Arts & Entertainment

Tab Hunter in his youth. Photo from Jud Newborn
Tab Hunter photo from Jud Newborn
Tab Hunter photo from Jud Newborn

By Stacy Santini

Studebakers, drive-ins, saddle shoes and ice cream parlors will instantly conjure up images of a decade that most people remember fondly and others wistfully wish they could visit. Iconic television programs such as “I Love Lucy” and “Father Knows Best” were viewing staples in most living rooms and matinée idols such as Ricky Nelson, James Dean, Natalie Wood and Debbie Reynolds graced the big screen before the term “celebrity” found its way into our vernacular. It was the 1950s, an era known for Truman and Eisenhower politics and innocence savored.

Tab Hunter was a star that seemingly endorsed the mainstream value system and fulfilled every notion that Hollywood was projecting at the time. Unbeknownst to his droves of fans, he was living a secret life that, today, wouldn’t have had to be so secret. “Tab Hunter Confidential,” a documentary exclusively premiering at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, on Wednesday, October 14th, bravely tells Tab’s story and is a brilliant peek into Hollywood during that time; an epoch that simply will not fade away.

Director Jeffrey Schwartz has adapted Tab Hunter’s memoir into a riveting narrative that clues the viewer in on the struggle this dashingly handsome, sun-kissed, all-American screen darling dealt with through most of his career. Fearful of shattering his well sought after image, Tab Hunter lived openly as a heterosexual, having well-publicized romances with numerous Hollywood starlets while knowing he was unequivocally gay. Not only is this acclaimed documentary a fascinating depiction of Hunter’s impressive career, but with same sex marriages recently legalized in many states, the world’s mindset is rapidly changing and the story is well suited for the times.

Tab Hunter in his youth. Photo from Jud Newborn
Tab Hunter in his youth. Photo from Jud Newborn

While living in the closet, Hunter was consistently number one at the box office and often the same on the music charts. Movies such as “Damn Yankees” and songs like “Young Love” quickly propelled him from stable boy and figure skater to heartthrob. Later taking on the role of Todd Tomorrow, opposite Divine, in John Water’s cult classic, “Polyester,” only further secured his role as Hollywood royalty.

Curating the event is Jud Newborn, an international multimedia lecturer who has a formidable list of credentials, one of which happens to be curator for special programs for Cinema Arts Centre. He began his studies at New York University, became a residence writer at the University of Cambridge, Clare Hall, and capped off his impressive education with his dissertation on the hidden cultural meanings of the Holocaust at University of Chicago, where he received his doctorate. Often considered an expert on Nazi warfare and the Holocaust, he not only co-authored the book, “Sophie Scholl and The White Rose,” but also founded and curated The Living Memorial to the Holocaust at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.

Newborn has a knack for recruiting prestigious and very famous guests to Cinema Arts Centre, and his reputation as curator is well earned. Securing Tab Hunter is no surprise. Always considering the Centre his second home, Newborn states, “It is so diverse, so stimulating. It is a joy to bring in these exciting programs for the audience.” Elaborating further, “ Adding to the Cinema’s already outstanding roster prior to my post here, I have brought in Christopher Plummer, Tony Curtis, Dick Cavett, Norman Lear, Leslie Caron, Erica Jong, Rita Moreno, Steve Guttenberg and so many more. It has been such a pleasure.” When asked what his secret is, he jovially says, “I’ll never tell.”

Tab Hunter in his youth. Photo from Jud Newborn
Tab Hunter in his youth. Photo from Jud Newborn

Cinema Arts Centre is a true cultural gem for Long Island. With more than 10,500 members, it has served as the template for prominent film festivals ,such as Sundance. Started in 1973, it parallels the Film Forum and The Film Society of Lincoln Center. The venue has three state-of-the-art theaters, the aesthetically pleasing Sky Room for receptions and patio gardens. At 7:30 p.m., the Cinema will screen “Tab Hunter Confidential” as part of an alluring program. The documentary will be followed by an interview with Hunter conducted by famed author and lecturer, Foster Hirsch, which will include an audience Q&A. Afterward, there will be a dessert reception in the Sky Room, with a performance by jazz guitarist Mike Soloway.

