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Cassidy Rose O’Brien

By Heidi Sutton

Spring has sprung in Port Jefferson and that means the return of one of Theatre Three’s most popular children shows, The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Brent Erlanson with music by Kevin F. Story, the original musical is based on the characters and stories created by Beatrix Potter and is too cute for words.

When the lights dimmed at last Saturday’s show, all the children in the audience shouted “It’s starting!” and settled in to watch eight uber talented actors — Sean Amato (Peter Rabbit), Kyle Breitenbach (Benjamin Bunny), Elizabeth Ladd (Mrs. Rabbit), Cassidy Rose O’Brien (Flopsy), Julia Albino (Mopsy), Courtney Gilmore (Cotton-Tail), Gina Lardi (Mrs. McGregor) and Liam Marsigliano (Mr. McGregor) — bring the mischievous adventures of Peter Rabbit and his cousin Benjamin Bunny to life just in time for Spring Break.

The audience is whisked away to the countryside home of Mrs. Rabbit and her four bunnies who live next to Mr. and Mrs. McGregor who spend the day tending to their pride and joy — their garden. 

While Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail listen to their mother by staying inside and doing their chores, Peter Rabbit and his cousin Benjamin Bunny sneak out to steal from their neighbor’s garden again and again to satisfy their insatiable appetite for carrots, lettuce, peas, parsley and string beans.

When his patience grows thin, the farmer, who’s “a meanie with a temper like a bear,” makes it his mission to stop these bunnies once and for all. At first, Peter is caught but manages to wiggle out his socks and shoes and jacket and hat to escape. The second time Peter is not so lucky. Will he become rabbit stew or will his family come to the rescue?

Directed by Steven Uihlein, the show has so many wonderful moments. When Peter sneaks off to the garden, his sisters go searching for him and ask the audience members if they’ve seen him. (“He’s right behind you!”) When Peter returns home after losing his clothes, he recounts the story and the entire scene is retold in slow motion as Mrs. Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail watch from the sidelines.

The wonderful song and dance numbers, choreographed by Sari Feldman and accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, are terrific with special mention to “One More Time Around,” “Run, Peter, Run” and the fun hip-hop number, “Peter’s Socks.” The final number incorporates all of the songs in a super mega-mix extravaganza. Costumes by Jason Allyn, from the bunnies’ spring dresses in pink, purple, green and red to their white bunny tails, pull it all together perfectly.

Don’t miss this show — you and your kids are guaranteed to love it. Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show for photos.

Sponsored by Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents The Adventures of Peter Rabbit through April 27.

Saturday Apr. 20 & 27 @ 11:00 am
Wednesday Apr. 24 @ 11:00am
Thursday Apr. 25 @ 11:00am
Friday Apr. 26 @ 11:00am

Duration: One Hour

Children’s theater continues with a brand new production, The Mystery of the Missing Ever After, from May 25 to June 15 followed by Raggedy Ann & Andy from July 5 to 27 and Pinocchio from Aug. 2 to 10. All seats are $12. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com. 

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By Julianne Mosher

For what is now a quarter of a century, Theatre Three’s Annual Festival of One-Act Plays is a favorite tradition that should not be missed out on. 

Now in its 25th year, more than 12,000 submissions from playwrights across the country have been sent to the Port Jefferson-based theater over the years in hopes that their short, under 30-minute shows have a shot of being performed on stage. This season, Director Jeffrey Sanzel said there were over 2,000 submissions and just eight made the cut. Of those eight, none disappointed. 

For an-hour-and-a-half, during Sunday, Feb. 25th’s performance, the nearly sold-out audience sat quietly, engaged, watching, listening to what is about to appear on stage. The festival brings these little vignettes that are full of story — some that are hysterically funny, while others leave the room quiet because of how serious and emotional the act ends. 

The festival opens with Brian C. Petti’s Bovine Existential, with Linda May and Phyllis March playing two cows who are waiting in a slaughterhouse holding pen discussing fate, mortality and morality. Both May and March play the animals well, and while a serious topic of philosophy, they still had the audience in stitches. 

