Arts & Entertainment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Long Island Museum’s gift shop should reopen soon. Photo by Phil Corso

Two landmark Three Village institutions have received a landmark gift.

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook and the Setauket Presbyterian Church were named beneficiaries of a $100 million charitable trust through the Kingsley Gillespie Charitable Trust, giving both groups a financial boost from a family that loved its community. The gift carried on the philanthropic contributions that both the Kingsley and Kenyon Gillespie families have made, keeping the arts, community service and faith strong.

The charitable trust came as a result of Kenyon Gillespie’s death in March 2015, which built upon the success of his father Kingsley Gillespie and mother Doris Kenyon, who both died in the 1980s. Every year, the beneficiaries will receive slices of the income earned by the $100 million trust, bringing in millions of dollars in gift money.

Neil Watson, executive director of the Long Island Museum, said the gift came at an exciting time as it approaches 80 years since the museum’s inception.

“This is a very significant gift for us — one of the biggest in our history,” he said. “It allows us to chart our own future.”

Watson said the charitable gift would allow the Long Island Museum to better maintain its 14 buildings, balance its $2.4 million budget and provide better programming for the North Shore community. Looking ahead, he said the museum would be working on launching new programs to attract new visitors, reopening the facility’s gift shop at its headquarters and investing in capital improvements to its carriage museum, which houses a 125-person meeting room dedicated to the Gillespie name.

“The board of trustees and the museum’s staff are overwhelmed by the Gillespies’ generosity,” Watson said in a statement. “This tremendous gift strengthens the LIM’s existing endowments and solidifies the museum’s financial foundation. We are forever indebted to the Gillespie family for their foresight and their belief in the important of the LIM and its place as a cultural leader in our community.”

The Setauket Presbyterian Church, founded in 1660, will also benefit considerably through the charitable trust. The institution, located on the village green at Caroline Avenue in Setauket, has been a longtime home for more than 500 people of faith.

Doris Kenyon was born in 1900 in Brooklyn, but spent summers as a child in Old Field before moving there in the 1930. She had a lifelong affection for the Three Village community, the Long Island Museum said in a press release. She was married to Kingsley Gillespie, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the two built their family in the Three Village area before retiring to Florida.

Other beneficiaries of the charitable trust include MIT and various Stamford, Conn., institutions.

Above, Aaron Feltman’s ‘How You See Me Vs. How I See Me,’ mixed media

Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum opened on April 9 to rave reviews. The number of entries to this year’s competition was record-setting with 357 student works of art submitted from 53 high schools in Suffolk and Nassau Counties. The juried selection narrowed the field to works of art created by 83 students representing 44 schools. The exhibit is on view through May 15.

Scholarships and prizes were awarded to a number of young artists at the Long Island’s Best opening reception held on April 16. Nicole Noel of Valley Stream Central High School (teacher, Mario Bakalov) received the Celebrate Achievement Best in Show Award for a pencil drawing titled “Another Pity.” Huntington High School student Aaron Feltman (teacher, Kristin Singer) was awarded the second-place Judith Sposato Memorial Prize for the mixed media piece “How You See Me Vs. How I See Me.”

Nina Miller of Long Beach High School (teacher, Eric Fox) and Huntington Fine Arts received the third-place Hadley Prize for her sculpture “Reach with No Escape,” and Cory Levy of Sayville High School (teacher, Evan Hammer) received the fourth-place award for the drawing “The Future.”

“The quality of work we receive is exceptional. It is very difficult to narrow the entries to around 80 works for the exhibition,” said Joy Weiner, The Heckscher Museum’s director of education and public programs, in a recent press release. “The Long Island’s Best curriculum is built upon inter-disciplinary learning concepts, and enhances New York State Core Learning Standards for the Arts, Career Development, English Language Arts, and Social Studies. For example, there is a literary component to the program which requires each student to write an ‘artist statement/ to thoughtfully explain their artwork and their experience creating it.”

Nicole Noel won the “Celebrate Achievement Best in Show Award” for a pencil drawing titled “Another Pity.”
Nicole Noel won the “Celebrate Achievement Best in Show Award” for a pencil drawing titled “Another Pity.”