Tab Hunter might be considered an anomaly for Hollywood, surviving a culture that was once known for devouring their young stars, and rising above what was once considered an obstacle. He has embraced a lifestyle that was true for him and fearlessly tells the world about it. Witnessing such integrity is a rare opportunity and should not be missed.

Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Ave., Huntington. Tickets are $25, $20 members. For more information, call 631-423-7611 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.

James Hazen Hyde’s 1899 station brougham carriage. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Mention the Gold Coast era on Long Island, and people immediately think of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” and the great mansions built in the early 1900s. Some of those mansions are gone,  victims of housing developments. Others, such as Laurelton Hall and Villa Francesca were both lost to fires. Some are in the public trust, turned into museums or schools like the Vanderbilt Mansions in Centerport and Oakdale. And a few, a very few, are still privately owned, like Oheka Castle, now a luxury hotel and event venue, and the Woolworth mansion. Of the more than 1000 mansions built, less than one third are still in existence.

To highlight the architectural wonders of Long Island’s North and South shore mansions during the “Gatsby” era, the Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages is currently presenting “Gilding the Coasts: Art and Design of Long Island’s Great Estates.”

“The subject of Long Island’s great country house era has been chronicled in numerous other exhibitions, books, and documentary films. We thought it would be interesting to focus on the design and construction aspect of the story more than the social history of the house owners and their servants, which tends to get a larger share of the attention,” said Joshua Ruff, exhibit curator and museum director of collections & interpretation.

From left, 1920s pink party dress with silk faux glass beading, gift of Timothy Smith; embroidered silk gown, 1908, gift of Mrs. B. Langdon and Mrs. William Floyd Nichols; embroidered silk velvet evening opera cape, 1912, gift of Grace Rumbough. Photo by Ellen Barcel
From left, 1920s pink party dress with silk faux glass beading, gift of Timothy Smith; embroidered silk gown, 1908, gift of Mrs. B. Langdon and Mrs. William Floyd Nichols; embroidered silk velvet evening opera cape, 1912, gift of Grace Rumbough. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Some of the mansion owners are well known, while others less so. Ruff continued, “We wanted to look at both the extremely well-known figures in this story, … like Stanford White, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and William Delano, as well as those people and their houses who have not received the same level of attention, such as William de Leftwich Dodge, who designed and lived in the fascinating and unique Villa Francesca, just a couple of miles away from the museum [in Setauket].”

The exhibit includes furniture from some of the estates, beautiful antique women’s clothing, estate plans, photos, paintings, Tiffany lamps, sculpture and even the very unique weather vane from Vanderbilt’s Eagle’s Nest.

“One of the most interesting stories that I learned much more about in the development of this exhibition was that of James Hazen Hyde (1876-1959), heir to Equitable Life Insurance and owner of a spectacular house and estate in Bay Shore, a place which he inherited from his father, redesigned and named The Oaks.

Hyde was a major figure in Gilded Age society who was forced to exile in France after a scandal in 1905. In the exhibition, we have a terrific close-to-life scale portrait of him located beside a brougham carriage that he owned, as well as a painting of his estate. The paintings came to us from New York Historical Society, the carriage is ours. It was terrific to pull all of this material together,” said Ruff.

While some of the items on display belong to the museum, Ruff noted that, “We were pleased to have received very significant loans from the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, the Vanderbilt Museum, Planting Fields, the New-York Historical Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Huntington Historical Society.  We also received excellent important loans from a number of private collectors, especially Daniel and Betsy White of Box Hill, Leftwich Kimbrough, the grandson of William de Leftwich Dodge, and Gold Coast historian Paul Mateyunas.”

An important feature of the exhibit is the gigantic time line which encircles the gallery. It begins in 1866 with the formation of the Southside Sportsman’s Club, which catered to the wealthy residents of the South Shore. It ends in 2015, with the sad notation that a fire badly damaged the 25,000 square foot Woolworth mansion in Glen Cove.

