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Brothers Grimm

From left, Susan Emory, Michaela Catapano, Mark Jackett and Debbie D'Amore in a scene from 'The Frog Prince.'

By Heidi Sutton

There’s a whole lot of hopping going on at Theatre Three this week as its Children’s Theatre presents an original musical retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, “The Frog Prince.” Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin F. Story, the show teaches us to not judge a book by its cover and to “open yourself up and wonderful things will happen.”

Above, the cast of ‘The Frog Prince’

The swamp in the kingdom of King Tarvin is filling up with more frogs every day, much to the dismay of the Frog King. Turns out The Enchantress Livia and her sister, The Enchantress Aurora, are responsible for the sudden overpopulation, transforming everyone who crosses them into a clammy amphibian, even the dry cleaner!

When the pompous Prince Darnay of Caversham refuses to give Aurora, who is disguised as a beggar woman, some water, he meets the same fate as the others and is turned into the Frog Prince. His servant, Squire Tweel, takes him to the swamp to meet the Frog King and try to break the spell.

The Frog King introduces him to the shy and independent Princess Madrigal, who prefers to keep to herself. When she accidently drops a gold ball into a pond, the Frog Prince retrieves it for her and the two become fast friends. Will she be the one to break the magic spell and turn him into a prince again with a kiss or will he have to eat flies for the rest of his life?

Directed by Sanzel, the show is nothing short of adorable and packed with enough frog jokes to last a whole month!

From left, Ginger Dalton, Steve Uihlein and Aria Saltini in a scene from ‘The Frog Prince’

Matt Hoffman, last seen in the role of Aladdin, is terrific in the dual role of Prince Darnay and the Frog Prince. His transformation from a spoiled brat to a sweet prince is remarkable. Newcomer Michaela Catapano shines as Princess Madrigal and her rendition of “Babble Chatter Prattle” is magical. Steve Uihlein is the quintessential Frog King, and plays his warty role to the fullest. Aria Saltini and Ginger Dalton make a great team as The Enchantresses and also serve as narrators to the story, which is a nice touch. Meg Bush is delightful in the role of Squire Tweel who can’t help but poke a little fun at her master’s webby predicament (“Yes, your Greenship!”).

Mark Jackett (King Tarvin), Susan Emory (Queen Cecile) and Debbie D’Amore as Princess Madrigal’s nanny are a solid supporting cast. The production is further enhanced by the addition of 34 talented students from the theater’s summer acting workshops, who serve as royal princesses, pages, citizens, townspeople, frogs and party guests.

Matthew Hoffman and Michaela Catapano in scene from ‘The Frog Prince’

The musical numbers, accompanied on piano by Steve McCoy, are fun and hip with special mention to the solo “Not Heard and Not Seen” by Hoffman, “Life Couldn’t Be Better” by the Frog King & the Frogs and “Warts and All” by the entire company. Costumes by Teresa Matteson from the royal garbs to the green frog costumes are exceptional, and Sari Feldman’s choreography is first rate.

From the play itself to casting and crew, every aspect is aimed at providing a magical theatrical experience for children, and this wonderful production hits the mark. Meet the main cast in the lobby for photos after the show.

Running time is approximately one hour and 15 minutes with one intermission. Booster seats are available.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Frog Prince” on Aug. 11 at 11 a.m. and Aug. 12 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Children’s Theatre will continue with a brand new musical, “A Kooky Spooky Halloween,” from Oct. 7 to 28 and everyone’s holiday favorite, “Barnaby Saves Christmas,” from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

The entire company

All photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

From left, Dana Bush, Michael Giordano, James D. Schultz, Frank Gilleece, Amanda Geraci and Sue Anne Dennehy in a scene from ‘The Pied Piper’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Sari Feldman/Franklin Inc.

Currently in production on the Mainstage, Theatre Three’s Children’s Theatre brings us a kinder, gentler musical version of the classic fairy tale “The Pied Piper.” Written by Jeffrey E. Sanzel and Kevin F. Story and adapted from “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” by the Brothers Grimm, it tells the tale of a town that has a bit of a rodent problem. Millions of rats, some the size of toasters, have taken over every nook and cranny. Even the cats are afraid of the rats!

The mayor decrees that anyone who can come up with a successful plan to rid the town of the rats will receive 100 gold pieces. A mysterious stranger appears and convinces the mayor to pay him 974 gold pieces. With a handshake and a promise, a deal is made and the Pied Piper lures the rats away by playing his magical flute. When the mayor has a change of heart and refuses to pay the full amount, the piper seeks revenge by placing the children under a magical spell and leading them out of the town and into a mountain.

With six talented adult actors at the helm, the cast also includes 45 young actors from the theater’s summer Dramatic Academy workshop who portray the children of Hamelin. Frank Gilleece plays Mayor Bruce Armbuckle who does whatever his wife, Mrs. Hilda Arbuckle, played by Sue Anne Dennehy, tells him to do, which includes going back on his word. James D. Schultz plays the bumbling Police Chief Henry Kahnstible and his wife, Mrs. Natasha Kahnstible, is played with aplomb by Amanda Geraci. Dana Bush as Mrs. Lavinia Brewster, the richest woman in town, is terrific.

However, it is the amazing Michael Giordano as the Pied Piper who steals the show. Making his entrance toward the end of the first act, he commands the stage with his wonderful rendition of “I Can Rid You of the Rats.” The audience is entranced as he sings and dances and performs his signature one-handed cartwheel.

While all the young actors did a fine job, special mention should be made of Jamie Terlecki, as Lydia, the lone child left behind. A bright future awaits her on the theater stage.

Accompanied on piano by Steve McCoy, the songs are playful and fun. Choreography by Sari Feldman is top notch, especially with “Hope Springs Eternal” and “The Blame,” as are the costumes, designed by Amanda Geraci.

Sanzel and Story’s play goes beyond the traditional tale of the Pied Piper with messages about keeping your word, cheating, forgiveness and, for the parents, that children are more valuable than gold. And that is the real magic behind this wonderful production.

Meet the cast in the lobby after the show and take a selfie. Next on the agenda is “Squawk: The Live Bird Show” on Aug. 23, a brand new musical titled “Alice’s Wonderland Adventures” from Oct. 3 to 30 and a Halloween Party for ages 4 and up on Oct. 24.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Pied Piper” on Aug. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 11 a.m. and Aug. 8 and 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are only $10 each. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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