Arts & Entertainment

By Rita J. Egan

That jolly, happy soul has returned to Northport. The family musical “Frosty” opened Nov. 18 at the John W. Engeman Theater and families filled the theater eager for the annual holiday treat.

The cast of ‘Frosty’ after last Saturday morning’s performance. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Directed by Richard T. Dolce, the production is a delightful twist on the story “Frosty the Snowman.” On the Northport stage, the snowman comes to life with the help of a scarf that is magical due to love instead of a magician’s hat and quickly becomes best friends with a little girl named Jenny.

When Jenny’s mother, who is also the mayor of Chillsville, is tricked into signing a contract with the evil Ethel Pierpot to build a machine to get rid of all the snow in Chillsville, Jenny must find a way to keep Frosty from melting.

Kevin Burns as the narrator opens the show, and it’s clear from the beginning that the audience will be part of the story. Burns easily interacts with the children and gets them involved. He also draws the most laughs as he goes from being bundled up for winter to wearing less and less each time he makes an appearance on stage to demonstrate how warm Chillsville is getting.

Kate Keating as Jenny is endearing as the sweet young girl who has no friends but possesses a warm heart. With touching vocals during “No Friends,” the audience connects with her at once.

Kate Keating and Matthew Rafanelli in a scene from ‘Frosty’

TracyLynn Conner played Ethel Pierpot on opening day and alternates the role with Cristina Hall. Conner portrays her character with the perfect mix of evilness and silliness reminiscent of Cruella Deville from “101 Dalmatians.” Children knew she was up to no good on opening day but weren’t afraid of her, which was apparent as they chatted with the actress during the autograph session after the show.

Matthew Rafanelli delivers Frosty perfectly with a sweet, friendly speaking and singing voice. He and Keating sound great together when they sing “One Friend Is Better Than No Friends.”

Ashley Brooke rounds out the cast beautifully, playing a loving, nurturing mother and mayor who realizes Chillsville is perfect the way it is no matter what Ethel Pierpot says.

The musical ends on the right note with the whole cast singing the Frosty theme song after doing an excellent job on the ensemble number “Thanks for You.”

Young audience members were delighted with the many opportunities when the actors encouraged them to participate. An especially cute part of the production is when the narrator asks the children in the audience for ideas to solve Frosty and Jenny’s dilemma at the end of the first act. After intermission, those ideas are shared with the characters. “Frosty” also provides a few fun opportunities for the actors to come into the audience, and the show contains many magical moments.

This time of year is perfect to create special memories, and the Engeman’s production of “Frosty” is guaranteed to add magic to any family’s holiday season. While the story is geared toward younger audiences, older siblings, parents and grandparents will find plenty to enjoy in the show, too.

Theatergoers can meet Frosty and friends in the lobby for photos and autographs after the show. An autograph page is located towards 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.

By Rita J. Egan

The folks at the Three Village Historical Society are busy getting ready for a holiday favorite, their annual Candlelight House Tour scheduled for Dec. 1 and 2. This year the theme will be Visions of East Setauket: Then & Now, and the tours will include five homes on Shore Road in East Setauket and Poquott as well as a stop at the St. James R.C. Church Parish Center. The event provides the opportunity for participants to explore historic homes and properties and enjoy stunning holiday décor.

Steve Healy, president of the historical society, said this will be the 39th year the society is hosting the event, and he looks forward to it every year. “We get a great response, the houses are all different, and it’s a very festive occasion,” he said.

This year’s tour is the sixth one organized by co-chairs Patty Cain, historical society vice president, and Patty Yantz, a former president. Yantz said when it came to this year’s theme the pair were inspired by the book published by the organization, “Then & Now: The Three Villages,” which includes photos of various locations in the area as they looked in the past and how they appear now.

“We always like to highlight our archives and what we’re about,” Yantz said. “We like to take historic areas and look at how it’s developed.”

