Kids

The festival will have lots of carnival rides and games for families to enjoy. File photo by Bob Savage

By Sabrina Petroski

Souvlaki, gyros, baklava, oh my! Is your mouth watering yet? Try all of these dishes and more as the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson celebrates its 57th annual Port Jefferson Greek Festival from Aug 23 through 26. This year’s event will feature carnival rides, traditional dance performances, live music, games and culinary delights. 

Come for the delicious food and stay for the dancing!

Authentic Greek dishes such as gyros, moussaka, tiropita, souvlaki and spanakopita will be served up, along with sweet desserts such as melomakarona, galaktoboureko, kourabiedes, koulourakia, baklava and loukoumades, a fried dough pastry favorite.

According to Marisa Raptis, the president of the Parish Council, members of the church will be making the food on sight and fresh to order. Popcorn, cotton candy and pretzels will also be available. 

Guided tours of the church will be available throughout the day, and over 30 vendors will be scattered around the church grounds selling jewelry, home                                                                                           goods, clothes, beauty products, candles and other handmade items. 

One of the main attractions at the festival is the over-the-top sweepstakes that the church holds. This year 315 prizes will be awarded including cars — a 2018 Mercedes Benz GLC 300 4Matic is first prize — an Alexa Smart Device, a Bose Home Theater, an iPod Touch, a Nespresso Mini, cash prizes and much more. Tickets for the sweepstakes are $100 each, limited to 4,999 tickets — meaning that one out of 16 will win a prize. The drawing will be held on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.

The festival will have lots of carnival rides and games for families to enjoy. File photo by Giselle Barkley

In addition, there will also be live performances throughout the weekend for guests to enjoy. The Hellenic Dance Troupe will be performing on Saturday as well as the church’s Youth Dance Troupe, showing off the traditional Greek style of dance. A five-piece band will take the stage Friday through Sunday with tunes that will make you want to get up out of your seat, and a DJed fireworks show will turn heads on Friday and Saturday night, weather permitting. 

“People should come because we are one of the largest Greek festivals on Long Island,” said Raptis in a recent email. “Where else can you go on a Friday night and eat dinner under the stars while listening to live music and watching fireworks?,” adding, “I am most excited about being with my Greek community for four days as we show our love for our culture to everyone with music, food and dancing!”

The festival will take place, rain or shine, from 5 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 23, 5 to 11 p.m. on Aug. 24, 1 to 11 p.m. on Aug. 25 and 1 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 26. Tickets are $2 per person, and children under 12 can attend for free. A shuttle service will be available from Ward Melville High School to the church. Raffle tickets may be purchased online at www.portjeffgreekfest.com. 

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption is located at 430 Sheep Pasture Road, Port Jefferson. For more information, call the church office at 631-473-0894.

By Beverly C. Tyler

Telling stories about the men and women of the Culper Spy Ring and portraying Setauket spy leader Abraham Woodhull has been one way for me to bring local history to life for both residents and visitors to this area. Reading about the Culper spies is also important, so I have written a number of articles and recommended books that tell the story. I have recently read and enthusiastically recommend “Kayleigh & Conner Detectives Inc. and King The Spy Dog” for children of all ages.

The cover of Dana Lynn Zotter’s first children’s book.

Written and illustrated by Dana Lynn Zotter, this 174-page soft-cover book tells the story of two children, Kayleigh and Connor, who spend their last week of summer vacation visiting their great-grandparents in Stony Brook who live in a historic house that holds all kinds of secrets. 

When the children find a gravestone with the name KING engraved on it in the roots of an old tree, their great-grandfather tells them that there was once a legendary spy dog named King in the area who has appeared as a ghost. The siblings meet a local boy and, as detailed on the back cover, “Three children search for the truth about ghosts, legends, and Long Island’s Culper Spies.”

Zotter has woven a delightful tale of a family and their experiences in the Long Island communities of Stony Brook, Setauket and Port Jefferson together with an accurate portrayal of the men and women involved in the Revolutionary War Culper Spy Ring. This well-crafted story vividly transports the reader to the historic hamlet of Stony Brook where the children explore their great-grandparents’ Colonial-era home and the shoreline of this picturesque community.

