Frosty and Jenny into a panic. Together, Jenny, her mom, Frosty and the audience must find a way to keep Frosty from melting.

The narrator, played by “Frosty” newcomer Jacqueline Hughes, draws the most laughs from the audience, as she helps tell the story with excellent comedic timing. During the Saturday opening, the children giggled as Hughes returned to the stage with maracas and a sombrero while Frosty and Jenny sang “One Friend Is Better Than No Friends.” The narrator slips into several roles during the show, including a train conductor, Ethel Pierpot’s assistant, and more, bringing life and energy to each.

Frosty, played by Matthew Rafanelli, instantly wins over the hearts of both the audience and Jenny when he comes to life for the first time with the help of a magic wool scarf. The children all applaud as he sings, slides and dances his way to help save the day.

Perhaps the most unique part of this wonderful show is the constant audience participation. The children are not expected to sit still and quiet in their seats but instead are encouraged to sing along to songs like “Snow” and the titular “Frosty the Snowman.”

During intermission, Hughes asks the audience to come up with solutions for Frosty and Jenny’s dilemma. When the show continues, the children can share their ideas with the cast. The kids also help Jenny write a letter to her mom and even get to wish for snow at the end of the show, and, spoiler alert, are rewarded with snowfall right before their eyes.

At several points in the show, the actors come into the audience, including the final scene when Jenny, Frosty and Jenny’s mom try to catch Ethel Pierpot. They run through the theater, asking where Ethel went, as the children help point the way. Frosty even high-fives audience members as he makes his way up and down the aisles.

Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for photos. The children can also have their programs signed by the cast members. An autograph page is located toward the back of the program.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Frosty” through Dec. 31. All seats are $15. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

About the author: Stony Brook resident Erika Riley is a sophomore at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. She is interning at TBR during her winter break and hopes to advance in the world of journalism and publishing after graduation.

Photo courtesy of Harbor Country Day School Students drop off food collected during the school’s annual drive. Photo courtesy of Harbor Country Day School

On Nov. 21, students from St. James’ Harbor Country Day School delivered nearly 1,000 pounds of nonperishable food items to the Smithtown Emergency Food Pantry. The food was collected through the school’s annual food drive.

“Harbor Country Day is pleased to continue our annual tradition of collecting food for the Smithtown Emergency Food Pantry,” said John Cissel, Head of School at Harbor Country Day. “Our Upper School students, who lead this school-wide effort, take great pride in the role they play in helping people throughout our surrounding communities. As we continue our focus on character development throughout all grades here at Harbor, the Upper School students are setting a remarkable example for their fellow students to follow.”

“We are grateful for the support Harbor Country Day School has given us for the past 15-plus years. We always look forward to seeing the children’s smiling faces as they take time out of their busy school day to visit us,” said Pat Westlake, Director of the Smithtown Emergency Food Pantry. “As a integral member of our community for nearly 60 years, Harbor is a perfect representation of the many wonderful ways we all rally together and lift each other up in times of need.”

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Several thousand visitors came out to enjoy the festive, lighted displays and have their photos taken with Santa at last year’s Holiday Spectacular. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Town of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro recently announced the return of the annual Brookhaven Town Holiday Spectacular, an indoor, walk-through holiday light show benefiting the animals at the Holtsville Ecology Site.

Last year, several thousand people walked through the winter wonderland of lighted, festive displays, before stopping to take their photos with Santa in his workshop. Admission to this event is $5 per person; children 3 and under are free. There are additional fees for raffles and photos with Santa. All proceeds benefit the Brookhaven Wildlife Center, Inc. and go directly to the feed and care of the more than 100 animals residing at the Ecology Site.

“This is a fun-filled, affordable entertainment option for families who want to come and enjoy the spirit of the holidays,” Superintendent Losquadro said. “I want to thank my staff at the Ecology Site for working so diligently to transform the greenhouses and make this event so memorable. Over the years, walking through the Holiday Spectacular has become a wonderful holiday tradition for many families.”

The show will run Dec. 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18; hours on Fridays and Saturdays are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Holtsville Ecology Site is located at 249 Buckley Road in Holtsville. For more information, call 631-758-9664.

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The Girls Scouts of Suffolk County and County Executive Steve Bellone (D) will present a Holiday drive-thru Light Show at Smith Point County Park, County Road 46, Shirley through Dec. 23. Now in its 13th year with a new location, the light show is better than ever with more lights, more displays and more festive family fun! Hours through Dec. 17 are Monday to Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Hours from Dec. 18 to 23 are 5 to 11 p.m. $20 per car. Credit card only at the gate. For more information, call 631-543-6622 or visit www.holidaylightshow.org.