The tour has been filled with historic homes since its beginnings when decorator Eva Glaser and Mary Lou Mills came up with a way to raise funds for the Setauket Neighborhood House, which was in disrepair at the time. The structure, located at 95 Main Street, was the original home of the Three Village Historical Society’s headquarters.

The major fundraiser for the society, both Cain and Yantz said over the years more and more homeowners have offered their houses to be put on display. While decorators work on each home, many homeowners contribute input when it comes to the decorating.

Cain said she is always looking for homes to include, and when residents offer up their houses for the event, she takes into consideration its historical importance and what other structures are already included. The co-chairs and decorators work for months to prepare for the weekend, and Cain said they always worry if they did enough and if there are an adequate number of volunteers. However, every year the first night proves all the hard work was worth it.

“When it’s 6 o’clock Friday night, and the candles are lit in the houses, and the first guests come in, to me that’s the best part,” Cain said.

For many who participate in the tour, it’s an event that kicks off the holiday season; something Yantz agrees with. “I’m always amazed at how beautifully decorated the homes are,” she said. “That to me is why I just can’t wait to see them. For me personally, it just sets off the whole holiday feeling and brings back childhood memories. It’s inspiring to me,” she said.

Cain said they try to mix older and newer homes on the tour; however, the newer ones must be on historic properties to be included.

Among the homes decorated for this year’s tour will be one on the land known as Tinker Bluff, which is named after the first homeowner Henry Champlin Tinker, who built a summer home overlooking Port Jefferson Harbor in the late 19th century. Another home’s west end is its original mid-1800s structure, while one house sits on a land parcel where its dock attracted Joseph Elberson, proprietor of the once local rubber factory, to buy the property to use it for a transportation line.

“There’s a lot of history here,” Cain said. “The land is history, so you may have new homes on historic land that was once a huge farm or huge shipbuilding company. It’s historic in that respect, and we’re able to bring that history to people that might not know about it.”

Visitors to St. James R.C. Church Parish Center on Route 25A will discover the church’s presepio, a tableau of life in Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. A unique Italian art form, the scene goes beyond the traditional nativity and fills an entire room.

The Dec. 1 tour includes wine and hors d’oeuvres at each home from 6 to 9 p.m. and ends with a buffet and wine reception at the parish center catered by Express Catering — a branch of Setauket’s Bagel Express — from 9 to 11 p.m. Saturday includes two options of an early breakfast at the Old Field Club in East Setauket and tour or tour only. The Saturday tour ends at 4 p.m.

Tickets for Friday night and the breakfast and tour are sold out, but plenty were available for the Saturday tour at press time. Ticket prices range from $45 to $110 per person. For more information, call 631-751-3730, email info@tvhs.org or visit www.tvhs.org. Tickets may be picked up at the Three Village Historical Society, which is located at 93 North Country Road, Setauket.

Minghua Zhang

By Daniel Dunaief

Minghua Zhang spent a sabbatical year in China trying to improve climate models, which included analyzing errors of current models.

A professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, Zhang focused on the Southern Great Plains of the United States. He explored how the current models did not accurately simulate convection, which created a warm and dry bias.

In convection, heat and moisture get carried upward. The models account for summer rainfall but do not calculate the organizational structure of the convective systems, which led them to simulate insufficient precipitation.

By adding in the new information, Zhang predicts in recent research published in the scientific journal, Nature Communications, that the projected warming in the region would be 20 percent less than previously thought. Precipitation, meanwhile, would be about the same as it is today, instead of the drying that was previously anticipated.

“The resolution of the models is not high enough to predict the change of the convection with a high degree of precision,” Zhang explained in an email.

He suggested that using 10 times the specificity of model calculations, he expects a clearer picture of the likely climate by the end of the 21st century. This is like looking through binoculars at a nondescript moving shape in the distance. By adding focal power to the lens, the image can become sharper and clearer.

The climate is a big picture view of trends over the course of many years. That is distinct from weather, which involves day-to-day variations and which meteorologists describe each morning and evening with colorful images of cold and warm fronts on local maps.

