Tags Posts tagged with "Rita J. Egan"

Rita J. Egan

Introduces new film club, among other events

Above, a few of the many exhibits on display at The Whaling Museum. File photo

By Rita J. Egan

Celebrating 80 years of the Whaling Museum Society, the staff at The Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor is busy organizing and preparing activities for its milestone anniversary, which will include a Film Club and Whaleboat Chats.

It was 1936 when the Whaling Museum Society was founded, according to the museum’s executive director Nomi Dayan. Town residents organized the society to recognize the rich whaling heritage in the area where John H. Jones and Walter R. Jones started the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Company, which operated from 1836 until 1862.

“We thought this is a special year to recognize this important part of Long Island’s history,” Dayan said.

’There’s truly something for all ages here at the museum’ — Nomi Dayan, Executive Director of The Whaling Museum

It took the society until August of 1942 to open the official museum, which came together when members were able to secure a whaleboat from the brig Daisy. Dayan said the ship was built in Setauket in the late 1800s and was used in the last sail-powered Yankee whaling exhibition on earth. It was due to Long Island scientist, and one of the society’s founders, Robert Cushman Murphy, that the group was able to take ownership of it. Murphy, an ornithologist, started out on a journey on the Daisy planning to study the birds of Antarctica and during the trip decided to document whaling and later published the book “Logbook for Grace.”

The executive director said the staff is hoping “to get more adults in the building” with a few new programs. She said many adults walk into the museum to look around but don’t participate in the programs. This hope led to the launch of the museum’s Film Club, which will take place every Thursday at 2:30 p.m. during the months of February and March. Dayan said the viewings are free with paid admission to the museum or membership and will include free popcorn. The selection of films varies with both classic movies such as “Ship of Fools” (1965) and “Moby Dick” (1956) as well as contemporary ocean-themed films “Free Willy” (1993) and “Noah” (2014).

Dayan said it was felt that a film club would be popular after the successful museum event where six actors performed vignettes from the book “In the Heart of the Sea” in the whaleboat. She said it seems that adults enjoy films and live performances more than other activities.


A scene from ‘Moby Dick.’ Photo from The Whaling Museum A scene from ‘Moby Dick.’ Photo from The Whaling Museum

—Film Club schedule—
◆ Feb. 4: ‘Ship of Fools’ (1965)
◆ Feb. 11: ‘Noah’ (2014)
◆ Feb. 18: ‘Free Willy’ (1993)
◆ Feb. 25: ‘Moby Dick’ (1956)
◆ Mar. 3: ‘Whale Wars’
◆ Mar. 10: ‘The Whale’ (2015)
◆ March 17: ‘Treasure Island’ (1950)
◆ March 24: ‘Master & Commander’ (2003)
◆ March 31: Jacques Cousteau

On Fridays at 2:30 p.m., the museum will be offering Whaleboat Chats, which are free with paid admission to the museum or membership, too. Educators will be on hand to chat and answer visitors’ questions. “We found that when people come and visit whenever we have an educator present to talk about what they’re seeing, it tends to make their visits just so much more meaningful,” Dayan said.

On Feb. 19 the chat will be in honor of Black History Month and focus on the contributions that blacks made to the local whaling industry. In addition, on March 18 for Women’s History Month, the talks will center around the sacrifices of the whalers’ wives. Dayan said while many spouses stayed at home when their husbands were out at sea, others traveled on the ships with them and even gave birth during the trips. There were also many wives who were left to wait for long periods at far off ports, especially Hawaii.

“There are such interesting and different relationships that came about from this whaling culture,” she said.

Among other events, the museum staff is currently planning Thar She Blows, which will be held on Sunday, March 20, from 12 to 3:00 p.m. During this event, visitors can carve scrimshaws, hear live sea shanties and historical tunes, as well as touch authentic artifacts and get their faces painted.

On Sunday, April 17, there will be free admission for SoundOff! from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will be the first of its kind in Cold Spring Harbor and will focus on building awareness of the Long Island Sound conservation through hands-on activities. Museum visitors also will be able to explore how the whaling era launched the country’s conservation movement.

For adults there’s the Whales, Ales and Salty Tales on Thursday, May 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. The night will consist of the stories of whalers and their sea-brews. Alan Short, who specializes in sea shanties, will sing the whalers’ songs while visitors enjoy beer sponsored by the Brewers East End Revival.

“There’s truly something for all ages here at the museum,” Dayan said.

In addition to the events and programs being planned, the year 2016 marks the release of the book “Whaling on Long Island” written by Dayan and published by the museum through Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. According to the executive director, the book, scheduled for release on March 28, can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Dayan said during 2016, the museum also will be conducting membership drives with different incentives, including the initial membership price of a dollar. New members can take advantage of the offer when they purchase a second year at the 2016 cost of $40 for individuals and $75 for families.

The executive director said it’s a great year to become a member. “We’ve recently transformed ourselves. Instead of just being about only whales and whaling, now we’re more about the relationship between people and the environment. Because if you think about it whaling is a very strong cautionary tale about how people treat each other and how people treat the environment, and we’re trying to pick up on those themes,” Dayan said.

Admission to The Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor is $6 for adults and $5 for seniors and children. Event and program fees vary. For more information about the museum, located at 301 Main Street in Cold Spring Harbor, call 631-367-3418 or visit www.cshwhalingmuseum.org.

The entire cast of ‘Junie B. Jones, The Musical’ performs at the Engeman Theater. Photo by Jessie Eppelheimer

By Rita J. Egan

“Junie B. Jones, The Musical” opened at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport this past Saturday to an audience filled with young children eager to see their favorite literary characters in the flesh, and with a fun, lively show, the cast did not disappoint.