The second act features Deirdre Girard’s A Year to Grieve and at first the audience doesn’t expect what will eventually happen. We see Thomas (Evan Teich) and Heather (Brittany Lacey), two mystery crime writers working on Heather’s latest novel. The friendship between the two is sweet, until one decides to make fiction real. Both Teich and Lacey shine — as usual, since both are returning Festival performers. 

To lighten the mood, we’re sent to a tomb in Verona, Italy to see Juliet (Cassidy Rose O’Brien) who woke up from her slumber and didn’t kill herself with her fiancé’s dagger in Juliet Wakes Up by Laura Neill. Compared to the original Shakespearean tragedy, this is anything but. Quite frankly, this should be a whole show on Broadway, rather than the & Juliet musical that is currently out. I like this version better. Juliet is met by Rosaline (Julia Albino), her cousin, and Willow (Gina Lardi), the apothecary worker who sold the poison to begin with. The three ladies hatch a plan to hide Romeo’s (Jae Hughes) body after Juliet stabbed him to death, instead.

The first half ends with Rescue by Kevin Podgorski, and this one is not for the weak at heart. We’re introduced to Dot (Ginger Dalton), who has a large bruise on her face. She’s talking on the phone with her two friends, Maeve (March) and Allen (Andrew Markowitz), who are desperately trying to help her out of a toxic and dangerous home situation at the hands of her grandson, Charlie (Steven Uihlein) that Dot has been taking care of since his mother died. Powerful and sad, when the act ended there was a silence, with several audience members saying, “wow.”

After a brief intermission, we’re set in a car on a highway leading to the Colorado border for Aleks Merilo’s The Nearest Far Away Place. A young woman (Courtney Gilmore) hitch hiked a ride from Wisconsin by a man who eventually we learn is a corrections officer played by Rob Schindlar. Uncomfortable and nervous about what is waiting for her across state lines, the young girl tries to chat the man up, but quietly spoken, he has no interest until he begins talking about his own family and how he hasn’t spoken to his own daughter in years. With a serious undertone, it has its highlights that will make you laugh because of the two opposite personalities; Gilmore’s annoying teenage girl self (which we can all relate to somehow) and Schindlar’s stoic manly façade. 

A complete left turn into Lisa Dellagiarino Feriend’s The Curse, we’re taken into an alternate version of The Little Mermaid featuring a mer-man, Jeremy (Sean Amato) who was washed up on land and realizes he has feet. Turns out, an evil enchantress named Donna (his co-worker of all things) turned him human as punishment for his man-splaning over her during staff meetings. He only comes to this realization by Beth (O’Brien), a passerby who sides with Donna. After some serious plays beforehand, this one was funny and lighthearted, which is just what we needed.

In Grave Matters by Michele Markarian, Paula (Lardi) is at the grave of her father asking for a sign from him to get over the family drama since her parents had passed. Well, the dad didn’t show, but her mom, Beth (Dalton) came by instead. This one, again, has those serious undertones, but Dalton’s annoying motherly comments (that again, we can all relate to somehow) make it funny and surprisingly realistic — despite her being a ghost, of course.

And we end with the beautifully crafted The Hike to Hart Lake by Johanna Beale Keller which features Albino, Amato, Hughes, O’Brien and Uihlein as five friends who hike up a mountain in their 20s to a beautiful scenic view they never forget. Always saying they should all go back, life happens, there are deaths and slowly the group becomes one over the course of 80 years. While all five actors are standouts, Hughes had the audience in tears with their powerful monologue at the end of the performance. 

With a minimal set with just a few props moved around for each play, the costumes designed by Jason Allyn match each performance perfectly — and remember, we’re sent from present day, to the 14th Century and then into the future. So, buckle up, grab some tissues and make sure you sit in for The 25th Annual Festival of One-Act Plays. It isn’t just a show… it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents the 25th annual Festival of One-Act Plays through March 23 at The Ronald F. Peierls Theatre, on the Second Stage. All seats are $25. Please note: Adult content and language. Parental discretion is advised. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

The temperature outside was a bone-chilling 22 degrees as I drove into Theatre Three’s parking lot in Port Jefferson last Sunday morning. Once inside, however, the atmosphere was warm and inviting as families with young children settled in their seats to watch a most excellent performance of Jack and the Beanstalk or The Boy Who Cried Giant!