“You have many things you can’t see and now you have better binoculars,” he suggested. “This tiny thing in the binoculars can make a bigger impact. What we see is that these [variables] actually matter.”

Zhang suggested that a climate model that better accounts for summer rainfall still includes higher temperatures in this sensitive region. “The warming is going to be there and will be significant,” he said. If carbon dioxide emissions continue at their current rate, the warming will still be about five degrees by the end of the century, he suggested. That, he predicted, will still have a significant impact on agriculture.

Edmund Chang, a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook who was not involved in this study, said this research addresses “a specific bias of the model that needs to be taken care of.” He added that researchers know that the “models are not perfect” and suggested that the “scientific and climate modeling community is trying to refine and improve” these tools.

Chang agreed that the refinement “doesn’t change the fact that we still project a large increase in the temperatures over the central United States.”

The Southern Great Plains region has some unique elements that make climate predictions challenging. It has considerable organized convection, which increases the occurrence of tornadoes. There’s also a large coupling between the soil moisture and the clouds, which means that whatever happens on the land has feedback for the atmosphere.

Zhang said his research focus is on climate simulation modeling. He knew the models had problems simulating convective events, which is why he started exploring this specific region. “The way the models are constructed, the granules are not small enough,” he said.

Chang expected that this work would “spur more research on trying to understand this mechanism. Model developers will need to try to find out how to improve the physical model.”

Zhang has been working for the last two years with scientists from Tsinghua University in China, which included his time on sabbatical. “When you are on sabbatical, you have more time to really think about problems,” he said.

Chang added that sabbaticals can provide some time to focus on specific scientific questions. During a typical semester that includes administrative responsibilities and teaching, professors “are very busy,” He said. “We really don’t have an extended period of time to focus on one project. The sabbatical gives us a chance to focus.”

Zhang hopes this study “motivates people to think about how to improve their models in describing” other climate systems.

One of the many challenges scientists like Zhang face in developing these climate models is that their computers are still not powerful enough to resolve elements like clouds, which not only dot the landscape and provide shade during the summer but also send the sun’s energy back into space.

The system he’s studying is “chaotic by nature,” which makes accounting for elements that change regularly challenging. He suggested that these studies were akin to the butterfly effect. Scientists have suggested that someone who went back in time and committed a seemingly trivial act, like killing a single butterfly, might return to his familiar time and surroundings to discover profound changes.

While that’s an exaggeration, that’s still the kind of system he said researchers are confronting as they try to account for, and weigh, climate defining factors. That’s why he’s looking for statistical, or probabilistic, predictions that are averaged over time periods.

The United States, China and the European Union are all pursuing more powerful computers for these kinds of applications, Zhang said.

Zhang, who is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, has been involved in an advisory capacity with the United States Department of Energy in developing these models. A

s for this specific effort, Zhang said he was pleased that the paper pointed out a research direction to refine models for climate in this area. “What we see is that these things [including convection] actually matter,” he said. “That’s the main contribution of this paper.”

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Above, Vanderbilt’s 213-foot diesel yacht Ara, a refitted French warship. Vanderbilt Museum Archive photo

Epic cruise began 89 years ago

William K. Vanderbilt II, an expert yachtsman, naval officer and marine naturalist, first circumnavigated the globe in 1928-29. Eighty-nine years ago — on Oct. 28, 1928 — he and his wife, Rosamond, a few friends, and a crew of 40 boarded the Vanderbilt yacht Ara, moored in Northport Bay, just off the Eagle’s Nest estate grounds.

Above, from left, Rosamond and William Vanderbilt, atop camels at the Pyramid of Cheops in Giza, Egypt, 1929. To the right is the Great Sphinx. Vanderbilt Museum Archive photo

The crew weighed anchor and, with Vanderbilt at the helm, pointed the 213-foot ship westward toward New York City, then headed for the Atlantic. The Ara cruised southward along the eastern seaboard, passed through the Panama Canal and steamed across the Pacific. The voyagers made numerous ports of call in the South Pacific, Asia, the Middle East, through the Red Sea to Mediterranean destinations, through the Strait of Gibraltar and back home. By the time they arrived back in Miami six months later, they had traveled 28,738 miles.

