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Sabrina Petroski

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.

Over 15 local restaurants will participate in this year’s Evening of Wine Under the Stars. Photo courtesy of HHS

By Sabrina Petroski

Eat, drink and be merry at An Evening of Wine Under the Stars! Hosted by the Huntington Historical Society, the 28th annual celebration will be held on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the grounds of the Dr. Daniel W. Kissam House Museum (1795), located at 434 Park Ave. in Huntington Village. With delicious food and drink from local restaurants, wineries and breweries, live music from the band Ladies Drink Free (a blend of gritty funk, R&B/soul, pop rock and modern jazz) along with a silent auction and raffles, guests are sure to have a night full of fun.

This year’s event will honor The Paramount and its owners, Jim Condron, Dominick Catoggio, Stephen Ubertini and Brian Doyle. “We are thankful to them for restoring the Huntington Theater, built in 1927,” said Lorraine Kelley, the chairperson for the event. “The Huntington Theater is an important part of our history. The Founder’s Room at The Paramount is also part of the walking tour and pub crawl led by town historian Robert Hughes.”

Participating restaurants as of press time include Mr. Sausage, Culinary Studio, California Pizza Kitchen, Crew Kitchen, Babalu NY, IMC, Shamrock Pub, Christopher’s Pub, Kerber’s Farms, The Sandbar, Miko, Black and Blue, Crabtree’s, Duck Island Bakery, Copenhagen Bakery, Jeff’s Surf & Turf and Red Restaurant. Wine will be provided by Bottles and Cases, Joanina and Millbrook Wines, a Hudson Valley winery; and three local breweries will be present — Blind Bat Brewery, Oyster Bay Brewing Company and HopWins Brewery.

One of the highlights of the evening will be the silent auction and raffle in the historic Kissam Barn. Auction items will include a shed from Burt Lumber, a fishing trip with Skip Hartmann, a wine tasting at Total Wine in Westbury for 20 people (wine included), a reproduction handmade dining room table and chairs and a reproduction handmade queen size bed. Baseball memorabilia items will also be auctioned, as well as an original piece of artwork from “The Lockhorns” that has been generously donated by cartoonist Bunny Hoest. 

This year the society will be using Bidpal/OneCause for the first time to allow participants to bid on auction items while also purchasing their tickets online. For those who cannot attend, but wish to bid on the auction items or contribute to the society, it will be possible to register and bid from home. Participants do not need to attend or buy a ticket to bid.

Donations of approximately 40 raffle baskets have been received from merchants in Huntington, Greenlawn, Cold Spring Harbor and Northport, filled to the brim with restaurant gift cards, spa and beauty salon gift cards, baskets of wine, free passes for Pilates and dance lessons and various books.

“This event is our most important fundraiser of the year,” said Kelley. “The money we raise allows us to offer free programs to the community such as the Sheep to Shawl Festival in May and Apple Festival in October. It also gives us the funding to restore and maintain our four historic properties. We are so grateful to all the restaurants and businesses who are donating food, wine and gifts to help us reach our goal.”

Tickets for An Evening of Wine Under the Stars are $75 for members and $90 for nonmembers. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $100. For further information, please call 631-427-7045, ext. 401, or visit www.huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org.

The festival will have lots of carnival rides and games for families to enjoy. File photo by Bob Savage

By Sabrina Petroski

Souvlaki, gyros, baklava, oh my! Is your mouth watering yet? Try all of these dishes and more as the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson celebrates its 57th annual Port Jefferson Greek Festival from Aug 23 through 26. This year’s event will feature carnival rides, traditional dance performances, live music, games and culinary delights. 

Come for the delicious food and stay for the dancing!

Authentic Greek dishes such as gyros, moussaka, tiropita, souvlaki and spanakopita will be served up, along with sweet desserts such as melomakarona, galaktoboureko, kourabiedes, koulourakia, baklava and loukoumades, a fried dough pastry favorite.

According to Marisa Raptis, the president of the Parish Council, members of the church will be making the food on sight and fresh to order. Popcorn, cotton candy and pretzels will also be available. 

