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Katie Dolce

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

From left, Shane McGlone, Makayla Connolly, Lizzie Dolce, Meaghan Maher, Danny Feldman and Olivia Freiberger

By Heidi Sutton

The John W. Engeman Theater’s latest children’s production, “The Little Mermaid Jr.” opened last weekend with a big splash.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, Disney’s animated film “The Little Mermaid” was adapted for the stage in 2007 and made it to Broadway in 2008. Now a condensed children’s version of the Broadway musical swims over to Northport and does not disappoint. Kevin F. Story expertly directs a cast of 20 talented young actors in a shimmering production that runs weekends on the Engeman stage through October.

Meaghan Maher as Ariel. Photo by John Gadbery

The story centers around Princess Ariel (the incredible Meaghan Maher), the youngest of King Triton’s daughters who longs to leave her ocean home to live with humans. She often visits the surface to observe these strange creatures with legs and even has a secret collection of man-made thingamabobs and dinglehoppers.

One day she sees Prince Eric (played by the handsome Shane McGlone) on a ship and immediately falls in love. When his ship is caught in a storm caused by Ariel’s evil aunt, Ursula the sea witch (Olivia Freiberger), Eric falls overboard and is quickly rescued by the mermaid princess.

When King Triton (Theron Viljoen) finds out Ariel has been visiting the world above, they argue and she runs away, only to be ambushed by Ursula’s slippery minions Flotsam and Jetsam (Meaghan McInnes and Amelia Freiberger, respectively) who convince her that the sea witch can make her wish to be human come true. The catch is that Ariel will have to give up her voice and Eric must fall in love with her in three days or she would lose her soul forever. With a new pair of legs and help from her friends Flounder (Makayla Connolly), Sebastian (Danny Feldman) and Scuttle (Lizzie Dolce), Ariel sets off to follow her heart. Will she get her wish or will Auntie Ursula get in the way?

Ursula and her minions Jetsam and Flotsam. Photo by Jessie Eppelheimer

With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glen Slater, the show features all the wonderful songs we have come to love including the fun-filled “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl,” the hilarious “Les Poissons” by Chef Louis (Scott Cousins) and the chilling “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” which has the profound underlying message that “a woman doesn’t know how precious her voice is until she has been silenced.” The highlight of the afternoon, however, is hearing Maher perform a breathtaking rendition of “Part of Your World.” What a voice! No wonder Ursula wants it!

In the name of Poseidon, bring your children to see this show. They’ll love you for it. Running time is 1 hour and 20 minutes including a 15-minute intermission. Booster seats are available and costumes are encouraged. 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.

The John W, Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present ‘The Little Mermaid Jr.” through Oct. 28. Children’s theater continues with “Frosty” from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30 and “Seussical the Musical” from Jan. 26 to March 3. All seats are $15. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

*This article was updated on Oct. 5.

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.