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Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

When a bio-musical is a success, audience members leave inspired and feeling as if they traveled back in time. That’s precisely what the John W. Engeman Theater’s cast and crew have accomplished for theatergoers with their production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which opened Sept. 14.

New York theater lovers first experienced the production on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre from January 2014 to October 2019. The jukebox musical, with book by Douglas McGrath, explores Carole King’s earlier musical and life experiences woven into the beautiful tapestry of this prolific songwriter and singer’s career. 

The production takes the audience on a musical journey from Carole’s first step into the entertainment world in 1958, when at 16 she sold her first song to publisher Don Kirshner, to her career-transforming album Tapestry.

While working for Kirshner, Carole meets lyricist Gerry Goffin at Queens College and collaborates with him professionally. The pair become romantically involved and young parents while creating hits for groups such as The Drifters and The Shirelles. During their partnership, Carole and Gerry enjoy a friendly competition with the songwriting team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Unfortunately, Carole and Gerry’s marriage is rocky, leading to divorce. However, the split propels the songwriter to branch out and sing her own music.

The Engeman production is masterfully directed by Paul Stancato, which is apparent in the actors’ fabulous portrayals of the iconic personalities and how they smoothly transition from one scene to another.

Stephanie Lynne Mason does an extraordinary job portraying Carole as a humble, modest songwriter who lacks confidence in her looks and singing talents. However, as the musical progresses, Mason seamlessly evolves into a more confident Carole, ready to take on Carnegie Hall. 

As Act I closes, Mason’s rendition of “One Fine Day,” after the songwriter finds out her husband hasn’t been faithful, nails the heartbreak Carole must have felt when she heard the news. Mason demonstrates that depth again during the reprise of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” during the second act, and toward the end of the show, she has everyone feeling as if they are sitting in Carnegie Hall listening to a Grammy Award-winning star.

Jack Cahill-Lemme perfectly captures Gerry’s turmoil as he deals with depression and is so convincing as a womanizer that it’s difficult not to get upset at him when Gerry breaks Carole’s heart. As for his singing, his delivery of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” in Act II sounds even better than the Monkees’ version.

Sarah Ellis as Cynthia is everything you would expect from a successful songwriter — fun, flirty and sexy. From her first number, “Happy Days/Cynthia,” audience members know they will be in for a treat with Ellis on stage.

Noah Berry is perfect as the hypochondriac Barry, who falls in love with Cynthia. He delivers an energized and impressive “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” in the second act. The musical is also filled with some funny lines, and Ellis and Berry skillfully lighten the mood.

Playing Carole’s mother, Genie Klein, is Laura Leigh Carroll, who portrays her with just the right amount of strength and love. Devon Goffman is perfect in his portrayal of Don Kirshner, acting as a respected patriarch who balances motivating his ensemble of songwriters with caring about them as people.

A review of the Engeman’s production of Beautiful wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the ensemble members. Early in Act 1, the ensemble treats the audience to “1650 Broadway Medley.” This number is just a preview of what’s in store for the audience from the talented singers and dancers as most of them hit the stage later to sing pop classics, stealing the spotlight from the main characters.

Cory Simmons, Damien DeShaun Smith, Dwayne Washington and Leron Wellington are suave and debonair as The Drifters. Their renditions of “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Up on the Roof” and “On Broadway” are swoon-worthy.

Renee Marie Titus, Zuri Washington, Cecily Dionne Davis and Cece Morin bring to the stage all the glamor, style and talent of The Shirelles with “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” Davis returns to the stage and shines once again as fictional singer Janelle Woods singing “One Fine Day,” and Morin as Little Eva sounds fantastic singing “The Loco-motion.” Joe Caskey and Jack B. Murphy as The Righteous Brothers also deliver a powerful “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’.”

The Engeman musicians, led by Jeff Cox, are equally impressive on all the tunes. Kyle Dixon has done a phenomenal job creating a stage design that is versatile yet eye-catching with golden-colored sliding panels, and costume designer Dustin Cross has captured the fun and glamor of the 1960s perfectly.

The beauty of Engeman’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is that theatergoers don’t have to be fans of the artist or the songs of the 1960s to enjoy a spectacular night of entertainment. The cast and crew have once again crafted a production worthy of Broadway.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main Street, Northport presents Beautiful: The Carole King Musical through Oct. 29. Tickets range from $85 to $95. For more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

All photos courtesy of The John W. Engeman Theater.

See a preview of the show here.