As Kayleigh and Connor explore, they discover mysteries connected with the house and the community, including an appearing and disappearing black dog named King. Agreeing to become detectives and follow the clues, the children discover how the Culper spies operated and how King the spy dog became an important member of the Culper Spy Ring.

Their travels take them along West Meadow Creek and as far as the Village of Port Jefferson where they meet General Lafayette on a recreated 18th-century French warship, which actually visited Greenport in 2015. At one point the children are mysteriously transported back to the Revolutionary War and join the Culper spies and King the spy dog on a brief spy adventure.

The Setauket Presbyterian Church and cemetery

“Kayleigh & Conner Detectives Inc. and King The Spy Dog” features 22 illustrations, including a recipe for invisible ink and a spy code, along with a list of historic places to visit. The drawings, including one of the Setauket Presbyterian Church and cemetery, help bring the story to life without taking away from the writing, allowing readers full use of their imaginations. I enjoyed the story and easily identified with the characters. 

Dana Lynn Zotter, who describes herself as a gardener, poet, artist and finder of four-leaf clovers, has crafted a wonderful story that will delight children and make historians smile.

“Kayleigh & Conner Detectives Inc. and King The Spy Dog” is available at the Three Village Historical Society’s gift shop, 93 North Country Road, Setauket. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

Author Beverly C. Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian and pens a biweekly column in the Village Times Herald titled History Close at Hand. 

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Elsie Fisher in a scene from ‘Eighth Grade’. Photo courtesy of A24

By Kyle Barr

There’s something inherently unrealistic in movies about young kids. Everyone remembers “Stand By Me,” where young but intelligent kids with hard home lives take an important step in becoming an adult, or the recent Netflix hit show “Stranger Things,” which plays more as a standing ovation to the media of the ’80s through children who use their pop culture knowledge as a weapon against evil. 

Perhaps what’s so unrealistic about them is that they’re made by adults far and away from their youth, looking back on it all with at least some form of fond nostalgia. Those movies centered around kids in the grade school age always seem to say life swings around a single turning point, where kids, who often speak much more eloquently for a person their age, at some point switch from the naiveté of childhood to the outlook of adulthood. It’s a nice thought, if unrealistic. 

Elsie Fisher in a scene from ‘Eighth Grade’

“Eighth Grade,” written and directed by Bo Burnham, remembers school like most of us do. It was an awkward age where young people are not only trying to learn how to exist as a teenager, but also start becoming an adult. Unlike your usual stock of movies centered around kids, nobody is really learning how to keep it all together, nobody talks like an adult, and everything is in transition.

Thirteen-year-old Kayla Day (played with such exactitude by Elsie Fisher) is just about to finish up her last week of eighth grade, which means soon she will enter the strange and complicated world of high school. Kayla is shy and quiet, but she doesn’t want to be. The teenager makes YouTube videos giving advice in often uncertain terms on how to be brave and outgoing while she herself was voted “the most quiet” of her grade.

Kayla spends time scrolling through social media liking or commenting on other people’s Instagram posts. When she makes YouTube videos, she rarely gets any views. At the dinner table she stares down at her phone, mindlessly shuffling through social media despite her dad, Mark Day (sincerely played by Josh Hamilton), attempting to interact with her. At school, she is just one of hundreds of students with their nose in their phones as she stares longingly at her crush Aiden (Luke Prael.) One day, after being invited to the popular Kennedy’s (Catherine Oliviere) birthday party, Kayla tries to transform herself into the girl she portrays on her YouTube videos, often with results that are both sincere, cringe-worthy and glorious all at once.