Written by Jeffrey Hoffman, Douglas J. Quattrock and Jeffrey Sanzel the original musical combines the well known fairytale with the classic fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf and tells the story of a nice boy named Jack (played by Sean Amato) who lives in a small village with his mother (Josie McSwane) and his best friend in the entire world, Filpail the Cow (Julia Albino).

But Jack has a problem — he tends to exaggerate and has told so many tall tales (“I can even wash a cat!,” “My cow can speak in seven different languages!”) that no one believes him anymore. “Someday your stories are going to get you in trouble,” his mother warns. Jack also receives a visit from the Fairy Mary Goodwing (Cassidy Rose O’Brien) who tries to convince him to “always tell the truth and you will be true to yourself.”

One day his mother tells him that they have no other choice than to sell Filpail to Butcher Blackstone (Ryan Worrell). On the way to the market, Jack and his cow meet two pirate gypsies, Marco and Margot (Liam Marsigliano and Kaitlyn Jehle), who claim they want to buy Filpail for “cowpanionship” (they really want to sell her to Butcher Blackstone) and trick Jack into trading her for some magic beans.

Jack’s mother is furious when she finds out what happened and throws the beans away. A giant beanstalk suddenly appears, signaling the start of a wonderful adventure.

In Act Two, Jack climbs the beanstalk and discovers a castle in the sky occupied by a cranky (and whiny!) giant (Ryan Worrell), the giant’s wife (Gina Lardi), a golden harp (Liam Marsigliano) and a hen that lays golden eggs (Kaitlyn Jehle). 

When Jack returns home and tells his mother and the villagers what he has seen no one believes him. He decides to return to the giant’s castle with Filpail to bring something back as evidence. The giant’s wife gives Jack a pair of her husband’s enormous pants. But as they are about to leave, the giant gets a whiff of the boy and his cow (“Fee Fi Fo Fum!”). Will they escape in time?

Under the direction of Steven Uihlein, a talented cast of eight adult actors play multiple roles during this action adventure. The songs, accompanied on piano by Douglas J. Quattrock, are catchy and fun and there’s even a tap dance number choreographed by Sari Feldman.

Costume designer Jason Allyn deserves “giant” accolades for the beautiful outfits and props, including a three-foot-long sneaker and a beanstalk that magically grows all the way to the ceiling. 

With the important message that one should always tell the truth, Jack and the Beanstalk will warm your heart. Don’t miss this one. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for photos. 

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Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Jack and the Beanstalk through Feb. 3. Children’s theater continues with Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz from Feb. 21 to March 16; The Adventures of Peter Rabbit from April 13 to 27; and a brand new show, The Mystery of the Missing Ever After, from May 25 to June 15. All seats are $12. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

While three spirits haunt Ebenezer Scrooge on Theatre Three’s Mainstage, the spirit of the season carries over to the children’s theater production of Barnaby Saves Christmas. The holiday favorite, written in 2003 by Douglas J. Quattrock and Jeffrey Sanzel with music and lyrics by Quattrock, has become a beloved tradition in Port Jefferson and one that is looked forward to each year. The show opened last Saturday and runs through the end of the year.

It’s Christmas Eve at the North Pole and Santa’s elves Sam (Josie McSwane), Crystal (Kaitlyn Jehle) and Blizzard (Julia Albino) are busy putting the finishing touches on the presents and loading the sleigh. Barnaby (Ryan Worrell), the newest and littlest elf trainee, tries his best to help but only succeeds in making a mess.

When Santa (Sean Amato) and the elves leave to deliver the gifts to children across the world, Barnaby realizes that they left behind a special toy, a “little stuffed bear with dark blue pants, buckles on his shoes and a bright yellow vest,” he enlists the help of Blizzard’s fawn Franklynne (Cassidy Rose O’Brien) to find Santa and “save Christmas.” Along their adventures they discover that an evil villain named S. B. Dombulbury (Steven Uihlein) who, with his partner in crime Irving (Jason Furnari), is trying to ruin Christmas for everyone, and meet a Jewish couple (played by Gina Lardi and Sean Amato) and learn all Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. There’s even a great chase scene through the theater!

