Arts & Entertainment

Women’s EXPO returns to Middle Country Public Library for 15th year

Liz Carroll of Wild Lizzy’s with her staff, from left, Sue Nicola; Lynn DiCarlo; Libby Carroll and Camille Sena; not pictured, Samantha Luongo. Photo by Elizabeth Malafi

By Donna Newman

Has the news got you down? Are you worried about the state of our world? The Middle Country Library Foundation offers a “stop the world-I want to get off” event guaranteed to lift your spirits and recharge your batteries. “On Thursday, October 1, from 11 to 6, our Centereach building will once again be transformed into the bustling marketplace that is the Women’s EXPO. It’s one of my favorite days at the library,” said Elizabeth Malafi, coordinator of adult services and the Miller Business Resource Center at the Middle Country Public Library.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting our 15th annual Women’s EXPO,” added Library Director Sophia Serlis-McPhillips. “Each year, new and former vendors come together to celebrate and showcase their unique talents and embody the spirit of entrepreneurship and community. We’re very thankful to our many sponsors and volunteers who help us make this day possible.”

Intermingled with the shopping is a matchless opportunity for a diverse group of women to network, support and inspire each other. “I love doing the EXPO!” said Jena Turner, owner of Breathe in Port Jefferson. “Having worked in advertising 13 years, I know how important it is to get yourself out there. The EXPO is better than a full page ad!”

Tiana Le, owner of Le Fusion, is also excited to return this year. “The EXPO gave me an opportunity to showcase my products surrounded by amazing women entrepreneurs sharing their stories of struggle and triumph,” she said. “I sold out, got positive feedback and leads.” When interviewed, the common theme expressed by EXPO vendors is passion — and the discovery of the capacity to be successful doing something they love.

Since its inception in the year 2000, the Women’s EXPO has earned a loyal following. Attendance surpassed 2,400 last year for the 83 vendors. The event showcases female Long Island entrepreneurs: artisans, importers, designers and distributors of products such as jewelry, clothing, fine art, pottery, children’s items, culturally diverse crafts, fiber art, specialty food items, gift baskets, household goods, paper products and much more. Fitting its “harvest-themed” October time slot, the EXPO provides a veritable cornucopia of unique creations and gifts.

Admission to the EXPO is free. Lunch is available for purchase from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the EXPO Café, catered by Fifth Season Restaurant of Port Jefferson. Baked goods from Sweet Street will be sold from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The library is located at 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach. For a complete list of vendors, visit www.womensEXPOli.org/shop. For more information, call 631-585-9393, ext. 296.

Here are some of the women you’ll meet at this year’s EXPO:

Jena Turner realized a dream when she opened her shop on East Main Street in Port Jefferson Village in 2006. The previous year had brought a pair of tragedies. Her father, “an accomplished man [who] built everything from scratch – houses, boats, cars, and his last project – his airplane,” died during the plane’s inaugural flight. Seven months later, she lost her brother. An incident at work following the second loss propelled her into action to sign a lease. She had prepared herself for the business by becoming a Certified Yoga Teacher and studying Reiki (hands-on healing).

Jena Turner at her shop, Breathe, in Port Jefferson. Photo by Amber Sroka
Jena Turner at her shop, Breathe, in Port Jefferson. Photo by Amber Sroka

In tribute to her late father, Turner named the store “Breathe,” which summed up his philosophy of life. Given its stated mission “to help others understand their gifts and full potential,” Breathe is more than just a store, and Turner wears many hats: “I am the owner,” she said, “and with that, I am the buyer, the manager, the bookkeeper, the healer, the teacher, the reader, the unpacker, the shipper, the banker, and the cleaning lady!”

She stocks an assortment of jewelry, clothing, candles, home accessories, and spiritual items, and also offers meditation, yoga, reiki, psychic readings and other workshops. Visit www.breatheinspiringgifts.com for more information.

Liz Carroll spent her life serving others. She raised three children on her own while working for the Town of Oyster Bay in a succession of increasingly responsible jobs. “I’m holding on to my job for now,” she said, “as I’ve worked hard to be where I am, and still have children who depend on me.”