A scene from ‘Eighth Grade’

What makes the film so compelling and so realistic is the way it portrays Kayla. There is no “Mean Girls” level of commentary. Nobody is looking down on her; instead the audience looks straight at her. She talks like many young girls do, with constant breaks for “umms,” and “likes.” As she stares out the door to Kennedy’s party, the audience is bombarded with kids being kids, of them turning their eyelids inside out, of a girl walking backward on a bridge, all the while the music plays something like out of a dark carnival. Scenes like that strike a very real cord with anybody who grew up around the time of burgeoning social media. Nothing really feels real.

Burnham’s comedy always includes a musical element, and that sense of musical timing is used to full effect in his breakout movie. Every time Kayla sees Aiden, the ambient sound is drowned out by a heavy bass. The musical choices, often listened to by Kayla diegetically through her omnipresent earbuds, are very appropriate for each scene.

Burnham’s final stand-up comedy special “Make Happy” slowly became a commentary about comedy itself. The now-former comedian asked questions of the point of comedy, whether it’s right to make people laugh to forget their problems, even if he himself might not be happy. He baited the audience, often making them laugh before directly insulting them. Really, the show was an expression of how Burnham did not see the performance as “real.” It was his criticism of the entire entertainment industry that goes for glitz and easily digestible media rather than substance. 

“Eighth Grade” is Burnham’s answer to those criticisms. I’m glad to say it is a pretty good response, and it will be exciting to see just where all those involved will take their careers in the future. 

Rated R for language and some sexual material, “Eighth Grade” is now playing in local theaters.

Girl Scout Devin Rotunno helps kids plant seeds using her Gold Award project Aug. 10 at the Long Island Explorium on East Broadway in Port Jefferson

Port Jefferson’s most inquisitive young explorers will have a new, sustainably minded activity to learn from thanks to the efforts of one of their own.

Girl Scouts looking to achieve their Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn, are tasked with identifying an issue in their community, conducting research, pitching a project and shepherding it to completion in a leadership role in the hopes of achieving some greater good for the community.

Girl Scout Devin Rotunno, a Port Jeff resident heading into her senior year at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, decided to achieve her Gold Award by building a station where kids can plant locally native vegetation at the Long Island Explorium, a Port Jeff museum located at 101 E. Broadway dedicated to fostering an environment of learning and discovery for visitors of all ages, where Rotunno has volunteered for years. She dropped off and set up the project with help from her parents Aug. 10.

“When I started here early last year in 2017, we felt the programing here has always been about STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics], and we wanted children, guests and visitors not only to know STEM for the knowledge of STEM, but really the civic component of it, like, ‘What’s the big deal about learning about science, technology, engineering and math?’” said Angeline Judex, executive director of the Explorium. “The civic component is obviously our interaction and our relationship with the world and our environment surrounding us. I’ve been trying to infuse some sort of sustainability type programing and I think this was something that we thought was perfect.”

Rotunno’s project was built from common cedar wood and includes a laddered portion where kids can keep and monitor their plants as they grow, as well as a station to plant seeds, equipped with soil and gardening tools. She credited a family friend and contractor for helping with the design and lending his shop and tools for the cause. 

“I love it here so much, and as my Gold Award project was approaching I thought it would be the perfect place to dedicate my Gold project to,” Rotunno said of the Explorium. She reflected on providing a new program for kids now in the position she used to be in, visiting the museum to enjoy activities it had to offer. “It’s awesome, just the feeling — since I’m going off to college in a year, the fact I can leave something they can use forever — it’s just a good feeling I can give back.”

Carol Van Duyn, the museum’s manager who has been there for 13 years, reflected on the full-
circle nature of Rotunno’s time at the Explorium.

“Many of the children that came to join and participate in the interactive exhibits continued and then they became volunteers, and then came to us to ask us if they could do something to leave their mark, and we were thrilled,” she said. “She [Rotunno] kept redesigning and reconfiguring, coming back to remeasure before she made her final cut. So, this was a work in progress for a number of months.”

Rotunno’s mom, Jennifer, who also served as Girl Scout Troop 2988 leader since her daughter was in kindergarten, shared her feelings about witnessing the culmination of the long process for her Scout daughter.