During the journey, Vanderbilt collected marine and natural-history specimens for his Hall of Fishes museum in Centerport. Artist William Belanske, hired away from the American Museum of Natural History, traveled with the Vanderbilts. He made detailed paintings of many of the fish collected for the museum.

By late 1929, Vanderbilt, using his ship logs and photographs, produced and privately printed a 264-page book about the journey, “Taking One’s Own Ship Around the World.” Nineteen full-color plates of Belanske’s work are included.

Chapter One begins: “For years I had waited and toiled for the moment when, as captain of my own ship, I would be able to undertake a voyage rarely accomplished — the circumnavigation of the globe. Even as a youngster, I had a leaning toward the sea, and lost no opportunity to pass my hours of leisure near the water. As time went on, I gained experience and a certain amount of knowledge in the handling of small boats.”

Vanderbilt became an expert sailor and owned a series of increasingly larger boats. Just before the United States entered World War I, he enlisted in the U.S, Naval Reserve and was commissioned a lieutenant, junior grade. After America entered the war, he began sea duty in command of the torpedo boat SP-124, originally his own 152-foot steam turbine-powered yacht, Tarantula 1.

“Strangely, in 1898, during the Spanish-American War, the army rejected me, a freshman then at Harvard, because of a weak heart. Apparently, at thirty-nine, I had staged a comeback.”

In February 1918, Vanderbilt passed an exam and obtained his Master’s certificate. Later, advanced endorsements made his certificate “good for all oceans and unlimited tonnage.”

In 1928, he purchased the motor yacht Ara, a refitted French warship built originally for the British Navy.

From an article on the Ara voyage in The New York Sun in 1929: “Paris, April 12 — William K. Vanderbilt and Mrs. Vanderbilt are pausing here on one of the most interesting around-the-world cruises ever undertaken. Other yachtsmen have circled the globe in their own ships, but Mr. Vanderbilt is no mere passenger — he is the master of his 213-foot motor yacht Ara and employs no captain. He attends to all matters of navigation himself and takes all responsibility himself for the safety of his ship and complement of over forty persons.

“Mr. Vanderbilt has three watch officers to help work the ship, but in stormy weather it he is who remains on the bridge, and who performs the other fatiguing duties that go with command of a vessel.

“However, this is no novelty for him. For fifteen years, he has been a licensed master, qualified to sail any ocean, and he holds the rank of lieutenant-commander in the United States Naval Reserve. The Ara carries several guns, but her owner made it clear today these were used solely for saluting. He strongly believes in the efficacy of a friendly approach.”

Visit the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport through the holidays to view more photos of William K. Vanderbilt’s adventures including a photo of him as a child with his parents and grandparents on a ship on the Nile; of him at various ages with his cars and large marine specimens; and with the crew of the Alva, in the Ship Model Room of the Memorial Wing in the mansion. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or go to www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

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Pictured from left are judge Ed DeCorsia; WMHO Education Outreach Manager Sara Viola; judge Gerry Saulter; finalists Paul Foschino, Christy Jean, Claire Lindsey, Thomas Foschino and Jessica Nunez; WMHO Director of Development Gabrielle Lindau; and Scott Sanders of Shea & Sanders Real Estate. Photo from WMHO
LIGT winner Paul Foschino with Scott Sanders of Shea & Sanders Real Estate and Gabrielle Lindau, WMHO Director of Development

Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village hosted the Long Island’s Got Talent finals on Nov. 3. The evening was sponsored by Shea & Sanders Real Estate, Five Towns College, Rocco J. Morelli DDS of Water’s Edge Dental and the Green Towers Group. Created by WMHO’s Youth Corps, the annual event was open to students from ages 10 to 17 who live in Nassau or Suffolk County.