SUPERMOON POWERS

Gene Sprouse captured this photo on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 5:17 p.m. with his Nikon D5500 with a 18-200mm zoon lens at 44mm focal length. He took three shots at 0, −2 and +2 and used Photomatix to generate an HDR composite picture. He writes, “The Supermoon [on Nov. 13] caused an unusually low tide, and I took this picture at West Meadow Beach at sunset. In all of my years in Stony Brook, I have never seen the sandbars out so far.”

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Providing care for a family member in need is an act of kindness, love and loyalty.

Editors Note: Having recently recognized the dedication of family caregivers nationwide, we offer a timely suggestion for this season. Holiday gatherings are also an ideal opportunity to take note of any changing needs for loved ones that we may see infrequently, and a chance to plan proactively for them in the coming year.

“My wife has dementia and I am going to do what I can to keep her at home.”

“My father died recently and Mom needs our help.”

“My 90-year-old uncle lives across town all alone, so someone in our family visits him every day.”

Family caregivers are some of our nation’s most dedicated heroes — devoted men and women who tirelessly attend to loved ones with an illness, disability or limitations of aging. Each November, America celebrates National Family Caregivers Month to recognize and honor family caregivers across our country. From metropolitan brownstones and urban care facilities to rolling farmsteads and rural assisted living centers, family caregivers compassionately assist parents, spouses, extended family, friends and neighbors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 34 million unpaid caregivers nationwide care for someone age 18 or older who is dealing with sickness or disability. These millions represent roughly 21 percent of all U.S. households.

Family caregivers come from diverse backgrounds and care circumstances. She may be the granddaughter stopping by her grandparents’ home twice a week with fresh produce, or the son driving 300 miles every other week to take his father to his cancer treatments. Fueled by love and sacrifice, the role of a volunteer caregiver knows few limits.

Fortunately, a plethora of national and local organizations and online resources are available to family caregivers. For a local list of services and organizations, caregivers can contact federal, county and state government agencies including the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, social services departments and public health departments. The social services department of local hospitals and medical clinics or adult daycare centers and faith-based agencies are other avenues for learning about services and programs available to family caregivers and care recipients.

The following is a summary list of national family caregiver resources:

Family Caregiver Alliance offers services and publications based on caregiver needs at the local, state and national levels. The group’s www.caregiver.org website offers a wealth of helpful information from caregiving tips and fact sheets to personal stories and newsletters.

National Alliance for Caregiving is a nonprofit coalition of national organizations whose www.caregiving.org website connects family caregivers with information, videos, books and more that the alliance reviews and approves as providing beneficial information for caregivers.

Medicare.gov, the official U.S. government site for Medicare, presents easy access to useful information about Medicare and other proven resources to help with family caregiving. The site includes links to partner organizations and essential caregiver information, such as “What type of care is best for your loved one?” and “What every caregiver needs to know.”

This information was provided by Jamie Robinson, president of Right at Home In Home Care and Assistance of Miller Place.

Photo by Kristen Cuomo

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook was recently awarded the 2016 SmartCEO Magazine’s Corporate Culture Award. The Corporate Culture Awards program honors companies that foster a creative, collaborative workplace culture to enhance performance and sustain a competitive advantage.

The Long Island Museum was one of 38 companies honored at the first Long Island Corporate Culture Awards ceremonies at Chateau Briand in Carle Place.

According to SmartCEO, “Smart leaders understand that culture is a company’s greatest asset, driving performance and growth. What’s more, a successful culture is actively and intentionally cultivated and developed.”

“The most significant aspects of our corporate culture are teamwork and timing,” said Long Island Museum Executive Director Neil Watson. “With a very lean staff, we work cohesively to deliver compelling exhibitions and engaging programs for diversified audiences. We’re constantly changing and people’s experience are changing when they’re here. The success of our corporate culture comes when we engage new and existing audiences in new ways,” he said.

Above, LIM staff members gather in the Carriage Museum’s Core Gallery to celebrate. Clockwise from left, Neil Watson, Executive Director; Jonathan Olly, Assistant Curator; Alexandria D’Auria, Development Associate; Andrea Abrahamsen, Curatorial Assistant; Joshua Ruff, Director of Collections and Interpretation; Lisa Unander, Director of Education; Emma Backfish, Public Programs Coordinator; Julie Diamond, Director of Communications; Louise Anderson, Executive Assistant; and Regina Miano, Special Events Manager.

Spectators browse through Suffolk County Community College's new photo gallery at the Eastern Campis in Riverhead. Photo by Kevin Redding

Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead held an opening reception last week for its annual Eastern Campus Student Art Exhibit, a show that takes place every fall in the Lyceum Gallery of the Montaukett Learning Resource Center on the Eastern Campus.

