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Ken Washington

File photo by Heidi Sutton

By Tara Mae

“We closed on March 16, 2020 and started planning how we would reopen on March 17, 2020.” 

That is how co-founder and Artistic Director of the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts Ken Washington described the process of arranging to reopen the theater after it had to close due to the pandemic. 

Located at 2 East Main Street in Smithtown, the theater offers plays, concerts, and educational services to the community.

“We’re scheduling a mix of fun new programs and rescheduling the shows that needed to be postponed, to fulfill those promises to the patrons who stood by us during this time,” said Associate Managing Director Kelly Mucciolo. 

Mainstage Theater

The cast of Green Day’s American Idiot in rehearsal at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Gabriella Fugon

Its first mainstage show since March of 2020, Green Day’s American Idiot, is scheduled to open July 9 and will run every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. through July 31. “Throughout the next six months we will be adding to the schedule … as certain things become available, and audiences become more comfortable gathering in an indoor environment,” explained Washington.

American Idiot provides an opportunity to reunite individuals who share a passion for performance. The rock musical, based on the 2004 Green Day album of the same name, follows the stories of three disaffected young men in a post-9/11 world. 

“Rock music and musicals have always been my favorite part of working in theater.  American Idiot has very powerful music, and some very poignant lyrics that hit a little bit differently when you think about them in the context of the world today,” said resident Musical Director Melissa Coyle. 

The cast of Green Day’s American Idiot in rehearsal at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Gabriella Fugon

Scheduled to open the week the theater was forced to close, American Idiot was selected as the mainstage’s first post-lockdown production because of that fact. “We wanted to honor the ticket holders who have supported us during the pandemic,” Mucciolo said. Although the cast and crew are largely different from the planned 2020 production, most have had previous connections with the Smithtown theater.

“The talented cast has made it very easy to put together this really exciting show. It’s been a fun challenge to present this mostly sung-through show and pull out different story elements within the score and script,” said director Ronald Green III, who has acted in other plays at the theater and has been it’s resident costumer since 2011. 

Although not yet fully published, the new mainstage season strives to be a mix of the missed lost potential of 2020 and the hopeful possibility of 2021. In addition to American Idiot, the theater will offer I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change from Aug. 21 to Sept. 19, with the cast of 2012 largely reprising their roles. And Menopause the Musical touring group returns from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14.

Children’s Theater   

For the second summer in a row, children’s theater will be held on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society beginning with Moana Jr. from July 15 to Aug. 14, followed by Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus from Aug. 28 to Sept. 17; and Spookley the Square Pumpkin: The Musical from Sept. 25 to Oct. 31. Kids shows then move home to the Smithtown Performing Arts Center, with Frozen Jr. from Nov. 20 to Jan. 17. 

Moana Jr. was chosen to launch the children’s theater’s new season because it was so well-received in 2020. When surveyed, children’s theater patrons indicated that the show was one that they would most like to see again. 

From left, Zach Podair as Pua, Gabriella Fugon as Moana, and Lorelai Mucciolo as Hei-Hei in last year’s production of Moana Jr.  Photo by Courtney Braun

Jordan Hue and Courtney Braun co-directed both the upcoming production and last year’s run of Moana Jr., a 60-minute adaptation of the Disney film. The coming-of-age tale follows the adventures of Moana and her quest to return the heart of Te Fiti and save the world.

“I think Moana brought us together during a difficult time and gave us a sense of community. We are looking forward to bringing it back to show we made it through the storm and further celebrate,” said Hue. “It’s a fun, dynamic, energetic piece of theater that engages young people and celebrates a culture different from our own, which has great value.”

Similarly, Braun was drawn to the project because of its spirit of inclusivity and message of self-discovery. Additionally, she found solace in being with familiar faces when so much of life was uncertain and so many individuals felt isolated.  

“[It] was an experience that I will never forget — from the community support, actors, family and theater support we have really pushed through some of the most unimaginable times. Moana really provides a lesson for each individual audience member. A journey of self-love and passion for some, the importance of family for others, and most importantly — a strong message of perseverance and overcoming fears,” Braun said. 

Smithtown Performing Arts Center’s arrangement with the historical society permitted children’s theater performances to proceed last summer and run through fall, which in turn fostered an ongoing rapport with actors and audiences, according to Mucciolo. “We were extraordinarily lucky to be able to partner with the Smithtown Historical Society last summer to bring live theater to Smithtown in an outdoor setting with our Kids Performing For Kids productions. Being able to get back with our student performers and connect with our audiences again in an exciting new setting was very emotional,” she said. 

