Kids

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By Kyle Barr

Us youngins can still remember when the first “Harry Potter” movie jumped so gracefully from book to the big screen. Those novels, written by J.K Rowling, were already a sensation before the whole thing exploded in popularity with a near decade of new movies.

 

Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro and Jack Black in a scene from the film.

It’s not strange then that Hollywood has since been pushing out more and more films based off young adult literature, from “The Hunger Games,” to “Maze Runner,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and on and on. It seems we’re at the point that Hollywood is looking back in time to “The House with a Clock in its Walls,” a book by John Bellairs written in 1973. This book is a precursor to all the Harry Potters and Hunger Games that line kids’ bookcases to this day. It must have seemed a cinch to bring it to theaters.

Sad to say it doesn’t work, and not so much because the material is rotten but because the tropes have become stale.

Our movie opens with young Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) taking the Greyhound bus to a new town after his mother and father have died in a car accident. He goes to live with his uncle Jonathan Barnavelt (Jack Black), an eccentric and near-recluse who lives in a house that contains any number of secrets. The elder Barnavelt spends most of his time with fellow eccentric Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) who quips regularly with Jonathan, though barely concealing a deep friendship.

Of course, not all is as it seems, and Lewis quickly learns that both Jonathan and Zimmerman are Warlock and Witch. Though reluctant, Jonathan agrees to teach young Lewis magic, all the while a clock ticks constantly behind the house’s walls, counting down to something, and both Jonathan and Zimmerman know it can’t be anything good.

Owen Vaccaro in a scene from the film.

Vaccaro does a fine, if standard job as the young kid trying to fit in to the conformities of a new town. Young actors have always had the hardest job, and its rare you’ll find a real exceptional performance, (If you’re curious for one, watch Hailee Steinfeld performance as Mattie Ross in the 2010 remake of “True Grit”.) The big problem is he and other leading kids such as Sunny Suljic, playing the young, athletic Tarby Corrigan, don’t have a good script to work from. Suljic also gets a raw deal as his character flips so suddenly from nice guy to bully right in the middle of the second act. It’s both jarring and confusing.

Black doesn’t seem to be taking the job too seriously either. He can be a fun actor, and he has done some fun jobs in kids flicks before, (just check out 2015’s “Goosebumps.”) It’s a mild performance at best without even Black’s usual blend of expressional and physical comedy.

Jack Black in a scene from the movie.

The jokes are so incredibly flat, and it doesn’t help they keep getting repeated. There is one particular joke about a hedge shaped like a lion, *ahem* expelling rotten leaves and twigs from its rear. Yeah, its crass, but it’s also repeated another three times during the runtime, and another time after the credits are rolling. 

Director Eli Roth is known mostly for his shock horror films like the “Hostel” movies. I think people were more curious than they were interested in seeing what chops Roth might have had for children’s movies. Sure, there are a few creepy scenes, such as with a number of puppets and jack-o-lanterns, but those scenes are marred with some really horrible CG. They’re made all the more apparent because set design, especially of the house, was quite good. The whole place had an off-kilter but intriguing vibe, from the stained-glass window that can change shape to the massive number of clocks that Jonathan uses to drown out the sound of the other clock hidden in the walls. 

Cate Blanchett in a scene from the film.

Blanchett seems to be the only one really trying, and it’s sad, borderline painful, to see her really excel in the role of the straight-backed aging spinster maintaining that edge of deviousness. I would honestly rather see her in the role of Mary Poppins in the upcoming sequel to that beloved Disney musical, but that’s really for a different’ review.

Have we exhausted the young adult fiction gold rush? No, we haven’t, as long as people continue to try. Even as one generation grows out of the right age for these types of stories, it’s a human inevitability that another will grow to take their place. 

Honestly, if you go rewatch the first “Harry Potter,” you realize most of the acting was subpar, and the plot, even when it was taken directly from the book, was really contrived. But that movie remains fondly remembered because it was new, different, and it captured the imagination of a young audience with sweeping shots of a huge castle, of a dining room filled with floating candles and a promise of a much wider world to explore. “The House with a Clock in its Walls,” is missing the wonder, and keeping the cliché.

Rated PG, running time is 1 hour 45 min.

Photos courtesy of Amblin Entertainment

Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station celebrated Coffee With a Cop Day on Thursday, Sept. 20.

