Events

On March 7 Kelli O’Hara and Sutton Foster joined forces for the first time in a double headline show at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts for their 2020 Gala and, though no one knew it at the time, this would be the last show of the Staller Center season. Performing songs from their lengthy repertoires, both Tony-winning performers gave it their all to a sold-out crowd despite mounting precautions and fears surrounding COVID-19. 

“I know this is a time of a little bit of nerves and wonder and mystery and anxiety … we want to give you a night away from that,” O’Hara said during her performance. The show went on, but out of an abundance of caution, the Gala’s reception was canceled. Little did O’Hara know, her comment about it being the last time audiences would be together, quickly became true. (see more photos at www.tbrnewsmedia.com)

Days later, on March 10, at the urging of Interim Stony Brook President, Michael Bernstein, the Staller Center announced that all March events were canceled. Bernstein’s bold and forward-thinking guided Staller Center Director, Alan Inkles, in his decision to cancel the Starry Nights concert, which was scheduled that same evening. 

One week after that, Inkles also took the lead and stated that all events at the Staller Center through May 15 would be canceled. In the following days, other theaters and arts organizations, including the Metropolitan Opera, followed suit. In a time of considerable unease, theatre venues across the world have closed their doors to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We were the first East Coast Arts Center that canceled shows for March last week and second in the country,” Inkles said. Indeed, the Staller Center decided to close before larger venues such as Broadway, The Metropolitan Opera House, and London’s West End. 

Performances by the Russian National Ballet, America’s Got Talent finalist Diavolo, and the 30th-anniversary show of Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, among many others, are no longer coming to the Staller Center this season. “We are working with all of our artists and their managers in attempting to reschedule their shows in upcoming seasons and working together to find creative ways to minimize the financial hardships that appear imminent for these performers,” said Inkles. 

Other canceled events include: three remaining MET Opera Live in HD screenings, the Spring Film Series, A Capella Live, Starry Nights, Jack Licitra: U are the Music!, the Emerson String Quartet, Carol Wincenc, and the Doo Wop Project. The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery is also closed to all in-person visitors through the end of May.

The Box Office is closed to in-person visitors, but patrons are asked to call or email the box office at 631-632-ARTS[2787] or boxoffice@stallercenter.com with questions or concerns. 

While Staller is offering credit or refunds for all ticketholders, generous sponsors, donors, and partners are offering their help, and many patrons have kindly donated their tickets back. 

“We are certainly seeing some great humanity in the art world as everyone scrambles to help each other,” Inkles said. 

Stay tuned for announcements on the Staller Center’s 2021-22 Season at www.stallercenter.com and visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com for information on this July’s 25th Annual Stony Brook Film Festival.

All photos by Millie Elangbam/Staller Center

The Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington had a charmingly “kooky” evening on March 5 with renowned film director Barry Sonnenfeld. 

Cinema Arts Centre co-director Dylan Skolnick interviewed Barry Sonnenfeld on stage, showing a series of clips from Sonnenfeld’s films (including The Addams Family with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston, and Get Shorty with John Travolta and Gene Hackman). 

Sonnenfeld, a noted raconteur, cinematographer for When Harry Met Sally and Big, and then director of the Men in Black trilogy and Coen Brothers films as well as the two Addams Family movies, held forth hilarious stories that were “creepy, spooky, and altogether ooky,” to the delight of the CAC audience. 

Afterwards, in a reception with entertainment by New York Times acclaimed jazz guitarist Mike Soloway, attendees met Sonnenfeld personally as he signed copies of his new book, “Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker.” The event was curated and produced by Jud Newborn, the Cinema Arts Centre’s Curator of Special Programs, as part of his on-going series of celebrity guest appearances.

Photos by Andy Attard/ Flashback Photography

Visitors to a Stony Brook bar and restaurant were looking for more than food and drink March 15, they were aiming to help out a good cause.

The Bench hosted a St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser Sunday where participants got their heads shaved to raise funds for childhood cancer research. Lead organizer Christopher Pollina said with donations and a company match, participants surpassed the total event goal of $20,000.

According to the organizer the nonprofit group Three Village Dads raised more than half of that amount, and its foundation donated an additional $1,000.

Rob Meo raised the highest amount of the day with $5,000. During the event, Boy Scout troops 70 and 427, both from Setauket, stopped by to have their heads shaved by Amanda Bellavance of Dapper Cuts Barbershop and donate funds. Music was provided by Mike Rutowitcz of Sound’s Alive Entertainment.