Noted Ruff, “Adaptive reuse has been the saving grace for many historic Long Island estates. Thankfully, people can still visit and appreciate William Cutting Bayard’s Westbrook Estate — Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Otto Kahn’s Oheka, William Coe’s Coe Hall — Planting Fields Arboretum and State Park, The Phipps Estate — Old Westbury Gardens and many more. We really hope that the exhibition encourages visitors to seek out and explore the treasures that are available to them a short drive away and to appreciate how fragile and vulnerable these estates are, and worthy of our protection.”

“It is wonderful that Box Hill still exists in an excellent state of preservation and remains in family hands after all these generations. Sadly, Laurelton Hall and Villa Francesca were both lost to fires within several years of one another,” he added.

Julie Diamond, director of communications at the museum, said a bus trip is planned in November to the Culinary Institute and the Vanderbilt Estate upstate in Hyde Park, an interesting comparison to Long Island’s Vanderbilt Estate.

Dori Portes, the museum’s receptionist for the past 17 years, said, “This is one of the three top exhibits I’ve seen,” in all that time. “It’s stunning, just beautiful!”

An illustrated exhibit program, which not only includes information on the artifacts in the exhibit but the time line as well, is available from the museum.

The exhibit is open through Sunday, Oct. 25. Don’t miss this fascinating look at historic Long Island. The LIM, a Smithsonian affiliate, is located at 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. It is open Thursday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. For further information, call 631-751-0066 or go to www.longislandmuseum.org.

Actor Jason Segel applauds a fan during a book-signing at Book Revue on Oct. 6. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Actor Jason Segel signs a fan’s cast at Book Revue on Oct. 6. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Actor Jason Segel signs a fan’s cast at Book Revue on Oct. 6. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Jason Segel, an actor known for roles in comedies such as “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “I Love You, Man,” attended a book signing at Book Revue in Huntington on Tuesday to promote his new book, “Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic,” the second installment of a trilogy which he co-authored with Kirsten Miller.

Segel also participated in an audience question-and-answer session, where he discussed if the book series might ever be made into a movie and if the characters are based on any real people in Segel’s life.

Actor Jason Segel shows off his new book, ‘Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic,’ at Book Revue on Oct. 6. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Actor Jason Segel shows off his new book, ‘Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic,’ at Book Revue on Oct. 6. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Segel said he started out writing the book series as a script, when he was on the television show “Freaks and Geeks,” so some of the nightmare characters were meant to be played by his friends on the show.

One boy asked if Segel remembered any of the nightmares he had as child.

“Yeah,” Segel said. “My big recurring nightmare, that was in the first book, was witches eating my toes. People asked me, ‘Where does that came from?’ and I figured out it’s because when you’re a baby, parents stand over you and tell you they’re going to eat your toes.”

The entire cast of ‘Alice’s Wonderland Adventures!’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic may be more than 150 years old, but “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass” still resonate with children and adults alike. Now Theatre Three’s creative geniuses Tim Peierls and Jeffrey Sanzel have written a brand new Alice-inspired children’s musical — “Alice’s Wonderland Adventures!” — that opened last Saturday. All the familiar characters are here, from the White Rabbit to the Mad Hatter, to the Queen of Hearts to the beloved Cheshire Cat. Throw in an appearance from Humpty Dumpty and Dorothy Gale, add a quick game of Wheel of Fortune for good measure, and you’ve got yourself a hit show.

Sanzel as director leads a talented group of seven adult actors, all of whom play multiple roles, through a delightful and clever production perfect for younger audiences. Seasoned actors Jenna Kavaler, Amanda Geraci, Hans Paul Hendrickson, Andrew Gasparini and Steve Uihlein are all outstanding, as are newcomers Mary Ortiz and Melanie Acampora, making their children’s theater in-house debut.

In the first act we meet Addison Carroll (Kavaler), an actress who is nervous that she will forget her lines as Alice in “Alice in Wonderland.” In a dream sequence, she finds herself transported to a magical land where the White Rabbit accidently takes her script. Addison spends the rest of the show chasing after the harried hare, trying to get it back. Along the way, accompanied by the Cheshire Cat, she has a tea party with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse; plays croquet with the Queen of Hearts, who enjoys shouting, “Off with their heads!” a bit too much; and visits with Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Addison’s adventures help her gain confidence and she awakens from her nap, ready to take on the world.

