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Theatre Three

By Heidi Sutton

The holiday season is finally here and nowhere on the North Shore is that more evident than Port Jefferson. This weekend the quaint village will magically transform into the Dickensian era as it hosts the 22nd annual Charles Dickens Festival.

Among the many festivities will be Theatre Three’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” which was the inspiration for the first Dickens Festival, and the original children’s musical “Barnaby Saves Christmas.”

The latter is celebrating its 14th anniversary this year, a testament to the caliber of its script by Douglas Quattrock and Jeffrey Sanzel and its music and lyrics by Quattrock. This wonderful show, which features several appearances by Santa himself, has become an annual tradition for many.

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa, his elves and reindeer have just left the North Pole to deliver presents to all the children. Realizing Santa has left behind one of the presents, “a little stuffed bear with dark blue pants, buckles on his shoes and a bright yellow vest,” the littlest elf Barnaby convinces the tiniest reindeer, Franklynne, to set off on an adventure “to save Christmas.” Along the way they meet a Jewish family and learn all about Hanukkah and bump into an evil villain named S. B. Dombulbury who, with his partner in crime Irmagarde, stuff chimneys with coal in order to steal all the presents.

Eric Hughes reprises his role as Barnaby, the little elf who just wants to fit in, and Sari Feldman returns as Franklynne, the flying reindeer who is afraid to fly, especially the landing part. The scene where Barnaby helps Franklynne perfect her landing is a personal favorite. The pair have the audience rooting for them to succeed from the very beginning.

Steven Uihlein is back as S.B. (Spoiled Brat) Dombulbury, channeling a bit of Dr. Evil with his muhaha laugh. Uihlein is terrific as he goes around hypnotizing everyone so they will do his bidding. His unwitting partner in crime, Irmagarde, is played to perfection by Dana Bush. The only original cast member in the show, Bush is an audience favorite. Andrew Lenahan and Phyllis March are wonderul in the roles of Santa and Mrs. Claus and double as the Jewish aunt and nephew characters, Sarah and Andrew. Dylan Robert Poulos tackles the role of Sam, the head elf who is desperately trying to stay on schedule and keep track of elves Blizzard (Meg Bush) and Crystal (Jessica Contino). Their interactions are the funniest moments in the show and draw much laughter from the children in the audience.

Choreography by Sari Feldman is classic and fun, while the costumes, from the pointy elf shoes to Santa’s red velvet suit, are top notch. The entire score, accompanied on piano by Quattrock, is incredibly endearing and you’ll be humming the tunes for days to come. Go see “Barnaby Saves Christmas” and experience an afternoon of pure holiday joy.

Souvenir elf and reindeer dolls will be available for purchase during intermission. Stay after the show for a photo with Santa Claus on stage if you wish — the $5 fee goes to support the theater’s scholarship fund — and meet the rest of the cast in the lobby.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Barnaby Saves Christmas” through Dec. 30. All shows begin at 11 a.m. Booster seats are available. Running time is approximately one hour and 15 minutes with one intermission. Recommended for ages 3 and up. Up next is a production of “Rapunzel: The Untold Story!” from Jan. 20 to Feb. 24 and “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit from March 10 to April 14. Tickets are $10 per person. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

All photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

By Michael Tessler

Theatre Three delivers perhaps one of my most favorite holiday traditions: a classic retelling of Charles Dickens’ most beloved work, “A Christmas Carol,” right in the heart of downtown Port Jefferson. This stage adaptation is so beautifully conceived and has been so well refined over the years that it’d appear Dickens’ 174-year-old novel jumps quite literally from the pages onto the stage in a fashion that can be best described as magical.

This particular production, which is celebrating its 34th year, is nothing short of miraculous, not just for its stunning set design, incredible wardrobe and perfectly planned lighting and sound … but also for the fact that somehow each and every year the show (while familiar) feels brand new.

Jeffrey Sanzel, the show’s director and the actor behind the famous literary curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge, shuffles the cast, set and various elements of the show, refining it and bringing new life to it each and every season. In the long and impressive shelf life of “A Christmas Carol” there has never, in my opinion, been a better Scrooge than Jeffrey Sanzel. No actor has ever lived and breathed that character for so long and with such passion as Sanzel. Watching his character’s transformation unfold on stage is pure delight.