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the nine adult cast members do a wonderful job telling this adorable tale. Reprising his role as Barnaby, Ryan Worrell’s solo “Still With a Ribbon on Top” is beautifully executed and wait until you see him dance! And yes, Barnaby will save the day but just wait until you see how! 

Costumes by Jason Allyn are exquisite and the choreography by Sari Feldman is superb. Utilizing the set of A Christmas Carol, the special effects are terrific, elevated by the futuristic lighting and, spoiler alert, it even snows in the theater!

With the ultimate message that “every day is a golden opportunity to be better than you used to be,” Barnaby Saves Christmas is a must see this holiday season. Your kids will love it! Souvenir elf and reindeer dolls will be available for purchase during intermission and the entire cast will be in the lobby after the show for photos. 

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Barnaby Saves Christmas through Dec. 30. Children’s theater continues with Jack and the Beanstalk from Jan. 20 to Feb. 3, Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz from Feb. 21 to March 16, and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit from April 13 to April 27. All seats are $12. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Stephanie Giunta

Almost 180 years ago, Charles Dickens gave us the immortal gift of A Christmas Carol, which has become a pillar of holiday culture and a reminder to hold the spirit of the season near and dear. 

Port Jefferson’s Main Street, already adorned with wreaths on the lamp posts in preparation for its 27th annual Charles Dickens Festival, was only trumped by Theatre Three’s warmth and inviting decor during last Saturday’s opening night performance of the holiday classic. Carolers, singing familiar tunes before the show, further ignited the magic of Christmas in the air. 

Revisited, adapted, and never told quite the same way twice, Theatre Three’s version transports the audience back to 19th century England for an introspective, festive excursion that touches hearts and minds in a profound way. Jeffrey Sanzel, the show’s executive artistic director who doubles as the stingy curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge, reinvents the show each season, bringing a unique twist and newfound beauty to the timeless tale. 

Sanzel’s versatility is remarkable; his expressive nature and ability to portray a character with such complex, emotional layers is exceptional. Along with the power of his reprimands, I could feel Scrooge’s sardonic “Good Afternoon!” down to my bones. I felt like I was being asked to leave the office along with his chipper and persistent nephew, Fred Halliwell (Sean Amato) and warm and loving clerk, Bob Cratchit (Ray Gobes Jr.) on Christmas Eve. Both Fred, joyful and optimistic, and Bob, loyal and dedicated, are talented bookends who symbolize the redemption, compassion, and transformative power of the Christmas spirit over even the harshest of humans. 

The Fezziwig duo, played by the talented Stephen T. Wangner and Ginger Dalton, are the essence of fanciful charm. Their playful interaction and bubbly nature personify the merriment of the season. I could smell their mince pies, plum porridge, and zest for life from a mile away. In tandem, daughter, Belle Fezziwig (Julia Albino), wonderfully captures Scrooge’s heart, but pivots beautifully to letting him go to his newfound love: money.

A flawless performance from the three spirits is not to forget. Cassidy Rose O’Brien is angelic as the Ghost of Christmas Past, walking Scrooge through a painful review of his mistakes and heartbreaks, including the loss of his relationship with Belle, and the deaths of his older sister, Fan (Alexa Eichinger, Brooke Morrison) and partner, Jacob Marley (Steven Uihlein). 

I was particularly enthralled with the scene in which townspeople are asking Scrooge to “Buy” or “Sell.” There are so many overlapping dialogues intersecting at once, providing the audience with a line of sight into Scrooge’s psyche, and how he may be processing the key occurrences of his past simultaneously. It was brilliant.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Wangner) has a belly laugh that echoes throughout the theater, yet showcases the firm, tough love Scrooge needs to realize the gravity of matters at hand.

Lastly, I mouthed “wow” when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Amato) appeared on stage. What a vision! The scenes that follow produce a scared-straight version of Scrooge that even he didn’t know existed. 