“It’s awesome, I’m very proud,” she said. “I’m proud that she’s been a Girl Scout all these years. It’s not common for a girl to make it to this age and to this award. It’s a really special thing. She’s loved coming down here and volunteering.”

All photos by Alex Petroski

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Not even a downpour could stop the participants of the eighth annual Sikaflex Quick & Dirty Boat Build Competition August 12 from testing both their ingenuity and skill in racing a craft they built.

Six teams were given five hours Saturday, Aug. 11 to construct their own small craft out of plywood and calk, even including their own oars. Those boats were painted early Sunday before they were taken out into Port Jefferson Harbor alongside Harborfront Park to be raced against each other. Though for many who participated, a large part of the competition was to see if their boat could actually float.

“We didn’t even float in last year’s competition, so this year was a redemption,” said Queens resident Kelsey Pagan, who along with her partner Dominic Ware, won third place with their boat the Crooked Angler.

Winners of the previous year’s competition, Matthew Debeau and Ken Callirgos, from Port Jefferson, got second place with their spaceship-themed boat named Apollo 1379. Brooklyn residents Keanne Petrie and Jocelyn Cabral won this year in their boat School of Fish. Petrie is a five-year contestant, and this was the first time she won. It was a day of victories for Petrie, as she also was picked in a raffle drawing for a brand-new Sassafras 16 Chesapeake Light Craft Canoe.

“This is really amazing,” Petrie said. She thought about it, and laughed. “Now I just need to figure out how to bring this back to Brooklyn.”

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Frosting and Sprinkles

By Barbara Beltrami

When the kids get tired of their tablets and cellphones (lol), when it’s so hot that everybody is fighting to get in front of the AC vents, or when summer vacation is past the halfway mark and boredom sets in, it’s cupcakes to the rescue. Easy and user friendly, the following basic recipes for cupcakes and their frostings leave lots of room for creativity.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Butter Frosting topped with Chocolate Sprinkles

YIELD: Makes 12 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

One stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1¾ cups sifted cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Fill 12 muffin cups with paper liners. With electric mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and add alternately with the milk to the butter mixture; do not overbeat. Stir in vanilla. Fill muffin cups ⅔ full and bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden and pulling away slightly from sides of pan. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. When cool, top with frosting of choice. Serve with chocolate milk or lemonade.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Frosting topped with Pink Sprinkles

YIELD: Makes 24 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup cocoa

1 cup hot water

1⅔ cups flour

1½ cups sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup soft unsalted butter

2 eggs

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Mix cocoa and water until smooth; let cool. Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter and cocoa mixture; scraping sides of bowl frequently, beat two minutes on medium speed of mixer. Add eggs and beat two more minutes. Fill muffin cups half full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from muffin tin and cool on wire rack. Frost as desired. Serve with milk or orangeade.

Vanilla Butter Frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Frosting topped with Confetti Sprinkles

YIELD: Makes enough for 12 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup soft unsalted butter

3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

3 tablespoons cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Blend butter and sugar together; stir in cream and vanilla till smooth.

Chocolate Butter Frosting

Make vanilla frosting but stir in three squares unsweetened chocolate, melted, into blended mixture.

Orange or Lemon Frosting

Make vanilla butter frosting but omit vanilla and replace cream with same amount of orange or lemon juice.

ON TOP OF THE WORLD: Zachary Podair with the cast of 'Newsies'

By Melissa Arnold

Zachary Podair

Zachary Podair of Smithtown will have some great “What I Did This Summer” stories to share when he heads to middle school next month. The 11-year-old is spending almost every day onstage at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, where he is the youngest member in the cast of “Newsies.” 

The show is loosely based on the Newsboys Strike of 1899, where New York City paperboys organized a union and went on strike to be treated fairly on the job. Zachary plays the part of Les, who wants to help his older brother support their struggling family. His character is lovable and funny, providing some bright comic relief for the show. I recently spoke with Zachary about his professional theater debut, what it’s like being the youngest on the set and more.

What got you interested in acting?