This year’s show beams with talent. One can’t help but admire the incredible skill of the show’s youngest cast members who perform alongside their adult counterparts as equals both in professionalism and talent. Not for a moment does any actor’s performance take you out of this whimsical Dickensian world Sanzel creates.

Steve Wangner shines as Bob Cratchit, bringing to life all the warmth and love of Scrooge’s least favorite employee. Wangner had big shoes to fill, replacing Douglas Quattrock who has long held the role. No doubt Quattrock should be proud of his successor who masterfully carried Tiny Tim (portrayed jointly by Ryan Becker and Cameron Turner) upon his shoulders. His family dynamic especially with his wife (Suzie Dunn) and children is wonderfully endearing.

My personal favorite of the ensemble cast is Mr. Fezziwig portrayed by the cheerful George Liberman. Though I’ve got the bias of loving his character, this actor’s presence puts an instant smile on your face and reminds you of the wholesome fun of Christmas time. His partner in crime, Mrs. Fezziwig, is portrayed by the wonderful Ginger Dalton who also excels as Mrs. Dilber … the cockney maid of Scrooge whose comedic ability is unparalleled in the two-act show.

Megan Bush brings to life Belle, the first and only love of Scrooge and daughter of Fezziwig. Though her character’s time on stage is brief, she so perfectly captures the innocence of a first love and shows us a side of Scrooge we often forget. Steve McCoy, the wildly talented Theatre Three veteran, brings to life (and death) Scrooge’s late business partner Jacob Marley. His performance is haunting in the best kind of way. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the kind and loving Fan performed both by Heather Kuhn and Sophia Knapp. Her special relationship with young Scrooge (Kiernan Urso and Alexander Yagud-Wolek) encapsulates the special bond reserved just for siblings.

This year the three spirits have outdone themselves — beginning with the stunningly talented Jessica Contino whose Ghost of Christmas Past comes to life in almost angelic form. She is followed by the hysterical and larger-than-life Antoine Jones as the Ghost of Christmas Present, whose epic bellowing laughter echoes through the historic Athena Hall. Last, but certainly not least is the incredible puppetry of Dylan Robert Poulos as the Ghost of Christmas Future who also shows off his talent as an actor in the role of Scrooge’s orphaned nephew Fred Halliwell.

Randall Parsons and Bonnie Vidal bring 19th-century England to Port Jefferson with stunning production design and impeccable costuming. Robert W. Henderson Jr. transports you to the past, present and future with some mesmerizing lighting. This year’s production also welcomed newcomer Melissa Troxler as stage manager who ran the set flawlessly from an audience perspective. Brad Frey provides some wonderful musical direction in addition to the late Ellen Michelmore, whose lasting legacy at Theatre Three can be heard with the beautiful musical conception and sound effects that remain a centerpiece of this production.

Leaving the theater I found my heart filled with a joy and merriment only felt in those special moments when you’re surrounded by family and huddled around a great big Christmas tree. For that wonderful moment, I felt the spirit of Christmas itself … and what a wonderful gift it was to receive from the cast and crew of Theatre Three’s “A Christmas Carol.”

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “A Christmas Carol” now through Dec. 30. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students and $20 children ages 5 to 12. (Children under 5 are not permitted.) To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

 

All photos by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Photo by Brian Hoerger

Join Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson for a special event, Behind the Curtain: A Christmas Carol on Thursday, Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. Executive Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel, who has appeared as Scrooge in over 1,000 performances, will guide you through the history of the story, its many adaptations and the journey of Theatre Three’s 33 years of presenting “A Christmas Carol.” The event will be followed by the Mainstage performance of Theatre Three’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” The event is $30 per person and includes a full buffet supper. Tickets for the 7 p.m. performance may be purchased separately. For more information, call 631-928-9100.

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Independent filmmaker Tara Langton at her 1991 graduation from Ward Melville High School. Photo from Tara Langton

While many Long Islanders move away from home to pursue their dreams, one East Setauket native is returning to share her story.

On Oct. 27, Tara Langton, a Los Angeles-based writer and film producer, will meet with Ward Melville High School film students in teacher Stephanie DiLorenzo’s classes. During her visit, the 1991 Ward Melville graduate will discuss the ins and outs of independent filmmaking, show outtakes from her short films and answer students’ questions.