But when her children were in college, she began thinking. “I wanted to do something for myself that would be productive, something where I could earn extra money and, of course, something that makes people happy!”

Carroll turned her signature cookie, one she had always made for family and friends, into a gourmet cookie line and created “Wild Lizzy’s.” At first, the cookies sold via word-of-mouth, at street fairs and other events, and at a few specialty stores. Soon they began winning prestigious awards.

“I always offer samples,” said Carroll, “and the reaction is always ‘Oh, my God!’ So now I have an OMG bell. When you say it, you ring it!”

Last September, the bell attracted a customer with a link to QVC and plans are now underway to take Wild Lizzy’s to the TV shopping network. She ships nationwide, due to customer demand.

Visit her website at www.wildlizzys.com.

Jackie Maloney discovered her passion early and parlayed it into a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art. “One of the main reasons I chose MICA was their dedication to making sure artists could actually make careers with their degrees. In my degree program, we all took a class dedicated strictly to business, taught by a successful/working art rep.” She likes that she can live and work at the beach, yet have clients all over the world, that she can work for different ‘bosses’ while being her own boss.

Jackie Maloney with some of her artwork. Photo by Amber Sroka
Jackie Maloney with some of her artwork. Photo by Amber Sroka

In truth, the career she describes is her dream job. “Every day is different,” she said. “An average day in the studio, I could spend the morning painting the instructions for baking an apple pie, the afternoon Googling locations to complete a custom map for a wedding gift, and then finish the day unloading/loading my kiln. I get to travel all over and meet tons of people. Then I get to retreat into the peace of my quiet studio to create.” In addition to contract work for independent projects, she exhibits her art at outdoor arts and crafts fairs and has a shop in the online marketplace Etsy. Visit her website: www.jackiemaloney.com.

Tiana Le began a poem with the words, “We left during the fall of Saigon in 1975, blessed that we were alive.” Her family emigrated to the United States and eventually settled in Flushing. When it came time for Le to train for a career, her parents steered her toward information technology – a good job in great demand. She began a career in IT.

Tiana Le, owner of Le Fusion. Photo by Sal DiVincenzo
Tiana Le, owner of Le Fusion. Photo by Sal DiVincenzo

Later, her mother was diagnosed with cancer soon after retirement. “It was the hardest time of my life,” Le said, “caring for my Mom and watching her wither away. She was my top priority, and when she expired I needed time to recoup and recharge. I came out stronger, with a greater appreciation of life – and the emotional and physical freedom to pursue my passion.”

That passion is food as related to her Vietnamese heritage. In May 2014, she launched “Le Fusion,” thinking “Why not combine the best of both worlds? East and West!” Her menu items are healthy, handmade, all natural, and baked. “Vietnamese foods are light and refreshing, with exotic herbs,” she said, adding, “The French-influenced dishes are my all-time favorites.”

Her cuisine is created at the Stony Brook University Incubator in Calverton and marketed through the Port Jefferson Farmer’s Market, scheduled tastings at Whole Foods, and the Le Fusion website: www.lefusion.co.

‘CinemAbility’ film director Jenni Gold with actress Jane Seymour. Photo courtesy of ‘CinemAbility'

St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson invites the public to a free week of movies filled with inspiration, perspiration and determination. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, St. Charles will host a moviethon from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2. Each night, starting at 6 p.m. at the Wisdom Conference Center, the hospital will host films that share stories of people with different abilities.

The movies include “Wampler’s Ascent,” which chronicles Stephen Wampler’s remarkable climb to the top of El Capitan at Yosemite National Park. Confined to a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy, Wampler nevertheless did the equivalent of 20,000 pull-ups over the course of five nights and six days to make what is often a landmark rock climb.

“This is a story about a gentleman who is very visibly disabled,” said Jennifer Semel, medical director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at St. Charles and one of the organizers of the event. “He is in constant motion. He has to lean on his limbs to quiet them down. It shows what perseverance can do.”

Semel said her work at the hospital centers around making patients as functionally independent as possible, which, she said, “goes hand in hand with the ADA.”