Guided tours of the church will be available throughout the day, and over 30 vendors will be scattered around the church grounds selling jewelry, home                                                                                           goods, clothes, beauty products, candles and other handmade items. 

One of the main attractions at the festival is the over-the-top sweepstakes that the church holds. This year 315 prizes will be awarded including cars — a 2018 Mercedes Benz GLC 300 4Matic is first prize — an Alexa Smart Device, a Bose Home Theater, an iPod Touch, a Nespresso Mini, cash prizes and much more. Tickets for the sweepstakes are $100 each, limited to 4,999 tickets — meaning that one out of 16 will win a prize. The drawing will be held on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.

The festival will have lots of carnival rides and games for families to enjoy. File photo by Giselle Barkley

In addition, there will also be live performances throughout the weekend for guests to enjoy. The Hellenic Dance Troupe will be performing on Saturday as well as the church’s Youth Dance Troupe, showing off the traditional Greek style of dance. A five-piece band will take the stage Friday through Sunday with tunes that will make you want to get up out of your seat, and a DJed fireworks show will turn heads on Friday and Saturday night, weather permitting. 

“People should come because we are one of the largest Greek festivals on Long Island,” said Raptis in a recent email. “Where else can you go on a Friday night and eat dinner under the stars while listening to live music and watching fireworks?,” adding, “I am most excited about being with my Greek community for four days as we show our love for our culture to everyone with music, food and dancing!”

The festival will take place, rain or shine, from 5 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 23, 5 to 11 p.m. on Aug. 24, 1 to 11 p.m. on Aug. 25 and 1 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 26. Tickets are $2 per person, and children under 12 can attend for free. A shuttle service will be available from Ward Melville High School to the church. Raffle tickets may be purchased online at www.portjeffgreekfest.com. 

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption is located at 430 Sheep Pasture Road, Port Jefferson. For more information, call the church office at 631-473-0894.

Burt Block, David Amram, Tom Manuel and jazz vibraphonist Harry Sheppard at last year’s festival. Photo from Tom Manuel

By Sabrina Petroski

Calling all jazz lovers! The Harbor Jazz Festival returns for its fifth year of smooth sounds from Aug. 15 to 19. Held at The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook, the festival is a fun way for music fans to celebrate jazz while surrounded by treasures of the past. 

“What’s unique about our festival is that it has a vintage, or retro, feel,” said Tom Manuel, the curator and owner of The Jazz Loft in an interview last Monday. “What’s really exciting is we have over 12 performers and they are some of the top internationally and nationally recognized talents,” he said.

Dan Pugach and his band will perform at this year’s Harbor Jazz Festival. Photo from Dan Pugach

Each night offers new acts to enjoy, with food and drinks available at the bar. The opening night ceremonies on Wednesday include The Art of Jazz: The Jazz Loft Trio with the Atelier Artists, as well as a special VIP Reception and Art Gallery opening at 7 p.m., showcasing the art of Frank Davis ($75). 

On Thursday, Israeli drummer and composer, Dan Pugach and his nine-piece ensemble will take to the stage at 7 p.m. with their original jazz music, as well as some covers of famous songs like “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. 

“This is our first time playing at the Harbor Jazz Festival, and our second time playing at the loft. I love interacting with the audience, and meeting new people,” said Pugach in a recent phone interview. “It always fascinates me that people will go out and sit through a concert when they don’t know the artist and don’t know what to expect, but they’re just right there with you. It’s all about the music.”

The Matt Wilson Quartet will kick off Friday evening at the loft at 7 p.m. With the group’s improvisational style, known to challenge and entertain audiences, it will be a night of upbeat jazz tunes to remember. 

On Saturday there will be an all-day event, starting at 11 a.m. in front of the Stony Brook Post office. The Interplay Jazz Orchestra will start off the morning with its original compositions and arrangements written by members of the band. Following this will be the Warren Chiasson Quartet at 1:30 p.m. led by Chiasson himself, who has been regarded as “one of the six top vibraphonists of the last half century” by the New York Times. Next up will be the Nicki Parrott Quartet, featuring Houston Person at 4 p.m., Frank Vignola and his Hot Guitar Trio at 6:30 p.m. and the Bill Charlap and Warren Vache Duo at 9 p.m. There will also be a free children’s Instrument Petting Zoo at 1:30 p.m.