Sanzel knows his target audience well. Every scene is full of song and dance, fast-paced and short. Riddles and jokes run rampant throughout the production: “Why do flowers work in the kitchen? Because you can’t make tarts without flour!”

The 12 original musical numbers by Peierls, accompanied by Steve McCoy on piano, are the heart of the show. Hendrickson is outstanding in his solos, “We’re All a Little Mad Here” and “The Tweedle’s Song,” in which he impressively performs both Tweedle roles, making his solo a duet. Geraci shines in “So Much to Do,” and the entire company’s “Wonderland Within You” is the perfect finale.

The actors utilize the set from the evening show, “Sweeney Todd,” but that’s OK because the costumes and puppets are so colorful and fun, a set is not even necessary. From the caterpillar with his six arms to the long red robe of the Queen of Hearts, costume designer Teresa Matteson has done an excellent job. It is the 13 puppets, however, designed and constructed by the brilliant Tazukie Fearon, that steal the spotlight. From the moment they make an appearance, the children are mesmerized. This is live theater at its best. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show.

Five-year-old Josephine Cunniffe, of Stony Brook, who said she loved the show, enjoyed the performance with her grandparents. Her favorite character was the White Rabbit.

Ashley Kenter, who’s been coming to Theatre Three since she was a little girl, said her favorite characters were “Alice … and the bunny” and her favorite scenes were when the Cheshire Cat told knock-knock jokes. The 10-year-old, who was having her birthday party at the theater, said she decided to celebrate the milestone at Theatre Three “because there is a lot of room here and they have a lot of good shows.” Her favorite show of all time is “Barnaby Saves Christmas,” which by coincidence is the theater’s next children’s show, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 26.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Alice’s Wonderland Adventures!” through Oct. 24. Tickets are $10. For more information, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

The fourth day was a charm for the Heritage Trust Center’s carnival. After three days of wet and windy weather, residents of Miller Place, Mount Sinai and neighboring communities finally gathered at Heritage Park to enjoy the fourth and final day of the center’s seventh annual carnival on Sunday, Oct. 4.

Children and adults alike enjoyed rides like Pharaoh’s Fury, Tornado, the Swinger and others, and could choose between savory foods and sweet surprises like zeppole and deep fried Oreos, Greek food and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. Those who stayed into the evening hours were also treated to fireworks, which were pushed from Friday to Sunday.

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

Port Jefferson Village residents can score free tickets to see the musical “Sweeney Todd” at Theatre Three on Main Street.

Residents with a valid ID can pick up tickets at the village recreation department office, on the second floor of the Village Center, as supplies last. The tickets are available for two Thursday night shows: Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 22 at 8 p.m.

Call 631-802-2160 for more info.

Austin Levine and Max Venezia are starring in James and the Giant Peach. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Before “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” before “Matilda” and even before “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Roald Dahl wrote the classic children’s novel, “James and the Giant Peach.”

The story follows the adventures of James Henry Trotter, an orphan who lives with his two mean aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life for him is sad and lonely — until he meets a grasshopper, spider, earthworm, centipede and a ladybug aboard a giant, magical peach!

Now, over 50 years later, the story comes to life as a musical at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport on Oct. 3. Nearly 30 children auditioned for the role of James and ultimately two young actors, Max Venezia and Austin Levine, were chosen to share the role. Adult actors will play roles in the supporting cast.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing these amazing kids in between rehearsals at the Engeman’s Performing Arts Center across the street from the theater.

Max, whose favorite subject is math, is in the sixth grade at South Ocean Middle School in Patchogue. His path to become an actor began when he found out his friend Ava was taking voice lessons; so he started taking them too. His vocal coach later encouraged him to try out for a role in “Seussical” at Kids for Kids Productions in Oakdale. “That’s what my first show was and I’ve just loved it ever since,” he said.

At the young age of 11, Max already has an impressive resumé that includes roles in “The Music Man,” ”Gypsy” and as Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” “This will be my 22nd show,” said Max, whose most recent role was as part of Fagin’s Gang in “Oliver!” at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson.

Austin, who also loves math, is a sixth-grader at Commack Middle School. In second grade, he landed a role in “Annie” at the Suffolk Y in Commack and was immediately hooked. Since then, the 11-year-old has been in over 10 shows including “Mary Poppins,” “The Full Monty” and “Peter Pan” at the CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale.

