By Michael Scro

Families huddled beneath umbrellas on a rainy Sunday evening to usher in the holiday season.

Kings Park Chamber of Commerce held its Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremony Dec. 3 at the hamlet’s Veterans Plaza. Tony Tanzi and Diane Motherway, chamber president and executive director, respectively, emceed the event, thanking everyone for their attendance despite inclement weather.

“We wanted to combine the tree lighting and menorah lighting into one ceremony to show that our community is united,” Tanzi said. “We are so proud of everyone that lives in this community,” adding, “We wish everyone Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.”

Blessings were also given by Cantor Phil Horowitz, from the Kings Park Jewish Center, and the Rev. Vitus Mbamalu, from St. Joseph’s Church in Kings Park, while the William T. Rogers Middle School band performed three songs.

Fathom Events’ Big Screen Classics series wraps up 2023 with the beloved 1983 comedy A Christmas Story— returning to select theaters nationwide in honor of its 40th anniversary on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.

It’s the final days before Christmas in early 1940s Indiana and 9-year-old Ralphie wants one thing from Santa more than anything else: a Red Ryder Carbine Action Air Rifle. As he trudges through the snow to school, faces the neighborhood bully and visits a malevolent department store Santa Claus, Ralphie connives, conspires, and campaigns for the most fabulous Christmas present ever in this heartwarming, hysterical and sweetly nostalgic holiday film.

Based on the tales of celebrated American humorist Jean Shepherd, who also provides the film’s trademark narration, “A Christmas Story” is directed by Bob Clark, from a script written by Shepherd, and Leigh Brown, and stars Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon.

Each screening includes an exclusive introduction by noted critic and historian Leonard Maltin, who discusses the Christmas classic’s surprising audience-driven success, and the charming story and magical cast that make the film such a rare masterpiece.

Locally the film will be screened at AMC Stony Brook 17, Island 16 Cinema de Lux in Holtsville and Showcase Cinema de Lux in Farmingdale. To order tickets in advance, visit 

Shoreham-Wading River senior Alex Makarewicz battles his way to the rim in a road game against Centereach. Photo by Bill Landon

The Cougars of Centereach opened their season when they hosted the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats (0-2) where both teams looked to put a “W” in the win column in a nonleague matchup Tuesday night Dec. 5.

Shoreham-Wading River had lost to Smithtown Christian and Hampton Bays to begin their season. Although the Wildcats had a 10-point advantage in the final minute of play, the Cougars closed the gap in the timeout-riddled final 20 seconds, where Shoreham escaped with a 42-38 victory.

Centereach retakes the court Dec. 9 when they host their crosstown rival Newfield before league play begins Dec. 12.

The win lifts the Wildcats to 1-2 with two more nonleague matchups before they hit the road to take on Port Jefferson to begin league play Dec. 21.

— Photos by Bill Landon

Erica Pereira will star as the Sugarplum Fairy in George Balanchine’s 'The Nutcracker.'

New York Dance Theatre will present its 41st season of “The Nutcracker” at Hofstra University in Hempstead on Saturday, December 16 and Sunday, December 17 with performances each day at noon and 5 p.m.  

Local young dancers will share the stage with New York City Ballet stars Erica Pereira (a Northport native) and Daneil Ulbricht. The girls, students at the Ohman School of Ballet in Commack, perform multiple roles in the iconic holiday story ballet including children in the Party Scene, Toy Soldiers and Mice in the Battle Scene, Snowflakes, Angels, and various confections in the Land of Sweets.

Eileen Huntsman, a seventh grader at East Northport Middle School from Northport, plays the central role of “Clara” in two of the four performances at Hofstra University.  Olivia Telis, an eigth grader at Candlewood Middle School will play the role of “Clara” in the other two performances. Amelia Novellino, a sixth grader at St. Patrick’s School in Smithtown and Elizabeth Pau, a fifth grader at Sawmill Intermediate in Commack, share the pivotal role of Clara’s brother “Fritz,” who breaks Clara’s Nutcracker and sets the plot in motion, each in two of the four performances.

