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Ginger Dalton

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 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

Every five years or so, Theatre Three reaches deep into its vault of scripts and pulls out a gem. This time it’s Alice’s Most Decidedly Unusual Adventures in Wonderland, an original musical based on the colorful characters sprung from Lewis Carroll’s imagination for his 1865 much-loved children’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass in 1871. The show opened on Aug. 4 to a packed house.

With the message to be true to yourself and to find your own voice, this year’s production, written by Jeffrey Sanzel, features a brand new score by Douglas J. Quattrock, exquisite costumes by Jason Allyn and a cast of over 35 actors who seamlessly play multiple roles.

Directed by Sanzel, the show opens on a rainy day at Camp Carroll Woods. The campers are bored and the camp counselor tries to keep them entertained indoors with a sing-along. A white rabbit suddenly appears but only one of the campers, Alice (Jillian Sharpe), can see him. In a curious pursuit, she tumbles down a rabbit hole and ends up in Wonderland where her “unusual adventure” begins.

With The Cheshire Cat (Kiernan Urso) always in the shadows, a strong-willed Alice must match wits with a list of bizarre characters as she takes part in a “What’s My Name?” contest with The Caterpillar (Heather Rose Kuhn); joins a tea party with The Mad Hatter (Steven Uihlein), The March Hare (Kaitlyn Jehle) and The Dormouse (Hazel Kamath); catches a ride with The White Knight (Liam Marsigliano); meets Tweedledee (Kaitlyn Jehle) and Tweedledum (Heather Rose Kuhn); and is invited to a game of croquet by The Queen of Hearts (Ginger Dalton), all while trying to catch up with The White Rabbit (Ava Garcia) and find her way home. When the kingdom’s tarts go missing, Alice is accused of stealing and must stand trial. Will she find her voice in time? 

Of course, a show like this would not be possible without the supporting cast — members of Theatre Three’s summer acting workshops play numerous roles including campers, contestants in a game show, flowers and a deck of playing cards.

The music and dance numbers, accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, are terrific, especially “Here” with Alice and The Cheshire Cat; “Tea!” by the Mad Hatter, “Song of a Very Sad Knight” by The White Knight; “A Question of Belief” by Alice, and “Let the Good Times Roll” by The Queen of Hearts (“Nothing cheers me up like a good clean chop!”)

Full of whimsy and loaded with riddles, the play is a lot of nonsense, as Alice would say, but it sure is fun to watch as it gives a fresh feel to the story of the adventurous little girl following that dutifully late white rabbit through a maze of imaginative vignettes. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for a keepsake photo.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Alice’s Most Decidedly Unusual Adventures in Wonderland on Aug. 11 at 11 a.m. and Aug. 12 at 11 a.m and again at 2 p.m. Children’s theater continues with A Kooky Spooky Halloween from Oct. 7 to 21 and the holiday classic Barnaby Saves Christmas from Nov. 18 to Dec. 30. 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

“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.” And so begins one of the most popular, most-adapted and most relevant holiday tales ever written, Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol. Published on Dec. 19, 1843, the initial print run of 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve. More than 178 years later, it lives on as a story of redemption and hope and serves as a reminder to keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all year round. 

In the book’s foreword, Dickens writes:

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Now the pages of the Dickensian story come to life once again as Theatre Three in Port Jefferson presents its 38th annual production of A Christmas Carol. The curtain went up this past Saturday to a full house.

While preparations are still underway to transform the seaport village back to the Victorian era for its 26th annual Charles Dickens Festival on Dec 3 and 4, Theatre Three is already dressed head to toe for the holidays and carolers entertain theatergoers before the show, setting the  tone for what is to come.

Adapted for the stage by Executive Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel, A Christmas Carol tells the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Sanzel), a successful business man who has chosen money over everything else and has become bitter, lonely and stingy over the years, especially around the holidays. “I have devoted my life to the cultivation of business,” he explains.