I would be remiss in mentioning the short scene featuring Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s housekeeper (Dalton), in which she was inebriated on his gravesite. Her quick wit and boisterous mirth adds an unexpected and appreciated twang of comedy to the performance.

Randall Parsons and Jason Allyn truly bring 19th century England to Port Jefferson through beautiful production design and authentic costuming. The audience is transported through time with spine-tingling special effects by Robert W. Henderson Jr., and Brad Frey injects jollity into the atmosphere with signature Victorian carols and hymnal tunes. 

When I first saw A Christmas Carol about 20 years ago, I remember being impressed with Scrooge and the cast because they made the story feel so real. Through an adult lens, it was even more apparent. Somehow, Sanzel and the cast are able to draw out a variety of emotions, connecting you not only to Christmas, but the treasures of giving of yourself to those less fortunate, being kind to others, and finding happiness. It’s a show that plays on the heartstrings in so many different capacities, reminding children and adults alike of what is most important during the holidays.

Theatre Three makes Christmas spirit feel so tangible that you can wrap it up in a box with a big, red bow. Bravo to Sanzel and the cast for bringing something so wonderful to life! Be sure to stick around post-performance for a photo memento with Scrooge. The $5 charge contributes to the theater’s scholarship fund.

CAST & CREW: Julia Albino, Jason Allyn, Sean Amato, Karin Bagan, Steven Barile Jr., Kyle M. Breitenbach, Mairead Camas, Shannon Cooper, Ginger Dalton, Alexa Eichinger, Angelina Eybs, Sari Feldman, Griffin Fleming, Brad Frey, Julie Friedman, Christina Gobes, Ray Gobes Jr., Skye Greenberg, Tim Haggerty, Kathleen Arabelle Han, Robert W. Henderson Jr., Patrick Hutchinson, Zach Kanakaris, Linda May, Brooke Morrison, Cassidy Rose O’Brien, Randall Parsons, William Roslak, Jeffrey Sanzel, Finn Thomas, Isabela Thomsen, Melissa Troxler, Steven Uihlein, Addyson Urso, Stephen T. Wangner, Cassidy Worrell, Kaylin Zeidler and Stanley Zinger

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “A Christmas Carol” through Dec. 30. All tickets are $25 in November and range from $25 to $40 in December. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

See a trailer of the show here.

By Julianne Mosher

Theatre Three was brimming with excitement last Saturday morning as families with young children came to celebrate the spookiest season with the return of a local favorite, A Kooky Spooky Halloween. 

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Steve McCoy, it tells the story of a kind ghost named Abner Perkins (Steven Uihlein) who has just graduated from Haunting High School and has been assigned to be the spooksperson for Ma Aberdeen’s Boarding House (known for being the most haunted house in Harrison Corner USA and for having the best toast!) as its last ghost has retired. Along with his classmates, he’s given his diploma and his medallion of invisibility, and is sent off to work. 

While at the boarding house gearing up for his first shift, Abner tells his best friend, a witch named Lavinda (Cassidy Rose O’Brien), his deepest, darkest secret – he’s afraid of the dark and he’s not sure how he’ll be able to haunt Ma Aberdeen and her guests. Luckily, Lavinda is a great friend, and she hands him a nightlight and a helping hand to help boost his confidence. 

But lurking around the corner is one of Abner’s classmates, a fellow ghost named Dora Pike (Josie McSwane) who is jealous that Abner was assigned the boarding housed that she so desperately wanted to haunt. Acting like a bit of a bully, she steals his nightlight, his medallion (that he needs for his hauntings!) and rushes off. 

Luckily, Ma Aberdeen (Ginger Dalton) and her boarders, the Petersons — Paul (Liam Marsigliano), Penelope (Gina Lardi) and their son Pip (Sean Amato) — and Kit Garret (Julia Albino), a girl who “just came from a small town to a big city with a suitcase in her hand and hope in her heart,” are ready to help Abner get his medallion back and undo a spell the spiteful Dora Pike put on the boarders, despite being afraid of him at first. 