Now in its 20th consecutive year, Long Island’s Best is a hallmark of The Heckscher Museum’s education programs. During the school year, high school students and their teachers visit the museum for in-depth study of, and discussions about, the works of art in the galleries. Students select an “inspirational artwork” to stimulate the creation of an original work back in the classroom. Hundreds of student works are then submitted to the museum’s juried competition. A full-color exhibition catalog is published to accompany the month-long exhibition. The Heckscher Museum’s juried exhibition is the only one of its kind that provides Long Island high school students with the unparalleled opportunity to professionally present their work in a museum setting.

Alongside the Long Island’s Best exhibit will be a companion exhibition titled Celebrating 20 Years: Long Island’s Best Alumni Exhibition, which features a selection of 42 works by past Long Island’s Best artists. Over 4,500 students from Suffolk and Nassau Counties have entered Long Island’s Best prestigious juried exhibition since its inception.

“I was accepted into The Heckscher Museum’s Long Island’s Best exhibitions in both 2004 and 2005, and won awards both times. They were the first shows I ever participated in outside of an academic setting, and the feelings of validation and recognition were — frankly — intoxicating. I truly believe that each of those shows were instrumental in helping me realize that my voice as an artist — even at that young age — was unique, was substantive, and was potentially important,” said Andrew Brischler, Brooklyn-based contemporary artist and former student at Smithtown High School. “I just knew, because of my experiences at the Heckscher, that making art and having people see it was what I was meant to do,” he added. The exhibit will remain on view through May 8.

The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington, is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor star in ‘National Velvet.’ Photo from the WMHO
Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor star in ‘National Velvet.’ Photo from the WMHO
Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor star in ‘National Velvet.’ Photo from the WMHO

By Ed Blair

“I was a fourteen-year-old-boy for thirty years.” So said screen superstar Mickey Rooney, and his assessment of his career was not far off. To a generation of American moviegoers, the diminutive actor was forever a youngster, first as Mickey McGuire and then as Andy Hardy — both iconic roles in Hollywood’s cast of memorable characters.

The legendary Mickey Rooney, 1945. Photo from the WMHO
The legendary Mickey Rooney, 1945. Photo from the WMHO

Mickey Rooney is the subject of a musical theater tribute taking place from May 4 through June 12 at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village. The Sal St. George production is a celebration of Rooney’s movie career, during which he appeared in over 300 films, as well as his successes in vaudeville, radio, television and on Broadway. His natural gift for acting, singing, dancing, comedy and drama are highlighted in a dynamic presentation featuring delightfully nostalgic songs and rollicking comedy.

Born in Brooklyn in 1920, Joe Yule Jr. first appeared on stage with his parents in a vaudeville act at the age of 17 months. When he was 7, his mother took him to audition for the role of Mickey McGuire in a short film based on the then-popular comic strip, Toonerville Trolley. The film enjoyed wide public appeal and developed into a series. Young Joe adopted the stage name of Mickey Rooney and appeared in the role of Mickey McGuire in 78 of the mini-comedies between 1927 and 1934.

Judy Garland hangs with Mickey Rooney in a scene from ‘Strike Up the Band.’ Photo from the WMHO
Judy Garland hangs with Mickey Rooney in a scene from ‘Strike Up the Band.’ Photo from the WMHO

From the time he was 16 until the age of 25, Rooney again appeared in a long-running role, this time as all-American teenager Andy Hardy, a character he portrayed in 16 films from 1937 to 1946. In three films in the series, he was paired with Judy Garland, and the two appeared together in other films as well, notably the musicals “Babes in Arms” (1939), for which Rooney, still a teenager, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, “Strike Up the Band” (1940), “Babes on Broadway” (1941), and “Girl Crazy” (1943). Of his relationship with Garland, Rooney proclaimed, “We weren’t just a team; we were magic.”

Rooney also appeared with Elizabeth Taylor in the classic “National Velvet” (1944) and showcased his dramatic acting ability, playing the role of a delinquent opposite Spencer Tracy in “Boys Town” (1938). Rooney proved to be an enduring star, appearing on Broadway, on television and on the big screen, memorably in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1962), and “The Black Stallion” (1979), for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His film credits carried well into the twenty-first century.

Rooney’s personal life was as arresting as his stage career. First married to Ava Gardner, he ended up totaling eight marriages, leading him to quip, “I’m the only man in the world with a marriage license made out ‘To Whom It May Concern.’” Mickey Rooney passed away quietly in his sleep at the age of 93 in April of 2014.