Semel’s goal is to take people who have spinal injuries or strokes and return them as much as possible to their quality of life. Her staff also works with children born with cerebral palsy or other conditions. Semel finds her work “very rewarding” because she and her staff can help people with various challenges gain independence.

The movies may help members of the community understand the world of people with disabilities better and may inspire them to become involved and contribute where they can, she said. “Exposing individuals who don’t have physical or developmental challenges to the world that does gets them to see the world through those people’s eyes,” Semel said.

All of the films “expose us to different sides of disabilities,” she said. “Some of the challenges and successes re-instill in all of us the importance of equal rights for people with disabilities.”

While the movies will provide a window into the lives of people with different abilities, they aren’t as effective as a day of real life experience, Semel said. When she was training as a physician, she had to spend a day in a wheelchair.

“You never know what that’s like until you’ve done it,” she said. “Not having a curb on a Manhattan sidewalk can be the end of an outing. The challenges in our world that we don’t recognize as people without physical disabilities are hard to capture” completely in the movies.

Semel is encouraged by the progress she sees in the community. “There have been tremendous strides in terms of making places, restaurants and public places accessible to individuals,” Semel said. “There’s no question that there’s a long way to go.”

Semel coordinated the moviethon with Mike Apostoli, the care coordinator in the Community Re-Entry Program at St. Charles. Apostoli facilitates the Patient and Family Advisory Council, which is a group of patients and caregivers who have been through the rehabilitation program. The group meets monthly and was pleased to provide feedback on the movie choices.

“We tried to stick to movies that were consistent with what it is that we do here,” Apostoli said. “It reflects the patients we see with similar challenges, limitations and assets.”

Apostoli said stroke, spinal cord and brain injuries are often like a tsunami for people’s lives, transporting them to another world. “If we can give people who have not gone through that a glimpse into what that’s like, we will have met a very large challenge to begin to formulate better attitudes,” which includes getting services approved through insurance.

The movies profile compelling people who have sometimes achieved something extraordinary. Apostoli suggested the public can become aware that the average person with a disability may not achieve something as remarkable, but they can overcome obstacles to have a meaningful day. “They may not be climbing mountains, but that doesn’t mean what they are doing isn’t just as difficult,” he said.

Each night, a senior member of the staff will introduce the movie. Semel said she hopes to invite individuals with disabilities and the community to join the celebration. She is also hopeful that this may become an annual event.

Semel said the group screened 27 films and narrowed the list down to five. Along with “Wampler’s Ascent,” which will be screened on Sept. 29, the screenings will include “CinemAbility.” Narrated by Jane Seymour, the film takes a look at the evolution of disability in entertainment by interviewing filmmakers, studio executives and celebrities, including Jamie Foxx, Helen Hunt, Marlee Matlin, Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Geena Davis, on Sept. 28.

“Endless Abilities,” a movie about four best friends who have physical disabilities who drive across the country seeking adaptive sports for people like them will be screened on Sept. 30. The movie includes footage of these athletes water skiing, snow skiing and surfing.

“The Intouchables,” the French subtitled film based on a true story about a friendship between a handicapped millionaire and his ex-con caretaker who refuses to take pity on him, will be screened on Oct. 1 followed by “A Whole Lott More” on Oct. 2, which examines the impact of Lott Industries’ struggles and examines the world of employment options for people with disabilities while focusing on three people who each have a different attitude toward work. The film was the winner of the Cincinnati Film Festival for Best Documentary in 2013.

St. Charles Hospital is located at 200 Belle Terre Road, Port Jefferson. The moviethon is free but advance reservations are required for each film by calling 631-474-6797.

From left, David Conover and Adam Conover pose for a photo on the set of an upcoming episode of ‘Adam Ruins Everything.’ Photo from Adam Conover

Adam Conover never used to ruin anything. More than one year later, that is exactly what Conover will do every Tuesday during “Adam Ruins Everything,” a new show on truTV.

Conover, a Smithtown native who grew up on the North Shore, hosts the comedy show, which blends comedy, history and science to entertain and enlighten viewers about common misconceptions in society. The show touches upon various topics including giving, security, crime scene investigations, childhood, sex and more.