These performances, which fully adhered to social-distancing and mask mandates, enabled a feeling of relative familiarity for audience, actors, and staff.  

“At least once per show a patron would come up to us in tears because they were able to give their children a normal, fun experience in the middle of a scary, uncertain time, and that was a feeling we could all connect to. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences,” Mucciolo added.

Summer camp

A step towards relative normalcy is a relief for patrons, students, and staff. The theater’s summer intensive theater education camp continues this trajectory, offering two sessions: “Historical Musicals” from July 5 to 23, and “Jukebox Musical” from July 26 to Aug. 14. The former addresses musicals that took place or were influenced by significant historical events, while the latter focuses on musicals that create stories around the songs of popular artists. 

Camp is a facet of the theater’s education program, which also has theater arts classes for children. They resumed this past September, with all participants adhering to the appropriate health guidelines.  

“The students were thrilled to return to the theater, and we were ecstatic to see each other again. We offered dance technique classes and musical theater performance classes,” Coyle said. “Despite the restricting CDC guidelines which were adhered to, where the students had to stay physically distant and masked at all times, they were still able to see their friends, work together on and off the stage, and find joy together during this very difficult period.” 

Sharing a purpose with the public was reportedly a primary motivation of Washington’s when he established the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts with his wife, Laura, in 2002. The historic building, which was built in the early 1930s, was originally a single screen cinema house before being purchased by United Artists and transformed into a discount movie theater. By 1999, it was set for demolition. A petition to save it garnered more than 8,000 signatures. 

“We bought and renovated the theater to fulfill the lifelong dream of offering theater arts and entertainment to the community of Smithtown and the surrounding communities,” Washington said.

“This building has always held a lot of memories for the citizens of Smithtown, both for the people who knew it as a movie theatre and for the people who have loved it for eighteen years as a performing arts center,” said Mucciolo. “Bringing patrons back into this building is emotional and special.”

Tickets to mainstage productions are $45 for adults, $40 for seniors. Tickets to Menopause the Musical are $55, $50 seniors. Tickets for children’s theater is $18 per person. Visit www.smithtownpac.org or call 631-724-3700 to order. Box office phone hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m. 

Andrew Murano as Will Shakespeare in a scene from ‘Shakespeare in Love’. Photo by Danielle Nigro

By Heidi Sutton

In perfect timing with Valentine’s Day, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts continues its 2017-18 season with the romantic comedy, “Shakespeare in Love.” The play, based on the 1998 award-winning film about William Shakespeare written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard and starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes, was adapted for the stage by Lee Hall in 2014 and has been making the rounds in playhouses ever since. Last weekend it opened on the Mainstage complete with mistaken identities, disguises, a sword fight and a dog.

Regarded by many as the greatest writer in the English language and the foremost dramatist of his time, Shakespeare was thought to have written more than 30 plays and more than 100 sonnets. Or did he? That is the question. Rumors and conspiracy theories have circulated for years. Now the Bard himself is in the spotlight as the story follows his journey and inspiration in writing one of his greatest masterpieces, ultimately proving that sometimes it does take a village.

Kenneth Washington directs a large cast of 22 plus Baby Jack as Spot the dog in this love letter to Shakespeare.

Andrew Murano and Katie Ferretti in a scene from ‘Shakespeare in Love’. Photo by Danielle Nigro

 

Andrew Murano tackles the role of Will Shakespeare, a young playwright who is suffering from writer’s block. Deep in debt and constantly being upstaged by his rival Kit Marlowe (Evan Donnellan) he struggles to complete his latest play, a comedy titled “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter,” which he has promised to two theater owners, Henslowe (Michael Newman) and Burbage (Doug Vandewinckel).

When Shakespeare meets Viola de Lesseps (Katie Ferretti), the daughter of a rich merchant betrothed to another, their forbidden love affair becomes the inspiration for much of the dialogue written for the play, which slowly evolves to become the romantic tragedy of “Romeo and Juliet.” His greatest admirer (she can recite every one of his plays by heart), Viola disguises herself as a man and lands the lead role of Romeo, further inspiring the playwright to begin work on “Twelfth Night” at the end of the second act. “Are you my actor or my muse?” Shakespeare asks her. “I am both but I should be neither,” she replies. Will someone discover her secret? Will Shakespeare steal her heart?