Mickey Rooney performs in ‘Mr. Broadway,’ a television special broadcast on NBC in 1957. Photo from the WMHO
Mickey Rooney performs in ‘Mr. Broadway,’ a television special broadcast on NBC in 1957. Photo from the WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization production follows the familiar format of other St. John presentations. Showgoers play the role of a 1960s television studio audience attending a talk show hosted by actress and long-time “I’ve Got a Secret” panelist Betsy Palmer (Madeline Shaffer), who, along with her domestic, Penny (Sarah Quinn), welcomes guest star Mickey Rooney, who talks about his life and career and also performs.

Daniel Garcia, who portrays Rooney, noted, “Mickey Rooney was the only entertainer/actor who appeared in motion pictures every decade between the 1920s into 2014. He was a masterful and much-beloved entertainer. This will be quite an acting challenge for me.”

The WMHO presents Musical Theatre Performances of “The Mickey Rooney Story” partially sponsored by The Roosevelt Investment Group, at the organization’s Educational & Cultural Center at 97P Main St. in Stony Brook Village. Shows run from May 4 through June 12 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. Admission is $50, $48 for seniors 60 and over and $45 for groups of 20 or more and includes a high tea luncheon catered by Crazy Beans Restaurant. Advance reservations are required by calling 631-689-5888. For further information, visit www.wmho.org.

Julien Rentsch has been playing the piano for several years. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski

Eighth-grader Julien Rentsch is already a celebrated music man in his community.

Julien, a 14-year-old at J. Taylor Finley Middle School in Huntington, has been composing music for years and the Finley Honors Orchestra has helped bring his music to life.

For the past two years, the orchestra has performed Julien’s pieces during their concerts under the direction of music teacher and conductor Matthew Gelfer.

“I think having a student like Julien in my orchestra is kind of what you hope for as a music teacher,” Gelfer said in a phone interview.

This past March at a concert at Huntington High School, Julien accompanied the orchestra on the piano during a performance of his piece, titled “Free Spirit.”

Julien Rentsch plays cello in the Finley Honors Orchestra. Photo from Darin Reed
Julien Rentsch plays cello in the Finley Honors Orchestra. Photo from Darin Reed

“It’s really cool,” Julien said in an interview on Friday. “It was amazing just to hear onstage and the crowd and everything.

Julien’s parents are both professional photographers, so the arts were a major part of his upbringing. He started playing piano when he was 6 or 7, though Julien said he is not a tireless worker who practices constantly. His father, Andreas Rentsch, agreed.

“It comes almost naturally,” Rentsch said of his son’s musical abilities. “He has that ability to transform his notes into beautiful music without really, I would say, trying too hard.”

Julien said he has a process for composing music. He starts by coming up with melodies to be played on the piano, then adds and subtracts separate tracks from five different instrument groups. He said he works like a chef, adding a dash of strings or a pinch of horns until his recipe is a perfect blend. Julien has three complete pieces composed for full-size orchestras.

Mother Helen Rousakis said she enjoys watching her son on stage, working with the rest of the orchestra.

“I had a perfect view and [Julien was] just having a ball,” Rousakis said of last year’s performance. “He was laughing, he was making eye contact with others. I was just blown away by the camaraderie, how they all just love to work together.”

Julien Rentsch practices the piano at his home in Huntington. Photo by Alex Petroski
Julien Rentsch practices the piano at his home in Huntington. Photo by Alex Petroski

Julien and both of his parents stressed the impact that Gelfer has had on Julien as a musician.

“Julien is just such a mature kid,” Gelfer said. “A lot of composers can be really precious about their work and what they do, [but] he came at it with a collaborative attitude.”

When it comes to the future, this 14-year-old knows exactly what he wants: to compose musical scores for films one day. He enjoys the work of John Williams, who composed music for the “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” films, among others.

For now the rest of Julien’s time is filled as a multisport athlete and a musician at Greenlawn’s St. Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Shrine Church, where he plays piano for the junior choir and church fundraisers.

“If I’m into something, I’m just into it,” Julien said about his love of music. “I don’t stop.”

Kids will have fun learning about the Long Island Sound this Sunday. Photo from Whaling Museum

Environmental conservation is an important, daily issue across the country. Long Island is no exception.