Let the shenanigans ensue. For a full hour, with a 15-minute intermission, we watch the story unfold while learning more about Abner and all his new friends. 

With colorful costumes and catchy songs, (the one about toast will be stuck in your head for days), this production directed by Jeffrey Sanzel is an adorably perfect way to start the Halloween season. Kids of all ages will love the silly personalities on stage, and parents will appreciate the “punny” jokes that are sprinkled throughout acts one and two. 

But not only does it provide big smiles and a good laugh, the message of friendship and acceptance is something every family will enjoy the holiday. Costumes are encouraged for audience members and the entire cast waits in the lobby on your way out for a keepsake photo.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents A Kooky Spooky Halloween through Oct. 21. Children’s theater continues with Barnaby Saves Christmas from Nov. 18 to Dec. 30 and Jack and the Beanstalk from Jan. 20 to Feb. 3. All seats are $12. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

With the temperatures projected to reach into the 90s for the next few days, it’s time for parents to search for fun indoor activities for their children. May I suggest a visit to Theatre Three to see the adorable show Goldilocks and the Showbiz Bears.

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin Story,  the musical is loosely based on the classic bedtime story with several twists and turns along the way as well as the introduction of a noteworthy superhero and a lesson in safety. With a clever script, lovable characters, song and dance, it is the perfect way to spend a hot summer afternoon.

We first meet Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear, show biz bears who have retired from the circus and are now living in a cottage in the woods. It’s the first of the month and the banker, Billy de Goat Gruff, has come to collect the rent money, which they don’t have. The grouchy goat gives them until the end of the day or they will be kicked out. While their porridge is cooling down, the bears decide to go for a walk to think of ways to come up with the rent.

In the meantime, Goldilocks, a Campfire Bluebird Pioneer Scout Girl who lives with her grandmother Granny Locks, sets off to her cousin’s house to deliver cookies. She ends up at the cottage of the three bears by mistake and lets herself in. Just like the fairy tale, Goldilocks tastes the three bowls of porridge, sits in the three chairs and tries out the three beds, choosing Baby Bear’s bed in which to take a nap because it is “just right.”

When Granny Locks realizes that Goldilocks has not arrived at her destination, she seeks the help of local forest ranger Wolf Hunter to find the missing girl. They arrive at the cottage of the three bears just as Baby Bear realizes that “someone’s been sleeping in my bed, and she’s still there!” Luckily the bears are friendly — they even know Granny Locks from their circus days when she was Eloise the trapeze artist.

But the banker still wants his rent money, so the group puts on a show to help young people learn about safety to raise the funds. Soon all the children in the audience are learning about the importance of staying safe and that “strangers can mean danger — so don’t talk to strangers.”

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the seven member adult cast does a wonderful job conveying the story. Cassidy Rose O’Brien, complete with a blond curly wig that bounces when she walks, is the perfect Goldilocks, confident and brave. Jason Furnari embraces the role of villain Billy de Goat Gruff and runs with it, with a masterful performance  reminiscent of Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, as he makes his rounds to collect the rent from fairy tale characters including Henny Penny and the witch living in the Gingerbread House. The long cape and horns coming out of his hat is a nice touch.

Liam Marsigliano shines as superhero Wolf Hunter, Forest Ranger, who’s “ready to help when there is danger.” Steven Uihlein, Jillian Sharpe and Kiernan Urso in the roles of Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear are three of the nicest showbiz bears you’d ever hope to meet and Ginger Dalton as Granny Locks is warm and welcoming. Excellent performances all around.

Expert lighting by Steven Uihlein and costumes by Jason Allyn, from the furry ears and feet of the three bears to the impressive forest ranger uniform, tie it all together for a wonderful afternoon at the theater. This show only comes around every five years so don’t miss it! Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for keepsake photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Goldilocks and the Show Biz Bears on Fridays, July 14, 21 and 28 and Saturdays, July 15, 22 and 29. All shows start at 11 a.m. Children’s theater continues with Alice’s Most Decidedly Unusual Adventures in Wonderland from Aug. 4 to 12 and Kooky Spooky Halloween from Oct. 7 to 21. Tickets are $12 per person. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

Looking for something to do with the kids on a hot and humid summer day? Allow me to recommend an afternoon of live theater. And with a princess, a prince, a wicked fairy and a spinning wheel, Theatre Three’s latest offering, the premiere of the timeless tale of Sleeping Beauty, will surely fit the bill. Oh and did I mention there’s A/C?

