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Danny Meglio

By Heidi Sutton

The John W. Engeman Theater closes its 2022-2023 children’s theater season with the timeless tale of Cinderella, much to the delight of all the little princesses that showed up to last Saturday morning’s performance. With music by Jeanne Bargy and Jim Eiler and book and lyrics by Eiler, the story closes follows the original with a few hilarious twists and turns along the way.

We first meet the fairy godmother who “with a wave of a wand can make all of your wishes come true.” Looking at a list of the neediest cases of the day she discovers Ella, an orphan who lives with her evil stepmother and two demanding stepsisters Henrietta and Gertrude. Ella is treated like a servant and has to sleep in the kitchen by the fire, giving her the nickname Cinderella.

The audience is then whisked away to the castle where King Darling III is making arrangements to throw a ball so that his son Prince Charming can find a girl to marry before his 21st birthday. Invitations are sent out and as always poor Cinderella must stay behind but her fairy godmother will make things right. With a little bit of magic she turns a pumpkin into a royal coach and a handful of cinders become a beautiful ball gown complete with glass slippers. At the ball the prince is immediately smitten with Cinderella as they waltz the night away. But the stroke of midnight changes everything.

Directed and choreographed by Danny Meglio, the fast-paced production is clever, funny and charming. 

Olivia Giorgio is perfectly cast as Cinderella. Her recurring solo, “What Will Become of Me?” is heartfelt. Her fairy godmother, played to the hilt by Lacey Cornell, comes down into the audience often to talk to the children, giving time for set changes, and is often “invisible” on stage, assessing the situation before taking action. 

Natalie Seus has much fun in her role as the evil stepmother as do Alyssa Infranco and Miranda Jo Demott as the stepsisters who invent a special dance at the ball, the Sneeze Polka, which the entire audience is invited to take part in. 

Michael Fasciano draws the most laughs in his role as the extremely near-sighted King Darling III who is always walking in the wrong direction or mistaking one person for another. If not for the assistance of the Royal Guards, played by Jae Hughes and Gabe Cruz, he would’ve walked right off the stage!

The handsome Ryan McInnes makes a fine Prince Charming who only wants to marry for love. A highlight of the show is when he and the Royal Guards come into the audience and give little girls a chance to try on the glass slipper before the stepsisters have a go at it. 

Special mention must also be made of the costumes and wigs designed by Laura McGauley. From Cinderella’s dress to the fairy godmother’s robe to the purple wigs on the stepsisters, everything was magical.

Light-up wands are sold before and during intermission, costumes are encouraged and booster seats are available. Meet, greet and get autographs from the entire cast in the lobby after the show. An autograph page is conveniently located at the back of the program.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Cinderella on Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 27. The 2023-2024 season kicks off with The Wizard of Oz from Sept. 23 to Oct. 29 and Frosty from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31. All seats are $20. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

By Heidi Sutton

Children’s theater continues at The John W. Engeman Theater with The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley. The adorable show, based on the first in a series of books by Jeff Brown, follows the adventures of Stanley Lambchop (Daniel Bishop) who lives with his parents (Michael Fasciano and Suzanne Mason) and his brother Arthur (Jae Hughes). His mailman, Mr Cartero (Patrick McCowen) serves as narrator and introduces Stanley as an average 10-year-old kid who has big dreams.

At bedtime, Stanley and his brother see a falling star and make a wish. While Arthur wishes for an A on his science project, Stanley wishes to travel and “do amazing things the world has never seen before.” In the middle of the night a bulletin board above his bed crashes down on him and flattens him like a pancake.

At first, Stanley and his parents are alarmed and take him to Dr. Dan for an evaluation but he is as perplexed (and confused) as they are. When Stanley goes to school, his classmates tie him to a string and fly him like a kite until he gets stuck in a tree. Then Stanley realizes the advantage of his two-dimensional position and, for the price of a stamp, mails himself in a letter to California to visit a friend. 