Steve Salerno performs at a previous festival. Photo from Tom Manuel

“The whole festival is a throwback to the old states of jazz festivals,” said Manuel. “When you come to the loft and walk through it, it doesn’t feel like every other museum. It has that charm that’s unique to the village, so when we were going outdoors we were trying to still maintain the same feel that people have at the loft.”

On Sunday, Mark Devine and Tom Manuel will perform at noon, followed by the Stony Brook Roots Ensemble at 3 p.m. To close the festival, The Jazz Loft Big Band will have a free concert in front of the Stony Brook Post Office facing the Village Green at 7 p.m. 

The business community will also be involved in the festivities, with special jazz-themed dinner menus and dishes being served at local restaurants including Fratelli’s, Sweet Mama’s and the Three Village Inn. There will be merchandise and vintage items available for sale at the Village Green on Saturday, as well as food and drinks. 

“[The Jazz Loft] is a very special place, especially because of where it’s located; it’s not on a busy street in the middle of the village. It is becoming a desired place for musicians to go and play, because everybody knows that the vibe is great,” said Pugach. “This is a spot where music lovers go to listen to great music.”

Individual concert tickets are $30 adults, $25 seniors and $20 students. Day passes are available for Saturday ($135 adults, $110 seniors and $85 students) and Sunday ($50 adults, $40 seniors and $30 students). The full festival pass (Wednesday through Sunday) is $250 for adults, $205 for seniors and $180 for students. Opening night reception tickets can be added on to other ticket purchases for a discounted price of $50. For more information or to find out about sponsorship and underwriting opportunities, call 631-751-1895 or email stmanuel@thejazzloft.org.

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

By Sabrina Petroski

My, my, how could you resist seeing “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”? After a 10-year hiatus, the original cast returns to the Greek island of Kalokairi for the grand opening of the Hotel Belladonna. The sequel again showcases the upbeat and fun-filled music of the 1970s pop group, ABBA. With similar themes to the first (love, family, adventure), this movie is sure to be a huge summer hit. 

Written and directed by Ol Parker, the PG-13 movie, which is loosely based on a lesser-known 1968 Italian film, “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell,” opens on Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) getting ready for the opening party for the Hotel Belladonna, named after her late mother Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep), with help from her stepfather Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and hotel manager Fernando Cienfuegos (Andy Garcia). Sophie gave up her life of traveling to manage the hotel, in hopes of making her mother proud. Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters), childhood best friends of Donna, arrive to help Sophie with preparations and begin telling her stories of Donna’s wild past.

Tanya (Christine Baranski), Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and Rosie (Julie Waters) in a scene from the movie.

The flashbacks begin with a young Donna Sheridan (Lily James) walking in late to her college graduation, her floor-length graduation gown failing to hide her gold go-go boots. The headmistress of the college calls her up on stage to give her valedictorian speech, but instead, in true dynamo fashion, she breaks into song and invites her backup girls, young Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and young Rosie (Alexa Davies), to perform ABBA’s hit song “When I Kissed the Teacher.” 

The film constantly flip flops between past and present, following Donna on the adventure of her lifetime and Sophie in the most stressful time in hers. In present time, a huge storm destroys the decorations and flowers, devastating Sophie and all those involved with the party. The storm also stops the ferries from running, keeping Sophie’s dads, Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård), and her husband, Sky (Dominic Cooper), from being able to reach the island. 

Going back in time, Donna is traveling the world to find herself, and along the way we see how she met Harry Bright (Hugh Skinner), Bill Anderson (Josh Dylan) and Sam Carmichael (Jeremy Irvine).

If you’ve seen the original “Mamma Mia!” then you know what comes next. Donna gets pregnant while in Kalokairi, is given the old farmhouse to live in and fix up, and decides to stay on the island to raise her baby despite having no one. She doesn’t know who the father is, but doesn’t care. In parallel, Sophie finds out she is pregnant at the same age and in the same place as her mother was. 

Young Tanya, young Donna and young Rosie in a scene from the movie.