Five finalists performed in concert in front of a live audience, and the winners were chosen by a panel of judges including Gerry Saulter of the Five Towns College Music Department; performance veteran, Ed DeCorsia of New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band; and Leer Leary, who has been seen and heard in countless TV shows/films, commercials and is a member of Blackfriars Shakespeare Company.

First place was awarded to 14-year-old Paul Foschino, a vocalist and pianist from Bohemia; second place went to vocalist Christy Jean, age 15, of Brentwood; while vocalist Jessica Nunez, a 12-year-old from Wantagh, garnered third place. Vocalist, pianist and guitarist Claire Lindsey, a 13-year-old from Centerport, was awarded fourth place while vocalist/guitarist Thomas Foschino, age 16, from Bohemia received fifth place. Congratulations!

Lifestyle modifications, particularly switching to plant-based diets, are effective tools in reversing diabetes.
Antioxidants in foods may reduce diabetes risk

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Type 2 diabetes continues to be an epidemic that is monopolizing health care budgets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of diabetes has tripled in the last 20 years (1). We need a plan to prevent the disease and to reverse its course.

In medicine, our arsenal of drug therapies has grown considerably, but there are unpleasant side effects. Drugs have even been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease in diabetes patients, which is the number one reason that patients die.

However, there is nothing potentially more powerful with beneficial side effects than lifestyle modifications, especially diet and exercise. And when it comes to reversal, lifestyle modifications are the only potential source.

Two large observational studies, the Adventist Health Study 2 and the EPIC trial, have shown the considerable prevention abilities of diet. In terms of reversal, several studies with a plant-based diet, including one run by Dr. Neal Barnard and another that I published with Dr. Joel Fuhrman, indicate its efficacy. These are backed up by additional anecdotal stories from my clinical experience over an 11-year period.

Let’s look at the research.

Prevention of diabetes with diet

Lifestyle modifications, particularly switching to plant-based diets, are effective tools in reversing diabetes.

A recently published prospective study of the E3N EPIC trial showed considerable benefit from the antioxidant capacity of foods including fruits, vegetables and tea (2). Those who consumed the highest quintile of antioxidants reduced their diabetes risk 39 percent compared to the lowest quintile. After adjusting for weight loss, there was still a statistically significant 27 percent reduction. Interestingly, fruits had the greatest impact with a 23 percent decrease in risk, and vegetables followed with a 19 percent decrease.

This study serves two purposes: one, it shows that antioxidant capacity is important in food; and two, it demonstrates that fruit actually has beneficial effects for those at risk of diabetes. This was not solely a plant-based diet or a vegan or vegetarian diet. This is an impressive effect considering that people may have been eating many other items that may not have been beneficial in addition to fruits and vegetables.

Study participants were 64,223 women who did not have diabetes or cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. One of the major weakness of this trial is that the food frequency questionnaire was only used at the study’s start. This means we have to assume people continued to eat the same way throughout the study.

In the Adventist Health Study, the results of a plant-based diet were very powerful. This showed significant effects and, unlike the EPIC trial, compared people who were trying to eat healthy with those who ate either a vegan or vegetarian plant-based diet. Results showed that those who ate a vegan plant-based diet and those who ate a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet were at 62 and 38 percent, respectively, lower risk of developing diabetes than those who were eating a health-conscious omnivore diet (3). This study reaffirms how a plant-based diet is so important when it comes to preventing diabetes.

There were 15,200 men and 26,187 women in this study, and the results were as impressive in both blacks and nonblacks.

Reversal of diabetes with diet

A randomized controlled trial, considered the gold standard of trials, used drug therapy to reduce HbA1C to near nondiabetes levels; however, they could not achieve this before multiple deaths occurred (4). The reason, the researchers surmise, was polypharmacy, or too many drugs.