Officers from the Suffolk County Police Department’s 6th Precinct — in top photo from left, Deputy Inspector Alexander Crawford, Commanding Officer Patrick Reilly and Officer Casey Berry — met with community members to chat over coffee and learn more about the police and each other. It was a huge success with patrons of all ages. The event concluded with Berry reading to the kids and parents the book titled “Police: Hurrying! Helping! Saving!” by Patricia Hubbell.  

 

From left, Eliana Gruvman, Alia Romanelli, Victoria Barics, Cole Napolitano, Shane DeCamp and Haley Justine

By Heidi Sutton

While many families wait anxiously for the sequel to Disney’s 1964 “Mary Poppins” to hit local theaters in December, a lovely theater version of the original film and Broadway musical has flown over to the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. Directed by Jordan Hue and performed by a talented cast of 28 local children ranging in age from 10 to 18, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s “Mary Poppins Jr.” will entertain theatergoers through Oct. 28.

Logan O’Leary, Alia Romanelli and Shane DeCamp in a scene from ‘Mary Poppins Jr.’

Jack-of-all-trades Bert (Mike Shapiro) transports us back to London’s Cherry Tree Lane where we meet the Banks family — father George (Logan O’Leary) who only wants precision and order and is consumed by his work at the bank; mother Winifred (Haley Justine) who is busy trying to live up to her husband’s social aspirations; and children Jane (Alia Romanelli) and Michael (Shane DeCamp), who in the last four months have had six nannies come and go. When Mary Poppins (a superbly cast Victoria Barics) arrives at their doorstep, she has her work cut out for her.

With Bert’s help, a bit of magic (how did she get that 3-foot plant in her bag?) and lots of patience (“spit spot”), Mary Poppins helps bring the family closer with the overall inspiring message of “anything can happen if you let it” and promises to stay until the wind changes, which is the end of the first act. George’s old nanny, Miss Andrew  (Erika Hinson as “the holy terror”) arrives in the second act to make the children’s lives so miserable that they decide to run away. Will Mary Poppins return to save the day?

Victoria Barics and Mike Shapiro in a scene from ‘Mary Poppins Jr.’

Many of the endearing songs from the original film are here, including “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “The Perfect Nanny,” “A Spoonful of Sugar” and the beautiful “Feed the Birds.” The dance numbers, “Jolly Holiday,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Step in Time,” choreographed by Michelle Rubino, are big, bold and wonderful. The costumes, designed by Ronald Green III, are “practically perfect” especially Mary Poppins’ outfit variations.

Running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. Booster seats are available. Stay for a meet and greet with Mary Poppins and Bert after the show.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown will present “Mary Poppins Jr.” through Oct. 28. Children’s theater continues with Ken Ludwig’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas” from Nov. 17 to Dec. 30 and Disney’s “Aladdin Jr.” from Jan. 12 to Feb. 24. All seats are $15. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Photos courtesy of SPAC

Photo by Anthony White

The fourth annual Culper Spy Day was held Saturday, Sept. 15 offering participants self-guided tours of 24 locations in the Three Village area and Port Jefferson including eight more spots than previous years.

Margo Arceri, founder of the event and owner of Tri-Spy Tours, was pleased with this year’s turnout of more than 800 visitors.

Margo Arceri speaks to visitors about Culper Spy Abraham Woodhull at his gravesite in the Setauket Presbyterian Church Cemetery during the event. Photo by Michael Rosengard

“Culper Spy Day has grown beyond my wildest dreams,” she said. “From Manhattan to Montauk, attendees get to learn and understand just how the Culper Spy Ring helped change the course of the Revolution. These were ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Without the hard work and efforts of each individual
organization and their volunteers, it would not be what it is today.”

Tri-Spy Tours, the Three Village Historical Society, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization and The Long Island Museum hosted the  day with more than 40 organizations participating. Ticketholders experienced Revolutionary War encampments; docent-led tours of historic homes, churches and cemeteries; blacksmith demonstrations; Colonial cooking; children’s activities; invisible ink demonstrations, a TURN memorabilia auction and more.

Library director open to hosting it again, though no plans currently in place to do so

Drag Queen Story Hour takes place at Port Jefferson Free Library Sept. 22. Photo by Amanda Schleisner

A Port Jefferson Free Library event aimed at promoting inclusion and diversity achieved its goal for some but also inspired the opposite reaction from others.