Langton during the filming of a short based on her children’s book ‘Travis Tinley and the Spirit of #22.’ Photo from Tara Langton

While she was a student at the high school, Langton said she took a film class called World of Cinema, and also participated in an acting class at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson when she was in 10th grade. Langton said she left Long Island for Los Angeles 20 years ago to pursue her dream of becoming a filmmaker. The road has been a long and tough one, but even with the tight budgets of independent filmmaking, it’s a journey she said she enjoys.

“I want to teach the students that you can make a film with virtually no budget if you have a dedicated cast and crew willing to put their heart and soul into the project,” she said. “Independent filmmaking is rarely glamorous but is truly a labor of love.”

Langton said another thing she would like to convey to the students is the importance of taking any role in filmmaking and learning from it. She said she gained a great deal of knowledge while she was a production assistant with a small acting part in the 2010 movie “Mineville” with Paul Sorvino and William Sadler. She said she asked tons of questions of those on the set while working on the film.

In 2017 she wrote and produced “Finding Anissa Jones” which was accepted into the Stella Adler Academy Short + Sweet Film Festival in Hollywood. In 2018, she plans to film “A Shortstop Away,” about a 14-year-old boy who shared a love of baseball with his father, who died from cancer. The full-length film is based on a children’s book and short film she wrote, “Travis Tinley and the Spirit of #22.” She said the story begins in Durango, Colorado, and the main character’s adventures take him to Long Island where he accepts a posthumous award for his deceased father.

Langton said in the story Travis begins to feel lost without his father, and it demonstrates that even when bad things happen to someone, there is still good in life.

“I try to write stuff that comes out of my heart, stuff that I would relate to when I was younger, and try to motivate kids to be good people.”

— Tara Langton

“I try to write stuff that comes out of my heart, stuff that I would relate to when I was younger, and try to motivate kids to be good people,” she said.

Langton said she would love to film part of the movie in the Three Village area. While interior shots will be done either in California or Pennsylvania, she said she hopes she can film some scenes at locations such as Ward Melville High School and Danfords in Port Jefferson. She said she is also hoping to find a local resident who would allow filming at their home.

The filmmaker hopes to cast a few local actors. Currently, former child actress Rachel Lindsay Greenbush, who is known for her role as Carrie Ingalls on the television show “Little House on the Prairie,” is signed to play one of the supporting characters in the film.

When it comes to her trip home, Langton, who visits Long Island twice a year to see friends, said she is looking forward to walking the halls of Ward Melville once again.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to come back to the Three Village area and share my film experience with the students and faculty at my alma mater,” she said.

Above, the cast of ‘A Kooky, Spooky Halloween’ at Theatre Three.

By Heidi Sutton

There’s something kooky going on at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. As a matter of fact, there’s something spooky going on there as well. In perfect timing with the upcoming holiday, the Children’s Theatre presents a brand new musical treat, “A Kooky Spooky Halloween,” through Oct. 28.

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Steve McCoy, the adorable show emphasizes the importance of telling the truth and helping others. Skillfully directed by Sanzel, the talented cast of eight adults embraces the brilliant script and, with plenty of audience interaction, presents a wonderful afternoon of live theater.

The cast sings ‘It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast’

Ghost Abner Perkins (Dylan Robert Poulos) has just graduated from Haunted High School and awarded a medallion of invisibility. His first assignment is to be the spooksperson on Halloween for Ma Aberdeen’s Boarding House, “the most haunted house in Harrison County, USA,” which is also known for serving the best toast. There’s only one problem — Abner is afraid of the dark. “It’s like a vampire who’s afraid of necks!” quips his friend Lavinda (Jessica Contino), a good natured witch, before presenting him with a night-light to wear on his hat. Lavinda promises to help Abner with his haunting duties for the first few days.

When they arrive at the boarding house, they come upon Ma Aberdeen (Ginger Dalton), the finest toast maker in the land, and her boarders, Kit Garret (Meg Bush) and the Petersons — Paul the periodontist (Steven Uihlein), his wife Penelope (Nina Moran) and their son Pip (Eric J. Hughes), whose alliterations using words that start with the letter P are perfectly prodigious!