Fortunately, this is not the case with lifestyle modifications. In one randomized controlled trial, Barnard compared a low-fat vegan diet to the American Diabetes Association diet at the time. The results showed that with a low-fat vegan diet, HbA1C was reduced significantly more than with the ADA diet (5). This trial included 49 patients on the low-fat vegan diet and 50 patients on the ADA diet. The trial duration was 74 weeks. This trial, though small, does show substantial benefit with a low-fat vegan diet.

The benefits of a plant-based diet have been known for many decades. In a 1979 study on diabetes, results showed that insulin was significantly reduced by more than half on a high carbohydrate, high-plant fiber diet (HCF) compared to a control diet (6). This effect was seen in approximately 2.5 weeks.

Involving 20 men with type 2 diabetes who had a mean duration with diabetes of 8 years, patients were started on the control diet for seven days and then switched to the HCF diet for 16 days. This showed reversal with diet over a short period of time and reduction in medication. Thus, diet does not only have an insidious (slow) effect, but it also has an acute (immediate) effect on diseases. Of course, insulin was the gold standard of treatment at the time.

More recently, in a retrospective (backward-looking) case series with 13 men and women with type 2 diabetes, results showed that HbA1C was reduced from a mean of 8.2 to 5.8 percent over a seven-month period (7). This was an impressive 2.4 percent reduction in HbA1C, and 62 percent of patients reached normal sugar levels.

At baseline, patients were on an average of four medications, including diabetes medications. By seven months, they were able to reduce this to one medication while significantly decreasing their HbA1C. In addition, their blood pressure and triglycerides improved. These patients were following a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet. This study was performed by myself and Fuhrman using patients in his practice. The study’s weaknesses were that there was no control arm and that it was retrospective. But this does imply that there is potential for diabetes reversal.

In my clinical practice, I have seen many diabetes patients successfully reverse their disease. Let me share one anecdotal story. A 55-year-old diabetes male Caucasian patient told me that no relative had lived past 57 because they died from diabetes complications. He is currently 60 years old or, as he likes to put it, “three years past expiration date.”

When he first came to see me, he was on four diabetes medications, including insulin, plus a statin. He is no longer on any of these medications. These results were seen in only two months. He did lose weight, but at a much slower pace than the metabolic changes that took place in his body. This anecdotal story is inspirational and reinforces the research above.

In conclusion, while medications are important for the treatment of diabetes, nothing seems to trump lifestyle modifications. Diet, especially, can play both prevention and reversal roles. Even fruit plays a significant role in reducing the incidence of diabetes. Regardless of family history, as demonstrated by my patient, these results can be achieved. Whether or not you are on medications, if you have diabetes, lifestyle modifications should be adopted to get optimal results.

References: (1) CDC.gov. (2) Diabetologia online Nov. 9, 2017. (3) Nutr. Metab Cardiovsc Dis. 2013;23(4):292-299. (4) N Engl J Med. 2008;358:2545-2559. (5) Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May; 89(5): 1588S–1596S. (6) Am J Clin Nutr 1979 32: 2312-2321. (7) Open J Prev Med. 2012 2(3), 364-371.

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.

‘This Must Be the Place,’ by Roy Lichtenstein, 1965. Collection of Dr. Harvey Manes

By Jennifer Sloat

It has been 50 years since the Summer of Love. It was a time that pushed the boundaries of music, art and society and had many feeling groovy and putting flowers in their hair. A half-century later that era still fascinates us.

The Heckscher Museum will explore that era through art with its latest exhibition titled From Frankenthaler to Warhol: Art of the ’60s and ’70s.

‘Chicken Noodle from Campbell’s Soup I’ by Andy Warhol, 1968. Collection of Dr. Harvey Manes

According to the museum, the exhibit, which opens this Saturday, delves into two trends that defined the art of the times and stretched the definition of fine art: abstract works that explore line, shape and color; and representational art on subjects from popular culture to everyday urban and suburban environments. Color field, minimalist, pop and photorealist works speak to the myriad styles that characterized the art world during the dynamic decades of the ’60s and ’70s.