Sophie begins to lose hope of being able to open the hotel successfully but is saved by Sky, Bill and Harry, who convince a group of fishermen to bring their friends and family to Kalokairi. Three boats pull into the docks, full of people ready to enjoy the Hotel Belladonna’s opening night.

Toward the end of the movie there is a twist that no one sees coming, including Sophie’s grandmother (Cher) arriving in a private helicopter and crashing the party. She announces she is ready to take on the role of being a grandmother, and now great-grandmother. 

As the party ends, the film jumps ahead in time, following Sophie up the path leading to the church where her child will be baptized. At the same time, young Donna is doing the same walk on her way to baptize Sophie. When they both reach the front of the church, young Donna transforms into her older self and sings a haunting duet with her daughter. There wasn’t a dry eye in the theater as Sophie held her mother’s hands for the last time.

Throughout the film, the audience is drawn in by the dramatic themes laced with comedic moments and the romances blooming between the characters. There is passion and fun, as well as somber moments of heartbreak. Each character is well developed and well received, and the younger versions of the main characters shine with the same awkward, funny and sweet personalities of their older counterparts. 

There are some scenes where Lily James mimics the mannerisms of Meryl Streep’s Donna so well you would think it was Streep in disguise. Young Tanya and Rosie capture the aspects of the friendship so well you would think they had known each other for decades.

Of course, it is the exciting musical numbers featuring many well-known ABBA hits from the original movie including “Waterloo,” “The Name of the Game” and “Dancing Queen” along with more obscure songs (“Kisses of Fire”) from the Swedish pop group that tie it all together for two hours of good fun.

With spot on casting, along with the great costumes and beautiful filming locations, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is a must see for this summer.

Sachem Public Library’s new outdoor nature classroom will feature a cascading water table similar to the one depicted above. Stock photo

By Sabrina Petroski

For several weeks now, visitors to Sachem Public Library in Holbrook have noticed a flurry of activity outside of the children’s wing. Now the state-of-the-art award-winning library is finally ready to unveil its latest offering, Discovery Grove, with an official ribbon cutting ceremony on July 27.

The new outdoor nature classroom will be a place for children from birth through sixth grade to experience the great outdoors in a safe environment. The fenced-in area will be open year round during daylight hours for the community to enjoy. 

The Dig In area at Sachem Public Library in its final stages. Photo from Sachem Public Library

According to the head of Children’s Services, Amy Johnston, she and her colleague Lisa Stevens came up with the idea in response to the movement by author Richard Louv called No Child Left Inside. Louv coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder, stating that the younger generations spend too much time indoors on electronic devices and lack a connection with the outside world. 

Both Johnston and Stevens felt a duty to their community to help more children get “down and dirty” while exploring the beauty of nature and the world around them.

“We both have a passion for getting children outside,” said Johnston in a recent phone interview. “We grew up being outside all the time, and we’ve noticed that kids are not going outside as much.” 

Discovery Grove will feature an area with a cascading water table, a digging area, an art area, large building blocks, sticks and logs, a stage where kids can use outdoor musical instruments to put on shows, as well as a community garden. 

According to Neely McCahey, the library director, the board of trustees is hoping this will be a way for the library to extend the services it offers the community. 

There will be programs available exclusively in the grove, including one titled Dig In. Facilitated by Stevens, 4- and 5-year olds will receive nature experience through art, movement and free play, which will lay a foundation for environmental literacy for the children of the Sachem district.

“We hope to show children that it’s okay to get wet and we will have boots and rain ponchos on hand for kids to use during inclement weather,” said Johnston. “It’s okay to be slightly uncomfortable being cold,” she explained, adding, “these are all learning moments that children aren’t often exposed to.”

McCahey agreed, saying, “We want parents to let [their children] experience things, to fall down, bump their knees, and get dirty. I think parents nowadays think dirt is not good, but kids need to get their hands in the dirt and take some calculated risks. Safe risks like climbing and jumping are good things,” she said. “I hope Discovery Grove will be a place where parents feel comfortable letting their children run free.”