The musical, based on the children’s book series by Barbara Park, follows the adventures of Junie B. Jones as she tackles life’s little obstacles she finds along the way in first grade. Among the many challenges she faces are losing her best friend, Lucille, to twins Camille and Chenille, finding out she needs glasses, and being unable to participate in the big kickball tournament. However, with the help of her family and friends, and jotting everything down in her Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal, the endearing redhead figures everything out and learns that when life hands you lemons you make lemonade.

Kate Keating is youthful and charming as the main character, Junie. As lead on many of the numbers, her clear soprano voice is perfect for revealing the story through song, and she easily draws the young audience in as she talks directly to them in a number of scenes.

Playing the role of mother, as well as fellow first-graders Grace and Sheldon, is Suzanne Mason whose stage presence as always is a strong one. The actress especially shines as the awkward, stuffy-nosed Sheldon, and she elicited loud giggles during a scene where Sheldon, ready to play the cymbals at the kickball tournament, experiences stage fright. Mason convincingly delivers the song “Sheldon Potts’ Halftime Show” as if she were a child herself.

Kate Keating stars in Junie B. Jones The Musical at the Engeman Theater through March 6. Photo by Leila Scandar
Kate Keating stars in Junie B. Jones The Musical at the Engeman Theater through March 6. Photo by Leila Scandar

Joshua Cahn plays Mr. Scary, Daddy and Gladys Gutzman, and it’s as Gutzman, the cafeteria lady, that Cahn takes center stage. The way he delivers the role is reminiscent of Edna Turnblad from “Hairspray,” and with funny lines and a cute dance number with Keating, he received well-deserved laughs and giggles from the audience members.

Michael Verre tackles dual roles as Junie’s new friend Herb and one of the twins, Chenille. While Verre is sweet as Herb, particularly during the number with Keating, “You Can Be My Friend,” he is hilarious as Chenille, where he good-naturedly dons a wig and dress, and gracefully sings and dances along with Camille and Lucille during the number “Lucille, Camille, Chenille” to the delight of the audience.

Jennifer Casey as Camille and Jose, Allie Eibeler as Lucille and Lennie, and Alyson Clancy as May and Bobbie Jean handle their role changes seamlessly, and no matter what part they are playing, effortlessly add to the fun and high energy of the musical.

Written by Marcy Heisler, with music by Zina Goldrich, “Junie B. Jones” features upbeat, fun-filled numbers that are perfect for a musical geared toward young children. Stand out songs in the first act include the opening number “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax” where Junie tells the audience all about her new journal, and at the end of the act, “Now I See,” where, with the help of her friends, Junie begins to like her new glasses. Act 2 also features the heartwarming number “Writing Down the Story of My Life” that will inspire little ones to record their adventures.

Directed by Jennifer Collester Tully, “Junie B. Junes, The Musical” is a journal-worthy theater experience for the whole family. The set is colorful, the actors are energetic, and the story is a relatable one for children. Most of all, the delightful story will warm the hearts of young and old.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Junie B. Jones The Musical” through March 6. Tickets are $15 each. For more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Debra Bauer at a recent Sachem Public Library Local Author Fair with husband Stephen and daughters, from left, Jennifer and Lisa. Photo from Debra Bauer

By Rita J. Egan

While working on her first book, “Through a Family’s Eyes: A True Story,” Debra Lindner Bauer from Ronkonkoma wrote her way out of the darkest period in her life. For years, the former stay-at-home mom now grandmother, was overcome by grief after the tragic death in 2007 of her 27-year-old son, Stephen J. Bauer Jr.

In the book, the author presents a raw and honest look at what family members, especially parents, endure after the loss of a young person. Bauer is frank about her experiences and feelings after the motor vehicle accident that took her son’s life, and in addition to her own writings, she included contributions from family members and friends, which provide a larger picture of the depth of loss.

Bauer, who admits she cried nonstop for three years, said in a recent interview, “There isn’t a day that goes by that my husband and I, and all of us, don’t miss him.”

The writer said she and her family will never know exactly what happened on that icy night, but from what emergency workers could decipher, Steve’s car slid on the ice and hit a mailbox and then a tree. The young man, who was on his way to meet his father to help him plow, hit the side glass of his vehicle and bled out, outside his truck.

Debra Bauer with her pooches, from left, Cody, Mustang Sally and Brandy.  Photo from Bauer
Debra Bauer with her pooches, from left, Cody, Mustang Sally and Brandy. Photo from Bauer

After receiving a call from her son’s girlfriend at 10:30 p.m. on the night of Feb. 25, 2007, Bauer and her husband, Stephen, raced to the scene of the accident. Emergency personnel couldn’t allow them to go near their son at the site of the accident, so Bauer followed them to the hospital. When she arrived, the nurse told her that they had just cleaned Steve up, and she could talk to him. After a few minutes, the nurse informed her that the doctors were ready to work on him, but the health professional checked his pulse and found he had none.

“There our journey began,” Bauer said. The accident devastated the writer, her husband and their two daughters, Jennifer and Lisa. “You’re never the same again,” she said.

After the passing of her son, Bauer was overwhelmed by the amount of people who offered their condolences and support. One subject the writer touches on in her book is some of the things people say to someone who has lost a loved one, both appropriate and inappropriate.

“I don’t take it personally, because they don’t know what to say to you,” Bauer said.

The author admitted that a few people said insensitive things, such as that she should be happy because at least she had her son for 27 years. She suggested that, when people don’t know what to say, to just hug the person, even though she said it brightens her day when someone mentions Stephen by name and a memory of him. She explained that the first few years, people would be a bit uncomfortable when she would bring up his name.