Austin decided to audition for the role of James because “I had never done something at the Engeman and I wanted to because its nice to go try out, [to] go to different theaters.”

When preparing for the role, Max read “James and the Giant Peach” for the first time. “When I saw it, at my age, I thought this is creepy,” he said. Added Austin sheepishly, “I have not read the book — I should though.”

Austin’s favorite scene in the show includes the song “Shake It Up,” where James accidently spills a magic potion setting off a series of peculiar events.

Both Max and Austin said they enjoy working with the adult cast, which includes James D. Schultz, Alyson Clancy, Suzanne Mason, Michael Verre, Kate Keating, Samantha Carroll, Danny Meglio and Jacqueline Hughes.

“I love them. They are so fun to work with,” said Max, adding that he learns a lot from them and takes notes.

Austin agreed. “Because sometimes it’s hard to work with little kids because they are not mature [enough]. It’s a great learning experience,” he said.

Austin, who said he enjoys working with Max the most, usually does not get nervous during a show. “When it’s an audience of, like, 1,000 people and I can’t see them, I’m fine with that. It’s just when I can see them in person, it’s a little weird.”

Max’s favorite show on Broadway is “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time,” while Austin said he favors “Mary Poppins” because “it is such a great story.”

Rehearsal has been every day after school, usually from 4 to 7 p.m. Max, who hopes to become “an actor and if not that, a teacher, probably either science or math,” does his homework in the car to Northport and on the ride home and sometimes stays up late to finish. Austin, who lives closer, likes to come home from school, relax, go to rehearsal, come home, eat, do his homework for two hours, go to sleep “and do the same thing over again the next day,” he laughed.

Both say their parents have been wonderfully supportive.

Director Jennifer C. Tully said the two boys were chosen because of “their amazing ability at such a young age to capture the sweetness and spunk of James.”

“Both [Max and Austin] are such talented young performers onstage and such genuinely good kids offstage. While both of them have put their own stamps on the role, they both exude the heart and joy that drives this beautiful production,” said James D. Schultz, who plays the role of the Grasshopper.

“I’m blown away by how hard they have worked and their very mature ability to create a rich and layered character,” added Tully. “It has been a pleasure!”

Come see Max and Austin and the entire cast of “James and the Giant Peach” at the John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport, from Oct. 3 to Nov. 8.  Performances are on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Nikko Kimzin and Sam Wolf in a scene from ‘West Side Story.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

By Charles J. Morgan

When dance master Jerome Robbins inspired Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim to come up with “West Side Story,” they in turn went to The Bard for his “Romeo and Juliet,” morphing the Guelphs and Ghibellines — that’s the Montagues and Capulets of Verona — into the street gangs, the Jets and Sharks. The “star-crossed lovers” became Tony and Maria. This gift to musical theater hit the boards at the Engeman two weeks ago, and the boards are still rattling.

Zach Trimmer and Samantha Williams in a scene from ‘West Side Story.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro
Zach Trimmer and Samantha Williams in a scene from ‘West Side Story.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

The entire production is built around dance. The pirouettes, arabesques and jetes were neatly comingled with the modern interpretive method to produce a mathematically perfect, yet emotionally penetrating terpsichorean feast.

At the head of all this was the choreography skills of Jeffry Denman and his two assistants Lauren Cannon and Trey Compton, who also acted as fight choreographer. This talented team gave the audience a night of dance the excellence of which your scribe has not seen in his near decade of writing “criticism.”

They say that the “devil is in the details” but not in this production. Imagine if you will a six-foot-high chain link fence running from upstage center down to stage left … suggesting urban schoolyards. This “prop” was climbed on, jumped on and over by male dancers of the Jets and Sharks in their attempts to escape … in tempo. They actually scaled the fence, landing on the other side on the beat — an incredible act of choreography.

Overall direction was in the always capable hands of Igor Goldin (“The Producers,” “Evita”). If one prescinds from the dance numbers, his blocking and interpretation efforts were carried through with exemplary professionalism.