As the sun sets, Abner plays silly tricks on the unsuspecting group, making them stuff Halloween goodie bags in double time, exercise, sing, dance and get stuck to each other. Things are going hauntingly well until fellow graduate Dora Pike (Elizabeth Ladd) shows up. A ghost with a grudge (she was hoping to be assigned to Ma Aberdeen’s boarding house), Dora steals Abner’s night-light and medallion out of revenge and makes her way to Black Ridge Gulch, the deepest, darkest gorge in the entire world (where it’s really, really dark).

Dylan Robert Poulos and Jessica Contino star as Abner and Lavinda in the show.

Now visible, Abner convinces the boarders, who are still stuck to each other, to accompany him and Lavinda on a quest to retrieve his property. Will Abner be able to overcome his fear of the dark? Will the two ghosts be able to reach a compromise?

From the first number, “A-Haunting We Will Go” by the entire company, to the downright creepy “It Will All Fade to Black” by Dora, and the catchy “It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast,” the original songs by Steve McCoy are the heart of the show. Utilizing the set from the current Mainstage production, “The Bridges of Madison County,” the show features excellent choreography by Nicole Bianco. Ditto the costumes by Teresa Matteson.

“A Kooky Spooky Halloween” is the perfect show to get into the spirit of Halloween and a wonderful way to spend a fall afternoon. But be forewarned — for some strange reason, you’ll exit the theater having a craving for toast! Meet the cast in the lobby for photos on your way out.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “A Kooky Spooky Halloween” on Oct. 14, 21 and 28 at 11 a.m. and Oct. 22 at 3 p.m. with a sensory-sensitive performance on Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. Running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes with one intermission, and Halloween costumes are encouraged.

Children’s Theatre will continue with everyone’s holiday favorite, “Barnaby Saves Christmas,” from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30 and “Rapunzel — The Untold Story” from Jan. 20 to Feb. 24. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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

Frank Serpico

As part of the Fall 2017 Port Jefferson Documentary Series, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present a screening of the documentary, “Frank Serpico,” on Monday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.

Director Antonino D’Ambrosio with Frank Serpico

As an NYPD officer in the hippie era, Frank Serpico blew the whistle on the corruption and payoffs running rampant in the department. He was shot in the face during a drug arrest that was rumored to be a setup and most famously became the subject of Sidney Lumet’s classic film SERPICO.

Forty-plus years later, Serpico talks about his Southern Italian roots, his time as an undercover officer, and his post-NYPD life. Adding their own recollections are his fellow officers, childhood friends, his West Side neighbors, and his admirers such as writer Luc Sante and actor John Turturro. With unprecedented access to his subject, Antonino D’Ambrosio creates a memorable, powerful portrait of an always-committed public servant who still walks the walk in his very own unique way.

Followed by a Q&A with director Antonino D’Ambrosio. Tickets are $7 at the door. For further details, please call 473-5220 or visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com.

 

TracyLynn Conner and Brian Gill in a scene from 'The Bridges of Madison County'

By Michael Tessler

You know you’ve seen an incredible production when you find yourself pondering your own life and place in the universe after exiting the theater. That was the case last Sunday afternoon after attending a production of “The Bridges of Madison County” at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson.

TracyLynn Conner and Brian Gill with the cast from ‘The Bridges of Madison County’

Based on the award-winning novel by Robert James Walker and the beloved film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, this musical adaptation has a score worthy of Broadway, and Theatre Three provides a cast equally deserving of that designation.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, this is an unconventional love story. Not cliched but brutally honest and so refreshingly human.

As not to spoil much, we meet our protagonist Francesca, an Italian refugee fleeing a war-torn Italy and a life she’s ready to leave behind. To accomplish this she marries Bud Johnson, a simple-minded but well-meaning American soldier who left life on the farm to serve his country. Both travel back to the United States where they build a home and a beautiful family. Their son Michael doesn’t want to live the life of a farmer like his father; their daughter Carolyn, however, embraces it as she trains an award-winning steer for the annual state fair.

Francesca, lovingly called Fran by her husband, longs for the life she dreamed of as a little girl. She feels it is far too late to begin anew, and while there is food on the table, there’s no money for her to visit her home in Italy and the life she left behind. So she settles for a life as a farmer’s wife, trying to find contentment packing lunches.