The community is invited to the ribbon cutting on Friday, July 27, from 4 to 6 p.m. with a rain date of Aug. 3. The event will be attended by elected officials, chamber of commerce members, civic groups, the board of trustees and other library colleagues who have made donations to the creation of Discovery Grove.

“We are excited to bring this to our patrons as another extension of what we do here at the library,” said Johnston. “We’re not just books anymore, we are a community center where parents and children can come and experience all different things. We will be working closely with parents and caregivers, encouraging them to embrace new ideas and behaviors while experiencing Discovery Grove with their children. It is here for them, created for them, and we hope that they will take full advantage of this opportunity to explore and grow together!”

Sachem Public Library is located at 150 Holbrook Road in Holbrook. For more information, visit www.sachemlibrary.org or call 631-588-5024. 

The Vanderbilts and Huntingtons, with the Sikorsky seaplane behind them, are greeted by press photographers at the airport in Mendoza, Argentina. Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Museum
Update: This event is sold out!

By Sabrina Petroski

Dance the night away at the eighth annual Summer Fiesta at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport! The year’s most important fundraiser for the museum, the gala event will be held in the Vanderbilt Mansion’s Spanish Revival courtyard on Saturday, July 21 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. and feature an evening of wine, food, music and, of course, dancing. 

“We want it to be a wonderful evening for the attendees, and we also want to showcase the museum and have them see why it’s important to support the museum and the work that we’re doing here,” said Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the museum, in a recent phone interview. “Thirdly, we want to raise funds for our programs and to be able to expand our education programs.”  

 According to the museum’s Director of Development Sue Madlinger, this year’s gala is a salute to William K. Vanderbilt II, his wife Rosamund and friends Edie and Robert Huntington who flew around the Caribbean, Central America and the perimeter of South America in Vanderbilt’s Sikorsky S-43 seaplane, from Jan. 18 to Feb. 11, 1937, “which was a major feat in it’s day. Each year we try to bring Mr. Vanderbilt’s history into our events, and all the great things he did for [the museum], for Long Island, and all the adventures that he went on,” she said.

Entertainment for the gala includes Latin music by the world-renowned band, Los Cintron, with performances by flamenco dancer Juana Cala. The Cintron brothers are known as the greatest Gypsy Kings tribute band, and the group’s guitars, vocals and melodies evoke the traditional sounds of Andalusia and their beloved Spain. Food will be catered by Sangria 71 restaurant in Commack and feature hors d’oeuvres, a five-foot paella and dinner. On the menu will be chicken, salmon, fish and skirt steak plus margaritas, sangria, wine and beer. 

The funds raised from the gala will go toward expanding and modernizing the Vanderbilt Learning Center within the Carriage House. “We have an aggressive plan to upgrade [the Carriage House] architecturally, to maintain the historic features of the building but to bring in modern elements and flexibility so that we can continue the education program in a way that children are used to learning,” said Reinheimer. 

Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, the associate director of the museum, says the museum is looking for more sponsors, as well as corporate support to continue working on making the educational programs more attractive for children of all ages. 

Tickets are $135 for nonmembers, $125 for members. In the event of rain, the Summer Fiesta will be moved to the Celebration Tent. Guests are asked to follow a formal dress code, with cobblestone-friendly shoes. For more information, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org or call 631-854-5579.

Skerryvore will perform on the Chapin Rainbow Stage on Aug. 10. Photo by Rachel Keenan

By Sabrina Petroski

Art and music collide this summer at the 53rd annual Huntington Summer Arts Festival, where over 40 musicians, dance companies and theater companies will present performances on the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park over the span of seven weeks. The festival, which opened on June 26 and runs through Aug. 12, will be held every day of the week except Mondays, rain or shine.

According to John Chicherio, the performing arts director for the Huntington Arts Council (HAC), there will be “a whole new lineup of visiting or touring performing artists and ensembles who have never performed in Huntington before including Yael Deckelbaum, Las Cafetera and Skerryvore, other renowned artists returning with their latest projects, plus all new programs from superbly talented local and regional groups.”

Every Tuesday at 7 p.m. there will be performances geared toward children, including “Aladdin” performed by the BroadHollow Theatre Company, “The Pirate School” by David Engel and “Mammoth Follies,” a puppet show by the Hudson Vagabond Puppets. 