The talented group of actors, many of whom are regulars at the Smithtown venue, seem quite at ease blending a play within a play with backstage antics and onstage dramas. Murano and Ferretti are perfectly cast as the show’s forbidden lovers, reciting Shakespeare with skill and passion. The production is also enhanced by its supporting cast including Christine Boehm as the dog-loving Queen Elizabeth and Camile Arnone as Viola’s nurse. Special mention should be made of Evan Donnellan who, although he is only in a few scenes, leaves the audience wanting more.

A scene from ‘Shakespeare in Love’. Photo by Danielle Nigro

Set in the 1500s, the play’s Renaissance-era world is beautifully enhanced with period costumes by Chakira Doherty and the simple but functional set by Timothy Golebiewski serves as both castle with a balcony and an Elizabethean theater. The musical score, directed by Melissa Coyle, further elevates the show, especially during a dance in the castle where Shakespeare firsts lays eyes on his muse Viola.

Throughout the play, Shakespeare is told that all an audience wants is comedy along with love … and a bit with a dog and in that aspect “Shakespeare in Love” delivers. Recommended for mature audiences, running time is approximately two hours and 30 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown will present “Shakespeare in Love” through March 4. The season continues with “Mamma Mia” from March 24 to April 29 and “Dreamgirls” from May 12 to June 17. Tickets are $35 adults, $32 seniors and $20 students. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Stephen Treglia as Sancho Panza and Michael Bertolini as Don Quixote’ in a scene from ‘Man of La Mancha’ Photo by Courtney Braun

By Kyle Barr

 

In the conflict between cynical realism and colorful idealism, “Man of La Mancha” is fully in support of the latter even while being so close to giving into the former. It is a production that teeters on this line even in the most silly of circumstances, and it is this fine line that requires quite a lot from everyone involved from music to set design to acting so that the meaning does not get confused.

It is good then that the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts is up to the challenge.

Michael Bertolini as Don Quixote’ in a scene from ‘Man of La Mancha’ Photo by Courtney Braun

While classic productions like “Man of La Mancha” (a 1960s Broadway production ran for over 2,000 performances) give local theaters the opportunity to perform something familiar, these shows can have the side effect of giving the impression that it is “amateur hour.” However, the SPAC, even on its opening night, not only manages to have a show with great performances on every level, but it also manages to capture the depth and heart of the play.

The story first centers upon the “bad poet and idealist” Miguel de Cervantes who, along with his manservant, is arrested by the Spanish Inquisition under the charge of foreclosing on a church. In prison, all their possessions are taken by the other inmates, including the tough yet sympathetic “Governor,” who declares they will put on a mock trial for Cervantes and that if he is found guilty everything including his precious manuscript will be taken or burned.

The aging gentleman declares he wishes to present his trial in the form of a play about a man named Alonso Quijana, who has become so fed up with the evil of the world and has spent so much time around books on ancient chivalry that he goes insane, dons a breastplate and helmet and makes himself a knight errant named Don Quixote. He has the other inmates act out characters throughout his defense, all while time is ticking down before he must meet his real trial in front of the Inquisition.

The cast of ‘Man of La Mancha’. Photo by Courtney Braun

What is remarkable about the production, and what director Kenneth J. Washington and the other folks at the SPAC have managed to convey, is how well the theme and meaning builds over time. At first the audience must agree with the inmates, thinking Cervantes is an idiot idealist who has little excuse for his actions. Slowly it is clear through the obtuse silliness of Don Quixote that Cervantes might have a point, and eventually it is clear the production is a metanarrative about theater and fiction itself.

It is a theme expressed even by the set design, headed by resident designer Tim Golebiewski. At first the set seems well designed, with good work on the foreground and the paintings of stonework that seems truly lifelike. But it all seems a little dull and gray, easily blending into each other.

However, this works to the play’s themes. The audience is there inside this dungeon, and just like the inmates the place is dull and harrowing. Once Don Quixote is on stage, running around with broken lance and bent sword, both inmates and audience imagine a more colorful scene much in the way that Quixote seems to imagine it. It is all enhanced by lighting designer Chris Creevy who does a fine job on the subtle hints of lighting to fit the scene.

Of course, this setup would not work at all unless the actors convey that they too are being transported into Cervantes’ world, and on opening night last Saturday the entire cast went above and beyond what was expected.