On Sunday, April 17, The Whaling Museum & Education Center in Cold Spring Harbor will try to do its part in spreading knowledge and awareness about humanity’s impact on the Long Island Sound. The museum is hosting SOUNDoff, a brand new event that will feature activities for marine enthusiasts of all ages including science experiments, water monitoring, art exhibits and a touch tank featuring oysters, sea stars, horseshoe crabs and hermit crabs.

Nomi Dayan, the executive director of the Whaling Museum, said that the goal of the event is to be fun and interactive for kids, while also being informative.

“SOUNDoff is [being held] basically [because] we want visitors to understand how to protect the waters around us,” Dayan said in a phone interview. “These are our neighbors that inhabit the waters.”

A press release from the museum highlighted the importance of appreciation and preservation for the large body of water that neighbors the North Shore.

“The Long Island Sound is an amazing natural resource providing economic and recreational benefits to millions of people while also providing habitat for more than 1,200 invertebrates, 170 species of fish and dozens of species of migratory birds,” the release said.

Representatives from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Seatuck Environmental Association and The Waterfront Center will all be on hand at the event to host workshops, conduct experiments and educate visitors about the importance of keeping that water clean. They will lead mock water sample tests with kids, give a presentation on marine debris and another on storm water management presentation to name a few of the various activities in store for attendees.

“There are a lot of pressures and threats against the Sound today, so it’s really up to us to keep it clean,” Dayan said. “It is a growing problem every year, especially on Long Island. Whatever we put in the water really will come back to haunt us.”

Dayan mentioned the types of fertilizers used on lawns, avoiding facial moisturizers containing micro beads and picking up after pets as some of the every day adjustments that Long Islanders can make to improve the overall health of the Sound.

According to the release, the event was partially funded by a grant from Long Island Sound Futures Fund, which pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This event is poised to have an impact through the rest of the summer months as Long Islanders get ready to hit the beaches, spend time on boats and fertilize their lawns,” Dayan said in the release about the lasting impact she hopes the event will have on those who attend.

Admission to the event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is free. The Whaling Museum is located at 301 Main Street in Cold Spring Harbor. For more information, call 631-367-3418.

Jenna Kavaler and Brett Chizever share a light-hearted moment in ‘Beau Jest.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

By Michael Tessler

Ever leave a theater feeling lighter than air? Theatre Three’s production of “Beau Jest” left me with this happy sensation I haven’t yet been able to shake.

Mary Powers masterfully directs an all-star cast in a perfectly paced stage comedy. Originally written by James Sherman, this show can best be described as a love child between “Fiddler on the Roof” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”  And let me tell you, it makes for a beautiful combination.

Sarah Goldman, the show’s protagonist (and arguably antagonist) is the kind of girl my grandmother would have loved for me to date. Pretty, smart, successful, and most importantly … Jewish. Like so many children she’s torn between pleasing her parents while being true to herself. Played by the hard-not-to-love Jenna Kavaler, you can’t help but sympathize with this love-struck young woman whose biggest fear is hurting the ones she loves most.

From left, Bob Kaplan, Scott Joseph Butler, Ginger Dalton, Brett Chizever and Jenna Kavaler in a scene from ‘Beau Jest.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.
From left, Bob Kaplan, Scott Joseph Butler, Ginger Dalton, Brett Chizever and Jenna Kavaler in a scene from ‘Beau Jest.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Sarah is romantically involved with a man opposite of the “nice Jewish boy” stereotype. Chris Kringle is a marketing executive and Sarah’s secret boyfriend whom she hides from her overly traditional and protective family. Played with immense talent by Steven Uihlein, Chris just can’t seem to catch a break. As if being named after the North Pole’s most popular resident wasn’t bad enough, he finds himself in love with someone who cannot love him back — openly that is. 

To make matters worse, Sarah finds herself hounded by her parents to the point where she invents a fake boyfriend. What started as a tiny lie quickly snowballs into an impossible to contain catastrophe. Her pretend boyfriend isn’t just Jewish, but he’s also a doctor, and a surgeon at that! Desperate to maintain the facade, Sarah hires Bob, a struggling actor turned male escort who is given the impossible task of pretending to be Sarah’s Jewish surgeon boyfriend. Brett Chizever is brilliant in his portrayal of Bob. Chizever can best be described as a master of comedic timing and expressions. He’ll have you in stitches before the show’s end.