Centereach’s Sarah Mullen with her photo, top left, that was featured in the gallery. Photo by Kevin Redding
Centereach’s Sarah Mullen with her photo, top left, that was featured in the gallery. Photo by Kevin Redding

The salon-style show serves to highlight exceptional work created by students in the college’s applied arts programs. This year’s exhibit contains over 60 works that will be displayed in a variety of media and sizes, all of which have been done for classes on campus within the last two years.

Students majoring in photography, graphic design, computer art and interior design were able to submit up to three pieces of their choosing and have the opportunity to leave their often-isolated creative spaces and gauge a reaction of their work from the public..

Ralph Masullo, professor of photographic imagery, said that the gallery has proven to be incredibly valuable for the artists in many ways.

“When you’re an artist and put your work out, you’re basically putting yourself out,” Masullo said. “For students who tend to be very timid about that, it’s their first experience to be exposing themselves as an artist. It’s a good experience for them. Just standing around and listening to comments from strangers is very helpful.”

Sarah Mullen, 22, of Centereach, said that this was her first art exhibit on a college-level, even though she’ll be graduating from SCCC this year with a photography major.

Mullen submitted two photos that will eventually be part of a travel photography book she’s been working on this semester as a special project that highlights lesser-known locations on Long Island. One was taken at Avalon Park in Stony Brook and the other at Prosser Pines in Middle Island. The photo titled “Nature’s Tranquility” of stone steps ascending deeper and deeper into a beautiful forest is so mesmerizing that it became the official image for the reception, appearing on all promotional fliers.

Photos in Suffolk County Community College’s new gallery are observed. Photo by Kevin Redding
Photos in Suffolk County Community College’s new gallery are observed. Photo by Kevin Redding

“It’s nice to have the exposure here,” Mullen said. “Usually, as an artist, all you’d have besides a gallery is the internet, and it’s cool for someone to come physically see your work on the wall. When it’s on the computer, you can still edit it, you can still change things. Once it’s on the wall, that’s it.”

One of the most striking photos in the gallery came from Kiera Pipe, 19, of Miller Place. Taken at Peconic River Herb Farm in Riverhead, the photo captures a sundress hung up on a line in between two shutters on the top floor of a rustic and worn-down barn. One observer said it was haunting and looked almost ghost-like.

Pipe, who’s a photographic imagery major, said that she likes to see whether or not her work means something to someone else or provokes an emotion of any kind. Constructive criticism, she said, makes her a better artist.

“I’m really new to submitting my work into events like this,” Pipe said. “It’s really interesting to watch other people look at my images, while I’m kind of trying to figure out what they’re thinking. I think it’s really awesome … it’s a good feeling.”

Kiera Pipe, of Miller Place, had her photo hung up in Suffolk County Community College’s new gallery. Photo from SCCC
Kiera Pipe, of Miller Place, had her photo hung up in Suffolk County Community College’s new gallery. Photo from SCCC

Growing up on the North Shore, she naturally gravitated toward photography, with a specific focus on landscapes.

“I like all the components that go into it,” she said. “Your eye travels in so many different directions when you’re looking at a landscape. [Growing up] on the water, everything always looks so different. It’s the same place and everything, but the shores and the sky changes so much … it always becomes a different photo.” 

The exhibit is open through Dec. 14 in the Lyceum Gallery, located at 121 Speonk Riverhead Road on the Eastern Campus in Riverhead. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed on Sundays and holidays (gallery closed from Nov. 24 to 27).

A scene from the 2016 documentary, 'Burgundy: People With a Passion for Wine,' one of Bob Lipinski's top picks for the holidays.

By Bob Lipinski

My annual list of books (and video) to purchase for the upcoming holidays covers a multitude of topics, genres and authors. Some are current, “just-released” publications and other are “golden oldies” that are a “must read.” They are available in most bookstores and online.

Bob Lipinski
Bob Lipinski

“The Italian Slow Cooker” (2010) by Michele Scicolone. Finally, a book that combines the fresh, exuberant flavors of great Italian food with the ease and comfort of a slow cooker. Scicolone, an authority on Italian cooking, shows how good ingredients and simple techniques can lift the usual “crockpot” fare into the dimension of fine food.

“The Italian Vegetable Cookbook” (2014) by Michele Scicolone. Scicolone shares 200 of the best vegetable recipes gathered from talented home cooks, chefs, produce vendors and vineyard owners throughout Italy. A cherished few of the recipes are family specialties, passed down by her grandmother.

“Burgundy: People With a Passion for Wine” (2016-DVD) by Rudi Goldman. A colorful mosaic of extraordinary stories about people whose lives revolve around the culture, challenges and pleasures of wine, winemaking and French gastronomy in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. A must see video; it’s that good!