We first meet the miserly curmudgeon on Christmas Eve, exactly seven years after the death of his business partner Jacob Marley (Stephen T. Wangner). Caught in a particulary bad mood, we witness him chase carolers from his office, turn away the needy and a pair of charity workers. He snaps at his underappreciated and underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit (Douglas J. Quattrock) and his chipper nephew Fred Halliwell (Sean Amato) the sole child of Scrooge’s deceased sister, Fan, who has dropped by to invite him for dinner. “Keep Christmas in your own way and I will keep it in mine,” he warns his nephew before kicking him out.

That evening Scrooge is visited by Marley’s tormented ghost who offers him one last chance at redemption. Draped in the chains he has forged in life, Marley tells Scrooge he will be visited by three spirits — the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

The Ghost of Christmas Past (Danielle Pafundi) appears soon after, all aglow in a white dress, and takes Scrooge to Wellington House, the boarding school he attended as a young boy alone; we meet his adored sister Fan and his apprenticeship at Fezziwig’s (played by Scott Hofer), where the audience is introduced to Scrooge’s one and only love, Belle. This is also where he meets Marley for the first time and where his choices take him down a dark path.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Scott Hofer) takes Scrooge to meet Bob Cratchit’s family where he learns about Tiny Tim’s failing health and to a dinner party hosted by his nephew where guests play a fun game of Yes or No. 

In one of the most anticipated and frightful scenes, a towering Ghost of Christmas Future (operated by Sean Amato) shows Scrooge the shadows of what is yet to come, including  at trip to the cemetery to see his headstone, and how the people in his life are affected after his death, including a disturbing scene where Scrooge’s housekeeper Mrs. Dilber (Ginger Dalton) attempts to profit from his demise. It is just what Scrooge needs to shake him to the core. In the end, he learns that “life is not about facts and figures. It’s about joy and family and Christmas.”

Directed by Sanzel, the entire production is flawless and the talented cast (playing multiple roles) is excellent. As Scrooge, Sanzel is at his finest in a role he has played almost 1500 times. This is most evident when the Ghost of Christmas Past takes his character to one of Fezziwig’s famous holiday parties. While otherwise slightly hunched over with a slow walk, Sanzel suddenly jumps into the role of a younger Scrooge and  takes part in a Wassail dance (choreographed by Sari Feldman) with boundless energy.

Although in its 38th year, the show is always evolving, remaining fresh and exciting while maintaining its timelessness and important message. The Victorian set, costumes and creative lighting tie it all together to create a magical evening at the theater.

Get your ticket to see this wonderful production “before you dot another ‘i'” and make it part of your holiday traditions. It will make your heart full.

Stay after the show for a photo keepsake with Scrooge. The $5 fee goes to support the theater’s scholarship fund.

The Cast: Sean Amato, Ava Andrejko, Ginger Dalton, Ellie Dunn, Alexa Eichinger, Samantha Fierro, Griffin Fleming, Julie Friedman, Skye Greenberg, Kathleen Han, Scott Hofer, Patrick Hutchinson, Linda May, Brooke Morrison, Danielle Pafundi, Douglas J. Quattrock, Michaela Reis, Dylan Paige Rumble, Vivian Leigh Rumble, Jeffrey Sanzel, Jennifer Salvia, Steven Uihlein,  Addyson Urso, Hannah Waller, Stephen T. Wangner and Cassidy Worrell.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol through Dec. 30. Tickets are $20 per person in November, and $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, and $20 children ages 5 and up in December. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

The cast of A Kooky Spooky Halloween. Photo by Peter Lanscombe/Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

Theatre Three was at full capacity last Saturday morning as families with young children came to celebrate the spookiest season with the return of the wonderful musical, 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, Baron Von Yost, has recently retired. Abner is given a diploma and a medallion of invisibility and is sent on his way. 

But Abner has a secret — he’s afraid of the dark! The only person who knows his secret is his best friend Lavinda the Witch (Danielle Pafundi) who gives him a nightlight and promises to help him get settled in.