Sarah’s mother, Miriam Goldman, is played to perfection by the hysterical and enormously talented Ginger Dalton, who was for me the highlight of the show. To say she is dramatic would be an understatement and a disservice to the beautifully accurate portrayal of an overly concerned Jewish mother. Who knew a person could sigh with such fervor? Dalton offers a magnificent performance and is complimented perfectly by her equally talented partner Bob Kaplan who portrays her husband Abe, a Tevye-like patriarch stuck in the wrong century but nonetheless endearing.

From left, Bob Kaplan, Ginger Dalton and Brett Chizever in a scene from ‘Beau Jest.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.
From left, Bob Kaplan, Ginger Dalton and Brett Chizever in a scene from ‘Beau Jest.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Last, but certainly not least, is Sarah’s brother Joel, a divorced psychiatrist played by Scott Joseph Butler whose dry humor blends perfectly with this already well-rounded show. Butler’s subtle comedy is so effective and peaks in the second act during one particularly hysterical tirade.

“Beau Jest” succeeds beautifully as it establishes itself as a living sitcom, complete with a live studio audience, some great inside jokes, and a cast you can’t help but fall in love with. Each knock on the door welcomes a new whirlwind of comedy, drama and beautifully scripted madness; the perfect way to spend an evening with someone you love.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Beau Jest” through May 7. Tickets range from $15 to $30. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

From left, Franklyn P. Butler, Phyllis March, Brian Gill, Robbie Torres, Katie Ferretti, Edward Breese and Jess Ader-Ferretti star in ‘Cabaret.’ Photo by Samantha Cuomo

By Melissa Arnold

The Smithtown Performing Arts Center took its audience on an emotional roller coaster ride Saturday night during its gripping opening performance of “Cabaret.”

Ronald R. Green III serves as both director and costume designer for the show, which is set in early 1930s Germany, just prior to World War II. Written by Joe Masteroff, “Cabaret” is based on a play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Frank Ebb. It is among the most enduring musicals on Broadway, with its first show in November 1966 leading to multiple revivals here and abroad.

“Cabaret” follows wandering novelist Cliff Bradshaw as he travels to Berlin in search of his next great idea. And boy, does he find it! He is quickly drawn into the raunchy, circus-like Kit Kat Klub and becomes entangled with its regulars, particularly the seductive performer Sally Bowles.

Sally Bowles is a woman who knows how to get what she wants, and she quickly wriggles her way into Cliff’s life,  first by moving in with him and then by slowly winning his heart. And they’re not the only ones falling in love. Cliff’s landlady, Fräulein Schneider, is charmed by the perfect gentleman, widower Herr Schultz.

Unfortunately, what begins as a shockingly funny love story grows dark as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis gain momentum in Germany. The characters eventually find themselves torn apart by politics, and the show’s ending is so gut-wrenching that you can almost feel the air leave the theater.

Sally and Cliff are played by Katie Ferretti and Brian Gill, who are both newcomers to the SCPA stage. Ferretti’s portrayal of Sally is full of moxie, and Gill’s effort is totally believable as Cliff falls helplessly in love.

The audience is directly addressed throughout the show by a flamboyant and hypnotizing emcee played by Robbie Torres. If “Cabaret” is a circus, then Torres is its wild ringleader. As crude as his character can be, he’ll capture your heart and hold on long after the show ends. Be warned, the emcee quickly transitions between several languages, and his thick accent may be hard to understand for some.

Worth particular mention in the talented supporting cast are Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, who are portrayed with great tenderness by Phyllis March and Edward Breese. The duets featuring the couple, “Married” and “It Couldn’t Please Me More,” are the sweetest of them all.

Choreographer Danielle Coutieri ensured that the many dance numbers in “Cabaret” were full of all the shock value and sex appeal audiences would expect from a questionable nightclub. The kick-line at the beginning of the second act was particularly fun to watch.

The orchestra is located on the set’s upper level for this show, where they are regularly visible to the audience and even become a part of the story as the Kit Kat Klub’s house band. Led by music director Melissa Coyle, the music is more than just a sound track — they are a driving force for the club and show as a whole. They play powerfully, at times almost overwhelmingly so.

While this is not a show for children, adults are bound to be thoroughly entertained and delighted by “Cabaret.” Just be prepared to leave the theater in stunned silence. This classic will strike you in the heart.

Smithtown Performing Arts Center, 2 East Main St., Smithtown, will present “Cabaret” through May 22. Show includes strong language, intense sexuality and brief violence, alcohol and drug use. Running time is approximately 2.5 hours with one 15-minute intermission.