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By Rita J. Egan

Saturday’s heat and humidity couldn’t spoil the enthusiasm of local history lovers as they embarked on a journey back in time.

Three Village Historical Society, Tri-Spy Tours and several area historical and cultural organizations hosted the 9th Culper Spy Day on Saturday, Sept. 9. The annual event celebrates regional history, especially the Culper Spy Ring that operated during the Revolutionary War.

According to Kimberly Phyfe, TVHS development coordinator, more than 1,000 people stopped by the historical society’s property. Other locations were sprinkled throughout Setauket, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson.

Phyfe said more than 1,000 samples of curry soup and colonial waffles were handed out at the table for Stirring up History with Diane Schwindt from Ketcham Inn, while historian Beverly Tyler, dressed as Abraham Woodhull, wax sealed 125 “spy” letters. According to Phyfe, the Huntington Militia’s cannon firing and musket drills were the most popular feature.

“They drew a huge crowd for all three demonstrations, and everyone walked away wowed by the experience,” she said. “The 23rd Regiment of Foot caused a fantastic scene, rounding up a rebel colonist and tying him to a tree for having the treasonous Declaration of Independence in his pocket and speaking out against the king. Not to worry, a brave band of musket-trained children ran to his rescue with the aid of General Washington.”

Guests were also able to tour the Spies exhibit inside TVHS headquarters, and visit George and Martha Washington along with their squire at their tented field office. For the first time this year, the event was kicked off with a ceremonial raising of the Betsy Ross flag.

Participants could also take docent-led tours of the Setauket Neighborhood House; visit Patriots Rock, where the Battle of Setauket took place Aug. 22, 1777; and tour the Caroline Episcopal Church and Setauket Presbyterian Church as well as view the gravestones of famous residents and Patriot soldiers. 

At Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, history lovers listened to live music while children played outdoor games, and those entering the library’s lobby viewed 18th-century items on display.

Herb Mones, Three Village Community Trust president, said TVCT members and Boy Scout Troop 427, Setauket, greeted hundreds of visitors at Patriots Rock Saturday to discuss the importance of the glacial erratic boulder and its role in history.

“There was a real enthusiasm and interest in this trust property,” Mones said. “We’re always thrilled to participate in Culper Spy Day — a celebration of our community’s colonial heritage.”

Over in East Setauket, “Big Bill the Tory” (aka William Jayne III), gave tours and told stories at the Sherwood-Jayne House. Visitors to Stony Brook’s Long Island Museum viewed the newly discovered Culper Spy Ring letter by Benjamin Tallmadge to Robert Townsend. In Port Jefferson, the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum presented the new exhibit, Privateers: Pirates with Permission.

On July 25, Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (R – 18th L.D.) recognized Trisha Northover, pictured with her son Tristan, as this year’s Women Veterans Appreciation Day honoree for the 18th District. Photo from Leg. Bontempi's office

By Rita J. Egan

One local veteran has come a long way since she left Afghanistan, and she credits the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the local American Legion Post and her nursing career for her success.

U.S. Army veteran Trisha Northover spent her younger years traveling between her dad’s home in Kingston, Jamaica, and her mom’s in Greenlawn after her parents’ divorce. She said in her early 20s, a friend’s father, a firefighter, died on Sept. 11, and the effect that his passing had on her friend helped Northover find her passion.

Photo from Trisha Northover

“I saw the impact that it had in her life,” the veteran said. “She became a totally different person after she lost her dad, and I wanted to do something.”

At 24, she joined the army. Interested in a medical career, Northover said she learned everything she needed to know about medicine in the military. Initially, she studied basic EMT skills and then nursing. After 18 months of training, she became a licensed practical nurse.

She spent nine years and nine months in the army, primarily stationed at West Point, where she had her son Tristan, now 16. Working at the academy’s hospital and clinic, she cared for the cadets. 

Northover was deployed to Afghanistan for 10 months as a combat medic during Operation Enduring Freedom, and she said she witnessed back-to-back traumas during her deployment. For her service, she has received a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO Medal and Army Commendation Medal. For her unit’s service in Afghanistan, they received a Meritorious Unit Commendation award.

​American Legion

When she returned to Greenlawn, Northover said she learned firsthand how helpful American Legion Post 1244 members are. Struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, Northover said it took some time to find a full-time job.

“I didn’t have a lot of support financially,” the veteran said. “I was still figuring it out.”

Northover added post members brought her and her son Thanksgiving dinner the first year she returned from Afghanistan. She soon became a post member, and recently, the 42-year-old was named post commander.