Stephen Treglia as Sancho Panza and Michael Bertolini as Don Quixote’ in a scene from ‘Man of La Mancha’ Photo by Courtney Braun

While actors are often expected to play multiple parts on the stage throughout a play, lead Michael Bertolini has the harder job of switching between Cervantes, Quixote and Quijana often in the middle of a scene. Nevertheless, he manages it flawlessly, with each character having a distinct presence on stage. Cervantes is composed and gentlemanly, while Quixote is loud, boisterous while cripplingly old. It was a joy to watch Bertolini put on makeup right on stage, quickly transforming himself into another character in a scene only usually reserved for behind the stage.

SPAC veteran Brianne Boyd, who plays Alonsa, the kitchen wench of the local inn, fills her roll with a great melancholy that is pitch perfect, not to mention her voice that captures that loneliness and hopelessness especially in her song “It’s All the Same,” which musical director Melissa Coyle and choreographer Danielle Nigro must have spent countless hours getting just right. The song stands out as the most memorable and affecting number of the entire production.

The other standouts of the cast are easily Stephen Treglia as the manservant Sancho Panza, the unflappable sidekick to both Cervantes and Quixote, and Steve Ayle, his first time at the SPAC, as both the Duke and Dr. Carrasco, who has a stern face when talking of the merits of cynicism and realism over idealism.

If you have never seen “Man of La Mancha,” then SPAC’s production is a great introduction to the magnificent story. If you have seen La Mancha before, then this is a good way to remember why you loved it so much.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown will present “Man of La Mancha” through Oct. 22. Tickets are $35 adults, $32 seniors, $20 students with valid ID. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

‘Rich Boy, Rich Girl’ starring C. Thomas Howell will be screened at the festival.

By Rita J. Egan

The Global Revolution Film Festival is coming to the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts on Aug. 25 to 27, and North Shore film lovers are in for a revolution of the creative type. The event will consist of 10 two-hour blocks of film showings — each block consisting of a combination of original shorts, documentaries and full-length films.

A scene from ‘I’m Still Here’

Ken Washington, theater director, said the Smithtown Performing Arts Council was approached by the organizers of the film festival, and the theater was fortunate to have the weekend open. “We have been trying to integrate films into our program, and this seemed like a good way to make that happen,” he said.

Filmmaker Andrew Henriques, one of the organizers of the festival along with founder Jamal Blair and Greg Pursino, said the first two years the event was held in Farmingdale, and this year they searched for a new venue.

“We’ve been looking for a while for a festival location that is close to a train station, and the Smithtown theater is just two blocks away,” Henriques said. “And it has access to places that the filmmakers can go right after their screening because a lot of times you want to keep the party going. You’re there with a bunch of friends; you saw an awesome film; you’re high on the applause and getting to see your movie on a big screen, so you want to go someplace … There are so many locations for them to go [in Smithtown] and continue the celebration.”

He continued, “For us it’s important that they have a place to go and talk, network and talk to other directors and just socialize and talk shop. That’s a big part of it.”

Henriques, who grew up in Bellport, said Pursino discovered the theater, and he was impressed when his colleague showed him the location and loved that it had a balcony — something not many theaters have anymore.

“It reminded me of a theater from New York City,” he said. “It’s beautiful inside, and it has so much character. I know other filmmakers and other creative artistic people are going to be blown away by the theater.”

A scene from ‘The Last Warriors’

Henriques said he met Pursino, a fellow filmmaker, at a film festival, and Blair, another filmmaker, through Facebook. The organizers’ motto is “Story Above Stars” a slogan they thought of after attending some film festivals and noticing the poor quality of a few movies even though they featured recognizable actors. Their theory is that many events include movies with famous stars, knowing they will show up for the movie’s screening and draw in audiences.

“We’re not star chasing,” Henriques said.

The Global Revolution organizers choose films from all over the globe with stories that they believe will make audiences think while being entertained.

“We don’t care who is in your film,” Henriques said. “If you have a great film and a great story, you’re in.” He said the organizers chose to include web series in the event, something most film festivals don’t do; and there were no restrictions when it came to submissions. They looked for “a great plethora of fantastic films with unique stories.”

“That’s what we look for mostly,” Henriques said. “Something different; something outside of the typical things you might see in Hollywood that are telling the same old stories and remakes over and over again.”

When judging submissions for the festival six judges look for aspects such as a good storyline, cinematography, production, sound quality and pacing. The filmmaker said they looked for films that made you feel as if you are not watching a movie.