Pollina and co-organizer Scott Montekew were pleased with the results from the second annual event at The Bench.

“We topped last year’s $12,500 raised, even during this trying time of COVID-19,” Pollina said.

A scene from the 2019 St. James St. Patrick's Day Parade. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Editor’s note: As of March 12, the St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been postponed.

During this year’s 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in St. James, spectators will witness a first — two grand marshals leading the parade.

Mario Mattera

Hosted by the St. James Chamber of Commerce, the parade committee has chosen residents Kerry Reilly DeJesus and Mario Mattera as grand marshals for 2020. William Garthe, chamber board member, said each year residents are asked to write in to say who they would like to see lead the parade. This year the chamber received an overwhelming and equal number of nominations for Mattera and DeJesus.

Mattera said he was surprised when he heard he was chosen because he thought the grand marshal had to be of Irish descent. The St. James resident said he was humbled and honored.

When he heard DeJesus was also chosen, he was thrilled and described her as a wonderful person.

“Just her personality brings a smile to your face,” he said. “That’s the type of woman Kerry is. We need more of that.”

DeJesus also had complimentary things to say about Mattera.

“I couldn’t be in better company than Mario,” she said, adding she was overwhelmed when she heard the news that she was chosen.

“I was so flattered,” she said. “I thought that was so sweet of them to think of me.”

Mattera, a Smithtown resident for 55 years, moved from Nesconset to St. James in 1996. He said his wife of 26 years, Terry, and his two daughters Jessica and Jayme will be on hand to walk with him in the parade.

The husband and father is the business agent for Plumbers Local Union 200 of Ronkonkoma. In addition to his work with the union, he is a member of the Smithtown Executive Board representing St. James, and on the boards of Community Association of Greater St. James, the Suffolk County Water Authority and the Suffolk County Consumer Affairs Plumbing, Licensing and Fire Protection. He is also a Suffolk County Workforce Housing Committee member, the plumber’s union chairman for the political PAC fund for the county and board member for the New York State Apprenticeship Committee.

In his free time, he volunteers with Helmets to Hardhats, which works with returning veterans, and he also finds time to cheer on the Smithtown High School East’s Whisperettes, the kickline team, of which both of his daughters have been members.

DeJesus works as a call center manager for the Stony Brook University’s Southampton Hospital. She has lived in St. James for more than two decades where she and her husband, Ralph, of 25 years, have raised four children. She said she’s excited that her son Ralph Jr., who is serving in the U.S. Marines, has been granted a weekend leave to march with her and the family.

Kerry Reilly DeJesus

The wife and mother has taught religion at St. Philip and St. James R.C. Church, and with her teaching career in St. James and past service in two other churches, she earned a 20-year service award. She has also been active in the Smithtown Central School District as a Family Living chairperson working on food drives at Mills Pond Elementary School and was vice president of the PTA at the elementary school for two years. She later went on to serve as PTA president for two years. As her children advanced in the school district, so did DeJesus. For three years she was PTA president at Nesaquake Middle School and then did the same for six years at Smithtown High School East’s PTA. She has worked in other roles too as Spiritwear chairperson, recording secretary, vice president and a two-year stint as council president and vice president for the district.

Outside of religious instruction and the school district, DeJesus said she has been a Girl and Boy Scouts leader for her children’s troops. She has volunteered through the years at Deepwells Haunted Mansion where she has played a witch and dead doll, as well as working the concession.

“That’s a lot of fun,” she said. “That’s another great community thing that we do in St. James.” 

While Mattera has participated in past parades with the car club, DeJesus has marched with the Boy and Girl Scouts. When it comes to parades, both grand marshals agree it’s important for communities.

“It brings everyone together, and bringing the community together, especially with the feeling right now — that we’re going to give the town a jump start — it’s a lot,” Mattera said, referencing the revitalization of
Lake Avenue.

DeJesus said parades are also a way to draw people to St. James from other hamlets in the township. Plus, she said the St. Patrick’s Day Parade signals that spring is around the corner and gets everyone out of their homes.

“I feel like I’m reconnecting with old friends when I see all these people,” she said.

Mattera and DeJesus will be joined by the parade’s princesses and princes. The court includes two-year-old Avianna Manning, St. James Elementary School third-grader Juliana Cating Gleeson, kindergartener Jayden Cassidy Gleeson, third-grader Samantha Keil, first-grader Violet Keil, third-grader Mia Sherlock, kindergartener Sydney Sherlock, fourth-grader Ethan Tuzinkiewicz, second-grader Benjamin Tuzinkiewicz, first-grader Daniel Tuzinkiewicz and Nesaquake Middle School sixth-grade studentw Kayla Moore.