His first episode covers giving and touches upon the history of engagement rings, why shoe companies that give away free shoes are harmful and the reality of food pantries.

But for Conover, creating a show wasn’t something he just set out to do. Everything simply fell into place.

Once Conover reached middle school and high school, he became more interested in drama and theater. His mother, Stony Brook native Margaret Conover, said she remembers her son being a handful as a child, saying that it was hard to keep him focused on a task. But his Shoreham-Wading River High School’s theater program was one of the few things that grabbed and maintained his attention.

Conover got his first acting break after a teacher selected him for one of the star roles in the school’s production of “The Clumsy Custard Horror Show.”

Conover said his overall experience in his high school’s theater program made an impression on him as it gave him a glimpse into working in a performing arts career.

“I think the biggest thing I took out of it was that … it was like a real theater program. We’re not just kids putting on a show,” Conover said in a phone interview. “We are putting on a real show with a real audience that has expectations and the show has to be good.”

Adam Conover’s father, David Conover of Stony Brook, said he remembers his son being in nearly all school plays when he attended Shoreham-Wading River’s Prodell Middle School and the Shoreham-Wading River High School.

“He became very passionate about certain things. Teachers that he loved in high school, he would do all the work for,” David Conover said in a phone interview. “Drama was one of those things he was focused on doing really, really well.”

Margaret Conover also added that the high school’s program helped her son as “the creativity that was fostered and allowed in [high school] really gave him a wake up.”

Comedy was also pushed to the forefront after Adam Conover begged his parents to upgrade their television subscription to include Comedy Central when he was in middle school. Until then, his mother said she wasn’t aware of his interest in comedy.

As a child, Adam Conover always loved learning. He remembered watching science programs like “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” among other programs that fostered his love for acquiring information. Science played a big role in his childhood as his mother and father work in science-based fields and have their Ph.D.s in botany and marine biology, respectively. His younger sister Emily also has her Ph.D. in nuclear physics.

A career in comedy was never the first thing that came to mind for his family. Regardless, his parents were supportive of his dreams even after he quit a web development job to pursue a full-time career in comedy in 2006.

Conover left his job and rejoined friends from his Bard College days — the same group he was with in the early 2000s when Olde English, their sketch comedy, was established. The change left Conover’s parents concerned for their son’s well-being but supportive nonetheless.

“We were concerned about whether or not that was a good way of making a living, but we didn’t attempt to dissuade him from doing so,” his father said. “We always believed that people should follow their passion and if you do oftentimes the rest of everything else works out.”

According to the father, Adam Conover’s work with his sketch comedy group helped him land a job as a staff writer and cast member of CollegeHumor Originals in 2012. And Jon Cohen, one of the “Adam Ruins Everything” producers, said the show was initially released as a web series and received positive feedback from viewers, which encouraged Cohen, Conover and Sam Reich, another executive producer, to produce and pitch the show to television networks.

TruTV picked up the 12 half-hour episodes of the show last October. Cohen said he realized they would work to produce the show after Conover informed him that the coconut water Cohen was drinking was not very healthy.

“He’s obviously playing a heightened version of himself,” Cohen said in a phone interview about Conover. “He truly believes and is passionate about all of the information he has and he just wants to share it with people, not because he wants to be a know-it-all but just because he wants people to know the truth and that’s what’s going to be great about this show.”

“Adam Ruins Everything” will debut on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 10 p.m. on truTV.

While his family never thought Conover would work in the entertainment industry, Margaret, David and Emily Conover agreed that they are proud of Adam and are certainly “not surprised” by his career choice.

“Making this show [was] my life goal, and true mission for me,” Adam Conover said. “This is exactly the kind of comedy I want to do, and is saying things I want to say. I suppose that if I had to think ahead, my goal would be to say those things even more effectively in season two, if we’re lucky enough to get one.”