“The more that you are drawn away from the story the less points you get,” Henriques said. “A lot of things can draw you away from a story — bad camera angles, bad acting, bad sound. So, anything that takes away from the story, we start deducting points.”

Henriques said there is no quota for how many films of a certain genre they include. What is presented is based on the quality of the movie. “If we get in all comedies that are better than anything else we get, we’re going to show all comedies,” he said.

However, this year’s festival includes a variety of genres from a film that explores the current worldwide issue of sex trafficking and is inspired by real events, “I Am Still Here,” to Henriques’ romantic comedy “Rich Boy, Rich Girl” that he co-directed with Judy San Roman. The filmmaker said the comedy is the only one in the festival that features a known actor in the states, C. Thomas Howell, who rose to fame with the 1983 movie “The Outsiders.”

‘Cat Planet’ will be screened on Aug. 26.

Ten two-hour blocks of movies will be shown over the three days. Friday’s films will run from 1 to 9:30 p.m. with a networking session for directors, actors and fans at noon. Saturday’s films will be screened from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., while Sunday’s screenings will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a closing awards ceremony from 7 to 8 p.m. Each block is $10 or $25 for a day pass (good for all films shown on one day) or $60 for a full festival pass (good for all days and all blocks).

Washington hopes that local film lovers will enjoy the new venture at the theater. “We’re honored to be hosting the event and hope it can be enormously successful and become an annual occurrence here in Smithtown,” he said.

Henriques said the mission of Global Revolution Film Festival is to show films that will have audience members thinking after they leave the theater. “My main hope is that they walk away and they have films they can talk about where it just doesn’t disappear five minutes afterwards,” he said. “The experience just continues on.”

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2 East Main Street in Smithtown. For more information, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Film Festival Schedule

Aug. 25

Noon to 1 p.m. : Networking for directors, actors and fans

1 to 3 p.m. {Block 1}

“Vida Muertos”

“End Unsung”

“Two Texas”

“JFK Killer and Motives Revealed”

“I Am Still Here”

4 to 6 p.m. {Block 2}

“Strange Harvest”

“Back Stabber”

“Impervia”

“Play-Time”

“Uncle Chuck”

“Pearl Rain”

“Forgive Me”

7:30 to 9:30 p.m. {Block 3}

“Rich Boy, Rich Girl”

Aug. 26

10 a.m. to noon {Block 1}

“Fuerza”

“The Last Warriors”

“Full Service”

“The Man with the Western Hat”

“Micro Bites”

“Cat Planet”

1 to 3 p.m. {Block 2}

“Fairfield Follies”

“The F-word”

“A Matter of Seconds”

4 to 6 p.m. {Block 3}

“The Torments of Love”

“The Bake Job”

“Breaking the Silence”

“Slapface”

“Numbness”

“Madam Trigger”

7 to 9 p.m. {Block 4}

“Power of Prayer”

“Pet”

“The Son, The Father”

“Disco”

Aug. 27

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. {Block 1}

“The Accompanying Dancer”

“Pechorin”

2 to 4 p.m. {Block 2}

“Jihad”

5 to 7 p.m. {Block 3}

“Dual City”

“Cup of Tea”

“Christina Wood Memorial”

“Mirror Image”

7 to 8 p.m. : Closing/Awards Ceremony

From left, Matt Paredi, Louis Brady, Emma Geer and David Gow in a scene from 'Peter and the Starcatcher'. Photo by Justin Albinder

By Heidi Sutton

We’re all familiar with J.M. Barrie’s beloved story of “Peter Pan” about the wonderful adventures of a young boy who can fly and never grows up. The bedtime story filled our dreams with fairies, pirates, Indians, mermaids and who can forget Nana, the Darling’s St. Bernard. Many of us remember Disney’s 1953 animated version with great fondness.

The cast of ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’. Photo by Justin Albinder

But have you ever wondered how Peter Pan came to fly, why he lives on Neverland, how Captain Hook really lost his hand, how the crocodile came to swallow a clock and why he’s so big? Have you puzzled over where Wendy’s brother John got that top hat, why Peter and Captain Hook are bitter enemies and why Peter Pan came to visit the Darling family in London in the first place?

“Peter and the Starcatcher,” which opened last Saturday at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, answers all these burning questions and more. Billed as a prequel to “Peter Pan,” the Tony award-winning musical written by Rick Elice and based on the children’s novel “Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, catches up with Peter right before he becomes Pan.

