Theater

The cast of 'The Three Little Pigs.' Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

The well-known story of “The Three Little Pigs” is a timeless children’s fable that has been around for hundreds of years. With his stomach growling, a big, bad wolf comes upon three pigs who have each built homes from different materials — straw, wood and brick. After the wolf easily blows down the first two houses, the pigs run to the third pig’s brick house. When the wolf fails to blow down the brick house, he decides to go down the chimney and ultimately meets a bitter end.

With book and lyrics by Jeffrey Sanzel and music by the late Brent Erlanson, Theatre Three’s version, which opened last weekend, gives us a kinder, gentler version of the fable, throws in two homeless mice and gives the wolf the talent to rap. Spoken entirely in song and verse, which is a quite delightful experience, this show is fresh, funny and downright adorable, making it the perfect choice for younger audiences, especially first-time theatergoers.

From left, Jessica Contino, Andrew Gasparini and Emily Gates in a scene from ‘The Three Little Pigs’. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Sanzel skillfully directs an energetic adult cast of six, all who seem to be having the time of their lives. The musical numbers, accompanied on piano by Steve McCoy, are the heart of the show with special mention to “You’ve Got Me, I’ve Got You,” and “You Build a House, You Find a Dream.”

The story centers on three little pigs who have decided to become independent of each other and, with suitcases in hand, go off to build their own homes. Little Pig, played wonderfully by Jessica Contino, decides to build her house with straw. “There’s no law I can’t build with straw,” she quips.

“Sticks are the way I say,” says the grouchy Middle Pig (Andrew Gasparini) who thinks he’s better than everyone else. “Pay attention and you will see, there’s no one in existence who compares with me,” seems to be his favorite saying. Gasparini takes this juicy role and runs with it.

Emily Gates is perfectly cast as the Older Pig who builds a brick house. Mature and wise and kind, her character’s ability to open her heart to friend, stranger or foe is a welcome sight in today’s world.

Melanie Acampora and Steven Uihlein make a great team as Sister and Brother Mouse (Sigh!) who are down on their luck and seek help from the pigs. Being turned away because they are different is difficult to watch.

From left, Jessica Contino, Andrew Gasparini, Emily Gates and Dylan Robert Poulos. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

But it is Dylan Robert Poulos as Mr. Wolf who huffs, yeah, and puffs, yeah, and steals the show. “I’m a wolf with a cause, but with dangerous claws,” he growls as he chases the pigs throughout the theater. Poulos’ performance in “Mr. Wolf [W]raps It Up” is an instant favorite with the audience as he raps with the other cast members and performs amazing backflips across the stage.

As seen in every children’s production at Theatre Three, the show uses this opportunity to teach moral lessons — in this case, embracing diversity and going beyond tolerance. “We’re all the same, the only difference is race and name,” says the wiser Older Pig. The act of sharing is also emphasized.

The costumes, designed by Teresa Matteson, are perfect, from pink pig ears to little pig tails. Even the pig’s suitcases match their specific houses! Did I mention this show is adorable? The set, designed by Randall Parsons, alternates between the three pig houses but still allows for plenty of imagination, which is a very good thing.

Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for photo ops.

Theatre Three, located at 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Three Little Pigs” through Feb. 25. The season will continue with “Raggedy Ann & Andy” from March 4 to 25, “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” from April 12 to May 6 and “The Princess and the Pea” from May 27 to June 10. Sensory-friendly performances are available during each production. All seats are $10. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

From left, Alan Inkles, Lee Wilkof, Director, ‘No Pay, No Nudity’; Ryan Lacen and Anthony Baldino, co-directors of ‘The Dust Storm’; and actor Ralph Macchio at last year’s Stony Brook Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Staller Center for the Arts

By Rita J. Egan

When Alan Inkles, director of the Staller Center for the Arts, moved from Brooklyn to Port Jefferson Station at the age of 11, the stage was being set for him to one day play an integral part in creating an impressive cultural and arts community right here on Long Island.

After graduating from Comsewogue High School, he headed out to Los Angeles to play soccer and study acting. After discovering he wasn’t cut out for college sports, he seized the opportunity to concentrate on the craft of acting and honed his talents working on commercials and pilots. Fortunately, for Long Islanders, he soon returned to New York and enrolled at Stony Brook University, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theater arts.

The founder of the Stony Brook Film Festival, his loyalty to the university has paid off for local residents who can attend high-quality shows just minutes away from their own homes. His success is a combination of meeting the needs of performers, being open to the opinions of audience members and appreciating his hard-working team, generous sponsors and the university’s supportive administration.

Recently, while nursing the flu and screening movies for the upcoming annual film festival, the director, who has brought the likes of Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte, Patti LuPone and more to the center, took time to answer a few questions about his stellar career.

Alan Inkles with Broadway star Kelli O’Hara who performed at the Staller Center on Dec. 10 of last year. Photo courtesy of the Staller Center

How long have you been the director of the Staller Center, and how did you get the job there?

I injured my knee while performing in 1983, and I had just graduated from Stony Brook and had worked as a student for the Fine Arts Center [the original name of Staller Center] during my years. And, as I couldn’t perform with my injury for a while, I asked the director of the center, Terry Netter, if he could use a theater manager — which I had done as a student. He hired me and at least seven titles later and an International Theatre Festival that I created — what really kept me interested in the early years — and  beginning to do all the programming in 1992, I took over as director upon Terry’s retirement in 1995. So, I guess officially I’ve been the director for 21 years.

You have a long history with Stony Brook University. What do you love about it?

What don’t I love about Stony Brook University? I did my undergraduate and graduate studies here. Two of my three kids and my son-in-law graduated from here, and I’ve been here as an employee and student for almost 37 years. I’ve enjoyed working for three presidents and almost a dozen provosts — permanent and acting ones, have made numerous friends with faculty, staff over the years, and have the greatest staff anyone could dream of having — some of which have been with me for my entire time as director. I love the energy of the students, the challenges that a public university continues to throw my way and the amazing ambiance of a continually growing and improving university. Stony Brook is about its amazing people, and I’ve been fortunate to be a member of this great collegial community for so long.

You’ve been credited with making the center what it is today. How did you go about that?

I guess longevity allows that to work. My predecessor Terry Netter opened the Staller Center back in 1976, 1977. It was a different time. You know back in those days the center was really more for the university, supporting the music department, the theater department, which we still do, and they did a couple of ballets and orchestras.

Early on when I started getting the itch, Terry asked to me to start programming. It was growing pains because I wanted to do more jazz and pop and children’s programs, because that’s what I saw we needed to do, because it was a different era. The arts centers of the 1960s and ’70s doing orchestras and ballets were great, and we continued to do them, but we needed to diversify. We needed to get broader. So, he really gave me a lot of leeway to go out and try to find these programs, and I liked the challenge.

What does it take to coordinate all the events the Staller Center presents during a year?

A great team. I can go to a conference, and I come back, and yesterday while being home laying in a bed (recovering from the flu), call my team up and say we’re booking Peter Cincotti. And, within 24 hours, we got a press release, the website, an email, the machine ready on social media, my production team going through the rider knowing exactly what we need so that I was able to approve it because there’s certain needs we have to get for the show. All this happens in 24 hours. I’m not so sure Live Nation could even pull it off in 24 hours!

So it starts with a great team, the confidence that I have the support of my provost (we have a new one this year, Michael Bernstein, who is really great) and a president who basically said to me, the third one I have worked for, “You raise the money, you bring in the audience, you got carte blanche.”

In addition to the performances at the center, you also coordinate the Stony Brook Film Festival. What does preparing for that entail?

Fortunately, over the years my contract administrator, my associate, Kent Marks, has taken on a good chunk of that. He’s great, and my staff have also helped pre-screen a lot of the movies. In the early days, I admit I watched everything. In the first 15, 16 years of the festival I was watching all 400 to 600 films coming in and picking 40. In the last five years we have had over 3,000 films coming in each year.

What have been your favorite personal accomplishments since being director of the center?

That’s an interesting question as I don’t think I’ve really given much thought to personal accomplishments. I’ve really always tried to focus on bringing quality programs in the arts to our faculty, staff, students and community over the years and always have tried to secure excellence and try to both entertain and enlighten our audiences and occasionally challenge them. Personally, I felt a great accomplishment in pulling off a 10-year run of a major International Theatre Festival early on in my career, and when I think back to my first trip to Sundance in 1999, and thinking about how little I knew about film festivals, I certainly am very proud of the fact that we have created a significant and lasting annual festival that grows every year in importance, quality and attendance. I’ve watched dozens of branded festivals in recent years dissolve as we gain strength.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t beam about the Outreach & Education program my staff and I have built. With just an idea over a decade ago to significantly reach out to communities and young people on Long Island, we now provide hundreds of programs at Staller and in our communities and serve several thousands of individuals who may not have had the opportunity to partake in the arts with workshops, school/library performances and complimentary Staller tickets. This is, of course, important for the future of the arts, and I am very proud of this growing and important part of our operation.

What are your plans for the Staller Center’s future?

I spent a great deal of time last weekend at the annual arts center/producer/ talent booking conference discussing with agents and artists and colleagues that we need to be creative, daring and also listen to our audience going forward. This digital era provides so much entertainment for people where they never need to leave their homes or their phones. We have to find ways through unique, different and exciting programs in the arts — theater, music, art and film — to take people away from their own arts centers —their 70-inch screen TVs.

It means continuing to be relevant so that corporate and private individuals will support us so we can bring these exciting programs to our campus and community, continue to keep the prices reasonable and make them available to all. I can promise you, I will continue to search far and wide for these live programs and films and continue to ask before I book something, “Is this something my audience needs to see?” That line has replaced the line that used to be, “What do they want to see?” And, when I stop asking that question and feel I can’t lift that proverbial rock any higher to find that program, I’ll know it’s time to pass on the baton. Fortunately, I don’t see that time coming too soon, and I’m also so grateful that my staff seems to want to keep me around a bit longer as well!

From left, Matt Paredi, Louis Brady, Emma Geer and David Gow in a scene from 'Peter and the Starcatcher'. Photo by Justin Albinder

By Heidi Sutton

We’re all familiar with J.M. Barrie’s beloved story of “Peter Pan” about the wonderful adventures of a young boy who can fly and never grows up. The bedtime story filled our dreams with fairies, pirates, Indians, mermaids and who can forget Nana, the Darling’s St. Bernard. Many of us remember Disney’s 1953 animated version with great fondness.

The cast of ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’. Photo by Justin Albinder

But have you ever wondered how Peter Pan came to fly, why he lives on Neverland, how Captain Hook really lost his hand, how the crocodile came to swallow a clock and why he’s so big? Have you puzzled over where Wendy’s brother John got that top hat, why Peter and Captain Hook are bitter enemies and why Peter Pan came to visit the Darling family in London in the first place?

“Peter and the Starcatcher,” which opened last Saturday at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, answers all these burning questions and more. Billed as a prequel to “Peter Pan,” the Tony award-winning musical written by Rick Elice and based on the children’s novel “Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, catches up with Peter right before he becomes Pan.

Best suited for ages 10 and above, the hilarious, yet sometimes confusing, production invites the audience into an imaginary world where ropes represent walls, people stand in for squeaky doors and pirates fight with plungers and broom handles instead of swords.

Ken Washington brilliantly directs a multitalented 12-member cast, each playing multiple roles (over 100) throughout the show with boundless energy and harmony, effectively moving from one character and stage position to another to tell the story.

On orders of the Queen, two ships, The Neverland and The Wasp and their crews are bound for the Kingdom of Rundoon, each carrying identical trunks — one containing precious “star stuff” and the other filled with sand to distract pirates. Joining the crews on their mission is 13-year-old Molly Aster (the future Mrs. Darling) who is studying to be a “starcatcher” under the direction of her father, Lord Leonard Aster, and three young orphan boys — Peter, Ted and Prentiss — who are to be sold into slavery. When The Wasp turns out to be a pirate ship led by a pre-Hook Black Stache, Molly’s father is captured, leaving Molly and Peter to make sure the pirates never get their hands on the treasure, which has magical powers.

David Gow is terrific as Peter the orphan who, with a little nurturing from Molly (played by the wonderful Emma Geer) comes out of his shell and saves the day. Peter’s friends, Ted and Prentiss (Louis Brady and Matt Paredi,) compliment each other perfectly; one obsessed with being the leader and the other with food, especially pork.

Ryan Nolin as Black Stache and Rick Grossman as Smee in a scene from ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’. Photo by Justin Albinder

While the entire cast delivers top-notch performances, it is Ryan Nolin, as Black Stache, who steals the show with his flamboyant and over-the-top performance in every scene, made possible only by his sidekick Smee, played by Rick Grossman. When he loses his hand, Black Stache asks Smee, “What do I do now?” “I’m stumped sir,” is the reply. Special mention should be made of Jordan Hue’s spirited performance in the role of Fighting Prawn, leader of the Mollusk tribe.

Washington perhaps describes the show best in his director’s notes: ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ … begins with a mob of actors center stage, a community waiting to happen, and we end with those same people, back with a purpose … we know it’s the beginning of something. It is that collective strength and community purpose that I hope you’ll remember. It’s what this play is all about, but it’s also what all theatre is, why we love it and need it so.”

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown will present “Peter and the Starcatcher” through Feb. 25. Tickets are $35 adults, $32 seniors, $20 students. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Above, from left, Brittany Lacey as Syliva and Steve Ayle as Greg. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

By Michael Tessler

There are few bonds greater than between a man and his dog, and sometimes there are few bonds stranger! Theatre Three begins the new year with the wonderfully clever off-Broadway comedy, “Sylvia,” written by A.R. Gurney.

This light-hearted romp introduces us to Greg, a man midway into his midlife crisis. He’s had it all: a happy family, a stable corporate job, even a great apartment in the heart of Manhattan … but now with an empty nest, retirement just around the bend and a fading flame of a marriage, he does what any sane person would do — he adopts a stray puppy from the park!

Brittany Lacey and Steve Ayle in a scene from ‘Sylvia’. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Directed by Bradlee E. Bing, this performance offers more than laughs; it is a philosophical journey through the complexities of aging and relationships. One can’t help but become emotionally invested in Bing’s incredibly talented cast of actors. His production never wastes a beat. Even as dialogue happens on one side of the stage, Bing cleverly places subtle action on the other, giving way to a truly immersive performance.

Peter Casdia, the stage manager, runs a tight and efficient shift backstage. The show’s set, designed by Randall Parsons, is simple but very effective. Alternating between an apartment, local park and office, you’ll easily keep track of where you are from location to location. Robert W. Henderson Jr.’s lighting design is subtle but quite efficacious.

This show’s quick-wit script and sublime cast doesn’t require the usual pomp and circumstance when it comes to the show’s lighting or set. Its simplicity is its strength, letting the audience dive head first into this character-centric performance.

Steve Ayle, who portrays Greg, is perfectly cast. His ability to transcend both comedy and drama give him a unique ability as a performer. Many actors on stage tend to become victims of overacting, a desperate need to evoke a reaction from the audience. Ayle, as testament to his ability as actor, does just the opposite. His authentic humor is a delight and is so genuinely played that you will in earnest believe him in all of his actions. When watching his performance you’ll find yourself asking:“Why the heck isn’t this guy on TV? He’s great!”

From left, Kate (Linda May) and Sylvia face off in a jealous rage in a scene from ‘Sylvia.’ Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Theatre Three veteran Linda May plays Greg’s wife Kate, a witty English teacher who has dedicated her life to educating underprivileged youth in the works of William Shakespeare. With her children off at college, Kate delves into her work, turning a new leaf in her professional career. Things are turned upside down when her husband of several decades finds himself with a rather unhealthy attachment to his new dog, the eponymous Sylvia.

In one of my favorite exchanges, Kate finds herself on the floor facing off with Sylvia in jealous rage. The act of one woman and one dog, going nose to nose over the affection and love of their shared man is strikingly comical and brilliantly performed.

Brittany Lacey, the star of Theatre Three’s wonderful performance of “Legally Blonde,” is back and is nothing short of a real (dog) treat! Her versatility as an actress shines as she takes on the show’s titular four-legged character, Sylvia, a bouncy, frisky poodle mix. Lacey wastes no time in establishing believability, capturing and personifying perfectly the internal dialogue of a dog. Her physicality during the show is tremendously funny and her dialogue is delivered with refreshing gusto. Lacey’s profanity-laced rant about cats is perhaps the show’s greatest sequence, saying what we’ve all felt about cats at one time or another!

Sylvia’s sensuous romp with neighborhood dog Bowser gives way to some incredible comedic material. You’ll find yourself desperate for air during her barrel of fun performance. When paired with her owner, Greg, you get the opportunity to see two incredibly talented actors really delve into their craft. Their scenes together are some of the best in the show and really capture the unique love between a man and his dog.

Matt Senese in a scene from ‘Sylvia’. Photo by Brian Hoerger, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Last but certainly not least is the show’s everyman (and woman) Matt Senese. Though I don’t want to spoil all the fun, this multifaceted actor delivers huge laughs playing three separate supporting roles as both a man and a woman. For his explosively funny performance alone, go see this show!

Theatre Three’s Athena Hall is looking more beautiful as ever. The cozy, elegant and historical theater is the perfect venue in which to escape reality. Now offering accessibility with an elevator lift and a refurbished wheelchair-friendly bathroom, the theater remains a sanctuary for all those with a love of the arts. Oh, and the ushers are the best around! All in all, “Sylvia” is a perfect way to start the new year. Light, funny and endearing, this show’s short run doesn’t stop it from being big fun!

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Sylvia” on the Mainstage through Feb. 4. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 ages 5 to 12. Children under 5 not permitted. Wednesday matinee is $20. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

David Gow

By Rebecca Anzel

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts is currently gearing up for the second show of its 15th anniversary season, the award-winning musical play “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which will open on Jan. 14. Based on the 2006 children’s novel of “Peter and the Starcatchers,” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and adapted for the stage by Rick Elice, the play, according to the SCPA’s press release, is a swashbuckling grown-up prequel to “Peter Pan.”

The show appeared on Broadway from 2012 to 2013 and won five Tony Awards including Best Play and Best Original Score (Wayne Barker). At the time, The New York Times wrote that it was “the most exhilarating Broadway storytelling in decades.”

The role of Peter Pan will be played by 25-year-old actor David Gow, a Houston, Texas, native who graduated last May from the North Carolina School of Arts with a bachelor’s of fine arts in drama. Gow, who now resides in Harlem, was most recently in “The Beast’s Beauty” at Lincoln Center, in the role of the Beast, and in an off-broadway play titled “Chokehold.” I recently spoke with the actor about his latest role as “the boy who wouldn’t grow up.”

Why did you decide to try out for this role?

Playing Peter was at the top of my list of dream roles, so I was constantly searching for auditions for it as soon as I moved to New York. Once I saw Smithtown was doing it I was all in, and I roped my friend Emma Geer, who plays the role of Molly, into doing it too!

What is the play about?

The story slowly fills in the questions people have about Peter Pan but in a very subtle way, while simultaneously adding plot lines that are so brilliantly spontaneous the audience couldn’t possibly predict them. It’s definitely an action/adventure and has really a bit of everything in it. It switches effortlessly from action, farce and drama.

What is your favorite scene?

I love the scene where Black Stache/Captain Hook and Peter meet for the first time. There’s something so iconic about how the two of them are drawn to each other despite being mortal enemies. I also love the last scene of the play, but you’ll have to come see the show to see what happens!

What is your favorite musical number?

I like “Swim On” the best — it is the closing song of Act 1.

I understand that 12 actors will be taking on the roles of over 100 characters?

The 12 actors playing 100 roles has been the biggest challenge, but also I think the most rewarding. We really have nothing but a couple of ropes, trunks and ladders. We get to create everything else ourselves, which lets the audience jump from scene to scene instantaneously. I play a few other roles quickly, like a pirate and sailor here and there.

What is it like working with the rest of the cast?

The cast could not have been more welcoming to the actors who were new (myself included). A lot of them have done shows here for years, but I felt like we all clicked pretty immediately. There’s not a weak link in the group.

What is it like working with the director, Ken Washington?

Ken is definitely a veteran director and comes very prepared to every rehearsal. Very positive and enthusiastic about the show. It’s been such a wonderful room to come into every night.

Is this a show for all ages?

I’d say more than almost any other show, this show is ABSOLUTELY for all ages. It has the excitement and humor for adults to enjoy, while also having elements perfectly geared toward children as well. Totally appropriate.

Why should people come out to see this show?

“Peter and the Starcatcher” is to “Peter Pan” as “Wicked” is to the “Wizard of Oz.” All of your previous questions about Peter Pan are answered in this show. Come find out why Peter Pan can fly, why Captain Hook only has one hand and why none of the boys are growing up. The show has everything: nonstop action and adventure; it will make you roll on the floor laughing and also provides incredibly touching moments. I actually don’t know anyone who I would not recommend this show to. It really is for everyone!

The Smithtown Center for Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown, will present “Peter and the Starcatcher” from Jan. 14 to Feb. 25. Tickets are $35 adults, $32 seniors and $20 for students with a valid ID. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.com.

Join Tom Manuel and the Syncopated Seven as they ring in the New Year at the Jazz Loft

By Erika Riley

New Year’s Eve is the holiday to close out the season, and there is no better way to celebrate Dec. 31 than to do something fun for the night. Whether you’re in the mood for music, comedy or to simply see a movie before you head out for the night, the North Shore offers several great ways to spend the evening.

Huntington

Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre will screen ‘Lion’ starring Dev Patel on New Year’s Eve

The Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington will be hosting a celebration of film on New Year’s Eve. There will be food, drinks, films and friends! First, attendees will have their pick of three films to view before the ball drops including “Jackie” starring Natalie Portman (8:15 p.m.), “Lion” starring Dev Patel (8:30 p.m.) and a third movie that is yet to be announced. After the movie screenings, guests can join the party in the Sky Room Cafe for some delicious food, cake and champagne toasts while viewing the ball dropping in Times Square on a television in the Cafe. Tickets are $40 per person, $35 members, and may be purchased online at www.cinemaartscentre.org or via phone at 631-423-FILM.

Port Jefferson

Paul Anthony will bring his comedy act to Theatre Three on New Year’s Eve

This year, Theatre Three, located at 412 Main Street in Port Jefferson will be offering a comedy show titled “New Year’s Laughin’ Eve” at two different times, featuring some of the biggest names in comedy. The “early bird” show will begin at 6 p.m. and run until 7:30 p.m., and the later show will start at 8 p.m. and end by 9:30 p.m., giving attendees plenty of time to take in a New Year’s party and watch the ball drop after the show. Douglas Quattrock, director of development and group sales and special events coordinator, says that the event is a great alternative for those who don’t want to go out to a bar but still want to go do something. “It’s a great way to kick off the new year and end the holiday season,” Quattrock said. “There’s no better medicine than laughter.”

There will be three comedians at the show, the first being Paul Anthony from Massapequa. Anthony is the host of the Long Island Comedy Festival and the host of the new 50+ Comedy Tour, a group of comedians who are targeting their comedy to a slightly older generation. The second guest is Rich Walker, who has been named the Best Comedian on Long Island two years in a row, has headlined in Las Vegas, and has been featured by the New York Times and the third comedian is Keith Anthony, who has been featured on Showtime, A&E and Comedy Central, and has also headlined his own shows. Quattrock said that while the comedy isn’t for kids, it’s also not brute or offensive. Tickets for the shows are $49 per person at the door, $45 in advance at www.theatrethree.com or by calling 631-928-9100.

Smithtown

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown will present a New Year’s Eve comedy show titled “Loads of Laughs,” featuring six headlining comics. Of the six comics, Ken Washington of the center said, “The comedians are always top of the line ‘headlining’ comics who have been seen on a variety of different media outlets as well as comedy clubs throughout the area.” Eddie Clark, former cop and current full-time comic, will be in attendance, as well as seasoned comedians Marvin Bell and Matt Burke. Guests can also expect to see Peyton Clarkson, winner of the New York City Laugh-Off, Joe Currie, a member of several bands as well as a comic, and Warren Holstein, club headliner and occasional contributor to SNL’s “Weekend Update.” Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $180 per couple or $90 per person (there is a $10 discount for members) and include a buffet of Italian hors d’oeuvres and light fare as well as an open bar of wine and beer. Dessert will be served during intermission and a champagne toast will be made to ring in the New Year. To order, call 631-724-3700. Note: Show contains adult language.

Stony Brook

The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook, will be hosting a New Year’s Eve Celebration featuring jazz musician Tom Manuel and the Syncopated Seven from 7:30 to 12:30 p.m. The performance will also showcase guest artist Melanie Marod, who is a modern jazz vocalist who performs regularly around popular clubs in New York City. “What I’m most excited about is just having a wonderful group of people together in such a classy exciting place with such great music, I feel like when you put together great food and great people and great music it’s a guaranteed home-run evening,” said Manuel , who is also the curator and director of the Jazz Loft. Tickets are $150 per person, which includes a buffet dinner catered by the Three Village Inn, cocktail hour and a champagne toast at midnight. To order, call 631-751-1895 or visit www.thejazzloft.org.

A scene from ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Theatre Three. File photo

Port Jefferson: Theatre Three, currently in its 33rd annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” is the first Long Island theater to participate in the Mannequin Challenge, a viral internet video trend where people remain frozen in time while a camera films them.

“We had over fifty people involved, including cast, crew, designers, staff, family and friends of the theater. It was a great way to bring everybody together to do something that celebrates the community that is Theatre Three’s Christmas Carol,” said Artistic Director and resident Scrooge Jeffrey Sanzel.

In the two-minute and 20-second video, viewers are transported through the historic theater beginning at the box office, into the lobby and past the audience sitting in their seats. The camera then captures a scene of “A Christmas Carol” frozen in time and proceeds to take the viewer backstage and behind the scenes, all to the tune of “Carol of the Bells.”

To view the video, please visit www.theatrethree.com.

From left, Managing Director Vivian Koutrakos, 2016 Volunteer of the Year Megan Bush, Executive Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel and Group Sales and Director of Development Douglas Quattrock. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Heidi Sutton

Port Jefferson: Theatre Three’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year was announced at the end of last Saturday night’s performance of “A Christmas Carol.” According to Executive Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel, the award is given out every year to someone who has made a contribution without asking for anything in return.

This year’s recipient is 17-year-old Megan Bush, who has been with the theater since age 7. A senior at Ward Melville High School, Megan began her relationship with the theater as an acting student playing the role of Want in “A Christmas Carol.”

“For the past 10 years we have watched Megan grow up,” said Sanzel. “She has been a teaching assistant, she has been a teacher in our Dramatic Academy, she has been a stage manager — one of the youngest in the history of the theater — she has been my personal assistant on various productions as an assistant director, she has worked with the young people in all the casts of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the one word in her vocabulary that does not exist is the word ‘no.’ Nobody deserves this award more than she does,” he said.

Megan, whose mother Dana and sister Sarah were past recipients of the same award, was visibly surprised at the announcement. “What makes tonight so special is that we are continuing a tradition,” said Sanzel.

Ward Melville High School students performed ‘Sweeney Todd’ as this year’s school musical. Photo courtesy of Three Village School District
 Ward Melville High School students performed ‘Sweeney Todd’ as this year’s school musical.  Photo courtesy of the Three Village Central School District
Ward Melville High School students performed ‘Sweeney Todd’ as this year’s school musical.
Photo courtesy of the Three Village Central School District

sweeney-todd-1East Setauket: Ward Melville High School student-actors and musicians recently dazzled audiences when they took to the stage to perform the Tony Award-winning musical “Sweeney Todd.” The story tells the tale of a famed barber who returns to work above a struggling pie shop under an alias after being wrongly sentenced to life. Working with the baker, Mrs. Lovett, the pair seek vengeance against the corrupt judge who sentenced Todd and end up traveling down a path with deadly consequences. From the opening number, the cast impressed the packed audiences and kept them entertained until the final curtain call.

unknown-2The Seiskaya Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” a perennial holiday favorite on Long Island, returns to Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts for a six-performance run from Friday, Dec. 16 to Monday, Dec. 19. This classical ballet rendition has earned praise from critics and audiences alike. Hailed in its 1995 debut as Long Island’s most lavish “Nutcracker,” the Seiskaya Ballet production of the classic holiday ballet is a truly international collaboration, choreographed by world-renowned Russian-born choreographer Valia Seiskaya.

This year’s cast will be led by guest artist Nick Coppula (pictured above), formerly with the Pittsburgh Ballet, who will play the role of Cavalier, and Seiskaya’s award-winning principal dancers Jenna Lee, Diana Atoian and Brianna Jimenez (pictured above) along with first soloists Max Lippman, Jamie Bergold, Amber Donnelly and Lara Caraiani.

Performances will be held on Friday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 18 at 1 and 6 p.m. and Monday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 adults, $34 children and seniors, and $30 for groups of 20 or more; on sale now at the Staller Center Box Office at 631-632-ARTS and at www.nutcrackerballet.com. (Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour prior to all performances. Online seat selection is available for all shows.)