The band Half Step, from left, Scott Bardolf, Joe Chirco, Matt Iselin, Cindy Lopez, Tom San Filippo and Craig Privett. Photo by Joel Werner

By Stacy Santini

“Walk me out in the mornin’ dew, my honey, Walk me out in the mornin’ dew today…….,” the ethereal voice rises and silence falls upon the crowd. A kinetic energy begins to weave itself into the scores of bodies riddled with goosebumps that sway from side to side; the forlorn melody coming from the stage reinforces a brotherhood that this community of listeners knows all too well. Fortunately for Grateful Dead-lovers this is not a recollection of an endearing concert moment, observing Jerry Garcia chant the song, “Morning Dew.” It is an accurate and recent depiction of the infamous voice of Long Islander Tom San Filippo and the band Half Step.

Half Step will be participating this weekend in another Rich Rivkin event on The Great Lawn at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport called Grateful Fest. Rivkin is the dynamic promoter of all things Grateful Dead on our island. He is an environmental consultant who soaked up the desire and need to keep up the 1960s peace, love and music movement. Many years ago, he passionately started to create “gatherings” at public parks for people to come, be together and enjoy local bands. Today, he is known as a cultural attaché for thousands of Long Island Deadheads, fusing art with live music, and holds full blown festivals at wondrous locations like The Vanderbilt.

On Sunday, bands such as Half Step will be joined by other Grateful Dead song masters like The Electrix, Reckoning and Unbroken Chain and play to droves of Dead aficionados. Perched on a hill, overlooking Northport Bay and the Long Island Sound, up to thirty visual artists will join them.

From the time San Filippo was a boy, growing up in an Italian family in Levittown, peering into the windows of the music store on the corner at the guitars for sale, he was drawn to all things artistic. Although an accomplished graphic artist today, it was music that grabbed his soul for good at an early age, and by seven, he had picked up his first guitar. Although his parents were traditional, they embraced the Beatles, and for Tom, that band’s influence would remain a mainstay throughout his prolific career. His first band, Galaxy, was formed with schoolmate Dave Diamond, of Zen Tricksters fame. In Dave’s basement, they would rehearse Beatles songs until their fingers bled. Tom recalls this time with childlike excitement, “There was no Internet, no digital anything, so in order to practice, we would have to play the record and slow it down by hand. It was a discovery of music, discovering this art form in a very pure way.”

In the infancy of San Filippo’s journey, he was a bass player, and not until Galaxy eventually morphed into The Mighty Underdogs did Tom take the lead with guitar and vocals. There was much discovery along the way and as musicians, San Filippo and his bandmates certainly paid their dues. He remembers how excited they were to play “Fun Day” at McDonald’s for free hamburgers. As they became more well known amongst their peers, they expanded their song repertoire from pure Beatles to include the Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and popular Grateful Dead tunes like “Truckin’” and were unofficially the house band for all community events.

There is no doubt that San Filippo enjoyed the notoriety and still does, he openly admits this, but his ear-to-ear grin when confessing is so warm and welcoming that it does not, in any way, come off as egocentric. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Tom San Filippo has a way of drawing people in; he is outrageously funny and has a rare sense of humility. He is impassioned about his career choice and the music that carries his daily routine and simply just wants to share it with the world. It is impossible not to like the guy.

“Songwriting flows through me. Notes and rifts effortlessly come to me; the lyrics take a little longer,” he says, when discussing his song writing, which began at age nine. There have been numerous bends in the road for San Filippo and the bands he was so fundamental in creating, and moments that certainly made time stand still for him. All part of his migration towards Half Step. Today, as Half Step plays to adoring crowds, he can still remember the moment while on tour as the opening act for Debbie Gibson, when the stage crew permitted The Underdogs to jam on the stage of an empty Radio City Music Hall prior to their sold-out Gibson show. “It was surreal to say the least. I looked around as we belted out songs like Bertha and said to myself, this is it, this is where I belong. I really believed that.”

After moving to Amityville with his soulmate and extremely supportive wife, Rose, band members in Half Step, reached out to Tom asking him to join, as proximity was now a friend. By this time, San Filippo was finally embracing Jerry Garcia’s style, something that had been attributed to him over and over again throughout the years. “I just got Jerry’s style and music; he has a very melodic approach and embraces the whole scale. It comes naturally to me.” To this day, he spends a good portion of his time studying Grateful Dead archives and all things Jerry, including his gear.