This year’s cast includes young dancers from the area as follows: Elodie Hennessy and Violet Hennessy of Centerport; Amari Bhalla, Anna Clemente, Melina Cuccia, Elysena De Stefano, Brynn Farino, Anna Gross, Isabel Gross, Sofia Gross, Marilyn Ihasz, Emma Martir, Isabella Song, Alyssa Tavares, Sara Tobia, Nina Van Zandt, and Vivienne Vasquez of Commack; Priya Chan, Esther Cheong, Mikaela Gluck, Arpi Harutyunyan, Aviva Hellman, Galina Hellman, Ariel Kerley, Hazel Maccarone, Elizabeth Pau, Carina San José, Adrianna Stucchio, Annabelle Telis, and Olivia Telis of Dix Hills; Kaia Abdulkhalek, Amelie Brody, Knox Brody, Addison Candelaria, and Valentina Linardic of East Northport; Angelina Zhang of East Setauket; Seraphina Moger of Greenlawn; Sarah Shao and Charlotte Stratton of Huntington; Magdalen Schaefer of Kings Park; Olivia Deng of Melville; Mary Calefato of Nesconset; Eileen Huntsman, Penelope Moloney, and Henley Nemeth of Northport; Laila DarConte, Amelia Novellino, Chloe Foster, Samara Kolodny, Molly Haft, and Evelyn McCaughey of Smithtown; Sonya Russo of St. James; and Mira Chang of Stony Brook.

Through the years, NYDT founder Frank Ohman (1939-2019), a former student and soloist under George Balanchine, set his staging after his mentor’s iconic Lincoln Center version, and the production includes the original Sugarplum Fairy Pas de Deux from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker ® by permission of the George Balanchine Trust. In addition, Ohman created original dances and scenes that set his production apart from others on Long Island. 

New York City Ballet soloist Erica Pereira – a Long Island native – and principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht will perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier in all performances. Mr. Ulbricht also serves as an artistic advisor for the Ohman School of Ballet, a division of New York Dance Theatre, and has been a recurring master class instructor at the school.

With the elegant Christmas Party Scene, the drama of the magical growing Christmas Tree, the Battle of the Toy Soldiers and Giant Mice, the live snowstorm, and the brilliant dancing in the Land of the Sweets, “The Nutcracker” appeals to all ages.  In all, a cast of 80 children, pre-professional and professional dancers will bring this classic story ballet to life on the stage of the John Cranford Adams Playhouse.   The children’s roles are performed by students of the Frank Ohman School of Ballet in Commack and the School of American Ballet (the home school of New York City Ballet). New this year under the direction of NYDT /Ohman School of Ballet alumna/Executive Artistic Director Nicole Loizides is a semi-immersive pre-show experience that invites audience members into the Silberhaus home before the curtain rises, with the sights, smells and sounds of the Christmas Eve party that is the setting for the ballet. Loizides returns to the NYDT Nutcracker stage for the first time in over a decade, playing the role of Frau Silberhaus.

The 41st season of “The Nutcracker” kicks off the company’s 50th anniversary on Long Island and the annual holiday tradition the start of a year of revival and growth.  As Loizides explains, “This year’s theme is about bringing it home!  We are bringing to light the direction of the school and company as founder Frank Ohman intended. I am rooted in the vision of bringing a new awareness to dance on Long Island, from classical to folkloric to contemporary. Our roots are alive, our repertoire is expanding, and our outreach is wide. We are bringing new works to life by world renowned choreographers, restaging many of Frank Ohman’s classics, and staging works by dance icons including George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Agnes De Mille and Jerrome Robbins.”  