Outstanding among the dancers were Scott Shedenhelm of the Jets and Karli Dinardo in the role of Anita. Shedenhelm was at his best in “Gee, Officer Krupke,” by far the funniest and most clever number in the show. Dinardo scored talent-wise in “America.”

The leads were handled skillfully by Zach Trimmer as Tony and Samantha Williams as Maria. Both have fittingly tender voices; he a more lyrical tenor, she a mellow, yet strong soprano. They excelled as the star-crossed lovers.

The leader of the Jets, Riff, was played by Sam Wolf who pits himself and his gang against Bernardo, played by Nikko Kimzin and his Sharks. The battles of Sharks vs. Jets is the dance armature of the play, and these two lead their factions brilliantly in dancing, acting and singing.

Among the musical numbers, the “Jet Song” really set the theme of pride and struggle. “Dance at the Gym” by the whole company brought out the animosity that almost erupted in violence. The tender “Tonight” by Wolf and Williams presented the balcony scene in all its romance. The mordant “America” that also showcased the patent talent of Ashley Perez Flanagan as Graciela, hit hard musically at the state of society in both the USA and Puerto Rico.

From left, Victoria Casillo, Tori Simeone,Samantha Williams and Ashley Perez Flanagan in a scene from ‘West Side Story.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro
From left, Victoria Casillo, Tori Simeone,Samantha Williams and Ashley Perez Flanagan in a scene from ‘West Side Story.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

Trimmer and Williams also performed romantically in “One Hand, One Heart.” And there was that Officer Krupke number that was most memorable.

The cast also included Mike Baerga, Josh Bates, Christian Bufford, Mark T. Cahill, Nick Casaula, Victoria Casillo, Joey Dippel, Jon Drake, Roy Flores, Eric Greengold, Joan Heeringa, Melissa Hunt, Gregory Kollarus, Leer Leary, Rick Malone, Ashley Marinelli, Kelly Methven, Kaitlin Niewoehner, Joseph Rosario, Tori Simeone and Marquez Stewart who all did a fabulous job.

Piercing live music was led by James Olmstead on keyboard with assistance from Craig Coyle; Robert Dalpiaz and Joel Levy on reeds; the indomitable Joe Boardman on trumpet with Steve Henry and Pete Auricchio; Brent Chiarello and Frank Hall on trombone; bass was Russell Brown with the reliable Josh Endlich on percussion. This ensemble was at its best in the staccato numbers of both Jets and Sharks such as “Dance at the Gym” and especially in “The Rumble.”

The Engeman spares no opposition when it produces a massive piece of entertainment like “West Side Story.”

All elements of the production including costume design by Tristan Raines, set design by DT Willis, lighting by Zack Blane and sound design by Laura Shubert were masterfully integrated into a sophisticated, articulated and authentic whole.

Many critics a few years back tried to see a “social significance” dimension latent in this show. On TV one described it as “… a slice of New York life.” Nonsense, of course. It was Shakespeare with a life of its own as true musical theater.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport, will present evening performances of “West Side Story” on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and matinees on Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Nov. 8. Tickets are $74 on Saturday evenings, $69 all other performances. For more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

This version corrects the spelling of Jeffry Denman’s name.

The entrance to the new exhibit in Cold Spring Harbor, If I Were a Whaler. Photo by Judy Palumbo

By Rita J. Egan

The Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor introduced its new interactive, hands-on exhibit, If I Were a Whaler, on Sunday, Sept. 27. The exhibit launched off with the opening day event SeaFaire featuring craft-makers, including a woodworker, quilter and spinner, demonstrating their old world skills. The day also gave visitors the opportunity to create historical maritime crafts such as ship models and scrimshaw carvings.

Judy Palumbo, community relations and development manager at the museum, said the committee designed the exhibit to give guests a strong sense of what life was like on a whaling boat for the whalers. She said exhibit goers will discover how simply the seamen lived and how minimal their supplies were. According to Palumbo, some would have only a tiny trunk for a three-year voyage, and on the boat, they would sleep in tight quarters that also doubled as a place to eat since there were no dining halls.

“We’re just trying to give people a picture of what life on the ship was like … a whaler’s life,” Palumbo said.