From there he mails himself to Paris and poses as a painting in the Louvre next to Napoleon and Mona Lisa to catch a sneak thief, and then heads to Hawaii to star as a surfboard in a movie. In the end Stanley realizes that home is the best address but will he remain flat forever?

Directed and choreographed by Danny Meglio, the five talented cast members, playing multiple roles, put on a terrific show. The question on everyone’s mind was how a flat character would appear on stage but the clever costume does the trick.

The song and dance numbers are a delight to watch with special mention to Bishop’s solo “I Wish I Were … A Hero,” “The Funny Sunny Side,” “Talent'” with a great soft-shoe number and Hughes’ heartfelt solo, “Arthur’s Letter.” 

With the message to look for a little adventure in everything you do, this imaginative and clever show is flat-out fun. Meet, greet and sign autographs with the cast after the show in the lobby. An autograph page is conveniently located at the back of the program.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St. Northport presents The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. through July 2 with a sensory friendly performance on June 10 at 11 a.m. Up next is Cinderella from July 22 to Aug. 27. All seats are $20. For more information or to order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com. 

By Heidi Sutton

Written almost 300 years ago, Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time. 

A classic story of love and sacrifice, a girl by the name of Belle searches to find her place among the townspeople in her village, all while dodging the advances of a self-loving brute named Gaston. When her father is taken prisoner by a monstrous beast in an enchanted castle, Belle chooses to take his place. 

The Beast is really a young prince who is trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If he can learn to love and in return find someone who will love him before all the petals on an enchanted rose wither, the curse will end. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his castle staff will be doomed for all eternity. Will Belle be the one to break the spell? 

Now the  enchanting fairy tale heads to the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport to bring joy to yet another young generation in the form of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. with book by Linda Woolverton. Although an abbreviated version of the original with a running time of one and a half hours, it features all of the wonderful songs we’ve come to love by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice including “Belle,” “Gaston,” “Be Our Guest,” “The Mob Song,” and everyone’s favorite, “Beauty and the Beast” sung by Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Danny Meglio with musical direction by Gina Salvia, the 15-member cast transports the audience to a French provincial town full of action, adventure, singing and dancing and does a wonderful job with special mention to Nancy Rose Fallon as the beautiful Belle and Adam Brett as the Beast who can’t control his temper. Brett really gets into character all the way down to the snarl, but is never scary. The musical touches often on Belle’s love of books and, in one of the sweetest moments in the show, she reads the story of King Arthur to her captor during their duet “Something There.” 

Terrence Bryce Sheldon as the creep Gaston and Daniel Saulle as his sidekick Lefou have the most fun roles and pull them off with ease. Michael Fasciano gives a passionate performance as Belle’s father, Maurice. 

An audience favorite, the enchanted castle staff — Jae Hughes as the candelabra Lumiere in a perfect French accent; Daniel Bishop as Cogsworth the talking clock; Suzanne Mason as Mrs. Potts the teapot; Jillian Sharpe as Babette the feather duster; Lacey Cornell as Madame de la Grande Bouche the wardrobe; and the adorable teacup Chip (a dual role played by Sophie Achee and London Delvecchio) — are visually stunning thanks to costume designer Laura McGauley who also produces the iconic yellow gown for Belle.

As choreographer, Danielle Alliotta also deserves kudos for the big dance numbers including “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest.”

A screen in the back of the stage is used to depict the different scenes of the show including the different rooms in the Beast’s castle — a nice touch — and the actors walk through the aisles often, keeping the children at the edge of their seats.

The Engeman has gone all out on this production and it shows. Catch a performance before the last petal falls.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. through Oct. 30. Light-up roses may be purchased before the show and during intermission and costumes are encouraged. All seats are $20. For more information or to order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engeman theater.com.


By Heidi Sutton

Wowie wow wow! Look who has taken up residence at the Engeman Theater in Northport! It’s Junie B. Jones, the outspoken and lovable six-year-old from the pages of Barbara Park’s best-selling children’s books starring in  Junie B. Jones The Musical. The delightful show, which opened last Saturday, runs through Aug. 28. 