The author also suggested that a great way to help a grieving family is by dropping off some home-cooked food or picking up groceries instead of flowers. She said families receive so many flowers after a loved one passes that sometimes they go to waste. After her son’s funeral, Bauer brought the flowers home and set them on her lawn because she couldn’t bear to just throw them out.

The author said that even though it’s still difficult, the first few years were the hardest. Bauer said she couldn’t get off the couch, turned to alcohol and even prescription pills. While she’s been clean for 4 years now, she admits to being addicted to Percocet for 3 years.

“I have come a very long way, and I’m lucky to be alive to tell the story too,” Bauer said.

Writing the book provided a way of managing her pain that was even better than exercising or social activities, according to the author. Earlier in the writing process, Bauer didn’t even use a computer, because she said she never had the patience to learn how to use one.

She started recording her memories of her son’s life, and her feelings about his passing, a year-and-a-half after losing him, by writing them down on paper. When she completed her writings, her sister-in-law Kathy typed them up and edited them. After she sent the manuscript to the publisher, it was in their hands for two years and Bauer had to work on 13 revisions.

Now that the book is released, the author is proud that she realized she had to do more than sit around on the couch and has been able to share her son’s story.

“Everybody says you’re so happy, you glow now. I accomplished something huge in my life,” she said.

Even her 16-year-old grandson, who recently read the book about his father, said after he finished, “You’ve come a long way, Grandma.”

Bauer continues to keep herself busy promoting her book and is currently designing sympathy cards for those who have lost a child. The writer said that she and others who have lost children have found that there aren’t many suitable cards for parents.

While Bauer admits that things will never be the same for her and her family, she now knows that things can improve. The writer is feeling better than she has in a long time, and she hopes that parents who share her sorrow will read “Through a Family’s Eyes” so they know that they are not alone. She also hopes that parents who haven’t experienced such a tragedy will read the book so they can understand what a family goes through and have more empathy.

“People can learn things. Maybe they can be even more appreciative of their kids,” she said.

Bauer’s advice to other grieving parents is, “Find something that makes you happy. I think writing is great therapy. They could always use new books out there — true stories. There might be people that just want to hear your story, especially if it’s true.”

“Through a Family’s Eyes: A True Story” is available on Amazon.com and at www.debralindnerbauer.com for $23.

by -
0 1022
From left, Dondi Rollins as Sebastian; Michelle Rubino as Ariel; and Zack Buscemi as Scuttle in a scene from ‘The Little Mermaid’ at the SCPA. Photo by Samantha Cuomo

By Rita Egan

The heartwarming tale “The Little Mermaid” opened at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts this past weekend to the delight of fans both young and old. For almost two hours, the brilliant cast treated the audience to an enchanting and colorful show that floated smoothly from a magical world under the sea to a shore where dreams can come true.

Jordan Hue has skillfully directed a cast of talented actors who bring their characters to life with the right amount of tenderness and humor, and in the case of a few, even deviousness, needed for a production based on a Hans Christian Andersen classic and Disney film.

The musical, originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater and book by Doug Wright, stays true to the movie version released in 1989, which when it comes to the finale, may be more fitting for younger audience members instead of Andersen’s sadder ending.

Our heroine Ariel, played by Michelle Rubino, lives under the sea with her father King Triton (Jahlil Burke) and her six sisters. The youngest of the king’s daughters, the little mermaid dreams of being a human and many times swims above water to see if she could catch a glimpse of these strange creatures. Her faithful companion Flounder (Caitlin Beirne/Erika Hinson) follows her on the adventures, where the seagull Scuttle (Zack Buscemi) joins them to educate them about life above sea level. Here the bird shows them items such as a fork that he believes is used to comb one’s hair, or a pipe that he thinks blows bubbles, and he cleverly names them to disguise his true lack of human knowledge. 

Mikey Marmann as Prince Eric and Michelle Rubino as Ariel in a scene from ‘The Little Mermaid’ at the SCPA. Photo by Samantha Cuomo
Mikey Marmann as Prince Eric and Michelle Rubino as Ariel in a scene from ‘The Little Mermaid’ at the SCPA. Photo by Samantha Cuomo

While Ariel is making waves in her world, the rambunctious Prince Eric (Mikey Marmann) chooses the life of a sailor over his royal duties and chases the beautiful voice he has heard while navigating the rough seas. Just like Eric has his advisor Grimsby (Mark DeCaterina/Ralph D’Ambrose) to keep an eye on him, King Triton soon assigns Sebastian the crab (Dondi Rollins) the responsibility of keeping Ariel away from the dreaded humans. However, in her quest to make her dreams come true, Ariel slips away from Sebastian, and when she meets the evil sea witch Ursula (Samantha Carroll), the mermaid finds herself making a big yet silent splash in the human world, and finding that even in your darkest moments, dreams can come true.

Rubino, who is making her debut on the SCPA stage, is stunning as Ariel, capturing both the sweetness and eagerness of the mermaid throughout the production, especially during the songs “Part of Your World” and “Beyond My Wildest Dreams.” The actress bears a striking resemblance to the character, which had many little ones on opening night excitedly pointing toward the stage thrilled to see their favorite character in the flesh.

Marmann as Prince Eric proves he possesses the charming qualities to reel in a sea princess as well as theatergoers with his beautiful and soothing vocals during the songs “Fathoms Below” where he sails troubled waters and “One Step Closer” where he patiently teaches Ariel to dance.

Carroll as Ursula nails the deviousness needed to play a villainess and delivers the sea witch with the gusto of Ethel Merman, especially when belting out the tunes “I Want the Good Times Back” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” From the loud applauses she received after her numbers as well as during the final bows, it looks like Carroll has a promising stage career in her future.