The library hosted an event entitled Drag Queen Story Hour Sept. 22, during which a drag queen trained by children’s librarians reads picture books, sings songs, and leads children ages three to eight in craft activities. The event took place at the PJFL and about 100 people attended, according to library Director Tom Donlon. The organization, Drag Queen Story Hour, has chapters across the United States and conducts the events in an effort to “capture the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real,” according to its website.

I think you’re going to be on the right side of history, and I’m glad to be here to see it.”

— Kyleen Burke

The library promoted the event on its online calendar as “a program that raises awareness of gender diversity, promotes self-acceptance, and builds empathy through an enjoyable literary experience.” During the event in Port Jeff Sept. 22, several protestors stood outside the library holding signs and verbalizing their opposition to exposing children to the message promoted by the event.

Donlon said the board of trustees got the idea from a patron of the library who said they had heard of the events taking place elsewhere.

“We liked it because the program was just about diversity,” he said. Donlon added the goal was not to get into gender or sexuality. He said in the lead up to the event he received many calls both in favor and against, though the program filled up completely in just five days.

“We kind of knew that people were going to be upset,” he said. “I was a little dismayed people saw it as an indoctrination.”

Donlon added he was disappointed people who elected to protest or oppose the event “co-opted” it to promote their own agenda. The social media buzz leading up to the event and the subsequent protests likely led to what Donlon and board President John Grossman each characterized as an unusually large turnout for its monthly public board meeting at the library Sept. 24, during which several community members spoke in favor of and against the program.

“I don’t know a lot about living in this community as an adult,” said Kyleen Burke, a 2008 graduate of Port Jeff schools who said she has just recently moved back to the community as an adult. “I was thrilled to learn about this program because going to school in Port Jeff schools, it was a really small district, and I watched kids who diverted from the norm in any way get bullied and not feel represented here unfortunately, even though this is, in large part a really loving, really beautiful place to grow up. So embracing this opportunity totally blew my mind of what this community could be, and represents just a tremendous opportunity to continue to embrace every single kid, and to make this a welcoming space despite what the norms might be. So thank you for wading into this water and for standing up for unpopular people. I think you’re going to be on the right side of history, and I’m glad to be here to see it.”

Others stressed their concerns about the event didn’t come from a place of hate or discrimination.

“I understand all kinds of positions, and we love people, but please don’t mess around with the kids.”

— Ruben Cruzate

Ruben Cruzate, who said he participated in the protests, said his picture and contact information had been circulated on social media, leading to harassment and attacks, he said.

“The reason I’m here is because I’ve never experienced such hate and intolerance,” he said, attributing his experience following the protests to members of the LGBTQ+ community. “I understand all kinds of positions, and we love people, but please don’t mess around with the kids.”

Children’s librarian Margaret Smith said during the meeting the event was a “joyful” occasion featuring sing-alongs and stories about inclusion.

“Thank you for your courage and for sticking with this program that was proposed, investigated and was planned,” she said.

Smith and Donlon each said the library plans to hold “story hour” events with people from other walks of life on a monthly basis going forward. While no date has been set, Donlon said the library is open to hosting Drag Queen Story Hour again if the community is interested.

This post was updated Sept. 25 to remove mention of Ruben Cruzate as a resident of Port Jeff. This post was updated Sept. 26 to remove a quote from Theresa Bendel at her request.

Three young boys battling cancer have long been fascinated with police, and Sept. 19 they got the opportunity to immerse themselves in the lives of law enforcement officers.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart and Chief of Department Stuart Cameron swore in Zachary Cote, 9, and Jesse Pallas, 11, of Miller Place, and Sean Hughes, 10, from Port Jefferson as SCPD officers for the day during a surprise ceremony at police headquarters in Yaphank. Sean’s brother, Kyle, 8, also joined for the day’s events.

“It’s hard to put into words what our kids go through every day, but when we see a child smiling and this excited, its these things that will stick with them,” said Fariba Pallas, Jesse’s mother.

Each held up their hand as Hart asked them to repeat the words to be sworn in. Once she reached the end, she smiled and said, “Welcome to the department boys.” Already used to repeating what she said, they repeated her again, “Welcome to the department boys,” the young officers said in tandem.