Created by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, the play is an adaptation of four of Park’s books where Junie B. Jones navigates the ups and downs of first grade at Clarence Elementary School. When her mother gives her a Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal on her first day of school, Junie B. decides to record the school year and before long is filling the pages with her many adventures. 

While Junie B. is under the impression that things will be no different than last year, they are very different. In her first week, she finds that her best friend from kindergarten Lucille has found two new best friends – Camille and Chenille – because their names rhyme; the girl who she used to sit with in on the bus in kindergarten prefers to sit with someone else; she makes friends with Herb, the new kid at school; and she finds that she has trouble reading the blackboard — and she may need glasses. Grrrr. 

Add in the friendly cafeteria lady Mrs. Gutzman, a new lunchbox, Show & Tell, and an intense kickball tournament and you have the makings of a lovely morning of live theater.

Directed by Danny Meglio with musical direction by Luca Iallondardi and choreography by Jillian Sharpe, the six-member adult cast embrace the adorable script and transport back in time to elementary school and all the anxieties and life lessons that go with it.

Katie Dolce is perfectly cast as Junie B. Jones. From the minute she appears on stage, all eyes are on her and she quickly becomes an audience favorite with her sassy personality.

The incredible and versatile supporting cast — Daniel Bishop, Miranda Jo DeMott, Olivia Giorgio, Thomas Higgins and Alyssa Infranco — play multiple roles throughout the show including Junie B’s parents, her teacher Mr. Scary, her friends and classmates and seem to be having the time of their lives.

The fun-filled songs are the heart of the show, from the opening number “Top Secret Personal Beeswax” to the group finale, “Writing Down the Songs of My Life,” and are perfectly executed with special mention to the kickline number, “Gladys Gutzman.” 

Funny, entertaining and entirely relatable, Junie B. Jones The Musical  is a summer treat for young children and parents alike. 

Sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, the John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Junie B. Jones The Musical on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Running time is 1 1/2 hours with one intermission. Tickets are $20. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

By Heidi Sutton

What’s your favorite color? If the answer is pink, then you should run, not walk, to the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport to catch a truly wonderful production of Pinkalicious the Musical. 

Based on the popular children’s book by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann, the show tells the story of a little girl named Pinkalicious Pinkerton who loves the color pink (“It’s a color like no other!”) and is obsessed with pink cupcakes.

Despite her parent’s warnings, Pinkalicious overindulges on the sugary delights and wakes up the next day pink from head to toe. The doctor diagnoses her with pinkititis and in order to keep it from becoming worse she has to eat healthy green foods. But Pinkalicious just can’t stop eating those cupcakes, and when she wakes up the second morning, she’s turned red. She realizes the only way out of this predicament is to follow doctor’s orders. But is it too late? Will she be red forever?

Directed by Danny Meglio with choreography by Jillian Sharpe, the show is an instant hit thanks to a talented cast of five who tackle this fast-paced script with ease. 

Perfectly cast in the role of Pinkalicious, Emilie Goodrich embraces her inner child to bring this colorful, energetic character to life and sparkles on stage. The other members of the family, the organized Mrs. Pinkerton (the delightful Kassie Kueffne), the busy Mr. Pinkerton (an incredible Justin Autz), and overlooked brother Peter (the multi-talented Jae Hughes) along with best friend Alison (the amazing Kara Vito), play multiple roles throughout the show with unbounded enthusiasm.

What’s special about this show is that each actor has a chance to shine with a solo, from Goodrich’s lovely “When Dreams Come True,” to Kueffne’s lullaby “You Get Just What You Get,” Vito’s “Pinkititis,” Jae Hughes’ heartfelt “I Got the Pink Blues,” and Autz in the “Finale.”

There are also so many wonderful moments in the show. At one point the family goes to the doctor’s office on a pink four seat bicycle. On the way back home, they take a detour through the aisles of the theater to go to a park with a real slide. While at the park Pinkalicious is surrounded by a bee, a bird and two butterflies who are attracted to her pink color in the cute number “Buzz Off.”  Another time, Pinkalicious has a dream about pink cupcakes who all of a sudden walk out of the refrigerator and start singing and dancing. Great stuff.