Abner’s first day of haunting is on Halloween and he comes upon Ma Aberdeen (Ginger Dalton) and her boarders the perplexing Petersons — Paul (Liam Marsigliano), Penelope (Stephanie Moreau) and their son Pip (Sean Amato) — and Kit Garret (Samantha Fierro), a girl who “just came from a small town to a big city with a suitcase in her hand and hope in her heart,” stuffing goodie bags for trick-or-treaters in the kitchen.

In one of the funniest scenes in the show, Abner tries out a series of spells, making the group stuff the bags in double time, dance, do jumping jacks, sing, spin like a top, quack like a duck and stick to each other. Just as he is about to undo the last spell, fellow graduate ghost with a grudge Dora Pike (Beth Ladd) appears, steals his medallion of invisibility and nightlight and heads to the bottom of Black Ridge Gulch, the deepest, darkest gorge in the entire world (where it’s really, really dark). Now visible, Abner must convince the sticky strangers to help him get his medallion back. Will he succeed or will his fear of the dark take over?

With the message that everyone deserves to be understood, director Jeffrey Sanzel has assembled an incredible cast to tell this sweet story, with action, suspense, hilarious hijinks, Halloween jokes, and all around fun. The amazing costumes by Jason Allyn, special effects, futuristic lighting and the catchy songs, accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, with special mention to “It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast” and the great rap number “A Need for Speed,” tie it all together for the perfect holiday treat. Your kids will love it!

Ghost pumpkin souvenirs will be sold before the show and during intermission and costumes are encouraged. Meet the entire cast in the lobby on your way out for a keepsake photo.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents A Kooky Spooky Halloween on Oct. 15 and 22 at 11 a.m. and Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. Running time is one hour and 10 minutes with intermission. Children’s theater continues with 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 Heidi Sutton

Magic mirror on the wall,

Who is the fairest of them all?

It’s Snow White of course and now children of all ages can come see a hilarious retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson through June 18. 

Based on the story by the Brothers Grimm with a nod towards Disney, the production — written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin F. Story —  is a delight to watch.

All the elements of the classic fairy tale are here: the evil queen, the magic mirror, the seven dwarfs, the handsome prince, the poisoned apple and, of course, the beautiful Snow White. Even though Walt Disney’s original 1937 version had several scary moments, this show, directed by Sanzel and featuring an all adult cast, infuses humor and silliness into every scene, keeping the mood light and upbeat.

Aria Saltini is wonderful as the sweet Snow White who infuriates the wickedly vain evil queen, played by Elizabeth Ladd, because she “is sooooo nice!” Saltini’s rendition of “I Love It All” and Ladd’s follow-up “I Hate It All” are terrific.

As the Mirror, Steven Uihlein plays his role with just the right amount of sarcasm as he answers the burning question, “Who is the fairest of them all?” over and over. His rendition of “I’ve Got Those ‘I’m-Just-a-Mirror-on-the-Wall’ Blues” is reflective.

Although the names are different, the dwarfs have the personalities of the original Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey, and keep the audience in stitches. Special mention must be made of Dana Bush as the very funny Iggy (aka Dopey) who can’t remember what happened a minute ago, and Jason Furnari as Froggy (aka Doc) who has a hard time corraling his fellow dwarfs.

Kyle Breitenbach is perfectly cast as the handsome Prince who is on a quest to save a damsel in distress when he meets Snow White. The chemistry between Breitenbach and Saltini is fun to watch as they try to hide their identity from each other, and their duet, “I Think I’m in Like with You,” is very sweet.

Special mention must also be made of the exquisite costumes. Designed by Jason Allyn, they look like they’ve jumped right off the pages of a children’s book.

With the overall message to be true to oneself, this fairy tale production will keep audiences entertained from beginning to end. Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show for a group photo. 

Theatre Three, 412 Main St. Port Jefferson presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on June 4, 11 and 18 with a special sensory sensitive performance on June 12. All performances begin at 11 a.m. and costumes are encouraged. Children’s theater continues with Puss-In-Boots from July 8 to 30. All seats are $10. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

Mention Steel Magnolias to anyone and the overwhelming response is, “Oh, I love that show!” It’s easy to see how this dramedy continues to be a fan favorite and Theatre Three’s production serves up an inviting dose of southern charm.