Being involved in a post and talking to fellow veterans who have had similar experiences is vital, Northover said. She described it as “a camaraderie like no other.” 

Photo from Trisha Northover

“We’re all being pulled in a million directions, but spending time in the company of the members of my posts, working for them, doing different things, it gives me a sense of purpose, and it honors my service if that makes sense,” she said. “It gives me an outlet for my service because a lot of times when you come back, you feel like you’re not a part of a team anymore, and being in the American Legion absolutely gives me the feeling of being a member of a team and working toward a mission.”

With her membership in the American Legion post and her job as a licensed practical nurse at the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University, Northover has the opportunity to meet older vets. She said she always does her best to take photos and converse with them. She always thanks them for their service, especially World War II vets.

“These men are living history,” she said. “We study the war in the history books, and so much in the world literally changed because of that war, and to be with the men who were fighting — they’re leaving us. They’re not going to be here forever.”

While she still experiences tremendous anxiety, which made working at other jobs difficult at times, she said the veterans home has been a supportive place to work as they understand her PTSD.

Getting help

In addition to being able to talk with fellow vets at the American Legion and at her job, Northover credits Veterans Affairs for helping her manage her disorder with different types of therapy, from talk therapy to acupuncture. The disorder, she said, is a result of her time in Afghanistan.

“It was something that I’ve had to really work on to be able to not only talk about, but to not feel a certain way when I even talk about it,” Northover said.

She added the post-traumatic growth she has gone through has made her more resilient. “I know that I survived that so there’s not much that I can’t overcome,” the vet said.

Northover said the VA has realized traditional treatments aren’t for everybody, and patients can receive treatment outside of the VA hospital, including equine therapy and working with service animals.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that they can change the quality of their life,” she said. “We can’t necessarily not have PTSD or not have insomnia or the trauma, but you can get to a point in your life where you can live a life that’s still full and purposeful if you really just accept the help that is offered.”


At the end of July, Northover was among fellow women veterans recognized at the Suffolk County Legislature’s General Meeting in Hauppauge. She said she was honored and humbled.

Trisha Northover and Leg. Stephanie Bontempi

“These women have done so many wonderful things not only in their personal and military lives but for their community, so it was really great to be honored,” she said. 

Northover discovered she was chosen when a member of Suffolk County Legislator Stephanie Bontempi’s (R-Centerport) staff emailed her. Northover was nominated by Mary Flatley, a fellow American Legion Post 1244 member and a former recipient of the same county honor. 

Flatley described Northover as a fantastic person with many great ideas for the post. “She’s a very grounded person and selfless,” she said. “I’m happy she’s our commander.”

She added, “I think Trisha is going to prove herself as an outstanding leader.”

In a statement, Leg. Bontempi said, “When I learned about Trisha’s accomplishments as a soldier and her dedication to helping her fellow veterans, I knew she had to be this year’s honoree. Trisha served our country with distinction, and to this day she is making a difference in many lives.”

Northover said it’s an honor when people thank her for her service, and the recognition from the county made her feel that her service was validated even further. 

“I had to reconcile a lot of things, and if it was worth it, within my own self, to go through what I went through in terms of the war,” the veteran said. “Having moments like this have really reinforced to me that people are really grateful and thankful that I did what I did because I fought for freedom and America.”

The Timothy House property on North Country Road. File photo by Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

Residents in the Village of Head of the Harbor and the surrounding area were again able to express their opinions Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. regarding a proposed church at 481 North Country Road. This meeting was held after press time.

The Russian Orthodox Monastery of the Glorious Ascension, also known as the Monastery of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite, has owned the historic Timothy House since 2018 and is proposing a plan to construct a house of worship on the property and a 36-space parking lot. A special-use permit is needed to proceed with any construction.

At the June 21 village meeting, Joseph Buzzell, the monastery’s Melville-based attorney, explained that the proposed church building, with a planned maximum occupancy of 282 people, would not be a parish church but a monastery church. He said while people outside of the monastery at times decided to worship with the monks, the monastery is not looking to expand its congregation. 

Currently, the monks hold services inside Timothy House. According to village code, land, buildings and major landscaping on either side of 25A, also known as North Country Road, are declared a historic area if they extend to a depth of 500 feet within the village. In addition to the village code, covenants and restrictions were placed on the deed by historian and previous owner Barbara Van Liew in 1973 and 1997.

At previous village meetings, while some residents said they had no concerns, others were worried that the construction of a church and the addition of a parking lot may degrade the historic integrity of the property and the landscape.