When I was 6 years old, my sister was taking dance lessons and we would always go to pick her up. I really liked watching and decided I wanted to dance, too, so my mom put me in hip-hop classes. I love anything that involves dancing, so I started looking for shows that had a lot of dance numbers.

Have you been in any other shows?

My first show was four years ago, at the Encore Theater. I got to play [the title role in] “Aladdin.” And ever since then I try to do as many shows as I can. I was Rooster in “Annie,” Donkey in “Shrek,” and Charlie in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” 

What made you want to audition for ‘Newsies?’ Were you nervous?

My favorite kind of shows are dance-heavy, and I knew that “Newsies” was one. I had seen the movie before and thought that I would try out. It also has a really great musical score.

I wasn’t really nervous about it. I didn’t necessarily think I would get the part, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. I was really surprised when I heard I was cast. They originally said they were going to double cast the part of Les, [meaning two actors would take turns playing the role], but they ended up just casting me by myself. That was really exciting.

What is it like being the youngest person in the cast?

Sometimes it’s different being the only person around my age, but everyone in the cast and the crew has been so sweet to me. I’ve learned so much from being in professional theater. Every person I’ve worked with has taught me something, from the casting agency to the other actors, the director and other crew. I’ve also improved my dancing so much from working with our amazing choreographer [Sandalio Alvarez].

Zachary Podair, right, in a scene from ‘Newsies’

What do you like about your character?

Les and I are so much alike. He’s just a funny guy. I love playing him because he’s got a lot of great dance scenes and he’s also the comic relief in a lot of ways. I love the one-liners. 

What has acting taught you about life?

So, so much. I’ve learned how important it is to be flexible — emotionally and physically. You have to be spontaneous, to be willing to go with anything. And, of course, you have to learn how to deal with rejection. You’re not going to get every part and not everyone is going to love you.

What would you say to other kids (or adults!) who want to try acting but are nervous?

Definitely don’t be afraid to try it! If you don’t get a part, then you have the experience of auditioning and you can learn from that. If you want, you can try again. And if you do get the part, then you get to have an amazing experience. Either way it’s a positive thing and so much fun to be a part of.

Why should people go see “Newsies?”

It’s one of those shows that has something for everyone, no matter who you are or how old you are. There are things the kids like and things the adults will laugh at. And I think it’s interesting because it’s based on true events — we worked really hard to make our version of the show as realistic as possible. It’s a positive show that will make you feel good.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time at the Engeman so far? 

So far, the best moment was the first day that we got to see the set all finished. It was so amazing. I think that was the moment it all really hit me. I thought, “This is real. It’s really happening.” It’s the best feeling.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Newsies” through Sept. 2. Tickets range from $73 to $78. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

All photos by Michael DeCristofaro

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

By Heidi Sutton

Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh get reaquainted.

The long-awaited “Christopher Robin” finally hit movie theaters last weekend and, at least at the end of Saturday’s matinee at Movieland Cinemas in Coram, was rewarded with loud applause. Not to be confused with “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” which was released last September, it tells the story of a boy and his silly old teddy bear and what happens when we grow up and stop dreaming. While it will appeal to children, its target audience is clearly their parents.

Directed by Marc Foster, the Disney film opens like a chapter book, with chapter one describing a farewell tea party in the hundred-acre wood for a young Christopher Robin (Orton O’Brien) who is leaving for boarding school. All the endearing storybook characters sprung from the vivid imagination of A.A. Milne are here — the wise Owl (Toby Jones), the stubborn Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), the meek and timid Piglet (Nick Mohammed), the ever depressed Eeyore (Brad Garrett), the kangaroo joey Roo (Sara Sheen), his mother Kanga (Sophie Okonedo) and, of course, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh (both voiced by the incomparable Jim Cummings).

Christopher Robin is given a bag of acorns by Piglet to remember them by. In return, he promises to never forget his friends.