Best suited for ages 10 and above, the hilarious, yet sometimes confusing, production invites the audience into an imaginary world where ropes represent walls, people stand in for squeaky doors and pirates fight with plungers and broom handles instead of swords.

Ken Washington brilliantly directs a multitalented 12-member cast, each playing multiple roles (over 100) throughout the show with boundless energy and harmony, effectively moving from one character and stage position to another to tell the story.

On orders of the Queen, two ships, The Neverland and The Wasp and their crews are bound for the Kingdom of Rundoon, each carrying identical trunks — one containing precious “star stuff” and the other filled with sand to distract pirates. Joining the crews on their mission is 13-year-old Molly Aster (the future Mrs. Darling) who is studying to be a “starcatcher” under the direction of her father, Lord Leonard Aster, and three young orphan boys — Peter, Ted and Prentiss — who are to be sold into slavery. When The Wasp turns out to be a pirate ship led by a pre-Hook Black Stache, Molly’s father is captured, leaving Molly and Peter to make sure the pirates never get their hands on the treasure, which has magical powers.

David Gow is terrific as Peter the orphan who, with a little nurturing from Molly (played by the wonderful Emma Geer) comes out of his shell and saves the day. Peter’s friends, Ted and Prentiss (Louis Brady and Matt Paredi,) compliment each other perfectly; one obsessed with being the leader and the other with food, especially pork.

Ryan Nolin as Black Stache and Rick Grossman as Smee in a scene from ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’. Photo by Justin Albinder

While the entire cast delivers top-notch performances, it is Ryan Nolin, as Black Stache, who steals the show with his flamboyant and over-the-top performance in every scene, made possible only by his sidekick Smee, played by Rick Grossman. When he loses his hand, Black Stache asks Smee, “What do I do now?” “I’m stumped sir,” is the reply. Special mention should be made of Jordan Hue’s spirited performance in the role of Fighting Prawn, leader of the Mollusk tribe.

Washington perhaps describes the show best in his director’s notes: ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ … begins with a mob of actors center stage, a community waiting to happen, and we end with those same people, back with a purpose … we know it’s the beginning of something. It is that collective strength and community purpose that I hope you’ll remember. It’s what this play is all about, but it’s also what all theatre is, why we love it and need it so.”

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown will present “Peter and the Starcatcher” through Feb. 25. Tickets are $35 adults, $32 seniors, $20 students. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

David Gow

By Rebecca Anzel

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts is currently gearing up for the second show of its 15th anniversary season, the award-winning musical play “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which will open on Jan. 14. Based on the 2006 children’s novel of “Peter and the Starcatchers,” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and adapted for the stage by Rick Elice, the play, according to the SCPA’s press release, is a swashbuckling grown-up prequel to “Peter Pan.”

The show appeared on Broadway from 2012 to 2013 and won five Tony Awards including Best Play and Best Original Score (Wayne Barker). At the time, The New York Times wrote that it was “the most exhilarating Broadway storytelling in decades.”

The role of Peter Pan will be played by 25-year-old actor David Gow, a Houston, Texas, native who graduated last May from the North Carolina School of Arts with a bachelor’s of fine arts in drama. Gow, who now resides in Harlem, was most recently in “The Beast’s Beauty” at Lincoln Center, in the role of the Beast, and in an off-broadway play titled “Chokehold.” I recently spoke with the actor about his latest role as “the boy who wouldn’t grow up.”

Why did you decide to try out for this role?

Playing Peter was at the top of my list of dream roles, so I was constantly searching for auditions for it as soon as I moved to New York. Once I saw Smithtown was doing it I was all in, and I roped my friend Emma Geer, who plays the role of Molly, into doing it too!

What is the play about?

The story slowly fills in the questions people have about Peter Pan but in a very subtle way, while simultaneously adding plot lines that are so brilliantly spontaneous the audience couldn’t possibly predict them. It’s definitely an action/adventure and has really a bit of everything in it. It switches effortlessly from action, farce and drama.

What is your favorite scene?

I love the scene where Black Stache/Captain Hook and Peter meet for the first time. There’s something so iconic about how the two of them are drawn to each other despite being mortal enemies. I also love the last scene of the play, but you’ll have to come see the show to see what happens!

What is your favorite musical number?

I like “Swim On” the best — it is the closing song of Act 1.

I understand that 12 actors will be taking on the roles of over 100 characters?