The season continues with “Hairspray the Broadway Musical” from July 9 to Aug. 28, “Rent” from Sept. 10 to Oct. 2 and “Urinetown the Musical” from Oct. 15 to Nov. 6. All tickets are $35 and may be purchased by calling 631-724-3700 or visiting www.smithtownpac.org.

‘Half Light on the Dock,’ acrylic, by John Mansueto

By Rita J. Egan

Adorned with stunning landscapes, Long Island is home to countless artists who capture the area’s charm in their own beautiful, creative ways. To celebrate the splendor of our area and the immense talent of landscape artists, the Smithtown Township Arts Council will be hosting an invitational exhibit, Loving the Landscape We Call Home, at the Mills Pond Gallery opening April 9.

‘Pond without Duck,’ oil, by Shain Bard
‘Pond without Duck,’ oil, by Shain Bard

On display at the exhibit will be landscape paintings of eight artists that live on Long Island, according to gallery director Allison Cruz. She said in the past the gallery’s exhibits, both invitational and juried, have included artists from all over the nation but she said occasionally she likes to concentrate on local artists.

The director said it’s difficult narrowing down which artists to feature in such an art show, especially when each has his or her own individual style. “There are many, many, many Long Island artists who all paint their local landscapes. There are hundreds to choose from and one is better than the next,” she said.

Cruz said the artwork includes oil paints, watercolors, pastels, acrylics and more and features various recognizable landscapes found on the island including winter, beach and forest scenes.

The gallery director said that in addition to an assortment of styles, mediums and scenery at the exhibit, each artist will have at least five pieces of artwork on display. “They’ll be able to show a real difference even within their own work,” she said.

‘West Meadow Wonderings,’ acrylic on canvas, by Patty Yantz
‘West Meadow Wonderings,’ acrylic on canvas, by Patty Yantz

One of the featured artists will be Stony Brook resident Franco Jona who said he was surprised and honored when he was notified that his work was going to be included in the exhibit. The former professor, who taught physics to engineering students at Stony Brook University for more than four decades, has been painting for several years capturing the scenic sights around his home.

“I was always attracted to the natural scenes in the vicinity, around Stony Brook and Setauket and so on,” the artist said. Jona hopes that visitors to the exhibit will enjoy how he sees the local landscapes that he creates with realism in watercolors and oil pastels. “I like to represent nature the way I see it,” he said. 

‘A Light Winter Blanket,’ watercolor, by Katherine Hiscox
‘A Light Winter Blanket,’ watercolor, by Katherine Hiscox

John Mansueto, who lives in Islip Hamlet, is also pleased his work will be on display at the gallery. Originally an illustrator who also worked for the Fire Island Tide Newspaper, the now full-time artist paints landscapes in acrylics and, in the past, also created work in watercolors, a medium he plans to return to in the future.

“Usually the subject speaks to me,” he said, explaining that he can tell whether a landscape would be better recreated in watercolors or acrylics. His paintings include various scenes from the South Shore, North Shore, as well as eastern Long Island.

Mansueto said he appreciates when art lovers not only enjoy his paintings but also recognize the spots he has painted. He added exhibits like the one at the Mills Pond Gallery also provide him a chance to learn about other artists.

‘Memories,’ oil, by Burton A. Woods
‘Memories,’ oil, by Burton A. Woods

“You see what techniques they are using and how they’re doing it, which is probably going to be different from the way I do it. You dissect it,” he said.

The exhibit will also include works from artists Shain Bard (Huntington Station), Katherine Hiscox (Commack), Rob Roehrig (East Setauket), Mary Webb (E. Northport), Burton A. Woods (Mount Sinai) and Patty Yantz (Setauket).

Cruz said, with a good cross section of Long Island landscapes, she thinks visitors will gain a new perspective of the area as well as artistically capturing its beauty. “I think when they see this show all together they are going to get an appreciation that there are many different ways to see the creative parts of where you live and many different types of ways to paint it,” she said.

The Smithtown Township Arts Council will present the Loving the Landscape We Call Home exhibit, funded in part by the Town of Smithtown, at the Mills Pond House Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James, from April 9 to May 4. Art lovers can meet the exhibiting artists at a reception held at the gallery on Saturday, April 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from noon to 4 p.m. Admission to the exhibit is free. For more information, please call 631-862-6575 or visit www. stacarts.org.