From left, Marissa Girgus, Dennis Creighton, Steve McCoy, TracyLynn Conner, Matthew Rafanelli and Ella Watts in a scene from ‘The Bridges of Madison County’

Everything changes for Fran when her husband and children take a trip to the state fair. She gets a rare opportunity to breathe and relax. That is until a beat up pickup truck rolls into her driveway and with it the arrival of Robert Kincaid — a professional photographer from National Geographic putting together a photo series on bridges throughout the United States. He’s lost and needs some directions. He’s well-traveled, having just recently visited Italy and having seen every corner of the globe. Fran invites him into her home and, by extension, her life. Thus her world changes forever.

Though I won’t spoil the rest, the show is a real treat. You’ll feel just about every emotion in the book in this two-act musical. Once again Jeffrey Sanzel shines as a director capable of any genre. His unique vision can make a timeless story feel brand new again.

Undoubtedly some lines are picked up directly from the book and film adaptation, but Sanzel’s production takes you for a ride in that worn down pickup truck. You get a glimpse into someone’s world, and that’s a beautiful thing. Sanzel guides his incredibly talented cast, making it impossible not to feel for these characters. I found myself so invested in characters who managed to emote so much in such a short time. Sanzel has no problem setting the bar higher and higher with each passing performance.

This show’s phenomenal cast certainly made his job easier though! Leading the production is the show’s star, TracyLynn Conner who portrays Francesca. First off, her accent is marvelous and never breaks even once. Her voice is one of the finest I’ve ever heard on a stage. Operatic, emotional and just so beautiful to listen to.

Much credit goes to Jeffrey Hoffman who handled the show’s musical direction and turned this small cast into an incredible musical ensemble.

Matthew Rafanelli and Ella Watts

Fran’s husband Bud is played by Dennis Creighton, who really captures the essence of the character and shows his musical tenor in the show’s second act and final number. He’s accompanied by two incredible young actors — Ella Watts as their daughter Carolyn and Matthew Rafanelli as her bookish brother, Michael. I was particularly impressed with Watts. This former star of NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live!” has a voice so incredibly refined that you wish she had even more time on stage. Rafanelli really shines in his role and you’ll find yourself constantly rooting for him and his dreams and flashing back to your own childhood sibling drama. No doubt we’ll be seeing both actors on stage many times in the future!

Theatre Three veteran and Bryan Cranston look alike Steve McCoy remains one of my favorite company members. He plays Charlie — the friendly, simpleton neighbor of the Johnsons and provides comic relief throughout some of the show’s tougher moments. His wife Marge provides nonstop laughter followed by some incredibly endearing scenes. She is portrayed by the incredibly talented Amy Wodon Huben.

Brian Gill’s low and powerful voice brings Robert Kincaid, the world traveling photographer to life. His duets with Conner are some of the highlights of the show. His personality is infectious and translates beautifully on stage.

Last, though certainly not least, is the incredibly diversified performances of Marissa Girgus who plays not one but over four roles. She steps into each of them flawlessly, creating performances both touching and comedic. I felt all sorts of emotions during her nothing short of groovy performance of “Another Life.”

Being a smaller cast, you can get a sense that each character was crafted to perfection not just by the actors but by their director. They feel so real and so dynamic, which is exceptional as several actors play multiple roles … something that usually takes you out of an experience but now suddenly enhances it.

Brian Gill and TracyLynn Conner

My favorite part of the show (outside of its cast) was its unique score, which combines two radically different genres to make something genuinely unique. Strings played as though from the Italian countryside, harrowing and haunting — a reminder of an old world, an abandoned life combined with the lively sound of the great American Midwest, and the wholehearted lifestyle of the American farmer. For a brief moment these sounds clash into something unique and unforgettable.

This may be one of the most beautiful sets I’ve seen at Theatre Three. Randall Parsons transports you to the great American Midwest. Robert W. Henderson Jr., the show’s lighting designer, ensures the light breaks through the barn wood in spectacular ways. One can’t help but feel nostalgic when looking at the kitchen they designed as well.