Tickets for this full production ballet are $45.00 and $35.00 (seniors and children 12 and under) plus $3 fee, available at or 631.462.0964.   Group discounts are available for 15 or more tickets in a single show and for Scout troops (ordered by phone and with Scout ID) as well as photo opportunities with specific ticket packages. Details about Covid-19 protocols for audience members are outlined on the website and are subject to change according to local government guidelines. A small portion of ticket sales goes to New York Dance Theatre’s Developpé program introducing dance to at-risk youth, foster families and children in need through workshops, classes, performances, mentors and scholarships in a partnership with Hope for Youth Long Island, Mommas House and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island.

About the Frank Ohman School of Ballet 

The Frank Ohman School of Ballet was founded in 1979 by Frank Ohman (1939-2019), former soloist at New York City Ballet (NYCB).  Located in Commack, the school serves as a training ground for promising young dancers and offers aspiring students the opportunity to learn classical ballet in the style passed down from George Balanchine to his protégé, Frank Ohman.  The school is a non-competition, non-recital school, focusing on proper classical ballet technique. A division of the New York Dance Theatre, Inc., the Ohman School has become an integral part of the company and is one of the very few not-for-profit ballet schools in the region.  It offers three studios with state-of-the art flooring to Balanchine specifications and a highly qualified teaching staff. Artistic advisors for the school include New York City Ballet principal Daniel Ulbricht and retired New York City Ballet principal Ask la Cour, who served as Artistic Director of the school following Frank Ohman’s passing, as well as former Dance Theatre of Harlem principal Da’Von Doane.

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Catch a screening of Disney's '101 Dalmations' at the Cinema Arts Centre on Dec. 10.

Nature Bingo

Join the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery, 1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor for a Kid’s Nature Bingo event on Dec. 9 and 23, Jan. 6 and 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. $15 per child includes 5 games and admission. Win prizes! Registration required by visiting 516-692-6768

Children’s Holiday Party

Celebrate St. James hosts its annual winter holiday party for kids at the St. James Calderone Theatre, 176 Second St., St. James on Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 1 to 3 p.m. Come make a special craft, join a sing along, enjoy yummy treats, take photos with Santa and take a goodie bag home. $20 per child and adult, $10 each additional child/adult. Register at 631-984-0201

Santa on the Farm

Santa Claus is coming back by to Long Island Game Farm, 489 Chapman Blvd., Manorville by popular demand. Meet the jolly fellow in the heated Woodland Hall on Dec. 9, 10, 16, and 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as Long Island Game Farm transforms into a holiday wonderland. Feed deer in the park, meet Santa Claus, bring your camera to take treasured family photos, enjoy a craft table, and explore the holiday gift boutique — all included in the admission fee. 631-878-6644.

Storytime Under the Stars

Join the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport for its next Storytime Under the Stars on Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. A live narrator at the front of the theater will bring selected seasonal picture books to life, with pages projected onto the Planetarium dome for families to enjoy the illustrations and follow along. Between stories, an astronomy educator will explore seasonal constellations visible from here on Long Island. Admission fee is $8 per person.


‘Barnaby Saves Christmas’

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson kicks off the holiday season with Barnaby Saves Christmas from Nov. 18 to Dec. 30. As Barnaby the elf and his reindeer friend Franklynne set off on their journey to save Christmas, they meet some new friends along the way and learn the true meaning of Christmas, Hanukkah, and the holiday season. All tickets are $12. To order, call 928-9100 or visit 

‘Frozen Jr.’

Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main Street, Smithtown presents Frozen Jr. from Dec. 2 to Jan. 21, 2024. The magical land of Arendelle comes to life onstage. When faced with danger, princesses Elsa and Anna discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. With a cast of beloved characters and loaded with magic, adventure, and plenty of humor, Frozen Jr. is sure to thaw even the coldest heart! Tickets are $25 per person. To order, visit See review on page B23.