Kevin Burns playing Floatsam and Barbara Tiernan as Jetsam were devilishly entertaining as Ursula’s sidekicks as they slithered their way through numbers trying to sideline Ariel’s dreams. The duo also had their time to light up the stage during the number “Sweet Child,” which convincingly lures the little mermaid into Ursula’s tentacles.   

Rollins gets a chance to show off his singing and dancing talents during the numbers “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.” Despite playing the stuffy, crusty crab, Rollins, joined by the ensemble, delivers “Under the Sea” as the fun, energetic number it is meant to be and has us holding our breath in anticipation as he slowly introduces the first few bars of “Kiss the Girl” and then uses his voice masterfully to build anticipation.

Along with Rollins, D’Ambrose playing Grimsby on Saturday night and Buscemi as Scuttle seamlessly provided the comedic moments expected of the characters. In addition, Beirne played Flounder on opening night with an endearing sweetness, and the youngster delivered the cute number “She’s in Love” like a professional.

Of course, the story would not be complete without King Triton and Ariel’s sisters. While Triton may be stern at times, Burke plays him with the tenderness that obviously overrules the king’s heart when it comes to his children. Alex Juliano, Erin Bonura, Jessica Donlon, Courtney Braun, Alexa Brin and Samantha Foti whether playing the sisters or later as princesses vying for Prince Eric’s heart, not only delivered great singing numbers but also cute comedic lines that elicited laughs from the audience.

Complementing the talents of the actors was a simple yet eye-catching set designed by Timothy Golebiewski. With a coral-like trimmed stage and faux rocks, the cast transformed easily from underwater life to sea level where the simple parting of a curtain revealed the bow of Prince Eric’s boat that seemed to be heading straight toward the audience.

Costumes designed in an array of colors by Ronald R. Green III also take center stage during the musical. The various hues were stunning, especially during the numbers where the whole ensemble was on stage. Sebastian’s costume was the most spectacular in a bright red, and Rollins dapperly sported a top hat and coattails. To take the place of fins, long skirts are cleverly used for the merfolk, even on King Triton’s costume, which Burke handled smoothly.

The exceptional cast, as well as the crew, of the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts has created a production of “The Little Mermaid” that will float into the hearts of many and leave waves of delightfulness that will last long after they leave the theater.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown, will present “The Little Mermaid” as its main stage production until Jan. 24, 2016. Tickets are $35 for those 12 and over and $20 for children under 12. For more information and show times, visit www.smithtownpac.org or call 631-724-3700.

by -
0 808

George Liberman reprises role for 9th year

Alexander Yagud-Wolek and George Liberman in last year’s performance of ‘A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Elizabeth Castrogiovanni, Kayline Productions

By Rita J. Egan

In the classic tale “A Christmas Carol,” a glimpse of his younger years working for Mr. Fezziwig provides a delightful vision of Christmas past for Ebenezer Scrooge. This holiday season, for the 9th year in a row, actor George Liberman will take on the role of the miser’s former boss in Theatre Three’s adaptation of the holiday classic.

It’s a character the actor loves portraying and one whose kind-hearted spirit he captures perfectly, with great energy and a jovial laugh.

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Scrooge if he knew it. “Know it!” said Scrooge. “Was I apprenticed here?”

They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh wig, sitting behind such a high desk, that if he had been two inches taller he must have knocked his head against the ceiling, Scrooge cried in great excitement: “Why, it’s old Fezziwig! Bless his heart; it’s Fezziwig alive again!”

Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the clock, which pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his hands; adjusted his capacious waistcoat; laughed all over himself, from his shows to his organ of benevolence; and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice.

Excerpt from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” 1843

“Fezziwig was a good businessman, but he believed that a happy workplace is a prosperous workplace, exactly the opposite of the environment that Scrooge is working in. His workplace was miserable; he was miserable. The Fezziwig workplace was totally different. You kind of see that when you go into the whole Fezziwig sequence in the show. It’s just a happy place,” said Liberman, who has played this role more than 400 times.

“The Fezziwig party — he’s inviting all of his workers, regardless of their class. He’s inviting his neighbors in; he’s having a great time. He wants everyone to enjoy themselves,” the actor said. “He’s bubbly, he’s happy; he has a great relationship with his wife. That’s kind of the way I try to portray him — being very, very happy and very bubbly, very full of life — and that’s what I love about the role.”

Douglas Quattrock, director of development and marketing, and group sales and marketing coordinator, who has played Bob Cratchit in the production for the last 12 years, said Liberman has a great understanding of the Fezziwig role. Quattrock explained that the character adds that touch of humanity to the story, where the most important thing is love.

“I think George embodies that. I’ve noticed that tenderness grow over the years. Every year he’s brought that nuance to it that a lot of actors who might play the role once or twice might not capture,” Quattrock said.

Liberman’s relationship with Theatre Three began in 1991, when he attended a performance of “Sweeney Todd.” The actor enjoyed the show so much he began auditioning and through the years has appeared in “Man of La Mancha” (Captain of the Inquisition), “Guys and Dolls” (Rusty Charlie) “Fiddler on the Roof” (Lazar Wolf), as well as others.

Jeffrey Sanzel, Theatre Three’s executive artistic director, describes Liberman as a go-to person who always has great chemistry with his castmates. “George is one of the easiest people to work with. I have never heard anybody say anything other than he’s wonderful,” Sanzel said, who also directs “A Christmas Carol” and stars as Scrooge.

Liberman’s interest in performing began during his days at Adelphi University. While a student there, he was a member of the Adelphi University Octet. The singing group would perform throughout New York State, and he appeared in one of the university’s musicals, “Little Mary Sunshine.” However, he said after graduating from college, due to working full-time and family responsibilities, he didn’t perform again until 1991, appearing in Theatre Three’s production of “Man of La Mancha”.