“Just to see the smile on [Sean’s] face, he’s a very happy boy today.”

— Melanie Hughes

The swearing in was a surprise for both the kids and their parents. The adults thought their children would be meeting for a tour of the police department, but instead the kids got to join the ranks of the adults in blue.

Pallas said her son has been in the hospital for nearly half his life after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. She said being sworn in as an officer was a big moment for him.

Pallas asked her son who’s his superhero. “Police,” the young man shouted.

“He wants to be a police officer every Halloween,” she said.

The families originally met at an event hosted by the Thomas Scully Foundation in 2017, a nonprofit founded with the mission of brightening the lives of kids fighting cancer, and both the parents and kids bonded over their shared experiences. Melanie Hughes, Sean and Kyle’s mother, said that the kids did not have to talk to each other about their experiences, because they all know without having to say.

“It’s really sad to see kids go through what they have to go through to fight for their lives,” Hughes said. “Just to see the smile on [Sean’s] face, he’s a very happy boy today.”

The idea came about from county police Sergeant Patrick Kelly, who met the kids and their families during the annual Long Island 2-day Breast Cancer Walk in Shirley. The officer was so humbled by their enthusiasm for local police he decided to do whatever he could to make a special day for the kids, he said.

“Once the word got out everyone stepped up to the plate and wanted to be a part of this,” Kelly said. “These kids are unbelievable. They’ve gone through more in their lives than I could even imagine of going through.”

“These kids are unbelievable. They’ve gone through more in their lives than I could even imagine of going through.”

— Patrick Kelly

After the swearing in ceremony, the kids were taken outside to experience a number of police department activities, including working alongside detectives from the Identification Section; meeting with Emergency Service Section officers; and checking out Highway Patrol cars and a police helicopter. The Suffolk County K-9 unit brought out a number of their dogs for the kids to meet. Officer Brendan Gayer, a member of the K-9 unit, had quite a lot of experience with the kids, especially Jesse who has had a long standing passion for the dogs, collecting baseball cards with the names and pictures of the unit’s many hounds.

“I met Jesse years ago, and he approached me, and he was infatuated with my dog,” Gayer said. “He just loves them.”

At the end of the day, the kids were presented with a proclamation followed by a walk-out ceremony usually reserved for retiring high-ranking members of the department.

All three of the young cancer patients have long been enamored with the police department. Zachary’s father Glenn Cote said ever since his child was little he would make “awooga” sounds every time a police car passed by.

“As long as he’s been able to talk he’s looked up to the police department,” Cote said. “This is a really special day for him to be around a bunch of people that he wants to grow up to be.”

Reviewed by Sabrina Petroski

Beth Rosiello

Have you ever wondered what it was like inside the womb before you were born? In Beth Rosiello’s first children’s book, “Inside Mommy’s Tummy” (Dorrance Publishing), you can find out! With fun anecdotes from the point of view of the baby, and colorful photographs and animations, this book is a wonderfully creative way to get the inside scoop.

“Inside Mommy’s Tummy,” meant for children ages 3 to 8, transports the reader into the world of the baby before they are born; what they hear and who talks to them. Since the story is based on her family, Rosiello includes pictures of the parents, siblings, grandparents and even the family dog! We follow the pregnancy from start to finish, finding out the gender of the baby, what the nursery looks like and the experience of birth.

In a recent interview, the Centereach author gave some insight on how the book came about and the process of getting it published.

Tell me about yourself. 

I’ve been married to my husband Frank for 32 years. We have two boys, Matt and Steven, and two grandchildren, Sean and Brianna. I’m into a lot of different things creatively speaking — crocheting, crafting, sewing, reading and writing and I love spending time with my family and friends. Currently I am semiretired.

What were your favorite books growing up? 

I would sit for hours reading all kinds of books but my favorite were the Nancy Drew mystery series.

Why did you write this children’s book?

I have always wanted to write children’s books but just never had the time. I wanted to do something special for my granddaughter and that’s how this came about.

How did your family react when you told them you had an idea for a book?

My family was very supportive of my book. I actually wrote it first and then told them about it. They all loved the idea and were very proud of me.

Why did you choose to write a story from the point of view of a baby ?