Frosty returns to the John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport on weekends from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31. Join Jenny and Frosty on their chilly adventures as they try to save the town of Chillsville from mean old Ebenezer Pierpot and his evil machine that will melt all the snow. Jenny calls on her Mom, the mayor, and all of you to help her save her home, get Frosty to the North Pole, and make this holiday season a Winter Wonderland for one and all! All seats are $20. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit


‘The Polar Express’

Put on your PJ’s and join the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce for a Polar Express Experience at the Chamber Train Car, corner of Route 112 and Nesconset Highway, Port Jefferson Station for the holidays. Screenings of The Polar Express will be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22; and at noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23. $20 per person includes a bag of popcorn, bottle of water, hot chocolate, cookie, bell, and a visit with Santa! To register, visit

‘101 Dalmations”

Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington continues its Cinema for Kids! series with a screening of Walt Disney’s beloved animated masterpiece 101 Dalmatians on Dec. 10 at noon. Join a heroic cast of irresistible tail-wagging characters as they set out to rescue Pongo and Perdita’s puppies from Cruella de Vil. Rated G. Tickets are $12 adults, $5 children 12 and under.

By Julianne Mosher

Do you want to build a snowman? Well, if not now, then you definitely will after watching the latest production of Frozen Jr. at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. 

Based on the popular Disney film, Frozen, this show takes shape as a junior version of the hit 2018 Broadway musical performed by local kids with very big talents.  

Directed and choreographed by Katy Snair with musical direction by Vincent Donnadio, the show will have viewers smiling from start to finish. Ranging in age from 8 to 17, the 17-member cast is extremely talented and clearly love what they are doing. 

But first, a synopsis. The story follows two inseparable sisters who are princesses in the kingdom of Arendelle. The eldest, Elsa, was born with magical powers that allow her to create ice and snow. But as a young child, Elsa doesn’t know how to control her powers and while building a snowman wither her sister Anna, she accidentally harms her. While Anna is healed by the mysterious Hidden Folk (spiritual forest people), their parents decide it would be best to protect Anna by keeping the two apart. 

Anna has no memory of the accident and does not understand why her sister avoids her, locked away in her room wearing her silk blue gloves. When the parents are lost at sea, Elsa continues to stay away, quietly keeping her secret hidden from her sister and the outside world.

Ten years have passed and it is time for Elsa to become Queen, but on coronation day her magic unintentionally brings an eternal winter to the kingdom. Accused of sorcery, she flees into the mountains to hide. Anna enlists the help of Kristoff the icemaker to help her find her sister and free Arendelle from the spell. This is a true story of love and acceptance that will thaw the coldest of hearts.

The show starts with young Elsa (Jillian Cerrato) and young Anna (Erin Risolo) playing and spending time with each other, quickly growing into pre-teen Elsa (Anabelle Koelmel) and Anna (Bailey DeLauter). While these four may play the littler versions of the main characters, they shine just as bright with their charisma and talent. Then, right before our eyes, we meet adult Elsa (Amanda Sidman) and Anna (Alexa Oliveto) who are true stars of the show.

For performers just starting off their careers, they are in for really great futures in whatever they choose to do. Both Sidman and Oliveto are able to hold their notes in a very music-heavy production while dancing in floor-length gowns with ease.

During the coronation, we meet Kristoff (Jacob Donlon), Anna’s love interest. Without giving too much away, he’s going to be your least favorite character, but one of your favorite performers on the stage. 

Other standout performances came from Derek Hough (Hans) and his trusty reindeer sidekick, Sven (Michael Krebo). One favorite moment from the viewing was the first time Krebo came out dressed as the friendly reindeer, which was used as a talking puppet head that looked like the character. Emily Weaver’s rendition of the lovable snowman, Olaf (who likes warm hugs), was fantastic, too, making the audience laugh constantly.

Other costumes, designed by Kelly Mucciolo and Tim Conway, look straight out of the movie. Not only is Anna’s signature green dress on point, but Elsa’s costume change during “Let It Go” into her famous blue shimmering dress made the audience gasp, cheer and clap.

The set is minimal, but is welcomed by animated projections on a screen towards the back of the stage depicting different locations in the Kingdom of Arendelle, including the inside and outside of the castle, the snowy mountains and Elsa’s ice castle. During certain songs, you might expect to see some snow fall from the ceiling of the theater.