San Filippo joined a stellar group of extremely talented musicians when he acquiesced to be the front man for Half Step. “Playing and listening to the Dead is like having an extra chromosome, a special musical vocabulary — either you get it or you don’t,” Tom states. “And you want to be around people who speak the same language. With Half Step, I found that.”

Joining Scott Bardolf, Cindy Lopez, Craig Privett, Matt Iselin and Joe Chirco on stage would be an honor for any musician. They are all individually accomplished and when they come together, pure magic happens. Founding member, Scott Bardolf on rhythm guitar, willingly embraces the Bob Weir role and is sublime as his fingers meander across the fret board. Cindy Lopez beautifully spins jazz and blues around the Dead vocals when she sings and as a twenty-year veteran on the Long Island music scene, she complements her fellow band members perfectly. A natural bass player, Craig Privett gives credence to his instrument that would make Phil Lesh smile.

Having the opportunity to share the stage with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, keyboardist Matt Iselin has been playing piano since he was a small child, and his musical ability is apparent with every string vibration. Joe Chirco has manifested his current role as drummer from as early on as he can remember. Once the drummer for the Donna Jean Godchaux Band, the diversity of his percussion skill set is vast and his love for Grateful Dead music reigns supreme; his joy at being a part of Half Step is evident to all who see him play.

It is crucial to note that referring to Half Step as a cover band would be highly insulting. Often compared to Dark Star Orchestra, a hugely popular national band that also plays the music of The Grateful Dead, Half Step channels music from a legendary group and is integral to keeping that music alive. The quality of their musicianship can sometimes challenge even the actual work of the Grateful Dead themselves. There are so many layers to Dead music that there is plenty of room for bands like Half Step to delve deeper and deeper into its complexity.

There’s a reason people flock to Half Step venues, one you just might want to discover yourself. Half Step at The Vanderbilt Museum,this Sunday — be there.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will host the 4th annual Grateful Fest on Sunday, Sept. 27 from noon to 6:30 p.m. Rain date is Oct. 4. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic lunches. Tickets are $25 adults online, $35 at the door; $10 children ages 5 to 15; children under 5 free. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

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Steve McCoy and Suzanne Mason in a scene from ‘Sweeney Todd’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Sari Feldman, Franklin Inc.

By Stacy Santini

To experience “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” the musical currently running at Theater Three in Port Jefferson, is to once again enter the clever imagination of Creative Director Jeff Sanzel. It is bold, it is daring, it is courageous and it is uncomfortable, as it should be. With productions such as “Les Misérables” and “Oliver” in his repertoire, Sanzel is no stranger to challenging and enormous projects, and Sweeney Todd is no exception. He brings the darkness of this satire to light and as we watch, as grievous as the subject matter may be, we are entertained.

Although there have been numerous publications attempting to give honesty to the story with references to actual people, Sweeney Todd is an urban legend. The story is based on a vengeful London Fleet Street Barber in 1785 who slits the throats of his customers. Mrs. Lovett is his pie-making accomplice, and together they join forces to make mincemeat out of his victims, literally. The pies become all the rage and cannibalism commonplace to Lovett’s naïve patrons. Opening at New York’s Uris Theater in 1979, the musical has consistently won numerous Tonys, including Angela Lansbury for Best Actress and Len Cariou for Best Actor. The infamous Stephen Sondheim is responsible for the award-winning score.

As is always the case with Theater Three, the performances are astonishing, but there were several other stars in the room the evening of the premier that were not on stage. This production is visual perfection. From the set to the lighting to sound to the choreography, the team Sanzel assembled for this production created a true optic masterpiece. Scenic Designer, Randall Parsons; Lighting Designer, Robert W. Henderson Jr.; Sound Designer, Peter Casdia and Choreographer, Sari Feldman took this show to soaring heights. Whether it was the actors running up and falling down in the aisles or witnessing victims slide off the barber chair and down into morbid eternity, the viewers were captivated by the imagery.

