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Courtney Gilmore

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

You know its officially Spring when Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-Tail, Mrs. Rabbit and the McGregors arrive at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson for The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. The  adorable show opened last week for spring break and runs through April 29.

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and the late Brent Erlanson, the original musical is loosely based on one of the best-selling books of all time, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, and features all of the beloved characters in the story.

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 lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and string beans. The constant marauding finally wears the farmer’s patience thin and he plots his revenge.

Directed by Steven Uihlein, the cast of 8 is excellent and exemplifies the magic of live theater. Sean Amato and Steven Uihlein take on the characters of Peter and Benjamin, two comedic roles that provide quite a workout as they run through the theater to escape the “mean as a bear” farmer.

Samantha Fierro, Danielle Pafundi and Courtney Gilmore as Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail spend most of their time looking for their wayward brother so he won’t get in trouble by their patient mother (Elizabeth Ladd) and often ask the audience if they have seen him. (“He’s right behind you!”)

Peter and Benjamin seem to be especially naughty and persistent this year and audiences will sympathize with the McGregors, wonderfully played by Liam Marsigliano and Alanna Rose Henriquez. 

With choreography by Sari Feldman, the musical numbers, accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, are terrific, with special mention to “One More Time Around,”  “Run, Peter, Run!” and the hip hop number, “Peter’s Socks.” The final number incorporates all of the songs in a super mega-mix extravaganza.

In a brilliant move, the show takes advantage of the three sets of doors from the current mainstage production, Pride @ Prejudice, which, when opened, always reveals a surprise. Costumes by Jason Allyn are absolutely charming and wait until you see the lighting and special effects!

Souvenir bunnies in various colors will be sold before the show and during intermission and the entire cast will be in the lobby after the show for a meet-and-greet and photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St. Port Jefferson presents The Adventures of Peter Rabbit through April 29 with a special sensory sensitive performance on April 16 at 11 a.m. Children’s theater continues with Cinderella from May 27 to June 1, and Goldilocks & the Showbiz Bears from July 7 to 29. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.