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Douglas J. Quattrock, the musical follows the storyline closely but goes one step further in questioning why the wicked fairy put a curse on the princess ultimately causing her to fall asleep for one hundred years. Is she just plain evil or was it all just a misunderstanding?

Directed by Sanzel, a cast of 7 adult actors along with 26 preteen and teen actors from Theatre Three’s Dramatic Academy present this charming re-telling of the most wonderful fairy tale of all.

King Gilder and Queen Gwen have sent out invitations for Briar Rose’s first birthday party. While the good fairies Aurora and Lily receive theirs, the wicked fairy Algabrine does not. Insulted, she crashes the party and as her “gift” to the little princess, she casts a spell that Briar Rose will prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her 18th birthday and die. When she leaves, Lily, who has not given her gift yet, changes the spell to have Briar Rose fall into a deep sleep for one hundred years only to be awakened by her one true love.

The king decries that all spinning wheels be destroyed. But there’s always one somewhere, isn’t there?

Steven Uihlein serves as narrator and uses flashbacks to tell the story and to teach an important lesson along the way. Here we meet Algabrine when she was kind and sweet and witness the moment things take a dark turn. A nice touch.

Cassidy Rose O’Brien is perfectly cast as Briar Rose. Strong-willed, confident, thoughtful and kind, she is the perfect fairy tale heroine  and quickly becomes the audience favorite as does her counterpart, a terrific Kiernan Urso as Prince Constantine. Accompanied on piano by Quattrock, their duet, “When I Close My Eyes,” is magical. 

Aria Saltini and Heather Rose Kuhn are wonderful as fairies Aurora and Lily, as is Marianne Schmidt as Cecelia, Constantine’s mother. Josie McSwane knocks it out of the park as Algabrine and has the best entrance I’ve ever seen, thanks to the incredible sound effects and lighting. Costumes by Jason Allyn are the icing on the birthday cake.

The preteen and teen supporting cast play numerous roles throughout including singing and dancing and several have lines (great jokes!). For many, this is their first time performing in front of an audience and it is an amazing opportunity to hone their craft and all did an amazing job. 

With only three performances left,  order your tickets now. And if you reserve seats in the center section of the theater, you will be in for a special treat!

Take a keepsake photo with the cast in the lobby on your way out.

Cast: Steven Uihlein, Cassidy Rose O’Brien, Area Saltini, Heather Rose Kuhn, Josie McSwane, Kiernan Urso, Marianne Schmidt, Maggie Abcug, Kate Marin, Courtney Pearsall, Guiliana Vavalle, Jared Acevedo, Marlaina Baessler, Alissa Boryushkina, Mia Caputo, Aiden Choudhary, Tara Choudhary, Kelsie Curran, Erin Curtin, Ava Garcia, Kathleen Han, Faith Hennessy, Carissa Kaplan, Chloe Kelly, Sophia Kosinski, Amelia Lappe, Hailey Polanish, Lyla Reyes, Michael Rotundo, Francesca Scott, Sophie Weeks, Emilyanne Williams and Rebecca Williams.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Sleeping Beauty on Friday, Aug. 12 at 11 a.m. and Saturday, Aug. 13 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Children’s theater continues with A Kooky Spooky Halloween from Oct. 8 to 22 and Barnaby Saves Christmas from Nov. 19 to Dec. 30. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

Do you have close-knit forever friends applauding your successes as well as offering encouragement during challenging times? If your answer is yes, then you are truly lucky to have such treasures in your life. The Marvelous Wonderettes, a feel good musical romp back to the 50’s and 60’s now playing at Theatre Three, follows four such friends as they navigate life’s often unpredictable twists and turns together.