The costumes, as created by Ronald Green III, are sublime. Green’s vision of black and gray hues with pops of white serves the energy of this production well. They were a marvel to look at. The haunting score is handled well by the orchestra and under the musical direction of Jack Kohl, complements the shocking scenes on stage.

There is no actor in the Theater Three family of thespians more suited for the role of Sweeney Todd than Steve McCoy. His initial appearance on stage is chilling and the connection to the character Hannibal Lector in the movie “The Silence of the Lambs” is uncanny. Right before our eyes, McCoy creates a monster on stage, a singing, maniacal murdering monster with a heart. Only McCoy can do that and he does.

Outside of McCoy, Suzanne Mason as Mrs. Lovett commands our attention every moment she is on stage, which is often. Mason plays this unsavory character with such likability that we completely forget that she is not only a murderer’s accomplice, but his manipulative business partner as well. She is charming almost to a fault, from her brilliant cockney accent to her empathetic gestures to her completely sociopathic consciousness, we are enthralled with her. Once again, Sanzel’s intuition when it comes to selecting actors is right on point.

Amanda Geraci plays Johanna, reinforcing that her superior vocal range can take on any role she assumes. Her ethereal voice is a welcome distraction to the comedic yet gloomy story line. Bryan Elsesser as her paramour, Anthony Hope, is delightful; his version of the song “Johanna” is standing ovation-worthy. John Hudson as the Baz Luhrman-type character, Italian Barber Pirelli, is also a surprise and perfectly apprehended. Robert Butterley gives new meaning to word “chauvinist,” as he plays the very dislikable Judge Turpin and, as always, veteran Linda May is the ultimate forlorn Beggar Woman. Honorable mention must be made of Andrew Gasparini as simpleton Tobias who does more than justice to this sympathy-invoking role.

Sweeney Todd might not be considered a musical for everyone, the subject matter coarse and offensive, but the irony is that, that is exactly the reason to see it. When a theater embraces a musical like Sweeney Todd in such a manner that it is enjoyable and appealing, purchasing a ticket should be instinctive. The value lies not so much in the story line, but in the performances and depiction of complex characters, which is done so well here.

There is an old saying that if you hang around the barber shop long enough, you will eventually get your haircut, in this case — your throat slit. Not sure you want to hang around Sweeney Todd too long, but it is sure worth a visit.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” through Oct. 24. Tickets range from $15 to $30. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Come Oct. 9, Heckscher Park in Huntington will transform into a hub of fall festivity.

The 22nd annual Long Island Fall Festival, which will run until Oct. 12, throughout Columbus Day weekend, will fill the park with fun, featuring vendors, music, food and more. The event is hosted by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Huntington Town.

According to the festival’s website, “This community event highlights the best Huntington has to offer — from its civic-minded businesses, cultural institutions and service organizations, to its restaurants, pubs and retailers.”

More than 300 craft, promotional, retail and non-for-profit vendors will line Prime and Madison streets, adjacent to Heckscher Park, as well as within the grounds of the park.

A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza
A scene from last year’s Long Island Fall Festival. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Much like previous years, the festival will have a number of returning vendors, but there will be some new faces, according to Ellen O’Brien, executive director of the chamber. Those include vendors who make birdhouses, sea glass jewelry and more. And for the first time in many years, the festival will feature a farmers’ market.

“It’s always changing,” she said in an August phone interview. “That’s what makes it so exciting.”

Some of the main attractions include four stages of live entertainment, a beer and wine tent, a world-class carnival, two international food courts, a Sunday main stage dedicated to youth talent and more.

O’Brien said that tens of thousands of people frequent the fall festival each day. She also said she’s heard that the festival’s grossed 200,000 park-goers in one weekend.

The chamber’s always on the hunt for new vendors, but space does fill up fast. People learn about the festival through different venues, O’Brien said.

“I think it’s word-of-mouth,” she said. “I think it’s got a mind of its own at this point.”

Those interested in attending the festival can take the Long Island Rail Road to Huntington. There’s free parking at the LIRR train station during that weekend, and round-trip shuttles will run all day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., for $1, on Saturday and Sunday, she said.