The St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at the Smithtown High School East parking lot on Woodlawn Avenue and travels to Lake Avenue where it makes a right and continues to the St. James Gazebo by the Long Island Rail Road station.

Over 300 children and their families shuffled into Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket during the school winter recess, Feb. 20, to enjoy the library’s 8th annual Take Your Child to the Library Day. Visitors enjoyed carnival games, face painting, temporary tattoos, balloon sculpting, crafts and more.  

Photos courtesy of Emma Clark Library

Napper Tandy’s in Northport hosted its annual St. Baldrick’s Day event March 7 where participants shave their heads to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Barbers from various locations, as well as those provided by Eastern Suffolk BOCES teacher Luke Mahoney, were on hand to do the shaving. The day also included Irish step dancing by the Mulvihill-Lynch Studio of Irish Dance, raffles and entertainment by Redmax Events. In addition, more than 100 knit hats were donated by knitters from St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in East Northport. The event drew people from all over.

Bob Nolan, who lives in Croton-on-Hudson, said it was his fifth year shaving his head, adding he feels every little thing helps.

Gary Norman, of Long Island City, has been shaving his head for 15 years. He said he was in the hospital with his own battle against cancer, and when he saw the children, it broke his heart.

Northport’s Betty Reidenbach has been shaving her head for 15 years after a friend introduced her to the event, and she said she knows children who have been affected by cancer. 

Tommy McEneny, who lives in Northport and will turn 4 years old on St. Patrick’s Day, said he shaved his head to help other children.

Lynn Kenny, lead event organizer, said there were approximately 96 shavees and at press time the event had raised more than $100,000 with donations still coming in and being counted. She said Northport High School held an event the night before where they had 99 shavees. At press time, the high school event was up to $70,000. She said it was the first time the school held a St. Baldrick’s event.

“I’m so proud of our town and their continued commitment to help us in the fight again childhood cancer,” Kenny said. “In the years that Northport has held St Baldrick’s events, we have raised $6 million. Northport really is a small town with a huge heart.”

Additional reporting by Lina Weingarten

Miller’s Ale House in Commack hosted a St. Baldrick’s Day event March 8 to raise money for childhood cancer research.

According to Wayne Forte, lead organizer, the event raised nearly $50,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation with 72 shavees. In the past 10 years, the Commack event has raised $500,000 for the  nonprofit.

On hand for the event were eight members of the Fr. Judge Knights of Columbus. At press time, the team raised nearly $6,000 for the cause, according to member Bob Slingo. The team is still accepting donations at www.stbaldricks.org/teams/FrJudgeKofC2020.

By Julianne Mosher

On Sunday, March 8, hundreds of people lined the streets in Huntington Village for the 86th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Led by this year’s grand marshal, the Honorable Judge Jerry Asher, the Ancient Order of the Hibernians kicked off the parade starting on New York Avenue and heading down Main Street. 

The streets were lined with green, with parade watchers celebrating the festivities outside village restaurants and bars. Music played from nearby pipe bands and the marching bands from Huntington and Walt Whitman high schools. The local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops marched alongside a group of dog lovers, whose pups were dressed all in green. 

Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) waved to the crowd as he walked by along with other elected officials. Members of the Order of the Ancient and Honorable Huntington Militia marched in old-fashioned costumes, as they fired shots to the excited crowd, and Irish step dancers performed in the middle of the street.

Along with the performers and politicians, the local fire and police departments marched along, showing off old-fashioned fire trucks and waving to the kids who watched in awe on the sidelines. 

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting and grand-opening celebration for Gypsy Hair Lounge on Feb. 27. Established in 2015, the salon recently moved from its Port Jefferson Station location on Nesconset Highway to the Three Village Shopping Center at 1389 Route 25A in East Setauket. The salon specializes in creative coloring, highlights, blowouts, extensions and event styling. 

Chamber members Michael Ardolino, Jane Taylor and Charlie Lefkowitz presented a Certificate of Congratulations to owner Nicole Digilio and welcomed her and her staff to the community. 

Hours of operation are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 631-374-6397.

Stock photo

The Mother Teresa Council Knights of Columbus will hold a blood drive at St. James R.C. Church, 429 Route 25A, E. Setauket on Thursday, March 12. The drive will be held from 3 to 8:30 p.m. in the Parish Center. For appointments or informaion, please call John at 631-474-1937 or email jedahl44@gmail.com.