Items ‘for sale’ in the Jones General Store at the If I Were a Whaler exhibit. Photo by Judy Palumbo
Items ‘for sale’ in the Jones General Store at the If I Were a Whaler exhibit. Photo by Judy Palumbo

The community relations and development manager said the exhibit is extremely interactive and exhibit goers can experience each stage of a whaler’s journey. One interactive station is a general store where children are given coins to purchase items, and while deciding what to buy for their voyage, learn how limited the seamen’s budgets were.

Executive Director Nomi Dayan said the store is based on Jones General Store, which once operated in Cold Spring Harbor. She said children can decide things such as if they are going to get an extra warm pair of pants or two shirts.

“They really have to think critically about what it took to endure life at sea,” Dayan said.

At the second station, visitors will discover what life was like under the decks for the whalers. Children can try out a berth and view the limited food options the whalers had at sea.

“I think one of the most fun things about it is the bunk bed where you can climb in and realize how little personal space you had,” Dayan said.

Another interactive station will show visitors what it was like to raise the sails or swab the deck, which was also referred to as holystoning, where they actually cleaned the decks with stones, according to Palumbo. The community relations and development manager said the station demonstrates the whalers’ responsibilities during their voyages.

Children can learn how to plan a voyage as well at the navigation stage and, based on their choices, find out their fate. Destinies include being shipwrecked or catching a whale among other outcomes.

Exhibit goers will discover how the whalers spent their free time, too. Palumbo explained that catching whales only used a small percentage of the whalers’ time spent at sea since the mammals weren’t that easy to catch. Maps are also on display showing the seamen’s journeys that included expeditions to the Arctic, South America and the Hawaiian Islands.

Complementing the interactive stations will be nautical tools and artifacts on display from the museum’s collection, which totals 6,000 pieces. Palumbo said the museum owns one of the largest scrimshaw collections in the Northeast and one of the last fully equipped whaling boats.

Palumbo said construction of If I Were a Whaler began Labor Day weekend; however, the museum’s educators Cyndi Grimm, Liz Fusco, Gina Van Bell, Amanda Vengroff, as well as Dayan and carpenter Peter Schwind have been working on the exhibit for months.

Dayan said the plan right now is to display If I Were a Whaler for two years. She said she believes the interactive exhibit, which was inspired by the USS Constitution Museum in Boston’s A Sailor’s Life for Me: War of 1812 curriculum, will provide children an understanding of maritime history that they may not get from a textbook or by just looking at an artifact in a museum.

“We hope families will gain a much better appreciation and understanding of local history, and we hope that will happen through making history come to life,” Dayan said.

The Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor is located at 301 Main Street, Cold Spring Harbor. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for children. For more information, visit www.cshwhalingmuseum.org or call 631-367-3418.

Farm dog Tucker, the author and her morkie, Charles Crawford up at the crack of dawn. Photo from Stacy Santini

By Stacy Santini

This is the third in a four-part series. Miss part two? Read it here.

As epic as this pilgrimage was for me, I would be remiss if I did not consider the impact this all had on my pup. There were numerous Steinbeck moments as my morkie, Charles Crawford, and I greeted each day. It is with complete certainty that I can say I would not have made it through WWOOFing without my little companion. Not only was he a constant reminder of where we came from, but because of him, I was always home and never lonely.

As I delved further into my self, I witnessed Charlie discover parts of his personality I am not sure he knew existed. His patience was tested on a daily basis as he mingled amongst his peers at Owen Farm. While I was out in the pasture, he would spend his time under Ruth’s watch in the kitchen, befriending our fellow WWOOFers’ long-haired black Chihuahua, Shao. After several initial teeth-baring scuffles, they became companions and would follow each other around, exchanging the alpha role frequently.

Dealing with so many different furry personalities, Farmer Chuck learned how to defend himself against a playful, but aggressive, young yellow Labrador named Tucker and how to avoid the predatory, mountain lion-like feline, Pickles. Always leaning toward the side of caution, I was constantly aware of his whereabouts, as Karl the cow and the Arabians were eager to trample little beings in their way. Charlie held his own, but every night as we fell into bed, we both took slumber comforted by knowing our door was locked and it was only the two of us.