Returning acts include the Huntington Community Band, the Huntington Men’s Chorus, the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra, The Long Island Dance Consortium, Sol y Sombra Spanish Dance Company for lovers of dance and BroadHollow Theatre Company. 

“It says a lot about a community that supports the arts and we celebrate and cherish the Huntington Arts Council as a vibrant and essential part of what makes the Huntington community such a great place to live,” said Thomas Gellert, director of the Huntington Community Band, in a recent email. “As sure as there is summer, there is the Huntington Summer Arts Festival! I am proud to direct the 73-year-old Huntington Community Band and we thank the town and Arts Council for their unwavering support of the arts.”

Chicherio agreed, adding, “The entire festival is unlike any other on Long Island in terms of scope, variety and the high level of artistic quality. And you cannot beat the price — all concerts are free admission, open to all!”

According to the director, there will be multiple themed concerts this year including Huntington Jazz Week from July 17 to 22, Folk Americana Weekend from July 27 to 28 and the 13th Annual Huntington Folk Festival on July 29.

Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets for seating as well as a picnic dinner. The HAC will sell sodas, water and ice cream in addition to T-shirts and novelty items, plus artists’ merchandise when available, and there will also be a snack vehicle located near the restroom building on most nights as contracted by the Town of Huntington. 

For the full calendar of events,  visit ​www.huntingtonarts.org. For further information, please call 631-271-8423.

A bee pollinates catmint in Jen Carlson’s garden. Photo by Jen Carlson
Native plants dominate the landscape this year

By Sabrina Petroski

April showers sure did bring May flowers, and those beautiful flowers just keep blooming. In celebration, the Rocky Point Civic Association will present its 6th annual Rocky Point Garden Tour on Saturday, July 14. The tour, held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine, will showcase 10 beautiful gardens in the Rocky Point area including the one at the historic Noah Hallock House.

A Ruby Falls weeping redbud at a previous garden tour. Photo by Edith Mahler

According to the creator of the event,  civic association member Kathy Weber, the gardens on the tour will be “architecturally inspiring” and will feature annuals and perennials, native and heirloom plants, shrubs and trees, several ponds, a herb garden and a sustainable meadow adopt-a-spot. The idea for the tour originally stemmed from Weber’s own love of gardening. “I always liked to garden and thought Rocky Point has so many unique landscapes,” she said.

Rory Rubino, a member of the board of the civic association and the corresponding secretary for the Rocky Point Historical Society said she enjoys going to this tour every year. “I’ve seen so many amazing gardens. I wish I knew how they got their flowers to bloom so incredibly unique and beautiful!” 

She continued, “The features that are the most interesting are those that conform to how Rocky Point is, using natural rocks for rock walls and unusual plants from the area. Our gardeners’ dedication to natural Long Island plants, not foreign ones, is incredible. They try to use local plants, and by doing so they attract the most butterflies and birds.”

Milkweed in the center, surrounded by rose campion, blooms in Jen Carlson’s garden.

One of the featured gardens is curated by Master Gardener Jen Carlson. Her garden, Pollinator Paradise, includes flowers for pollinators and creates an environment that supports beneficial insects and wildlife. “I will be providing garden tour guests with information from Cornell Cooperative Extension regarding plant varieties that benefit bees and other pollinators, information on composting, and resources available to residents from CCE,” she explained in a recent email.

The Hallock House property will highlight gardens lovingly restored by Edith Mahler, a master gardener and trustee at the historical society, based on historical research of herb and flower gardens from the 1700s to the 1900s.

In addition, one of the stops on the tour will host a book signing and sale (cash only) of “Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family” by Rocky Point resident Kathy McKeon. As of press time, Weber was hoping to add a local artist as well.

Guests will be greeted at each stop by the homeowner, and each home will have refreshments to enjoy while taking in the beautiful scenery. Because the gardens are at various locations around Rocky Point, ticket holders can go where they please without a strict schedule to follow. 