I didn’t so much choose this as it just came to me. I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea and thought it would make a great book from the baby’s point of view.

Are the people in the story based on real people? 

Yes, it was written around my granddaughter, Brianna, but it incorporates my whole family.

How did you go about getting the book published? 

I sent the book to a couple of different publishers — I never realized there were self-publishers as well as regular book publishers. I should have done more research. I apparently went with a self-publisher, so it did cost me a lot to get it published, but I’m still glad it’s out there.

What was it like working with a publisher? 

The process was easy; they helped me every step of the way, answered my questions and were there if I needed them.

How did you come up with idea to use real pictures? 

The drawings just weren’t working out. I even tried using an app to convert the pictures to drawings, but they weren’t working. 

What was it like receiving your first copy of the book?

It was totally amazing. I was in heaven and so proud of the book. 

Where is the book available?  

The book is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?  

I would say go for it if you have a bucket list and writing is on it. I did and I couldn’t be happier. It is very satisfying to do something like this even if you only do it once. At least you can say you did it and got it published. Not everyone can say that.

Time to make a scarecrow

Last year’s submission from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library titled ‘Old Mother Goose’ Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is currently accepting submissions for its annual Scarecrow Competition. This will be the 28th year the spooky, silly, scary six-foot creations will adorn the pathways of picturesque Stony Brook Village Center for visitors to enjoy and vote for their favorite.  

Official entry forms will be available in most Stony Brook Village Center shops, at the offices of WMHO at 111 Main St., second floor, in Stony Brook or online at www.stonybrookvillage.com. Categories are divided into Previous 1st place winner/Professional, Adult/Family and Children’s. Registration deadline is Sept. 28 and there is an entry fee of $15. Winners will be announced at WMHO’s annual Halloween Festival on Oct. 31. 

Visitors to the Stony Brook Village Center shops have the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite scarecrow during the month of October. Voting ballots will be available in all Village Center shops and eateries or at the WMHO office. For full information on this and other Stony Brook Village events, call 631-751-2244.

Civic association event renamed to honor animal lover and friend

Gina Mingoia will be performing in concert at this year’s Pet Adopt-A-Thon in honor of her father, Sal, who passed away in 2017.

By Ernestine Franco

In 2012, the Sound Beach Civic Association hosted its first pet adopt-a-thon. Fast forward six years and the event is still going strong, fulfilling its goal of encouraging responsible pet ownership and providing a venue for local rescue groups to get animals adopted. The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Hartlin Inn parking lot, 30 New York Ave., Sound Beach, across from the Post Office.

Mela, Fuji and Dooly will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

For five years two people made this event special — Sal and Gina Mingoia, a father-daughter team who donated their time and musical talents. In 2015 Sal was diagnosed with cancer. In 2016, although often in pain, when he heard the event was on, he said he and Gina would be there. In 2017 Sal passed away. A gentle, caring soul loved by all, the many people whose lives he touched could be seen in long lines along the roadway the day of the funeral holding their hands over their hearts. Although he’s gone, Sal’s kindness and generosity are not forgotten. 

To honor his life as well as his great love for animals, the civic is proud to announce a change in the name of its annual pet adoption event to The Sal Mingoia Pet Adopt-A-Thon. Gina will be performing this year without her dad. She said, “it was my dad’s and my favorite gig,” and she wouldn’t miss it. 

The animal welfare groups participating in this event take unwanted, abandoned, abused or stray animals and care for them until loving homes can be found. Some will bring adoptable pets, others will have information on adoptable pets as well as responsible pet care. Taking part this year will be The Adoption Center, Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter, Grateful Greyhounds, Last Chance Animal Rescue, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, Long Island Rabbit Rescue, North Fork Country Kids, Paws Unite People, Save-A-Pet, STAR Foundation, Strong Island Animal Rescue Group and Suffolk County SPCA. 

Romeo will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

There will be lots of great raffle auction prizes — donations still being accepted — and a 50/50, with all proceeds going to the participating animal welfare groups. Bring your children for face painting and making pet ear bands with Marissa Renee. Bring your pet and have Brianna draw a digital caricature of your “furever” friend. And, of course, come and meet your new best friend. A shelter cat or dog is waiting for you.