Playwright Robert Harling wrote this play as a tribute to his diabetic sister who died way too soon from kidney failure. She had been warned by doctors that childbirth could be dangerous to her health, but she ignored all warnings and gave birth, then died before her son reached school age. Harling first recounted this event in a short story as a catharsis, then adapted it into the play and eventually into the highly successful film.

To make this play shine, just the right actresses must be cast in these demanding roles so director Mary Powers dipped into the treasure trove of Theatre Three regulars to fill some of these roles. This resulted in a gifted ensemble that brings just the right mix of pathos and comedic timing.

Steel Magnolias brims with witty one-liners as it navigates through two years in the lives of six tightly-knit small-town women who share life’s ups and downs together. Set in the fictional Parish of Chinquapin, Louisiana, at flamboyant Truvy’s in-home beauty parlor, this shop doubles as the meeting place for the women of this town.

Truvy (Stephanie Moreau) has just hired shy Annelle, a beauty school graduate, as her assistant. Truvy’s first lesson is, “There is no such thing as natural beauty. Remember that or we’re out of a job.” Moreau’s Truvy exudes sunshine even when offering direction and support to Annelle played by Christine N. Boehm who delivers a dynamic performance as the insecure new kid in town who transforms into a spiritual and secure presence.

It is Shelby’s wedding day and she wants her hair styled in the fashion of Grace Kelly. Michelle LaBozzetta’s Shelby is as optimistic and bubbly as her favorite color pink, or as she likes to call it “blush and bashful,” but with a mind as determined and strong as steel. Nothing will stand in her way of accomplishing her deepest desire of becoming a mother, despite the warnings of her doctor that childbirth could be fatal.

Clairee, the widow of the former mayor, is played with gusto by Marci Bing. Clairee thrives on town gossip at the salon and she has some of the wittiest lines in the show like, “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” That line can only be topped by her declaration, “If you can’t say anything nice about anybody, come sit by me.” Bing is a joy as the outspoken Clairee who flings quips into the air letting them land where they may.

Truvy has given Annelle the task of styling the hair of M’Lynn, the mother of the bride. Linda May’s M’Lynn has her comedic moments like when describing Shelby’s choices for church décor declaring, “That sanctuary looks like it’s been hosed down with Pepto Bismol.” M’Lynn is the voice of reason but gets frustrated by her daughter’s reckless choices. May ultimately tears us apart with her motherly heartbreaking monologue.

Making a booming entrance is Ginger Dalton as Ouiser, the town curmudgeon. From the start, she is ranting, at first over Shelby’s father who has been shooting at birds and has stripped the blossoms from their shared magnolia tree. Dalton is hilarious with one liners like, “I’m not crazy! I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years.”

These six indomitable magnolias show they have the steel that will get them through anything.

Jason Allyn’s costumes give definition to the characters from Truvy’s glitzy smocks to Shelby’s signature pinks to Ouiser’s practical denim. He illuminates the Christmas scene with outfits of reds, greens, whites and sparkles. Lindsay DeFranco’s wig design is reminiscent of 80’s big hair piled high and teased or waste length.

Randall Parsons conveys a nostalgic 1980’s feel to Truvy’s beauty salon with its mint green backdrop and thick white moldings. The three entrances make it easy for the actresses to maneuver effortlessly around the set and creates smooth transitions from one scene into the next. James Taffurelli’s properties compliment Parsons’ set with sheer curtains, beauty salon chairs strategically placed center stage and Truvy’s signature sparkles.

Powers confided that Steel Magnolias was originally set for the spring of 2020 but never opened when the world shut down due to COVID. Luckily, the original cast was able to reunite for this production. Maybe that’s why we believe the poignant friendships of these memorable women.

Theater Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Steel Magnolias through May 7. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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.