In a phone interview, Buzzell said the monastery is not modifying the Timothy House. He said the monks have already paid more than $340,000 in maintenance and repairs on the structure.

Buzzell said the plans for the church had been changed twice to move it from the front of the property toward the back. He said there would be no widening of the driveway and no new lighting. However, he said the entrance posts would have to be moved farther apart.

He said the monks respect the historic integrity of the home and property, but he feels those who are against construction “don’t seem to want to take into consideration what’s been done,” he said.

The lawyer added that the monastery being awarded the special exception permit is important.

“This action ensures the preservation of the house,” he said, adding Van Liew wouldn’t want to see the house put at risk.


In a July 20 letter to Mayor Douglas Dahlgard from Robert O’Shea, village building inspector, posted on the village’s website, the letter writer said he met with Father Vasileios Willard, deputy abbot, at the Timothy House for a tour. 

He said Willard pointed out some trees he would like to be removed, which O’Shea wrote an arborist will be submitting a report on the condition of the trees. In the letter, the building inspector stated that the grounds were properly maintained according to village and state codes.

Inside the house, new water heaters, waterproofing of basement walls and structural repairs in the basement, first and second floors were among the new work done, according to O’Shea. 

He wrote the structure was in “good overall condition and is well maintained.”

The State Historic Preservation Office also reviewed the monastery’s plans and found there would be no adverse effects on the property, but many, including village historian Leighton Coleman III, said they are concerned because a representative from SHPO didn’t visit and survey the property.

Covenants and restrictions

Among those who have criticized the proposed construction to the property has been St. James-based attorney Joseph Bollhofer, chair of the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals. In an email to TBR News Media, he said, in addition to violating the covenants and restrictions placed by Van Liew, it “would violate various provisions of the village code, having to do with a special exception permit.”

At the June 21 meeting, Buzzell said his clients were not aware of the 1973 covenants, something that Bollhofer said would be part of a title search.

When asked by TBR about the comment, Buzzell said that the 1973 covenants did not turn up in the monastery’s title search in 2018 when the property was purchased. The attorney feels that the 1997 document amended and replaced the 1973 document.

But Bollhofer said the 1997 covenants wouldn’t replace or supersede the 1973 document.

“In every case, where one document supersedes or amends another, it must specifically state that,” Bollhofer said, adding, “Both documents state that they ‘run with the land’ and are binding upon all future owners.”

Traffic analysis

In a letter dated Aug. 2, Aaron Machtay, transportation project manager with Hauppauge-based civil engineering firm VHB, presented traffic and parking recommendations to village counsel Philip Butler after reviewing a traffic statement by Atlantic Traffic & Design prepared for the monastery earlier this year, and a site plan from architect Mark Wittenberg that was dated Aug. 30, 2022.

According to the letter, despite prior testimony that the driveway will remain at its 18-foot width, VHB suggested that the driveway be evaluated to see if it can accommodate two-way traffic. 

The business also suggested that the previous traffic statement was a conservative estimate and “projections for the future activity should be prepared based on the observed demand and compared against thresholds established for a significant impact.”

Among other suggestions, the letter stated that parking observations need to be reconciled “to present the actual peak parking demand expected for the site,” also there should be an analysis for the three-year crash experience on Route 25A, focusing on the three-year period before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Zach Berger. Photo courtesy of Dinah Berger

By Rita J. Egan

Friends are rallying around an Elwood-John H. Glenn High School student to raise money for his medical treatment.

In July, doctors diagnosed high school senior Zach Berger with Ewing sarcoma, a rare and aggressive pediatric cancer. As soon as they heard the news, his mother’s friends, Carolyn O’Brien and Courtney Presti, along with Berger’s friend and O’Brien’s son Joseph Pontieri, set up a GoFundMe page to raise $50,000 to help offset medical costs and ease financial strains.

Berger’s mother, Dinah, said his family, which includes his dad David and older sister Katrina, was surprised and touched when they heard about the GoFundMe campaign. 

Photo courtesy of Dinah Berger

In addition to donations, Berger’s friends and their families have been showing their support in various ways. His mother said a friend’s father who owns a diner has regularly brought them food since he heard the news.

“We have a saying, ‘Elwood Strong,’ and they’ve really proven it,” Dinah Berger said, adding she couldn’t thank the community enough.

The fundraising campaign organizers are using the hashtag #elwoodstrong as well as #zachattack, which O’Brien said has been used when Berger is wrestling.