From top to bottom this show is local theater at its finest. Provoking several audible gasps from the audience followed by thunderous rounds of applause, “The Bridges of Madison County” is something you wish you could photograph and treasure forever.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Bridges of Madison County” on the Mainstage through Oct. 28. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 ages 5 to 12. Children under 5 not permitted. Contains adult subject matter. Parental discretion is advised.

A special event, “Behind the Curtain with ‘The Bridges of Madison County’” will be held on Oct. 22. Join Director Jeffrey Sanzel, musical director Jeffrey Hoffman and actor TracyLynn Conner for a freewheeling exploration of this powerful contemporary musical. The full buffet supper and talk will begin at 5 p.m. $30 per person. The event will be followed by the Mainstage performance of “The Bridges of Madison County” at 7 p.m. Tickets for the performance may be purchased separately.

For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

All photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

The season will open with a screening of ‘An American Veteran’ on Sept. 11. Photo from PJDS

By Heidi Sutton

The ravages of war, arranged marriages, police corruption, high fashion — these topics and more will be explored in detail as the Port Jefferson Documentary Series kicks off its Fall 2017 season on Monday, Sept. 11.

The series, which is sponsored by the Greater Port Jefferson North Brookhaven Arts Council, the Suffolk County Office of Film and Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, will present eight award-winning documentaries through Oct. 30, with the first and last to be screened at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook and the rest at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. Each film will be followed by a Q&A with guest speakers.

The documentaries were hand-picked by a seven-member film board which includes co-directors Lyn Boland, Barbara Sverd and Wendy Feinberg along with Honey Katz, Phyllis Ross, Lorie Rothstein and Lynn Rein.

This season will mark the series’ 12th year which is just fine for the film ladies, as they are affectionately called. “I think after 10 years I started to become a believer that it was actually going to have some staying power,” said Boland in a recent phone interview. “I was always holding my breath hoping that we would be there the next year … now I believe that the show will go on.”

Boland said working with the group is “an absolute pleasure. I’m really dumbfounded that everyone sticks around every year,” she laughed. “It seems like the amount of work that has to get done just gets bigger each time because we add things every year — the audience award, surveys, sponsors, concerts. We want to add something ‘special’ to each season.”

This fall’s dynamic line-up was selected after the members attended the Stony Brook Film Festival, DOC NYC, the Hamptons Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.

The group as a whole is most excited about presenting “Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan,” a behind the scenes look at the New York City Ballet’s long-time principal dancer Wendy Whelan as she faces injury and retirement. “It just took everyone’s breath away,” gushed Boland. “The film just wins you over, plus if you love watching ballet, the ballet sequences are just the perfect length to see how great she was.” Whelan will appear in person at the screening.

Personally, Boland is looking forward to sharing “City of Ghosts” with the audience. “I think it is the most important film this season because it’s really an inside look at what is going on in Syria,” she said. “When you see it, it’s just so horrifying. We knew we had to get this story out — that people have to see this. What’s going on there is so devastating that you can’t believe it’s not on the news every night.”

Boland is also excited to share “House of Z” which traces dress designer Zac Posen’s career. “I think that the fashionistas and ‘Project Runway’ fans in the audience are going to love every minute of ‘House of Z’ because you really get to see behind the scenes [of the fashion industry],” she said.

One film that has garnered a lot of interest from music lovers, especially blues fans, is the series’ final film, “Sidemen: Long Road To Glory.” The documentary highlights the lives and legacies of Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Hubert Sulin, all Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen and will be preceded by a special blues concert with Scott Sharrard, lead guitarist for the Gregg Allman Band, who makes an appearance in the film.

 

The film ladies are grateful for the support of the local venues that host their films. “Theatre Three is our home, that’s where we started. It’s a great size, 400 seats, and we have a wonderful relationship with Jeff Sanzel,” said Boland. With 129 seats, the Long Island Museum’s Gillespie Room in the Carriage Museum “provides for a more intimate experience and the films screened there tie in to one of the museum’s exhibits.”

Boland relishes the positive feedback she receives after each screening. “I love it when someone is really ‘woke’ by the film, but I also love it when they just love the film and the subject.” For her, the goal of the PJDS is to provide “insight into something and in a very, very small way, cause disruption of people’s previously held ideas and open up a discussion.”