In a recent interview, the museum’s curator, Lisa Chalif, said the time period was a watershed in American history and that many of the issues of the ’60s and ’70s continue to exist today. “The exhibition showcases the depth of The Heckscher Museum’s permanent collection. A good number of these works have not been exhibited for a while,” she said.

Andy Warhol’s soup can and Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-inspired images are among the works of art featured. The galleries will include iconic images from art legends Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, Romare Bearden and May Stevens. There will be a total of 42 pieces on display.

“This generation of artists solidified America’s dominance of the international art world,” said Chalif, “They stretched the definition of fine art by using images from consumer culture and experimenting with processes such as silk screen, previously used in commercial applications.”

During this time, more women and African-American artists entered the mainstream art world as well, bringing fresh perspectives to modern subjects.

The art and music scene often intertwined in that era, and, fittingly, the museum will have a ’60s and ’70s soundtrack as the backdrop for the exhibit. “The show will be bright, colorful and fun,” Chalif continued. “We’ll have a photographic time line highlighting social, political and cultural events of the period, as well as music from the period in the galleries.”

The exhibit will be on view Nov. 18 through March 11. An opening reception for museum members and guests will be held on Dec. 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. In conjunction with the exhibit, two Gallery Talks will be held. On Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. art historian Thomas Germano will present a lecture titled “Andy Warhol and the Soup Can School,” and author and music historian Tom Ryan will present “How Music Changed History: 1960’s and 70’s” on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.

The Heckscher Museum of Art is located at 2 Prime Ave. in Huntington. For hours, prices and more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.

Photo courtesy of Heckscher Museum

Olivia Newton-John
Celebrating the lives of Linda Ronstadt & Olivia Newton-John

By Ed Blair

Olivia Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England, and raised in Melbourne, Australia. Linda Ronstadt was born in Tucson, Arizona. “They were polar opposites in fashion style, song content and personality,” said Sal St. George, longtime creator of productions chronicling the lives of popular stars of the past and present. “And yet,” he continued, “Olivia and Linda had very similar beginnings and successes.”

Thus the reason that St. George has paired the two iconic songstresses in a Living History Production titled Tribute: Linda Ronstadt & Olivia Newton-John, a heartwarming holiday show that will run from Nov. 19 through Jan. 10 at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village.

“Country, pop, opera, rock, Broadway — they successfully conquered all music genres and became music legends,” he added. The celebration of the lives of the two internationally famous singers focuses on their incredible stories, and audiences will thrill once again to their classic songs.

The show’s motif will be familiar to St. George fans. “The program will follow the same format as in the past,” he explained, “except we have two of the most popular singers of the seventies as our stars. We are in the year 1978. Olivia is riding high with the success of ‘Grease.’ Linda is astounding New York audiences in ‘The Pirates of Penzance.’ Both shows will be discussed in the program, and, along with the songs of the stars, seventies’ fashions will be highlighted.”

Linda Ronstadt’s singing career was quite diversified. Beginning with her work as lead vocalist for the folk-rock group Stone Poneys in the mid-1960s (“Different Drum” scored high on the ratings charts), Ronstadt pursued country, alt-country, country rock, pop rock, Latin and classic jazz genres. Along the way, she put together the band that became the Eagles, won a dozen Grammy Awards and was christened the “Queen of Country Rock.”

By the mid-1970s, Ronstadt’s image became just as famous as her music. In 1976, she appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone and was also featured on a TIME magazine cover in 1977. She was the top-selling female vocalist of the 1970s and produced a succession of platinum albums on into the ’80s. Ronstadt’s popularity continued into the ’90s, and beyond.

In a 2011 interview with the Arizona Daily Star, Ronstadt announced her retirement and sadly, in August 2013, she revealed to AARP that she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, saying “I can no longer sing at all.” In an April 2016 interview, Ronstadt is quoted as saying, “I can’t sing anymore. That’s that. I can still sing in my brain but I can’t sing. It’s just the way it is. If you’re going to have Parkinson’s you’d better have a sense of humor.”