“It was fitting to this situation — to attack it head on,” O’Brien said.

The family friend said the 17-year-old is always looking to help out.

“He walks in [the house], and if he sees the garbage is full, he just goes and takes the garbage out,” O’Brien said. 

Dinah Berger said her son was in terrible pain one day, and she brought him to Huntington Hospital. Doctors first thought he had kidney stones, but tests found none. A CT scan was ordered after a urine test showed a small amount of blood. When the scan was analyzed, the top part of a tumor could be seen. 

An MRI taken at an outpatient facility confirmed the tumor, and the mother took her son to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. It was there the family received hope from Berger’s oncologist Dr. Leonard Wexler, even though Dinah Berger said it has been difficult.

Zach Berger. Photo courtesy of Dinah Berger

Due to Zach Berger’s treatments, the incoming senior will be unable to attend school when it begins in September, according to his mother. In addition to being an honor student, he has been a member of the high school football and wrestling teams. Earlier this year, he placed in the county championships for wrestling.

“We all have our moments, but he’s been trying to be really brave,” Dinah Berger said. “It’s a lot for a 17-year-old to know they’re going to be hit with this.”

His mother, who is divorced from Berger’s father and works part time at two small companies, will take time off from work as her son will need to be taken back and forth to the city for chemotherapy and doctor appointments at MSK. In addition to chemotherapy, his treatment will possibly include surgery and radiation.

“One of the oncologists said this is a full-time job,” she said.

Dinah Berger said there is a possibility that a room will open up at the Ronald McDonald House where they can stay, and eventually the goal is for her son to receive treatment at Sloan’s Commack location.

The mother said the family recently received good news when a PET scan showed that the tumor had not metastasized.

“It’s the happiest news I have had in my life,” she said. “The whole thing is horrible and a nightmare, at least that gave me some hope.”

As of Aug. 1, 205 donations — totaling $16,000 of the $50,000 goal — have been collected. O’Brien said she’s not surprised.

“He’s one of those kids that everyone likes,” she said. “If you were going to support or donate to any family, this would be the family to donate to.”

For more information or to donate, visit www.gofundme.com/f/hsf9ja-zachattack.

From left, JVC Force's AJ Rok, The Fat Boys' Kool-Rock Ski, Son of Bazerk and Ralph McDaniels Photos from LIMEHOF
From left, Jazzy Jay, Public Enemy’s DJ Johnny Juice and Leaders of the New School’s Dinco D and Milo In De Dance

By Rita J. Egan

In the early 1970s, a new genre of music came out of the Bronx called hip-hop. Through the years, the music’s popularity grew and among the hip-hop artists were Long Islanders. On Sunday, June 11, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the genre and those local entertainers, the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame in Stony Brook will host a special concert along with a discussion panel featuring several artists who began their careers in Suffolk, Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn.

Members of Son of Bazerk, Kool Rock-Ski (of The Fat Boys), DJ Jazzy Jay and DJ Johnny Juice Rosado (of Public Enemy) are scheduled to perform. A panel discussion will also take place with Rosado, AJ Rok (of JVC Force), Dinco D and Milo in de Dance (both of Leaders of the New School), and special guest Ralph McDaniels (of Video Music Box). In addition to the performances and Q&A, the hall of fame will unveil a statue of hip-hop artist and actor LL Cool J and induct The Fat Boys.

Tom Needham, LIMEHOF vice chairman, said the event aligns with the organization’s ultimate goal to represent and present different types of music. He added there is so much talent in the area, including hip-hop artists, some who have already been inducted into the local hall of fame.

“I think a lot of people, when they think of music on Long Island, simply think of Billy Joel, but there are so many hip-hop artists who lived here, who made music here,” Needham said. “I think sometimes the average Long Island resident just doesn’t even know it.”

Rosado, who has been involved with LIMEHOF since its early days and was inducted with Public Enemy in 2008, said the idea to include the panel came from a tour he took part in during 2012. He and his fellow artists came up with the idea to have a press conference with a panel before shows. He said he feels concerts should have some kind of context and a Q&A helps to provide that.

“I think that it’s important, especially with something like this, a museum and a hall of fame, to kind of know the artists, what they’re about, and why Long Island was such an incredible incubator for these types of acts,” he said.

The event will give several entertainers the opportunity to visit the venue for the first time, including AJ Woodson, a.k.a. AJ Rok from JVC Force. Now the editor-in-chief of Black Westchester Magazine, Woodson said he was happy to hear about the event from Rosado.