It wasn’t until the husband and father retired from working as an administrator for the New York State Office of Mental Health nine years ago that he approached Sanzel about participating in “A Christmas Carol.” He explained that the holiday production’s rehearsal and performance schedule would have been too demanding for him while working full-time.

Sanzel said he knew Liberman was perfect for the role of Fezziwig. “He’s very warm. There’s a real honesty about George, which comes across on stage because he’s that way in life,” the director said.

Liberman’s participation in “A Christmas Carol” keeps him, as well as the other actors, extremely busy the last few months of the year. Rehearsals this year began in the beginning of October, when the cast met downstairs to run through their lines, and on Oct. 26, they began rehearsing on stage, with a good percentage of the set constructed. Liberman, who loves to golf, said jokingly that he’s not quite sure what he would do this time of year if he weren’t rehearsing and performing on stage, especially with golf season being over.

Jenna Kavaler, George Liberman and Jeffrey Sanzel in last year’s performance of ‘A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Elizabeth Castrogiovanni, Kayline Productions
Jenna Kavaler, George Liberman and Jeffrey Sanzel in last year’s performance of ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Photo by Elizabeth Castrogiovanni, Kayline Productions

Liberman said he enjoys working with his fellow “A Christmas Carol” actors, both those who have returned from previous years and newcomers. He said Michelle Cosentino will be playing Mrs. Fezziwig for the first time and is wonderful in the role.

Cosentino enjoys working with Liberman as well, and she said she appreciates how welcoming and patient he is. “He’s pretty much Christmas 24/7. It’s like happiness is bursting out of him,” Cosentino said.

Liberman said he continually learns more about the story and the role and has added some refinements over the years, and he said he has grown as an actor as well. The growth has occurred not only due to playing Fezziwig each year, but also by watching Sanzel take on the role of Scrooge every holiday season. Liberman said he has learned a lot by watching the director, especially with how he shades his character in different ways.

In addition to his appreciation for what Fezziwig stands for, Liberman said the theme of “A Christmas Carol” also brings him back each year. He said, for him, the classic holiday story shows that even when you are as mean as Scrooge is, a person can learn the errors of his way.

“The message of the show is a very uplifting, positive message, as it progresses through the show. So I really enjoy doing it,” the actor said.

Liberman hopes that theatergoers will enjoy the message of the holiday story as much as he does. “I would hope that when people walk away, they’re inspired, and they come away with the notion that even the meanest of characters, the meanest of people, can be redeemed and can change, can see the positive in people and can do something positive for those around them,” he said.

Theatre Three, 412 Main Street, Port Jefferson, will present its 32nd annual production of “A Christmas Carol” from Nov. 14 to Dec. 27. Ticket prices range from $15 to $30. For more information and show times, visit www.theatrethree.com or call 631-928-9100.

Mark your calendars for upcoming classic movies at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts Center. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Rita J. Egan

The year 2015 marked Smithtown’s 350th anniversary and the return of movies to the town. In addition to commemorative events, locals were able to stop by the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts and take in a feature film to enhance their trip down memory lane.

The movie theater that once operated in the building where SCPA stands today opened in 1933 and offered motion pictures until November of 2001. Toward the end of November 2014, the building, which has not been significantly altered aesthetically in over 80 years, once again became home to beloved movies to commemorate the town’s milestone. While the original lineup of films planned for the theater will wrap up on Oct. 30 with “The Sixth Sense” and “The Exorcist,” management has planned to offer more movies in the upcoming months. Tickets for this double feature are $10.00.

Nov. 27 — ‘The Wizard Of Oz’
Dec. 4 — ‘A Christmas Story’
Jan. 8 — ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1956)
Jan. 9 — ‘Rocky’
Jan. 15 — ‘The Addams Family’
Jan. 16 — ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’
Jan. 22 — ‘Carrie’ (1976)
Jan. 23 — ‘The Silence of the Lambs’
Feb. 5 — ‘Network’
Feb. 6 — ‘Dirty Harry’
June 16 — ‘Hook’
June 24 — ‘Thelma & Louise’
*All movies start at 7 p.m. and are $8 per ticket.

Ian Washington, house manager, hosted numerous movie nights at the theater this year. Washington said while attendance varied, overall the movie nights were well received by local residents. During the year he heard comments such as “we’re so happy you’re doing this again” and “please keep doing it.”

Washington said in addition to theatergoers being pleased to see the films, they also requested that the performing arts center show others. “It was a great experience and a great test run of what we know we can do,” he said.

The house manager said among the over 60 films that the theater offered in 2015, he was excited to see movies such as “Rain Man,” the original “Batman,” “Spaceballs” and “Blazing Saddles.” He said the more popular movies with audiences were “Casablanca,” “Gone with the Wind,” “King Kong” and the most attended of all of them, “A Christmas Story.” Washington said “Jaws” and the “Back to the Future” trilogy also did well.

Like last season, the motion pictures will alternate with the performing arts center’s live stage presentations. After the double feature of thrillers on Oct. 30, the theater has a dozen movies scheduled until the end of June with the possibility of more being added for the last few months of 2016.    

“People love that we’re doing it again,” said Washington.

The new lineup of movies will kick off with “The Wizard of Oz” on Friday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m., and once again, back by popular demand, there will be a holiday showing of “A Christmas Story” on Friday, Dec. 4.