But, “as with all children,” as the chapters unfold and Christopher grows up, he does forget. He falls in love, gets married, has a child, serves in the British army during World War II and then lands a job at Winslow Luggage Company. His priorities are skewed and he spends much of his day at work, coming home late, working weekends and we see the toll it takes on his family. When his daughter finds the bag of acorns and drawings of Winnie the Pooh in an old box, Christopher Robin dismisses them as “nothing of great importance.”

Thirty years have passed since Christopher (now played by Ewan McGregor) has visited the hundred-acre wood, which is now a dark and gloomy place filled with fog and overgrown vines. We meet Pooh Bear again, a little more worn and tired, waking up from his nap with a grumbling in his tummy. When the silly old bear realizes every one of his honey pots is empty, he heads off to borrow some from his friends. When he can’t find any of them, he fears they may have been taken by the ferocious heffalumps and woozles. As he is “a bear with little brains,” Pooh decides to seek the help of his old friend, Christopher Robin.

The movie itself is a work of art and the attention to detail is award winning, from the scenery to the music to the wonderful animation. Much of the filming of the Hundred-Acre Wood scenes took place among the hills of purple heather in Ashdown Forest in Sussex County, England, and the iconic songs parents and children know so well — “Winnie the Pooh,” “Up, Down and Touch the Ground” and “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers,” — are sprinkled throughout.

Spoiler alert: This movie is a raw, emotional, heart-wrenching tale that will remind you of your childhood and the importance of family and friends. When Christopher Robin tells Pooh he hadn’t thought of him for 30 years, Pooh answers, “I think of you every day.” Bounce into theaters like Tigger and see this lovely film today, Pooh’s favorite day, and bring along a box of tissues. Now we just have to wait for the remake of “Mary Poppins” to hit area theaters for the holidays. Oh, bother.

Rated PG, “Christopher Robin” is now playing in local theaters. Running time is one hour and 44 minutes. 

From left, The March Hare, The Dormouse and The Mad Hatter invite Alice to a Mad Tea Party in a scene from the show.

By Heidi Sutton

Alice and the Cheshire Cat

Oh my ears and whiskers! For too short a time, Theatre Three’s Children’s Theatre will present the musical “Alice’s Most Decidedly Unusual Adventures in Wonderland,” a modern twist on the Lewis Carroll classic novel of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole and has a most peculiar experience. Although the story is over 150 years old, it has remarkable staying power and is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre.

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin F. Story, the show opens on a rainy day at Camp Lackaday Woods. The campers are bored and the lodge counselor tries to keep them entertained indoors with a sing-along. One of the campers named Alice (Meg Bush) sees a white rabbit (Heather Kuhn) appear and follows it, only to fall down a rabbit hole and meet The Cheshire Cat (Mark Jackett). “Which way should I go?“ she asks him. “It matters not where you go. When you get there you’ll find yourself here,” is the grinning reply, setting the tone for what’s to follow — a mind-bending production that’s simply delightful.

Alice meets The Caterpillar in a scene from the show.

During her “unusual adventures” Alice takes part in a “What’s Your Name” contest with The Caterpillar (Nicole Bianco); has a tea party with The Mad Hatter (Steven Uihlein), The March Hare (Kayla Jones) and The Dormouse (Julianna Bellas); hitches a ride with The White Knight (Matt Hoffman); meets Tweedledee (Jones) and Tweedledum (Hoffman); and is invited to a game of croquet by The Queen of Hearts (Ginger Dalton). When the kingdom’s tarts go missing, Alice is accused of stealing and must stand trial. Will she be found guilty by the queen and lose her head?

Of course, a show like this would not be possible without the supporting cast — members of the theater’s Preteen and Advanced Preteen summer acting workshop who play numerous roles including a deck of cards, flowers and contestants in a game show. The entire cast does a fantastic job.

Alice meets the Queen of Hearts.

Directed by Sanzel, the script is filled with riddles and jokes and the musical numbers, accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, are terrific, especially “Tea!” by Uihlein (“We’re all mad here!”) and “Off With Their Heads” by Dalton (“Nothing cheers me up like a good clean chop!”).