“Long Island rap needs to be celebrated more, and it doesn’t get celebrated the way it should, but it was a very strong region as far as it had a lot of contributions to hip-hop,” the journalist said.

A bit of history

Rosado, in addition to being part of Public Enemy, whose “Fight the Power” was featured in the 1989 movie “Do The Right Thing,” has worked with various artists and composed film scores. He remembers the early days of hip-hop as being similar to jazz’s trajectory.

“A lot of it wasn’t accepted by the established greats of the time or what have you, and because of that, it was a hard time trying to get it launched,” he said. “But, along the way, there were some breakthrough moments like when Run DMC did ‘Walk This Way.’”

The 1986 hit was a cover of Aerosmith’s 1975 song, and the hip-hop version did better on the charts than the original. Rosado added that many artists, such as Aerosmith, had a resurgence when hip-hop artists would sample classics.

Woodson said hip-hop started out as a way to express oneself and now it has touched “every form of entertainment at this point.”

As for Long Island artists, Needham said in the early days of hip-hop, many, during interviews, were made to feel as if they had to say they were from New York City.

“It was actually a thing in the record companies,” he said. “Their strategy years ago was — if somebody was from Long Island — they would kind of rewrite their history slightly and make it sound like they were from New York City. They didn’t think it was cool to say they were from Long Island with a lot of different artists, not just hip-hop.”

During the June 11 panel, attendees can find out how many of these entertainers first formed their groups.

Woodson said he moved from Mount Vernon to Central Islip when he was 7. After his parents divorced and his father moved back to Mount Vernon, Woodson decided to attend high school there. He would visit Central Islip often and, after graduation, was back on Long Island. One day his neighbors told him about William Taylor (B-Luv) and Curtis Andre Small (DJ Curt Cazal), who were young DJs starting out, and a friend told him about a party they were having. When he attended, a friend asked if Woodson could have a mic.

“Me and B-Luv were on the mic and going back and forth,” he said. “Not really a battle but we were going back and forth, exchanging rhymes and everybody talked about how great we sounded.” The party was a turning point in Woodson’s life as he joined the group and soon after they were making demos. JVC Force is responsible for the song “Strong Island” in 1988, which sampled Chuck D from Public Enemy saying the phrase on Adelphi University’s radio station. The song helped drive home the fact there were hip-hop artists from Long Island, including Public Enemy and Erik B. and Rakim.

Cassandra Jackson, also known as ½ Pint from Son of Bazerk, will be performing on June 11 with her fellow group members Tony Allen “Bazerk” and Gary Pep Stanton “Daddy Rawe” as well as DJ Johnny Juice. The performance will be in memory of Son of Bazerk member Jeff “Almighty Jahwell” Height who passed away a few months ago.

Jackson’s musical journey began in Freeport. She said before her sophomore year of college, she and her friends were playing basketball at the park and “thrash talking” when someone approached her and said, “Sounds like you can make records.” While she was surprised someone would approach her on a basketball court and say that, she gave him her number and he met with her grandparents. It turned out to be Hank Shocklee, a member of the producing team The Bomb Squad, and he introduced her to Townhouse 3, which eventually became Son of Bazerk. She said she remembered the guys growing up in Freeport.

Becoming part of the group and performing she said “was so surreal for me.”

“It was the epitome of what it was to be hip-hop,” she said. “Banging on the tables in the lunch room, back of the bus rhyming, those things, and then to be able to actually go into a studio and do those things that I’ve practiced with my friends and then to actually be on stage to convey those things and perform.”

Jackson said preserving the history of hip-hop is important. She is still making music and working on a documentary. An administrator of the Alternative Learning Academy with Roosevelt High School, Jackson runs an alternative program where she incorporates hip-hop into the curriculum. “More than just the music, hip-hop stands on the shoulders of movements before, and the music is a way to express that — how we feel and who we are and what we’re trying to convey.”


The 50th anniversary of hip-hop concert and panel discussion event will be held on Sunday, June 11 at 2 p.m. at the Long Island Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame, 97 Main Street, Stony Brook. The event is free with admission ($19.50 for adults, $17 for seniors and veterans, and $15 for students with ID). For more information, call 631-689-5888 or visit www.limusichalloffame.org.

By Rita J. Egan

It was Theatre Three’s opening night of Something Rotten! on Saturday, May 20, and the audience was treated to an entertaining and energetic night full of laughter.