Last year management chose many of the movies based on local residents’ memories of their visits to the theater throughout the decades. This time around, films were selected based on whether they are hitting a milestone anniversary in 2016. Due to this selection process, theatergoers can once again enjoy classics such as “Rocky,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “Carrie,” “Dirty Harry” and “Thelma & Louise” on the big screen in the upcoming year.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2 E. Main Street in Smithtown. For more information, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

A creepy graveyard will be on the tour during the Haunted Hayrides at Benner’s Farm. Photo by Giselle Barkley

By Rita J. Egan

Scaring up some Halloween fun isn’t tricky when you live on or near the North Shore of Suffolk County. However, beware; some activities are not for scaredy cats.

Those taking a hayride at Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, E. Setauket, will find that things will get a little spookier on Oct. 30 and 31. While visitors will find an array of static figures, including ogres, witches and ghosts, in the fields on any given day this month, the creatures will come alive on Halloween eve and day from 6 to 9 p.m. when the farm offers Haunted Hayrides.

Owner Bob Benner said the event is open to all ages, but he warns that the later the ride is, the scarier it gets. “We have had some people who have been really scared and other people who simply just enjoyed the ride a lot,” he said.

Mr. Benner said the farm staff, along with volunteers, play the creatures that can come out of nowhere and jump toward the hayride or unexpectedly scream. In addition, there are different tableaus, including the farm’s spooky cemetery, where visitors may witness a ghoulish figure up to something evil.

Mr. Benner said the creativity of those in the field always amazes him. “I never quite know what they are going to come up with in terms of scaring folks.” Rides, which cost $6 per person,  leave every 20 minutes. Visit with the animals and have a Halloween treat while you wait. For more information, visit www.bennersfarm.com or call 631-689-8172.

Over at F&W Schmitt’s Family Farm in Melville, 26 Pinelawn Road, a mad doctor who encountered a book of ancient texts has taken over. Visitors to The Haunted Mansion of Melville will encounter otherworldly creatures as well as various oddities during their spine-chilling visit.

Outside, those who dare can explore The Haunted Corn Maze where the physician dumps his patients who may or may not be dead. There’s also a high-intensity live stage show, “The Experiment,” that gives spectators the opportunity to witness some of the doctor’s experiments on his patients.

The show, which is enhanced with special effects, isn’t recommended for those with heart conditions or those who cannot handle intense situations. Tickets are $19 for the mansion, $11 for the corn maze, $5 for “The Experiment” and $30 for a combo ticket. Open Thursdays and Sundays 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 7 p.m. to midnight through the end of October. Visit www.schmittshaunt.com or call 631-271-3276 for information, including hours for their less scary, daytime show for children.

For more hair-raising Halloween moments, head over to The Darkside Haunted House at 5184 Rt. 25A, Wading River. The indoor and outdoor attraction, which spans over 14,000 square feet, features movie-quality sets and bone-chilling special effects. While The Darkside Haunted House is not recommended for children under 12 years old, an early matinee from 1 to 5 p.m. on weekend days, with the lights on and no live actors, is available for the little ones as well as the weak of heart. The Darkside Haunted House is open weekdays and weekends until Nov. 1. Tickets start at $18. For more information and hours, visit www.darksideproductions.com or call 631-369-SCARE.

For a tamer treat, join the animals at Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Dr., Smithtown, during their annual Halloween Spook-tacular. Children are encouraged to wear costumes as they spend the day walking through the ghostly garden, and participating in the scavenger hunt, story time, crafts and sensory activities. New this year, visitors can travel the Jack O’ Lantern trail decorated with hand-carved and glowing pumpkins. The Spook-tacular is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and costs $7 per person. The center will also offer a Not-So-Spooky Spook-tacular on Oct. 24 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. For more information, or to contribute a carved or uncarved pumpkin, call Eric at 631-979-6344, ext. 302.

Spooky stories will fill the halls of the museum of the Hallock Homestead Farm, 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead, during its Haunted Museum Tours on Friday, Oct. 30, at 4:30 p.m. More than 250 years of Hallockville Homestead dark secrets will be exposed, including the death of the Phantom British Officer.

During the tour, one may hear the hair-raising sobs of the broken-hearted Spectral Bride searching for her lost love, and guests may even encounter the ghost of the dishonest Regretful Rumrunner, doomed by his own poisoned drink. Based on historical fact, local folklore and urban legend, the tour was created by professional actress, costume designer and museum educator Colette Gilbert.

Beth Motschenbacher, assistant director, said this is the first year the museum is offering the tour. “I hope people enjoy seeing the historic homestead in a different light and learning a little bit more about the darker side of folklore,” she said.

Tours, which depart from the Hudson-Sydlowski house, last 50 to 60 minutes and run every 15 minutes until 7:45 p.m. Advance reservations are recommended. Geared for all ages, admission is $7 for adults and children age 10 and under are free. For more information, call 631-298-5292 or visit www.hallockville.com.

The entrance to the new exhibit in Cold Spring Harbor, If I Were a Whaler. Photo by Judy Palumbo

By Rita J. Egan

The Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor introduced its new interactive, hands-on exhibit, If I Were a Whaler, on Sunday, Sept. 27. The exhibit launched off with the opening day event SeaFaire featuring craft-makers, including a woodworker, quilter and spinner, demonstrating their old world skills. The day also gave visitors the opportunity to create historical maritime crafts such as ship models and scrimshaw carvings.

Judy Palumbo, community relations and development manager at the museum, said the committee designed the exhibit to give guests a strong sense of what life was like on a whaling boat for the whalers. She said exhibit goers will discover how simply the seamen lived and how minimal their supplies were. According to Palumbo, some would have only a tiny trunk for a three-year voyage, and on the boat, they would sleep in tight quarters that also doubled as a place to eat since there were no dining halls.

“We’re just trying to give people a picture of what life on the ship was like … a whaler’s life,” Palumbo said.