The 12 actors playing 100 roles has been the biggest challenge, but also I think the most rewarding. We really have nothing but a couple of ropes, trunks and ladders. We get to create everything else ourselves, which lets the audience jump from scene to scene instantaneously. I play a few other roles quickly, like a pirate and sailor here and there.

What is it like working with the rest of the cast?

The cast could not have been more welcoming to the actors who were new (myself included). A lot of them have done shows here for years, but I felt like we all clicked pretty immediately. There’s not a weak link in the group.

What is it like working with the director, Ken Washington?

Ken is definitely a veteran director and comes very prepared to every rehearsal. Very positive and enthusiastic about the show. It’s been such a wonderful room to come into every night.

Is this a show for all ages?

I’d say more than almost any other show, this show is ABSOLUTELY for all ages. It has the excitement and humor for adults to enjoy, while also having elements perfectly geared toward children as well. Totally appropriate.

Why should people come out to see this show?

“Peter and the Starcatcher” is to “Peter Pan” as “Wicked” is to the “Wizard of Oz.” All of your previous questions about Peter Pan are answered in this show. Come find out why Peter Pan can fly, why Captain Hook only has one hand and why none of the boys are growing up. The show has everything: nonstop action and adventure; it will make you roll on the floor laughing and also provides incredibly touching moments. I actually don’t know anyone who I would not recommend this show to. It really is for everyone!

The Smithtown Center for Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown, will present “Peter and the Starcatcher” from Jan. 14 to Feb. 25. Tickets are $35 adults, $32 seniors and $20 for students with a valid ID. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.com.

Join Tom Manuel and the Syncopated Seven as they ring in the New Year at the Jazz Loft

By Erika Riley

New Year’s Eve is the holiday to close out the season, and there is no better way to celebrate Dec. 31 than to do something fun for the night. Whether you’re in the mood for music, comedy or to simply see a movie before you head out for the night, the North Shore offers several great ways to spend the evening.

Huntington

Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre will screen ‘Lion’ starring Dev Patel on New Year’s Eve

The Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington will be hosting a celebration of film on New Year’s Eve. There will be food, drinks, films and friends! First, attendees will have their pick of three films to view before the ball drops including “Jackie” starring Natalie Portman (8:15 p.m.), “Lion” starring Dev Patel (8:30 p.m.) and a third movie that is yet to be announced. After the movie screenings, guests can join the party in the Sky Room Cafe for some delicious food, cake and champagne toasts while viewing the ball dropping in Times Square on a television in the Cafe. Tickets are $40 per person, $35 members, and may be purchased online at www.cinemaartscentre.org or via phone at 631-423-FILM.

Port Jefferson

Paul Anthony will bring his comedy act to Theatre Three on New Year’s Eve

This year, Theatre Three, located at 412 Main Street in Port Jefferson will be offering a comedy show titled “New Year’s Laughin’ Eve” at two different times, featuring some of the biggest names in comedy. The “early bird” show will begin at 6 p.m. and run until 7:30 p.m., and the later show will start at 8 p.m. and end by 9:30 p.m., giving attendees plenty of time to take in a New Year’s party and watch the ball drop after the show. Douglas Quattrock, director of development and group sales and special events coordinator, says that the event is a great alternative for those who don’t want to go out to a bar but still want to go do something. “It’s a great way to kick off the new year and end the holiday season,” Quattrock said. “There’s no better medicine than laughter.”

There will be three comedians at the show, the first being Paul Anthony from Massapequa. Anthony is the host of the Long Island Comedy Festival and the host of the new 50+ Comedy Tour, a group of comedians who are targeting their comedy to a slightly older generation. The second guest is Rich Walker, who has been named the Best Comedian on Long Island two years in a row, has headlined in Las Vegas, and has been featured by the New York Times and the third comedian is Keith Anthony, who has been featured on Showtime, A&E and Comedy Central, and has also headlined his own shows. Quattrock said that while the comedy isn’t for kids, it’s also not brute or offensive. Tickets for the shows are $49 per person at the door, $45 in advance at www.theatrethree.com or by calling 631-928-9100.