The festival begins Friday, Oct. 9, 5 to 9 p.m., and that night will feature a carnival, food court and music on stage. The fun will continue Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and that day will include vendors, music and shows, a food court and a carnival.

The same activities will be available the following day, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. And Monday, the festival wraps up from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information and to get involved in this year’s festival, call (631) 423-6100 or visit www.lifallfestival.com.

Photos by Mark D’Angio and Victoria Espinoza

Cow Harbor Weekend kicked off this past Saturday, Sept. 19 in Northport with the Great Cow Harbor 10K Race. Hundreds participated, some dressed in costumes. The festivities continued on Sunday, Sept. 20 with the Cow Harbor Day Parade. Many floats included congratulations to Northport Village Police Chief Ric Bruckenthal, who is retiring on Sept. 26. Northport residents came out in large numbers, with many dogs in attendance as well, to celebrate Cow Harbor Day.

Society hosts 25th annual wine event

Huntington Historical Society Trustee Paul Warburg, right, presents Huntington Hospital Executive Director Dr. Gerard Brogan, left, with a plaque commemorating the hospital’s nearly 100 years of operation. Photo by Eric Santiago

By Eric Santiago

The Huntington Historical Society hosted its 25th annual “Evening of Wine Under The Stars” event on Friday night.

Huntington residents celebrated the town’s more than 350 years of history with a night of drinking, dancing and dining on dishes from local restaurants.

The historical society also honored Huntington Hospital, which will celebrate its 100-year anniversary next year. Hospital Executive Director Dr. Gerard Brogan was presented with a plaque commemorating the hospital’s work.

Robert “Toby” Kissam, the historical society’s president, compared the hospital’s founding to that of the society’s, saying that both were founded by groups of concerned citizens.

According to an article written by Huntington Town Historian Robert Hughes, the hospital began to take shape as early as 1904 when Huntington residents were frustrated with their lack of a dedicated hospital. In 1911, citizens launched a fundraising campaign to build their own hospital, which was eventually completed by Christmas 1915.

Historical Society Trustee Paul Warburg presented the plaque to Dr. Gerard Brogan, the executive director of Huntington Hospital.

Brogan said the hospital’s staff was honored to be recognized.

“I speak for the entire staff at Huntington Hospital when I say we see it as a privilege and big responsibility to take care of you,” he said.

Join the Port Jefferson Free Library on Sunday, Sept. 20, for a discussion of Harper Lee, the author of one of the most popular books that deal with race relations in the United States, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The southerner recently released her second book, “Go Set a Watchman,” 55 years after her first was published. The story, like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is seen through the eyes of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and returns the protagonist and hero Atticus Finch, Scout’s father. The books are set in the fictional Maycomb, Ala., the first in the 1930s and the second in the 1950s.

Both books are loosely based on the hometown and life experiences of Lee.

In the library program “Harper Lee: A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma,” Stony Brook University professor emeritus Michael Edelson will present an illustrated talk of Lee’s life and work, including unpublished writings. Edelson will use interviews, film clips and photos analyzing both books and the Oscar-winning 1962 film “To Kill a Mockingbird” starring Gregory Peck as Atticus.

Copies of each book will be available for those who attend the program, which starts at 2 p.m.

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Festivalgoers enjoy a pickle on a stick at last year’s event. Photo from Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Society

Calling all pickle lovers! The Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association will hold its 36th annual Pickle Festival at the John Gardiner Farm, 900 Park Ave., Greenlawn, this Saturday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (rain date Sept. 20). Sponsored by Astoria Bank, the event will feature many wonderful activities for families including  a corn maze, hay rides and a kids potato dig. The main attraction will be rides on the  beautifully restored Lollipop Farm Train.

Come hungry as there will be many types of specialty pickles on a stick, roasted corn, pies, cakes and cookies along with hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn and Kutztown Birch Beer. Peruse the antique cars and trucks on display and shop at the new farmers market. There is a $5 suggested donation for adults. Children under 12 are free. For more information, call 631-754-1180 or visit www.greenlawncenterporthistorical.org.

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