Items ‘for sale’ in the Jones General Store at the If I Were a Whaler exhibit. Photo by Judy Palumbo
Items ‘for sale’ in the Jones General Store at the If I Were a Whaler exhibit. Photo by Judy Palumbo

The community relations and development manager said the exhibit is extremely interactive and exhibit goers can experience each stage of a whaler’s journey. One interactive station is a general store where children are given coins to purchase items, and while deciding what to buy for their voyage, learn how limited the seamen’s budgets were.

Executive Director Nomi Dayan said the store is based on Jones General Store, which once operated in Cold Spring Harbor. She said children can decide things such as if they are going to get an extra warm pair of pants or two shirts.

“They really have to think critically about what it took to endure life at sea,” Dayan said.

At the second station, visitors will discover what life was like under the decks for the whalers. Children can try out a berth and view the limited food options the whalers had at sea.

“I think one of the most fun things about it is the bunk bed where you can climb in and realize how little personal space you had,” Dayan said.

Another interactive station will show visitors what it was like to raise the sails or swab the deck, which was also referred to as holystoning, where they actually cleaned the decks with stones, according to Palumbo. The community relations and development manager said the station demonstrates the whalers’ responsibilities during their voyages.

Children can learn how to plan a voyage as well at the navigation stage and, based on their choices, find out their fate. Destinies include being shipwrecked or catching a whale among other outcomes.

Exhibit goers will discover how the whalers spent their free time, too. Palumbo explained that catching whales only used a small percentage of the whalers’ time spent at sea since the mammals weren’t that easy to catch. Maps are also on display showing the seamen’s journeys that included expeditions to the Arctic, South America and the Hawaiian Islands.

Complementing the interactive stations will be nautical tools and artifacts on display from the museum’s collection, which totals 6,000 pieces. Palumbo said the museum owns one of the largest scrimshaw collections in the Northeast and one of the last fully equipped whaling boats.

Palumbo said construction of If I Were a Whaler began Labor Day weekend; however, the museum’s educators Cyndi Grimm, Liz Fusco, Gina Van Bell, Amanda Vengroff, as well as Dayan and carpenter Peter Schwind have been working on the exhibit for months.

Dayan said the plan right now is to display If I Were a Whaler for two years. She said she believes the interactive exhibit, which was inspired by the USS Constitution Museum in Boston’s A Sailor’s Life for Me: War of 1812 curriculum, will provide children an understanding of maritime history that they may not get from a textbook or by just looking at an artifact in a museum.

“We hope families will gain a much better appreciation and understanding of local history, and we hope that will happen through making history come to life,” Dayan said.

The Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor is located at 301 Main Street, Cold Spring Harbor. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for children. For more information, visit www.cshwhalingmuseum.org or call 631-367-3418.

By Rita J. Egan

Wine lovers can enjoy a fun night out as well as a bit of history at the Huntington Historical Society’s 25th annual Evening of Wine Under the Stars on Friday, Sept. 18.

Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano, executive director at the society, said the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year will honor the 100th anniversary of Huntington Hospital.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know your hometown a little bit more,” Fortunato-Napolitano said.

In addition to a selection of fine wines available for tasting, Blind Bat Brewery will be offering its craft beers. The historical society has also planned a night filled with gourmet food tasting from neighboring restaurants including Black & Blue, The Culinary Studio, Christopher’s Crew, Cinque Terre, IMC, Old Fields, Reinwalds and XO. With business owners from the local area participating, Fortunato-Napolitano said, “It’s always fun to try the new restaurants. It gives you a great idea of where you want to go and get dinner.”

The event, which takes place outside on the property of the Dr. Daniel W. Kissam House at 434 Park Avenue, will give guests the opportunity to view the historical society’s museum. The director said, in the early part of the evening, attendees will be able to tour the house, which on an everyday basis is only open by appointment.

Maria DeLeo, public relations manager at the society, said there will be plenty of opportunities to dance under the stars, too. Local band The Modern Age will be on hand, and the society is planning to include a floor so partygoers won’t have to dance in the grass.

Rounding off the night will be a raffle with an array of items including restaurant and spa baskets and a silent auction that includes an item donated by Disney World.

The public relations manager said in prior years guests have traveled from out east, Nassau County and Queens, but the majority of the wine and gourmet food tasters are locals interested in preserving the history of the community.

“We’ve had people in the past who are new to Huntington so they want to meet other Huntonians. So it’s a great place for people to meet other people from the neighborhood,” DeLeo said.

Evening of Wine Under the Stars will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18. For more information, contact the Huntington Historical Society at 631-427-7045 or visit its website at www.huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org. Tickets are $70 for society members, $85 for nonmembers and $100 at the door.

 

Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano. Photo from HHS
Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano. Photo from HHS

Meet the new director!
This year’s Evening of Wine Under the Stars will be the first one Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano will be attending as the society’s executive director.

Fortunato-Napolitano stepped into her new position on June 1 of this year. The Huntington Station native is no stranger to the society having worked there as the special events coordinator from 2009 to 2010 and then taking on the role of director of operations from 2011 to 2012. She left the historical society for a couple of years to work for the Seamen’s Church Institute and in the past has worked as a former assistant historian for the town of Huntington and at The Long Island Children’s Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and the Huntington Rural Cemetery.

The director said growing up surrounded by Long Island’s rich history she cultivated an early appreciation for the subject. Her interest in history as well as preservation was solidified when she attended a summer program at the University of Oxford in England. She explained that while studying abroad after learning about history in the classroom, she was able to go outside the university and actually experience it. Something she recognized as being capable of doing in her own hometown.

Fortunato-Napolitano said she enjoys playing a part in educating residents about their community, and Huntington is a great example of how most people don’t even realize how much history is practically right in their own backyards. The director said there have been many times while leading the society’s pub crawl that many participants were surprised to learn historical facts about buildings that they passed every day.