Smithtown

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown will present a New Year’s Eve comedy show titled “Loads of Laughs,” featuring six headlining comics. Of the six comics, Ken Washington of the center said, “The comedians are always top of the line ‘headlining’ comics who have been seen on a variety of different media outlets as well as comedy clubs throughout the area.” Eddie Clark, former cop and current full-time comic, will be in attendance, as well as seasoned comedians Marvin Bell and Matt Burke. Guests can also expect to see Peyton Clarkson, winner of the New York City Laugh-Off, Joe Currie, a member of several bands as well as a comic, and Warren Holstein, club headliner and occasional contributor to SNL’s “Weekend Update.” Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $180 per couple or $90 per person (there is a $10 discount for members) and include a buffet of Italian hors d’oeuvres and light fare as well as an open bar of wine and beer. Dessert will be served during intermission and a champagne toast will be made to ring in the New Year. To order, call 631-724-3700. Note: Show contains adult language.

Stony Brook

The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook, will be hosting a New Year’s Eve Celebration featuring jazz musician Tom Manuel and the Syncopated Seven from 7:30 to 12:30 p.m. The performance will also showcase guest artist Melanie Marod, who is a modern jazz vocalist who performs regularly around popular clubs in New York City. “What I’m most excited about is just having a wonderful group of people together in such a classy exciting place with such great music, I feel like when you put together great food and great people and great music it’s a guaranteed home-run evening,” said Manuel , who is also the curator and director of the Jazz Loft. Tickets are $150 per person, which includes a buffet dinner catered by the Three Village Inn, cocktail hour and a champagne toast at midnight. To order, call 631-751-1895 or visit www.thejazzloft.org.

The cast of ‘Urinetown’. Photo courtesy of the SCPA

By Heidi Sutton

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts closes out its 14th season with the award-winning satirical comedy, “Urinetown The Musical,” which opened last weekend. With superb direction by Ken Washington, the 16-member seasoned cast guides the audience through two and a half wonderful hours of greed, love, corruption, regret, rebellion, fear, justice and long lines to the bathroom! Oh and it is very funny!

Officer Lockstock (Michael Bertolini) and street urchin Little Sally (Courtney Braun) in a scene from ‘Urinetown’, Photo courtesy of SCPA
Officer Lockstock (Michael Bertolini) and street urchin Little Sally (Courtney Braun) in a scene from ‘Urinetown’, Photo courtesy of SCPA

The incredible Michael Bertolini returns as Officer Lockstock, a role he played 10 years ago in the same theater, and serves as narrator to set the scene. The town is experiencing a 20-year drought, he explains, which has caused a severe water shortage, causing the government to ban all private toilets. Everyone must use public bathrooms in order to “take care of their private business.” However, all the urinals are controlled by corporate giant Urine Good Company run by the greedy Caldwell B. Cladwell (Michael Newman). In other words, everyone must “pay to pee.” Anyone who doesn’t pay is arrested and sent to Urinetown, “a mystical place, a bad place, filled with symbolism,” never to be seen again. “Whaaat!”

The cast

Michael Bertolini

Courtney Braun

Mark Cahill

Samantha Carroll

Erich Grathwohl

Ronnie Green

Jeremy Hudson

Amanda-Camille Isaac

M.E. Junge

Mary Ellin Kurtz

Kaylyn Lewis

Eddie Martinez

Michael Newman

Ryan Nolin

Dondi Rollins Jr.

Jim Sluder

When Cladwell’s daughter Hope (Samantha Carroll) returns from college to work at UGC, she meets Bobby Strong (Jeremy Hudson), an assistant janitor at one of the cheapest toilets in town, run by Miss Pennywise (Mary Ellin Kurtz). Bob and Hope fall in love and she encourages him to follow his heart. His heart tells him to form a rebellion and the fight to pee for free is on. Will good win over evil or will Bobby be sent to Urinetown?

Musical director Melissa Coyle, on keyboards, leads a powerful ensemble with Alexandria DeVries on reeds, Ken Mahoney on trombone, Michael Molloy on bass and Jim Waddell on drums. The musical numbers, choreographed by M.E. Junge, are all top notch. Carroll and Hudson’s duet, “Follow Your Heart,” is very sweet (there’s clearly some chemistry there), while Michael Newman is hilarious as he hops around the stage singing “Don’t Be the Bunny.” Other stand-out numbers include “Cop Song,” which incorporates flashlights and batons into the choreography and the gospel number, “Run, Freedom, Run!” and the cast shines in “Snuff That Girl” and “What Is Urinetown?” both clearly inspired by “West Side Story” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

As Little Sally says to Officer Lockstock at the end, “This isn’t a happy musical but the music is happy …. and the title is awful!” True, but you should still go see it!

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown will present “Urinetown The Musical” through Nov. 6. Tickets range from $20 to $35. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.