With book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick and music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, Something Rotten! takes audience members back in time to the late 16th century where William Shakespeare is so adored that he’s treated like a modern-day rock star. Struggling writers Nick and Nigel Bottom, who head up a theater troupe, dream of the same success but can’t seem to create a play that will capture people’s attention until Nick consults with a soothsayer named Nostradamus. 

The soothsayer looks into the future and finds that something called a musical will be popular one day. A later encounter finds Nick asking Nostradamus what Shakespeare’s future successes will be so that the Bottom brothers can use the ideas in the present. The result is Nick creating Omelette: The Musical despite his brother’s objections.

The Broadway musical opened on the Great White Way in 2015 and ran until early 2017. The production was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and Christian Borle won the Best Featured Actor in a Musical award for his portrayal of William Shakespeare. 

Theatre Three’s Something Rotten! proves that there are no small parts as well as the importance of talented actors in each role, including the ensemble. Throughout the musical, it was apparent that everyone involved was giving it their all, creating a night of sensational entertainment. Director Jeffrey Sanzel has chosen a talented cast and masterfully directs the more than two dozen actors.

The production is filled with a few upbeat tunes, but the showstopping number is “A Musical.” Featured in Act I, the whole cast appears on stage singing and dancing. The number cleverly pokes fun at musicals and includes nods to Les Miserables, Annie, A Chorus Line and more. At the end of the song, the applause on opening night seemed to go on for more than a minute, and rightfully so, as each and every person involved in Something Rotten! deserved the accolades.

Heading up the cast is Ryan Nolin, a convincing Nick Bottom at the end of his rope trying to provide for his family and create a hit. He and Dennis Setteducati, who plays Nostradamus, sound fantastic on their leads during “A Musical” and play up the clever lines to the hilt.

Andrew Boza, as the naive Nigel Bottom, captures the sweetness of the young poet and writer. He and Danielle Pafundi, delightful as Portia, are the perfect match to play star-crossed lovers, especially during the song “I Love the Way.”

Christine Boehm as Nick’s wife, Bea, is a treat to watch as the character has her mind set on proving, even with mishaps, that a woman is more than capable of doing whatever a man does. Her rendition of “Right Hand Man” is also a highlight of the show.

Evan Teich, as Shakespeare, captures the cockiness of the celebrated star while still delivering the right amount of silliness. Jim Sluder as Brother Jeremiah and Angelo DiBiase as Shylock seamlessly add to the jokes and hijinks.

Choreographers Sari Feldman and Josie McSwane have created high-energy dances. The cast members look like they are having so much fun that audience members may want to join them onstage. The use of tap dancing and a kickline in “A Musical,” as well as a few other numbers, is absolutely delightful.

Theatre Three’s orchestra led by Jeffrey Hoffman sounded fantastic as always, and the costumes by Chakira Doherty perfectly captured the time period.

During the song “A Musical,” the line “What could be more amazing than a musical with song and dance and sweet romance,” is sung. The cast and crew of Theatre Three’s Something Rotten! understand this and embrace every aspect of this genre. Audience members on opening night enjoyed a fun evening out on the town, and the standing ovation at the end of the production was well deserved.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Something Rotten! through June 24. Tickets are $35, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12. For tickets or more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Rita J. Egan

Setauket and Stony Brook residents know if they want to learn about local history, they can turn to Carlton Edwards, known by many as Hub. However, Edwards, 93, is more than a local history lover — he was also a part of history. A veteran of the Korean War, he served during the early years of desegregation in the armed forces.

Segregation in the armed forces was banned in 1948; however, it took a few years before the military was integrated. Edwards’ outfit was one of the first to be desegregated, he said, and the veteran trained and served with people from different backgrounds and nationalities including Filipino, Korean, Chinese and American Samoa. He said everyone got along well.

His brother-in-law, who served in 1950, was with an all-Black unit. When Edwards, who is also part Native American, sent him a letter including a photo of himself and his fellow soldiers, his brother-in-law asked him, “What army are you in?”

Hub wrote back, “I’m in the United States Army. The same as you.” 

The road to Korea

Born in Stony Brook, Edwards was only a few years old when his family moved to Chicken Hill, a neighborhood in Setauket. He was known in the area for his athleticism as a baseball player, pitching for the school’s varsity baseball team in 8th grade. In 11th grade, he continued pitching for the school and a local semi-pro team.

In 1951, at the age of 21, he received two draft notices — one from the United States Armed Forces and the other from the Brooklyn Dodgers after the team heard of his three no-hitters. The baseball milestones occurred while playing for his high school team, the Setauket Suffolk Giants and Setauket Athletic Club.