Pictured are a trio of siblings at Last Chance Animal Rescue that know they’re adorable! They love to be held and cuddled and love dogs and kids. Stop by and help Mela, Fuji and Dooly find a happy ending!

Meet Penny and Polo, two 7+-year-old poodles at Save-A-Pet waiting for their forever home. Their elderly owner is ill and can no longer care for them. If you’re looking for a sweet, gentle dog consider adopting either one or both. All they need is love.

Also pictured is Romeo, a fun and affectionate boy at the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter. If you’re looking for a partner who will play ball with you for hours and enjoy going for long walks with you, Romeo is your boy. He is about 9 years young and is vaccinated, neutered, microchipped and heartworm negative. Also at the town shelter is Brownie — what a cutie he is!

Lance will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

Four melt-in-your-arms kittens with Strong Island are currently in a foster home but desperately need forever homes. They have all been spayed/neutered and vaccinated, are FIV/FeLV negative and are dewormed. They love people and are looking for families of their own. 

Meet Lance and Jackson at The Adoption Center. Lance is a 3-month-old blue heeler mix and Jackson is a 2-year-old Australian shepherd mix. Anyone would be lucky to call either of these cuties their furever friend.

Whether you’re looking to adopt, would like to support the great work of animal welfare groups or just want to have a family-friendly fun day in Sound Beach, stop by.

Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information call 631-744-6952 and remember, Save A Life — Adopt A Pet.

From left, Jacqueline Hughes, Dennis Creighton and Lorelai Mucciolo in the opening scene of ‘Fun Home’

By Heidi Sutton

When “Fun Home” opened Off-Broadway at the Public Theater in September 2013, it was so popular its run was extended several times. When the production closed on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre in 2016 after an 18-month run, it had already made an indelible impression on the world, winning five Tonys, including Best Musical.

Now, making its Long Island premiere, the award-winning musical has taken up residence at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts through Oct. 20.

‘I Want to Play Airplane’
Loreilai Mucciolo and Dennis Creighton in scene from ‘Fun Home’

Based on the 2006 best-selling graphic memoir “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the show, with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, features Alison at three stages of life: as a 10-year-old child (a shared role played by Lorelai Mucciolo on opening night/Gabby Blum); a college student at Oberlin (Lisa Naso); and as a 43-year-old (Jacqueline Hughes). The latter Alison narrates the show as she attempts to add captions to her cartoon panels.

Told through flashbacks, Alison shares memories of growing up in a dysfunctional home in a small town in Pennsylvania with her two brothers, Christian (Dylan O’Leary/Jonathan Setzer) and John (Kieran Brown/Brayden E. Bratti). Both of her parents, Helen (Stephanie Moreau) and Bruce (Dennis Creighton) are teachers and her father is also a mortician, running the Bechdel Funeral Home (the children called it the “Fun Home” for short). As the years pass, Alison discovers her own sexuality and the secret life of her closeted gay father. As an adult, she struggles to unlock the mysteries surrounding his tragic death three months after she comes out (“I had no way of knowing that my beginning was your end.”) It is as intimate as storytelling gets with a poignancy and vulnerability that is raw and emotional.

The three Alison’s, from left, Lisa Naso, Loreilai Mucciolo and Jacqueline Hughes in the finale ‘Flying Away’

Accompanied by a seven-member band led by Melissa Coyle, the songs are the heart of the show. All of the numbers, including Mucciolo’s beautiful rendition of “Ring of Keys,” the three children’s Jackson 5 inspired “Come to the Fun Home,” the hilarious “Changing My Major (to sex with Joan)” by Naso, the soulful “Days and Days” by Moreau, the moving “Telephone Wire” by Hughes and the heartbreaking “Edges of the World” by Creighton, are perfectly executed.

Director Kenneth J. Washington has assembled a talented team of the utmost caliber to produce a show that is exemplary. From the actors to the musicians to the choreographer to the set and costume designers, their hard work and dedication has resulted in an incredible evening of live theater and a well-deserved standing ovation on opening night.

Enter “Fun Home” with an open mind and experience the magic of this musical production. You’ll want to see it again and again.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown closes out its 2017-18 season with “Fun Home” through Oct. 20. Running time is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. For mature audiences. Tickets are $38 adults, $34 seniors, $25 students. For more information or to order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Photos by Courtney Braun/Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts

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