Although WWOOFing at Owen Farm was mostly comprised of labor, there were hilarious moments that, to this day, will make me giggle. One morning, when I was wheelbarrowing the hay out to one of the furthest fields, one of my comrades unbridled the horses too quickly. They came charging for me and I just started running back and forth as fast as I could, dumping all the hay to the ground. I must have looked like a player in a PAC-MAN game as I glanced back and caught Camille and Greg rolling on the ground with laughter.

One evening, late at night, as Charlie and I were cuddled up sleeping, we were awoken to the sound of our latch door lock being jiggled. It was pitch black and stillness had settled on the farmhouse hours beforehand. We were frozen with fear and overwhelmed by visions of Freddy Krueger. I was not prepared to meet my death in this manner and finally gained the courage to put the light on and open the door. In front of me stood the largest cat I had ever seen attempting to open the door with his paw. Surreal, to say the very least.

When our time at Owen Farm came to an end, we said our good-byes, travelled a bit, and headed to the foothills of the White Mountains. Patch Farm in Denmark, Maine, was to be our next WWOOF retreat. Swinging to the other side of the pendulum, Patch Farm is a demesne in its infancy, focused on planting and cultivating organic crops. Owned by a passionate young farming couple, BrennaMae Thomas and Brandon McKenney, arriving there was like reaching nirvana when it comes to rural living.

From the exterior, the residence was a quintessential New England country farmhouse. But when you entered, it resembled a SoHo loft. Together, the couple had renovated and created an immaculate art deco space that was not only comfortable, but so aesthetically appealing that it should have been photographed for Architectural Digest. My room, which was large and refreshing, all white, with a fireplace and views of the White Mountain range, was a welcome change to my prior living conditions. We had plenty of running water and were able to shower or soak our weary limbs in the big claw foot tub on a daily basis. This may not seem extraordinary, but trust me, in the world of New England organic farming, it is a luxury.

Complying with my overall experience, this ambience still brought the unexpected. My bedroom was filled with ladybugs. Hundreds of red wings speckled with black spots clung to the plastic covering our windows, reaching for sunlight. At night, they would drop down and become our bed partners. There was something very joyful about living amongst these little beetles.

Outside of the six goats and twelve chickens, Patch Farm is all about growing and sustainable living. My hosts were extremely rousing about their work and breathed, ate and slept farming, but moderation was their motto when it came to WWOOFers. We did not commence our chores until after 7 a.m. and ate a hearty breakfast and only worked until about one or two in the afternoon. The rest of the time was ours to rest, explore, study and enjoy the simplicity of rural living.

Not to say that the work we assumed was not difficult, as it was, but I often felt as though I was at an agricultural college with BrennaMae as my professor. She was extremely knowledgeable regarding all aspects of sustainable living and permaculture. We would be walking amongst the fields and she would start to zealously jump around as she had just noticed some type of clover growing underfoot.

With enthusiasm, she taught us about crop rotation, the benefits of landscape cloths, and major vegetable families and how they work together. In a very short time I was able to identify Allium, Brassica, Cucurbita and Solanaceae genus groups. We planted seeds in their “state-of-the-art” greenhouse and watched as they germinated and cotyledons began to show.

After some time out in the field and our nose in books, such as “The Earth Care Manual: A permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates” by Patrick Whitefield, BrennaMae gave us an assignment to design her new permaculture herb garden.

Permaculture is about creating edible landscapes that emulate the symbiotic interactions in a natural ecosystem. After hauling rocks into a tractor to clear the fields for planting — a back-breaking endeavor — or attempting to fold up 350 feet of slippery land-covering in mud, I would retreat to the family room to draw blueprints of mandala and keyhole gardens, my contribution to BrennaMae and Brandon’s potential edible oasis.

Although learning to farm was my main objective, I allowed time to travel and investigate the Northeast. With Charlie riding shotgun, my Jeep Patriot carried us from Portland, Maine back to Saratoga Springs and New Paltz and so many places in between.

Like what you’ve read? Check out the final installment here.

Stacy Santini is a freelance reporter for Times Beacon Record Newspapers. Look for her adventures at Patch Farm in Denmark, Maine, in the next issue of Arts & Lifestyles.