Yes, the play is lots of nonsense, as Alice would say, but it sure is fun to watch. Don’t even try to figure it all out. It’s time to throw logic out the window and just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Buy a snack or beverage during intermission. Booster seats are available. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present three more performances of “Alice’s Most Decidedly Unusual Adventures in Wonderland” on Aug. 10 at 11 a.m. and Aug. 11 at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. 

Children’s Theatre continues with “Kooky Spooky Halloween” from Oct. 6 to 27 and “Barnaby Saves Christmas” from Nov. 23 to Dec. 29. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Some of the cast members pose for photos at the end of last Saturday’s performance. Photo courtesy of John W. Engeman Theater

By Heidi Sutton

When the computer-animated fairy tale “Shrek” hit the movie theaters in 2001, it was a huge commercial success. Critics loved it also, calling it “an adorable, infectious work of true sophistication” (NY Daily News). The DreamWorks film went on to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, sprouted several sequels (including one in 3-D) and eventually morphed into “Shrek The Musical.” With book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori, the show ran on Broadway from 2008 to 2010.

Loosely based on William Steig’s picture book by the same name, it tells the story of a green ogre named Shrek whose life is turned upside down when all of the fairy tale creatures in the kingdom are banished to his swamp by order of Lord Farquaad. Shrek strikes a deal with Farquaad to rescue Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a fire breathing dragon in order to get his land back. Along with his sidekick, Donkey, he sets off on an adventure that will change his life forever.

Now everyone’s favorite ogre and his fairy tale friends have set up camp at the Engeman Theater in a children’s theater production of “Shrek The Musical.” The show, which runs through Sept. 2, is a condensed version of the Broadway musical yet manages to keep many of its wonderful songs and beloved scenes.

Directed by Kevin F. Story, the 14-member cast embraces the clever script and runs with it. Evan Schultz is terrific as the grumpy hermit turned hero, Shrek, who has little patience for his chatterbox companion, Donkey, perfectly executed by Marlin D. Slack. Channeling his inner Eddie Murphy, Slack shines in “Make a Move” and steals the show.

Sari Feldman plays a sassy Princess Fiona who is waiting for true love’s first kiss in order to break a witch’s spell. Young audience members will love “I Think I Got You Beat,” which features a farting and burping contest between Shrek and Fiona. “Better out than in I always say,” quips Shrek. 

Daniel Schinina tackles the role of Lord Farquaad, the ruthless ruler of Duloc, on his knees and with ease, and Jenna Kavaler is wonderful as the ferocious dragon who keeps three knights alive in the castle to sing backup when she’s feeling blue.

The members of the ensemble — Veronica Fox, Katie Dolce, Amanda Geraci, Sam Kronenfeld, Samantha Masone, Meaghan McInnes, Robbie McGrath, Jojo Minasi, Daniel Schinina and Jeff Tierney — round out the talented cast and play multiple roles throughout the show.

Many of the beloved storybook characters from the film make an appearance, including Gingy, Big Bad Wolf, Peter Pan, Wicked Witch, the Three Blind Mice, Pinocchio (yes his nose grows!) and the Three Little Pigs. Several of the popular lines from the original script that made the movie so great have been recycled as well, from Shrek’s “Ogres are like onions. We both have layers” and Donkey’s “In the morning I’m making waffles!” and of course, “Men of Lord Farquaad’s stature are of short supply.” 

There’s a lot to enjoy about this show, whether you are amazed at Pinocchio’s nose, grinning at the creativity behind the Gingerbread Man or laughing at Lord Farquaad’s legs. In the end, the beautiful finale, “This Is Our Story,” teaches us that you shouldn’t judge someone before you know them and that what makes us special makes us strong. Take your kids or grandkids to see “Shrek The Musical” — they’ll love it and so will you!

Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for photos and autographs. An autograph page is conveniently located toward the back of the program. Booster seats are available.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Shrek The Musical” through Sept. 2. Children’s theater continues with Disney’s “The Little Mermaid JR” from Sept. 22 to Oct. 28 and “Frosty” from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30. All seats are $15. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

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