Pinkalicious is more than a story about eating your vegetables. It is about the power of communication, the love of family and the affirmation that a little pink goes a long way. Don’t miss this one. 

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Pinkalicious The Musical through July 3. All seats are $20. For more information or to order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

By Heidi Sutton

Looking for a fun fall activity with the kids? May I recommend Rapunzel: A Tangled Fairytale, a musical adventure complete with “wicked witches, heroic princes, kings, magic and the longest hair in the world.” Written by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, creators of the hit TV show Friends, with music by Michael Skloff, the children’s show opened at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport this past weekend and runs through Oct. 31.

The cast of ‘Rapunzel: A Tangled Fairytale’. Photo from Engeman Theater

While the story has lots of modern twists and turns, it still retains much of the beloved fairy tale we all know and love. A cobbler and his wife live next door to a witch who has a beautiful garden. One day the cobbler sneaks into the garden to steal some vegetables and is caught by the witch who cons him into giving her the couple’s firstborn. She names the child Rapunzel and raises her as her own in a tower. Fast forward 16 years and Rapunzel’s only wish on her birthday is to leave the tower and see the world below. Her “mother” at first promises to grant her wish but then changes her mind and instead tries to bribe her with fudge, flowers, a bird and birthday cake.

Meanwhile, Prince Brian has run away from the castle. He feels that he is a failure, having reached the age of seventeen without doing one heroic deed, and vows only to return once he has slain a dragon, captured an ogre or rescued a maiden. “As a hero, I’m a zero,” he groans. When the prince comes upon Rapunzel in the tower, he hatches a plan to have his valet Simon distract the witch while he rescues the girl. What follows is a magical morning of live theater the whole family will enjoy.

Danny Meglio directs a seasoned cast of four who play multiple characters in the retelling of this hairy tale. A wonderful Joanna Sanges returns to the Engeman to reprise her role as the naive Rapunzel who has never seen a cow or a carriage but quickly learns to stand up to anyone standing in her way. Her strong-willed determination and confidence is a perfect role model for the children in the audience. 

Tasked with rescuing fair maidens, Justin Autz is terrific as the handsome Prince Brian. While he spends the first part of the show riding horses and climbing towers, Autz spends the second act trying to find his way back to the castle wearing dark glasses that are stuck to his face (the witch has cast a spell to make him blind) and tripping over Rapunzel’s long hair. 

Joanna Sanges as Rapunzel and Justin Autz as Prince Brian star in ‘Rapunzel: A Tangled Fairytale’. Photo from Engeman Theater

Brilliantly played by Jillian Sharpe, Gretta the witch, “with a twist of her wrist and a turn of her ring,” can be best described as a sour patch kid (first she’s sour but then she’s sweet) who sounds just like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. While she does some pretty crummy things, she is not scary and the children in the audience are not frightened. 

The multi-talented Jae Hughes plays multiple roles throughout the show including the storyteller, Simon, the king (who is always mispronouncing Rapunzel’s name), the innkeeper, and the cow and knocks each one out of the kingdom. The ability to switch roles so quickly, with different voices and demeanors, is no easy feat, but Hughes makes it seem effortless.

The script is clever and funny, with much of the dialogue in rhyme, and the songs are energetic and catchy with special mention to “Wooing a Witch,” The First Step is the Hardest” and the quartet’s “Tonight’s the Night.” The costumes, excellent sound effects and lighting tie it all together for a happily ever after.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport, will present Rapunzel: A Tangled Fairytale on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. through Oct. 31. Running time is one hour with a 15 minute intermission. Boosters seats are available and costumes are encouraged. And if it’s your birthday, the cast will serenade you. (Happy Birthday Emma!)

Children’s theater continues with the theater’s annual production of Frosty from Nov. 20 to  Jan. 2 and Disney’s Frozen Jr. from Jan. 29 to Feb. 27, 2022. All seats are $20. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.