Playwright Roger Bean was approached by the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre to write a small-scale musical for their black box space. With constrictions such as little room backstage, Bean wrote the one-act version of The Marvelous Wonderettes produced in 1999. He got the inspiration for the musical from a conversation with his mother about when she was a high school song leader and part of a singing trio. Bean also credits his mother for instilling in him a love of 50’s and 60’s music. 

That Milwaukee production was so successful that the theatre revived it in 2001, this time as a full-scale two-act musical. Then came the Los Angeles production in 2006 followed by a smash Off-Broadway run in 2008 with an Off-Broadway revival in 2016.

It’s prom night, 1958, at Springfield High School and song leaders, Betty Jean (Cassidy Rose O’Brien), Cindy-Lou (Noelle McLeer), Missy (Kate Keating) and Suzy (Ashley Brooke) in frilly crinoline dresses, wrist corsages and teased up hair burst onstage delivering a bouncy rendition of “Mr. Sandman” followed by “Lollipop” and segue into “Sugartime.” When Cindy-Lou steals the microphone and belts out Betty Jean’s signature song “Alleghany Moon,” slapstick antics of trying to upstage each other ensue thus highlighting their competitive natures and the hilarious tone of the show.

The girls explain to the crowd that they are last minute stand-ins for the evening’s entertainment. It seems the boys’ glee club lost the gig after lead singer Billy Ray Patton was suspended for smoking behind the girls locker room. They go on to announce the theme for this year’s prom, “Marvelous Dreams,” and break into a rapturous “All I Have to Do Is Dream” followed by “Dream Lover.”

Each girl in this ensemble is as unique as the individual colors they wear with Betty Jean and her all-American looks in lime green, the bespectacled and comedic Missy in orange, ditzy gum chewer Suzy in blue and self-centered Cindy-Lou in pink.

A nice choice of playwright Bean was to set Act II ten years later reuniting the girls at their 1968 class reunion. This act is brimming with pop 60’s tunes. The crinoline has now been replaced by flowing robes trimmed with feathers, knee high white go-go boots and hoop earrings. A lot has changed for each girl, but they come together once more in harmony realizing they have a bond that stands the test of time.

All four of these actresses deliver powerhouse performances with dynamic acting, rich voices and lithe dancing. Keating’s Missy is passionate as she reveals her crush in “Secret Love” and then gives a standout version of “Mr. Lee” replete with impressive, sustained notes that receive spirited applause from the audience. 

Brooke’s Suzy punctuates Act I with an exuberant “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and then delivers an intense “Maybe I Know” in Act Two. O’Brien’s Betty Jean explodes in a heart-wrenching “You Don’t Own Me” followed by “That’s When the Tears Start” and McLeer’s Cindy-Lou sends chills in “Son of a Preacher Man” into “Leader of the Pack.”

It must be noted there is some humorous audience participation that puts the crowd right in the center of all the action.

Linda May’s direction keeps the festivities lively. She has created an ensemble that holds on to the audience from their first effervescent entrance until their final bow. Sari Feldman’s stylized choreography is reminiscent of the best girl groups of that era. Costumes by Ronald Green III are a cornucopia of colors and fabrics. Green’s attention to detail accentuates the 50’s and 60’s flavor of the show.

The band under the musical direction of Cesar Flores is built into the backdrop so they are onstage for the entire show keeping the energy high. Tim Haggerty’s sound design infuses exhilaration to each number.

Scenic design by Randall Parsons offers a buoyancy even before the show begins with a pink backdrop and sparkling fringe bordering the band shell. Lighting design by Robert W. Henderson, Jr. generates vibrancy to songs like “Lollipop” and “Wedding Bell Blues” as well as mood lighting with “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and “That’s When the Tears Start.” The disco ball swirling blue spots around the theater is a nice touch to close Act I. Heather Rose Kuhn’s properties joins in the fun with giant lollipops, a hanging crescent moon and bubbles.

Theatre Three’s The Marvelous Wonderettes is such a fast-paced delight that at the end you can’t believe it’s over already. See it with your best friends — you’ll be glad you did!

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents The Marvelous Wonderettes through March 26. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 and up. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.