“101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” (2015) by Bob Lipinski. It covers the basics of each major whiskey category and countries of origin. Also covered are history, definitions, slang terms, classic cocktails, drinks of American presidents and famous people and whiskey-infused quotes.

“The 24-Hour Wine Expert” (2016) by Jancis Robinson. This best-selling author has penned a 112-page book that strips away the nonessentials and concentrates on what’s really important in learning about wine. Easy to read style with drawings and down-to-earth material that can be read in 24 hours.

“Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (2015) by Bob Lipinski and Gary Grunner. Background on more than 130 Italian cheeses paired with wine, cheese and fruit combinations, glossary of terms, phonetic pronunciation, regions of origin and so much more.

“Friends of Wine” (2013) by Michael Belardo. Friends of Wine represents Belardo’s personal collection of photographs taken through the years of people in and associated with the international wine business. Great photos!

Now for my “booze” recommendations to drink while reading:

Mayfair London Dry Gin (England) 86 proof. Juniper-filled bouquet along with lemon and rosemary. Medium-bodied and full of flavor with subtle hints of lemon, orange peel and a delicate creaminess in the finish. Superb gin … one of the best I’ve tried lately.

Lighthouse Gin (New Zealand) 84 proof. “Batch Distilled from 100 percent Sugar Cane.” Heavy juniper-perfumed bouquet with tones of sage, pine and citrus. Herbal tasting with hints of peach, orange, lime, lemon and pine, Quite smooth with little burn.

McCarthy’s Single Malt Whiskey (Oregon) “pot distilled” (Peat Malted Scottish barley). Aged three years. 85 proof. Medium-full peated nose (reminds one of Laphroaig) with smoke and leather. Flavors of citrus, orange, leather and black pepper. It’s not a Scotch, but pair it against a smoky one.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR boblipinski2009@hotmail.com.

The LISCA singers take a photo break at the base of Kiek in de Kök, a 38-meter high cannon tower in Tallinn, Estonia. Built in 1470, it houses an extensive museum of the town’s weapons and medieval era life. Photo by Candice Foley

This past July, singers from the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association “took to the skies” for the ninth time in their illustrious, 50-year history as a community chorus, bound this time for an eight-day performing and sight-seeing tour of three Baltic countries.

LISCA’S conductor, Thomas Schmidt, shared his reflections and impressions of the trip. “LISCA’s tour of the Baltic states was filled with surprises. Most of us weren’t even clear on where Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were when we left from JFK. Was Lithuania the northernmost one? Well no, it’s the southernmost one, bordering Poland and Belarus, with Latvia to the north and Estonia even further north, across the Baltic Sea from Finland.

Lithuania is mostly Catholic, whereas Latvia and Estonia are mostly Lutheran, although few practice any religion. Russians are still a large percentage of the area’s population, as much as 40 percent, although even now few of them are citizens. For most of their histories these three little countries have been ruled by other countries, Germany, Sweden, Poland and Russia.

But one of the major ways that they retained their sense of identity was through their choral tradition. Every four to five years there are gigantic choral festivals in each country, with singers dressed in their traditional, regional costumes. We saw the outdoor festival theater in Tallinn which overlooks the Baltic Sea. The stage has room for a mass choir of 20,000 and the audiences number in the hundreds of thousands. The festivals were a major way these countries maintained their unique cultures, languages and civic pride during times of foreign occupation.

So, it was not a surprise that LISCA’s concerts, held in the old 1799 City Hall in Vilnius, the 12th century, Gothic St. Peter’s Church in Riga, and the equally ancient St. Nicholas Church in Tallinn were received enthusiastically by full houses of educated listeners.

Each concert was dedicated to the memory of LISCA’s founder, Gregg Smith, who died at the age of 84 after a long illness on the morning we departed for the tour. The audience was told about his long career as one of America’s leading composers and choral conductors. Each concert ended by singing his hauntingly beautiful canon, ‘Now I Walk in Beauty.’”

The overwhelming concensus of those singers who ventured to travel to this unique part of the globe was unqualified satisfaction and enthusiasm. The people were warm and welcoming, the medieval buildings stunning and beautifully preserved, vitality blossoming everywhere. Independent since the Soviets left in 1991, these countries are finding their paths to flourish in the global economy and yet retain their national pride and cultural heritage.

LISCA’s singers are presently preparing for their annual winter concert to be held on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. at the St. James Roman Catholic Church located at 429 Route 25A in Setauket. The program features Anton Bruckner’s “Mass in E Minor,” a beautiful but challenging and infrequently performed choral work accompanied by wind and brass instruments. It has been called “a work without parallel in either 19th or 20th century church music.” A Christmas Motet by Poulenc, two Gabrieli works with brass accompaniment and carols by Gregg Smith will complete the program.

Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for seniors and free for students. For further information please call 631-751-2743 or 631-941-9431.

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