A raised bed garden at the Hallock House. Photo by Edith Mahler

Tickets for the tour ($10 each, cash only) are available now through July 14 and may be purchased at Back to Basics, 632 Route 25A; Flowers on Broadway, 43 Broadway; Heritage Paint, 637 Route 25A; and Handy Pantry, 684 Route 25A, all in Rocky Point. 

Each ticket also includes admission to the Noah Hallock House (1721) at 172 Hallock Landing Road. The oldest standing house in Rocky Point, it features vintage furniture including a rocking horse from 1750, photographs of the Hallock family, a gallery room where local artists have donated paintings and many more artifacts that will transport guests back in time. The gift shop will also be open.

The 6th annual Rocky Point Garden Tour is sponsored by the Rocky Point Civic Association, Carlson Mechanical and the Rocky Point Funeral Home and was organized by volunteers on the Beautification Committee of the Rocky Point Civic Association. Proceeds from the tour will benefit the Rocky Point Civic Association and the Hallock House. For more information, please call 631-521-5726.

A scene from last year’s performance of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Museum

By Sabrina Petroski

Come join the fun as the most beautiful words in the English language are given new life! In celebration of its 30th anniversary, The Carriage House Players will present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Hamlet” for its annual Summer Shakespeare Festival at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport. The festival opens on June 29.

With a modern twist on two of the Bard’s most famous plays, performances will be held under the stars in the central courtyard of William K. Vanderbilt’s Eagle’s Nest mansion, one of the last remaining Gold Coast estates on the North Shore.

The festival was the brainchild of Frederic De Feis, who ran the productions through the Arena Players until his retirement. Upon his leave, De Feis passed the reins to longtime company member and protégé, Evan Donnellan.

“[The festival] started because Fred was looking for a space to perform Shakespeare outdoors,” said Donnellan. “He found the Vanderbilt courtyard and decided to use the space because of its atmosphere and architecture, which lends itself particularly well to Shakespeare.” As executive director, Donnellan, who was part of the company for 22 years, decided to rename the troupe The Carriage House Players to “better reflect our space” as they perform in the Vanderbilt Carriage House on the museum’s grounds.

“The Carriage House Players add a delightful dimension to the Vanderbilt Museum’s creative programming throughout the year,” said Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum, in a recent email. “Every July and August, their annual Shakespeare productions are a very popular summer attraction. Their shows, presented on our outdoor stage, are enhanced by the graceful backdrop of the estate’s century-old Spanish Revival architecture.”

Jacob Wright and Michael Limone in rehearsal for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

“The Shakespeare Festival has been a main event for Long Island for three decades now and we are proud to continue the tradition,” added Donnellan who said the group chose “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” because the timeless story of love gone awry, complete with mischievous fairies and bumbling actors, will create a hilarious evening of theater filled with charm, magic and grand romantic gestures. The play will be directed by company member Christine Boehm, who has previously graced the stage as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” and has directed recent productions of “The Woman in Black” and “Precious Little.” 

“With an aesthetic largely inspired by the Celtic Punk movement popularized in the 1980s with through lines discussing politics, pride in the working class and, most importantly, drinking, our ‘Midsummer’ will focus on the text’s most largely identified theme as the title suggests — a dream,” said Boehm. 

After “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” The Players will present Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, “Hamlet.” Donnellan says “the classic tale of revenge, loss, and the thirst for power, complete with glorious sword fights and ghostly visitors, will transport audiences back in time and put them right in the head of the Danish prince as he struggles to determine what is wrong and what is right.” Directed by company member, Jordan Hue, who directed “Macbeth” and “Much Ado About Nothing” at previous festivals, the show will be performed in the more classical tradition but with an emphasis on neo-futurism.   

For Donnellan, his hope is that this festival will appeal to wide audiences and introduce new theatergoers to the Bard’s genius. “Our goal is for audiences to embrace the old with the new while focusing on Shakespeare’s gorgeous prose and powerful storytelling.” 

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, located at 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, will host “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from June 29 through July 29 followed by “Hamlet” from Aug. 5 through Sept. 2. Shows are held at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays and 7 p.m. on Sundays, weather permitting. Running time is approximately 2 hours. Guests are encouraged to arrive early and enjoy a picnic on the grounds before the performances. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online or at the door. For more information, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org or call 631-854-5579.

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