And one last nice addition to the day out is your chance to meet Elsa and Anna in the lobby for a photo. Don’t miss this adorable, wintery event perfect for pre and post-holiday fun.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown presents Frozen Jr. through Jan. 21. All seats are $25. To order, visit


By Rita J. Egan

Wet weather couldn’t stop Santa Claus from visiting Stony Brook Village Center as promised Dec. 3.

Santa’s appearance was part of the 44th annual Ward Melville Heritage Organization Holiday Festival. In addition to photos with the jolly elf, attendees spent the afternoon visiting with animals at the petting zoo and viewing the promenade of trees decked out for the holidays and the train display at W.L. Wiggs Opticians. Carolers also performed throughout the shopping center.

“Despite the weather, hundreds of people came out to see Santa arrive in Stony Brook on the antique fire engine for the 44th time,” said Gloria Rocchio, WMHO president. “What was added this year was a Grinch character to complement Santa, which the children loved. People noted the tree looked fuller than usual and was decorated beautifully. Hundreds tuned into the tree lighting in person and also remotely on our website.”

WMHO trustees and elected officials were on hand for the center’s tree lighting later in the day, followed by a private reception at the Long Island Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame. Santa showed up once again, telling guests he was surprised that not one child asked for a Barbie doll. He added the popular gift request this year was a Taylor Swift-branded acoustic guitar.

Save the date! The Three Village Holiday Electric Parade returns to Setauket on Sunday, Dec. 10 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Presented by the Rotary Club of Stony Brook, the procession will begin at the Setauket Elementary School on Main Street and march down Route 25A to Setauket Pond Park. Holiday floats will light up the night with a spectacular display of dazzling lights along with bands,  clubs, businesses and of of course Santa! For more information, visit

High school drama production draws a crowd to two performances

Photo courtesy MPSD

The Miller Place Panther Troupe recently captivated audiences with two performances of their fall drama production “The Curious Savage,” written by John Patrick.

“I’d like to commend the actors, set designers, musicians and everyone involved in the incredible production of ‘The Curious Savage,’” said Superintendent of Schools Seth Lipshie. “Our students put on two engaging performances that moved their audience with scenes that were both poignant and comedic. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

Over the course of this fall, cast members developed their characters and honed their acting skills while crew members sharpened their technical theater skills and helped curate the set. Director Jenna Ely and assistant director Colleen Annicelli led a talented cast that had their audiences laughing, crying and thoroughly enjoying the show.

The Miller Place Panther Troupe captivates audiences with two performances of ‘The Curious Savage,’ written by John Patrick. Photos courtesy MPSD

“The Curious Savage” follows the story of an elderly widow named Ethel Savage who was left $10 million from her late husband. She seeks to donate the fortune, but her stepchildren seek to thwart her plan and have her committed to a sanatorium.

She bonds with the kind residents there and discovers the meaning of love and family. The dramatic comedy opened on Broadway in 1950 and starred Lillian Gish as Ethel Savage.

For their work on “The Curious Savage,” the Miller Place Panther Troupe is eligible for the East End Arts’ 22nd annual Teeny Awards. The annual high school theater awards show, given its name as a reference to the Tony Awards, will take place this June.

For more information about the Miller Place school district, please visit the district’s website at To read more about the great things happening in Miller Place schools, visit

Rocky Point Middle School students present the school musical, ‘The Wizard of Oz: Youth Edition.’ Photo courtesy RPSD

Rocky Point Middle School followed the yellow brick road and presented its successful school musical, “The Wizard of Oz: Youth Edition,” on Nov. 17 and 18.

The annual production brought together 112 students, 13 teachers and countless family and community members for a successful and joyful collaboration of theater and joyful music making.

“The students and staff involved in this production worked incredibly hard this year,” said Amy Schecher, Rocky Point’s secondary music department chairperson. “We are fortunate to have such talented students and dedicated faculty here in Rocky Point. A production of this magnitude also could not be possible without the continual encouragement of the parents of the cast and crew.”