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Jennifer Collester

Frosty, Jenny and the Narrator sing ‘One Friend Is Better Than No Friends’ in a scene from the show.
Interactive show is a big hit with young audiences

By Heidi Sutton

In perfect timing with the frigid weather, the John W. Engeman Theater presents its annual production of “Frosty” through Dec. 29. Directed by Jennifer Collester, the wintry show has become a holiday favorite for many families over the years.

“I’m here to take you on a little adventure,” teases the Narrator (Jessica Gray) as the audience is introduced to the town of Chillsville, “A beautiful town way up north that is always covered with a blanket of fresh snow.” 

The cast of ‘Frosty’

There we meet Jenny (Katie Dolce), a little girl who’s favorite thing to do is to play outside. With help from her mother (Nicole Weitzman), Jenny builds a snowman she names Frosty (played by Dylan Poulos). Once she puts the finishing touches on the snowman, including a hat and scarf, he magically comes to life. Just like the song, Frosty is a jolly, happy soul and wait until you see him sing and dance!

Unfortunately, mean Ethel Pierpot (Sari Feldman), who makes snow shovels, snow blowers and ice scrapers in her factory on the other side of town, has just invented a weather machine that will eventually make all the snow melt in Chillsville so that she can build a bigger factory. Frosty has only a few hours before “He’ll be nothing more than a puddle and a carrot.”

The songs, including “One Friend Is Better Than No Friends” and “Thanks to You,” are playful and fun with the exception of “Pierpot’s Solution,” which is quite sinister! In the grand finale, the audience joins the cast in a rousing rendition of “Frosty the Snowman.”

From the opening number, “Snow!,” the audience is encouraged to clap and sing, help Jenny write a letter and find a way to help save the melting snowman. “How can we save Frosty?” the Narrator asks.
“Put him in a blast chiller!” is one response. “Get the key and turn off the machine!” is another. Of course! 

Frosty and Jenny in a scene from the show.

What will happen to Frosty? Well, you’ll have to see the show to find out. There is a great snowball fight and it will snow in the theater but I’ve already given away too much so I’ll stop. I do recommend taking the kids and heading to Northport to catch a performance of “Frosty” — it will be one of the best presents they’ll receive this holiday season.

Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for pictures and autographs. An autograph page is conveniently located at the back of the program. Running time is 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents “Frosty” through Dec. 29. The theater’s 2019-20 Youth Season continues with Disney’s “Frozen Jr.” from Jan. 25 to March 1. All seats are $15. For more information or to order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Photos by Jennifer Collester

The cast of ‘Rapunzel: A Tangled Fairytale’. Photo by Jessie Eppelheimer/ Engeman Theater

By Heidi Sutton

Question: What do you get when you combine the classic Grimm Brothers fairytale “Rapunzel” and Disney’s animated feature “Tangled”? 

Answer: “Rapunzel: A Tangled Fairytale,” a wickedly funny musical adaptation written by David Crane and Marta Kaufman, the creators of the hit TV show “Friends.” The children’s show opened at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport this past weekend and runs through Aug. 25.

Simon, trusted valet to the Prince, serves as storyteller and gives the audience the backstory on how Rapunzel ended up in the tower. We meet up with the young girl on the morning of her 16th birthday where her only wish is to be able to leave her imprisonment for one day and see the world.

Her “mother,” Gretta the witch, at first promises to grant her wish but then changes her mind. “I just want to know what’s at the end of the road!” begs Rapunzel. “The DMV – nobody wants to go there,” quips the witch. 

Meanwhile, Prince Brian has run away from the castle and vows only to return once he has slain a dragon or rescued a maiden. “As a hero, I’m a zero,” he laments. When the prince comes upon Rapunzel in the tower, he seizes this rare opportunity and hatches a plan to rescue her. What follows is a fun, exciting and hilarious adventure the entire family will enjoy.

Director Jennifer Collester knows her target audience well and has assembled the perfect group of actors to tell this hairy tale to young theatergoers. 

Making her Engeman debut, Joanna Sanges is terrific as the naive but strong-willed Rapunzel who will stand up to the witch, the king and anything else that comes her way — a wonderful role model for the many little princesses in the audience.

While not in a disco on the Engeman’s stage in the evenings (“Saturday Night Fever”) Christopher Hanford spends his morning weekends rescuing fair maidens as Prince Brian and does a fine job. Hanford spends the second half of the show wearing sunglasses (the witch cast a spell to make him blind) and is a good sport when Rapunzel forgets to help him navigate the stage. 

The indefatigable Bobby Montaniz plays multiple roles throughout the show (Simon, a cow, innkeeper, the king) and draws the most laughs. He quickly becomes the audience favorite.

But it is Suzanne Mason, as Gretta the witch, who gives the strongest performance and “with a twist of her wrist and a turn of her ring” takes this juicy role and runs with it. Like a sour patch kid, her character is both sweet and sour but not scary — just diabolical!

Perhaps the best part of the show is when Rapunzel and the Prince make their way into the audience on their way to the village and interact with the children, asking them questions such as what they like to eat.

The costumes, special sound effects and lighting pull it all together nicely to produce a marvelous morning of live theater.

Stay after the show and meet the cast in the lobby for pictures and autographs. An autograph page is conveniently located toward the back of the program.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport, will present “Rapunzel: A Tangled Fairytale” on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. through Aug. 25. Costumes are encouraged. Children’s theater continues with an audience favorite, “The Wizard Of Oz” from Sept. 28 to Oct. 27, followed by the theater’s annual production of “Frosty” from Nov. 23 to Dec. 29 and Disney’s “Frozen Jr.” from Jan. 25 to March 1. All seats are $15. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.