The Port Jefferson Documentary Series will be held at 7 p.m. every Monday night from Sept. 11 to Oct. 30 at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson or The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. Tickets, sold at the door, are $7 per person. (No credit cards please). If you would like to volunteer, please call 631-473-5200. For more information, visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com.

Film schedule

The season will open with a screening of ‘An American Veteran’ on Sept. 11. Photo from PJDS

▶ The fall season will kick off with a screening of “American Veteran” at The Long Island Museum on Sept. 11. Filmed over a five year period, the documentary follows Army Sergeant Nick Mendes, paralyzed from the neck down by an explosive device in Afghanistan, from the V.A. hospital bed where he spent 7 months, to the fully accessible home where he now lives with his wife Wendy. Winner of the Panavision Showcase at the Syracuse International Film Festival, the film is co-sponsored by Jim and Theresa Tsunis and The Northwind Group of Hauppauge. Guest speaker will be director Julie Cohen.

‘House of Z’

“House of Z,” which will be screened at Theatre Three on Sept. 18, chronicles the meteoric rise of fashion designer Zac Posen at the age of 21, his brand’s falling out of favor several years later and his challenge to rebuild his company and his reputation. The documentary peeks past the glamour of the runway and the red carpet to show audiences a true portrait of Posen as both an artist and businessman. Guest speaker, via Skype, will be director Sandy Chronopoulos.

‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story’

▶ Theatre Three will screen “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” on Sept. 25. Produced by Susan Sarandon, this illuminating documentary explores Lamarr’s career as a 1940s Hollywood actress (Snow White was created in her image) and later as the secret inventor of secure wifi, bluetooth and GPS communications. The screening is co-sponsored by the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University. Director Alexandra Dean will be the guest speaker for the evening.

‘A Suitable Girl’

▶ The fourth film, titled “A Suitable Girl,” will be screened on Oct. 2 at Theatre Three and tackles the subject of arranged marriages, an issue which has become increasingly controversial to the Western world as women have rightfully embraced their independence. Winner of the Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, “A Suitable Girl” follows several young, modern women in India looking to get married over the course of four years and intimately capturing their thoughts on arranged marriage, giving them a voice, and offering a unique perspective into the nuances of this institution. Guest speaker will be director Sarita Khurana.

‘Frank Serpico’

▶ The series continues on Oct. 9 with a screening of “Frank Serpico” at Theatre Three. As an NYPD officer in the hippie era, Frank Serpico blew the whistle on the corruption and payoffs running rampant in the department. He was shot in the face during a drug arrest that was rumored to be a setup and most famously became the subject of Sidney Lumet’s classic film, “Serpico.” Forty-plus years later, Serpico talks about his Southern Italian roots, his time as an undercover officer, and his post-NYPD life. The documentary gives a powerful portrait of an always-committed public servant who still walks the walk in his very own unique way. Guest speaker will be director Antonino D’Ambrosio.

‘Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan’

“Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan,” to be screened at Theatre Three on Oct. 16, offers an intimate portrait of prima ballerina Wendy Whelan as she prepares to leave the New York City Ballet after a record-setting three decades. One of the modern era’s most acclaimed dancers, Whelan danced ballets by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins as well as new works by modern standout choreographers with many roles made specifically for her. Co-sponsored by the Law Offices of Michael S. Ross, P.C. in Hauppauge; Backstage Studio of Dance in Port Jefferson Station; and Amy Tyler School of Dance in Port Jefferson. Guest speaker will be Prima Ballerina Wendy Whelan.

‘City of Ghosts’

“City of Ghosts,” which will be screened at Theatre Three on Oct. 23, follows the efforts of “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently” (RBSS), a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. With deeply personal access, this is the story of a brave group of citizen journalists as they face the realities of life undercover, on the run, and in exile, risking their lives to stand up against one of the greatest evils in the world today. Directed by Matthew Heineman, “City of Ghosts” was the winner of the Grand Jury Award at the Sheffield Documentary Festival. Guest speaker TBD.

‘Sidemen: Long Road to Glory’

▶ The final film for the Fall 2017 season, “Sidemen: Long Road to Glory,” will be screened at the Long Island Museum on Oct. 30. An intimate look at the incredible lives and legacies of piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, all Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen, the film captures some of the last interviews and their final live performances together before their deaths in 2011. Co-sponsored by the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and the Long Island Blues Society. A Q&A will be conducted by Tom Needham of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and WUSB with guest speakers director Scott Rosenbaum and lead guitarist for the Gregg Allman Band, Scott Sharrard. A pre-film blues concert will be held at 6 p.m. featuring Scott Sharrard. Tickets for both the concert and film are $14.