The new executive director said she looks forward to increasing awareness of the town’s history, creating new exhibits and programs and having the historical society return as a mainstay in the community.

“My overall vision is to have the Society become the kind of integral part of the community that it was in the first half of the 20th century. Just to really increase awareness, to offer new public programs and try to get more people involved,” Fortunato-Napolitano said.  

Guest curator adds personal touch to exhibit at Long Island Museum

‘Portrait of Beth,’ 1999. Photo by Bruce Weber

By Rita J. Egan

When Beth Levine, designer of innovative footwear from the 50s to the 70s, passed away in 2006 at the age of 91, she left behind her unique footprints on the fashion world. To honor the former Patchogue resident’s accomplishments, the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook recently opened the exhibition Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes.

Helene Verin, an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and guest curator of the exhibition and author of “Beth Levine Shoes,” was a young shoe designer when she arrived in New York City in the 1970s. After meeting Levine, she quickly found a mentor and friend in her. The curator said she looked up to the innovative designer who she described as funny and unique. 

“She was larger than life,” Verin said.

The ‘Cinderella’ shoe, 1961, clear vinyl with lucite heel, silver kidshin details and lining by Beth Levine from the collection of Helene Verin. Image from the LIM
The ‘Cinderella’ shoe, 1961, clear vinyl with lucite heel, silver kidshin details and lining by Beth Levine from the collection of Helene Verin. Image from the LIM

The curator said she holds one of the largest archives of Levine’s work. The shoe designer closed her factory, which she owned with her husband Henry Levine, in 1976, but kept a storage unit that contained her work as well as material. According to Verin, the two designers would often stop by the unit, and Levine would give her mentee random items such as buckles and plastic flowers. Verin said she sometimes wasn’t sure how Levine utilized the pieces in her designs, but in later years, as she researched the designer’s work, she would see pictures of shoes that once were adorned with the flower or other accessory pieces she was given.

Levine, who was born in 1914 and raised on a farm in Patchogue, arrived in New York City as a young woman with aspirations of becoming a social worker, according to Verin. However, when the Long Island native began working as a shoe model to earn money, she found a career that was a better fit for her. The future footwear designer wore a size 4 shoe, which at the time was considered the perfect sample size. Verin said Levine realized she had a knack for picking out comfortable shoes and compared her feet to a potter’s wheel.

“It’s such an amazing story. Most shoe designers are men, and they come from generations of cobblers,” Verin said.

Levine quickly realized she knew more about shoes than the men that were designing them at the time. When she went on to become a designer, she tried on every style to ensure a comfortable feel.

She quickly became a favorite among first ladies Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson and Pat Nixon who needed stylish yet comfortable shoes. “Everything she did was based on comfort,” Verin said.

In addition, Levine’s clients included Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Barbra Streisand, Lauren Bacall, Liza Minelli, and Cher. Levine also collaborated with designers including Halston, Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass and designed all the footwear for Braniff airline’s flight attendants.

When creating her Cyrano shoe, which featured a pointed toe, Levine didn’t just narrow the toe. The designer added the pointed end to extend past where the toes would fall so they weren’t jammed into the tip. “She always used to say things like, ‘There’s no such thing as breaking in a pair of shoes. They’ll break you first,’” said the curator.

Verin said Levin also enjoyed many firsts during her career. Saks Fifth Avenue opened their first stand-alone boutique, Beth’s Bootery, which carried the designer’s footwear, and Levine was the one to figure out how to create a clear Cinderella shoe similar to other brands but with no visible screws. She also was the first to draw a picture of the footwear on the outside of the box to make it easier for shoe sellers to find a particular style for their customer.

The Patchwork Boot, 1967, cotton, silk, velvet and Lurex boot quilted by Adirondack artisans from the collection of Ron and Nancy Bush. Image from the LIM
The Patchwork Boot, 1967, cotton, silk, velvet and Lurex boot quilted by Adirondack artisans from the collection of Ron and Nancy Bush. Image from the LIM

The designer has been credited with introducing boots to haute couture as opposed to them just being worn for utility use, according to Verin. One of her most famous boots were worn by Nancy Sinatra while publicizing her 1966 hit song “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”

Among her unique designs were a pair of shoes with AstroTurf as the insole called “Splendor in the Grass,” and a shoe with no upper that was secured to the foot with adhesive, according to Verin.

When it comes to the shoes included in the exhibition, Verin said, “When you look at them, even though they’re 60 years old, they’re so current. Today you would wear them.”

Besides pieces from her own collection, the curator has been able to borrow items from other collectors for the exhibition. One of the lenders is Levine’s nephew Ronnie Bush who inherited the family farm and has dedicated a corner of his barn to the designer and her work. Also, on display will be a photo of Levine by another one of her family members, professional photographer Bruce Weber.

In addition to Levine’s iconic footwear, visitors will find photos, paintings, illustrations, film footage and other artifacts on display. The curator said even those who aren’t footwear aficionados will appreciate Levine’s work.

“I think you can see these shoes as works of art,” Verin said. “You can really see a brilliant mind and talent at work.”

Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes will run at the Long Island Museum, 1200 Rte. 25A, Stony Brook, through Jan. 3, 2016. Sponsors include Astoria Bank, Bank of America, Nancy Burner & Associates and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Regular admission is $10 per person, $7 for seniors and $5 for students ages 6 to 17. Children under 6 and museum members are free. During the exhibition run, special events will be held including an opportunity for seniors 62 and older to visit the show for free on Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information, visit www.longislandmuseum.org or call 631-751-0066.

Social

9,203FansLike
0FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe