By Heidi Sutton
October is such a great time of year with the lovely weather, the changing leaves, mums, pumpkin and apple picking and trick or treating. It also means the return of the holiday treat A Kooky Spooky Halloween at Theatre Three. With emphasis on the power of friendship and the importance of helping others, the original musical, written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Steve McCoy, runs through Oct. 30.
The star of the show is a nice ghost named Abner Perkins (Steven Uihlein) who has just graduated from Haunting High School. Awarded a medallion of invisibility, he is given the coveted assignment of haunting Ma Aberdeen’s Boarding House, famously known for being the most haunted house in Harrison County U.S.A … and for serving the best toast! Abner must abide by two rules — he can only haunt at night and he can’t lose the medallion or he’ll become visible and lose his powers.
There’s only one problem — Abner is afraid of the dark, which is “like a vampire who’s afraid of necks!” according to his best friend Lavinda the Witch (Alanna Rose Henriquez). She gives him a night light as a graduation present and promises to help him adjust to his ghostly duties.
When Abner and Lavinda arrive at the boarding house, they find the Petersons — Paul (Liam Marsigliano), his wife Penelope (Stephanie Moreau) and son Pip (Darren Clayton) — and Kit Garret (Heather Rose Kuhn), who has just come “from a small town to the big city with a suitcase in my hand and hope in my heart,” in the kitchen helping Ma Aberdeen (Ginger Dalton), the finest toast maker in the land, prepare treat bags for Halloween.
In one of the funniest moments in the show, Abner casts a speed spell on the group, making them dance, sing, spin like a top, quack like a duck and do jumping jacks in fast motion. His final spell of the night is to have them “join together like birds of a feather.”
Things are going hauntingly well until fellow graduate Dora Pike (Beth Ladd) appears out of thin air. Filled with jealousy, (she was hoping to be assigned to Ma Aberdeen’s boarding house) Dora steals Abner’s night light and medallion and threatens to drop them into Black Ridge Gulch, the deepest, darkest gorge in the entire world (where it’s really, really dark).
Still stuck to each other, the group can now see Abner who must convince them to help him retrieve his medallion and undo the spell. What follows is a “Golden Goose” moment throughout the theater that will leave you in stitches!
Peppered with Halloween riddles and jokes, the show is wonderful on so many levels. Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the 8-member adult cast know their target audience well and deliver standout performances with special mention to Ginger Dalton as Ma Aberdeen, a character she has played since the musical originated in 2017. I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role.
Accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock and choreographed by Sari Feldman, the song and dance numbers are the heart of the show, especially “Into the World I Go” by Abner, “A Witch Is a Person” by Lavinda, and the fun group numbers, “A Need for Speed” and “It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast.”
Jason Allyn’s gorgeous costumes are on fleek, from the ghosts dressed from head to toe in flowing white and the witch’s purple dress and pointy hat, to the Peterson’s coordinating orange and black outfits and the spooky lighting design by Steven Uihlein sets the mood and ties everything together perfectly.
Halloween is always such a fun holiday for children. This year, make it extra special and take them to see A Kooky Spooky Halloween. They’ll love you for it.
Snacks and beverages are available for purchase during intermission and costumes are encouraged. Souvenir cat, pumpkin, Frankenstein, Dracula and ghost dolls will be available for purchase before the show and during intermission for $5. Meet the entire cast in the lobby for a group photo.
Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents A Kooky Spooky Halloween on Saturdays, Oct. 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 11 a.m. and Sunday, Oct. 17 at 3 p.m. Children’s theatre continues with Barnaby Saves Christmas from Nov. 20 to Dec. 26, Puss-In-Boots from Jan. 15 to Feb 5, and a brand new production, Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz, from Feb. 23 to March 26. All seats are $10 and COVID protocols are in place. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.