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

By Heidi Sutton

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

Above, the cast of ‘The Frog Prince’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The entire company

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

Amber Ferrari will pay tribute to Pat Benatar on July 15. Photo by Marie Fristachi

By Rita J. Egan

Vocalist Amber Ferrari is ready to hit music lovers with her best shot by taking on the hits of pop icon Pat Benatar.

Amber Ferrari as Pat Benatar

Known on Long Island for her production Joplin’s Pearl Featuring Amber Ferrari, dedicated to the ’60s icon Janis Joplin, Ferrari recently decided to create a show paying tribute to the music of Benatar — the singer behind hits such as “Love Is a Battlefield,” “We Belong,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” “Heartbreaker” and so much more. The new production, Benatar Featuring Amber Ferrari, will debut at Theatre Three July 15 as part of the venue’s Summer Concert Series.

It’s no surprise that the local singer is taking on the icon’s music. Not only are both from Long Island — Ferrari a native of East Patchogue and Benatar a graduate of Lindenhurst Senior High School — but both possess large vocal ranges. Ferrari said Benatar’s vocal style is one of the reasons she loves singing her songs, citing the pop stars knack for being able to sing classically or rock ‘n’ roll with a rasp.

“I enjoy singing rock music, and her songs have such a large vocal range,” Ferrari said. “She sings both clean and dirty, so I’m able to use both aspects of my vocals, and I love doing that.”

Ferrari said Benatar’s 1980 “Hell Is for Children” from the “Crimes of Passion” album and the second single from the “Precious Time” LP, “Promises in the Dark,” are among her favorites. “I love ‘Hell Is for Children’ because it’s so hard vocally, and ‘Promises in the Dark’ because the vocal range is so large,” she said. “It goes slow to up-tempo as well.”

Similar to her Janis Joplin show, and her 2015 production Material Girl Featuring Amber Ferrari, which spotlights Madonna’s hits, the Benatar show will open with a few songs from other artists. Ferrari said she has selected hits from Blondie, Melissa Etheridge, Linda Rondstadt and Journey as well as one of her own.

Ferrari said Theatre Three is the perfect spot to debut her new show. “Theatre Three has a dear spot in my heart,” she said. “First theater I ever did one of my full shows at was Theatre Three.” It was during Ferrari’s participation in the theater’s production of Woodstockmania: Woodstock in Concert in 2005 where the late music director Ellen Michelmore asked Ferrari to sing Joplin’s songs. After that experience, she was inspired to perform the legend’s songs on a regular basis and created her signature show.

Douglas Quattrock, director of development and group sales and marketing coordinator at Theatre Three, said he is always excited when Ferrari performs at the theater but he’s even more than usual with the singer debuting the Benatar show at the venue.

“As an artist, she is always expanding her horizons and never fails to impress her audiences with new material,” he said. “So when she told me she was thinking of putting together a Benatar show, I was thrilled. It is a perfect fit for her.” Quattrock said he is looking forward to Ferrari’s renditions of “We Belong” and “Promises in the Dark.”

The production will also feature special guest Teddy Rondinelli from the group Rondinelli who has performed with Vanilla Fudge and Robert Plant. Ferrari will be accompanied by her band, which includes Chris Ferrari on guitar, Mike Chiusano on bass, Gary Gonzalez on drums, Bob Bellucci on keyboards and Jim Carroll on percussion.

Ferrari said she’s attended concerts of Benatar’s in the past, and her performances are amazing to see. One day she hopes she’ll have the opportunity to meet the icon. Until then, she’s busy rehearsing for the her new show’s debut and is hoping music lovers will enjoy the production.

She encourages audience members to wear their favorite Benatar-inspired outfit the night of the show, too. “I hope they’ll have a rocking great time, and it will bring them back to the ’80s and rocking out,” Ferrari said.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present Benatar Featuring Amber Ferrari July 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39 and may be purchased by calling 631-928-9100 or by visiting www.theatrethree.com.

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