Actress Emily Tafur, who portrays Ronstadt in the WMHO production, noted, “I feel challenged and appreciated and honored to be portraying one of the great music legends of our time.”

Olivia Newton-John was known in the UK and Australia for her performances on television and in clubs, but her fame grew further when she came to the United States. Her hit recording “I Honestly Love You” (1974 Record of the Year) garnered a Grammy Award, and more successful albums followed. Newton-John really rocketed to international stardom, however, for her role in the 1978 film “Grease,” in which she co-starred with John Travolta.

Although she received another Grammy in 1981 for her hit, “Let’s Get Physical,” Newton-John’s musical career waned somewhat in the 1980s. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and underwent a partial mastectomy. She has since donated portions of the proceeds of her appearances to cancer research and has recorded songs she designed to provide hope and courage to cancer patients and their families. Continuing her advocacy, Newton-John organized a charity walk along the Great Wall of China with other cancer survivors to raise funds to build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne. During the past year, the singer learned that the cancer had returned, and she is currently undergoing treatment.

Cierra Ervin, who portrays Olivia Newton-John, offered these comments: “This is a daunting and exciting experience! To portray such an identifiable entertainer has been a dream come true. We think audiences will have a wonderful holiday experience at the show.”

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center, located at 97P Main St. in Stony Brook Village will present Tribute: Linda Ronstadt and Olivia Newton-John on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m., and on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. on the following dates: Nov. 19, 25, 26, 29 and 30; Dec. 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 20 and 21; and Jan. 3, 4, 6, 7 and 10.

Partially sponsored by the Roosevelt Investment Group, admission is $48 adults, $45 seniors and children under 15 and $40 groups of 20 or more. Performances are followed by a luncheon, tea and dessert. Reservations must be made in advance by calling 631-689-5888. For more information, visit www.wmho.org.

This post was updated Nov. 17 to correct pricing for seniors and children.

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Hugh McElroy of Port Jefferson with some of the masks he created

A COLORFUL PALATE The North Shore Artists Coalition held its second annual Artists Open Studio Tour on Nov. 11 and 12. Eleven award-winning artists welcomed visitors into their studios to see where the magic happens including, clockwise from top left, Peter Gallasso of Setauket, Hugh McElroy of Port Jefferson, Christian White of St. James, Nanci Bueti-Randall of Stony Brook (in her St. James studio), Sungsook Setton of Setauket, and Jim Molloy of Miller Place. Other participating artists included Doug Reina, Mary Jane van Zeijts, Marlene Weinstein, Pam Brown and Kelynn Z. Alder. Guests were able to view artwork for sale, ask questions and enjoy refreshments.

Photos by Heidi Sutton

From left to right, Thomas Bokinz, Grace Burns, Anthony D’Angio, Alexandria Sanatore and Brett Petralia at the new reading center at Heritage Park. Photo from Grace Burns

READING AL FRESCO

The Heritage Park in Mount Sinai keeps getting better and better. Recently Grace Burns of Girl Scout Troop 004 created a nature-themed reading center directly behind the park’s new Little Free Library for her Gold Award project. “After the park moved the Little Free Library near The Shack, it hadn’t been recognized to it’s full potential,” said the 17-year-old in a recent email. The Mount Sinai High School senior is hopeful the sitting area will spark more interest in reading and hopefully some more visitors to the library.

But that’s not all. According to Burns, the project is still in the works. “I’m currently running a book drive to restock the library and I’m creating signs that will draw more attention to the area. One sign reads, ‘You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book,’ by Dr. Seuss.” “I’m superexcited to be working on this and I’m hoping to establish a Volunteer Reading Program to be up and running in the spring time,” said Burns, adding, “A huge part of this project has come from my love of teaching and reading, as I wish to pursue a career as an English teacher next year in college.”

Heritage Park is located at 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk. Check out the Little Free Library and sit for awhile, courtesy of Grace Burns. And remember, take a book, leave a book. For more information, call 631-509-0882.

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