Despite the stroke of luck potentially to play professional baseball, Edwards had no choice but to join the army during draft time.

“Uncle Sam took first precedent,” he said.

Edwards added he wasn’t alone in the community. “Most of the young men that I went to school with all ended up in the service.”

Before joining the army, all he knew was the Three Village area. After stops in Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, and Camp Stoneman, California, he was put on a boat to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he trained.

The veteran, who served from 1951 to 1953, said the Schofield Barracks they slept in while training in Hawaii were nice but still had bullet holes from the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. After training in Hawaii, his unit headed to Busan, Korea. He said it was a different world than what he knew. His unit worked with injured soldiers, helping them get to hospitals in Japan, or even home.

“That’s why I never talk about it because I saw a lot of wounded,” the veteran said.

Growing up and attending Bethel AME Church in Setauket regularly when he was younger helped Edwards keep his faith when he served. He still wears the cross he had in the army. “Even with the dog tags, I kept it on,” he said.

Despite what he experienced in Korea, Edwards feels the military provides much-needed discipline for young people.

“If you’ve been in the service, you learn how to take orders,” he said.

Being raised by a strict mother and grandmother, Edwards said he already possessed discipline when he joined the army. Edwards said he missed his family while away from Setauket and looked forward to receiving letters from his mother and grandmother as well as family members, friends and a girl he was dating at the time. “In fact, I still have some of those letters,” he said.

Life after Korea

After his time in the army, where he began as a private first class and ended his service as a corporal, Edwards returned to Chicken Hill. He carried the memories from his service, and while teaching Sunday School at Bethel AME Church for 20 years, Edward said he tried “to teach peace for your fellow man.” 

Soon after his return home, he met and married Nellie Sands. The couple bought a house in West Setauket and had two sons.

Edwards, a retired custodian for the Three Village Central School District, where he worked for 40 years, has been an active member of the Three Village Historical Society. Before the pandemic, he would greet guests at the society’s Chicken Hill: A Community Lost to Time exhibit every Sunday to answer visitors’ questions. 

Edwards has also been a member of the American Legion Irving Hart Post 1766 since 1953. For decades, he has participated in parades, memorial services and other veteran events locally as well as in Washington, D.C., Rochester, Buffalo and all over Long Island to represent his post. He said being a member has allowed him the opportunity to meet veterans who fought in different wars through the decades. 

In the early days, some members had fought in World War I and World War II. Edward said Nelson Combs, an early member of the post who was Black, had to fight in the French army during World War I because he was unable to sign up for the armed forces in the United States. Combs went on to receive the Croix de Guerre, which is comparable to the U.S. Bronze or Silver Star.

Joe Bova, who has volunteered with Edwards at the Three Village Historical Society and conducted research with him for the Chicken Hill exhibit, is currently working with the veteran on the renovation of the Irving Hart Post. Bova said his friend developed a lot of empathy while serving.

“He really felt strongly about what his commitment to people should be and that just transferred over to the community that he belongs to,” Bova said. He also credits Edwards with being actively involved with the Irving Hart post since he returned from Korea, recruiting members and playing a major part in the current renovations and plans for the post’s future.


Edwards isn’t sure if he will be able to attend Setauket’s Memorial Day Parade this year, but he said it’s always touching when veterans are acknowledged.

“Every veteran appreciates it when people recognize that you have served your country,” he said. “It makes you feel good that people appreciate what you did.”

As for his athletic accomplishments, those haven’t been forgotten either. On May 18, he was inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame for those three no-hitters in his pre-war days.

Photographer Steven Zaitz won second place in the Best Picture Story category for his coverage of the Town of Smithtown’s Memorial Day Parade.

By Heidi Sutton

From news articles and feature stories to photography, special supplements, ad projects and classifieds, TBR News Media  took home 11 awards from the New York Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest this year. The winners were announced during NYPA’s annual Spring Conference and Trade Show in Albany on March 31 and April 1.

Over 150 newspapers in New York State took part in the annual event celebrating newspaper excellence with 2,657 entries competing for 380 awards in 73 categories covering the editorial, advertising and circulation efforts of the state’s dailies and weeklies. Members of the Colorado Press Association were tasked with judging this year’s contest.

“Newspapers create a brand-new product on a daily or weekly basis, 52 weeks a year,” said New York Press Association Executive Director Michelle Rea in a press release. “They work on tight deadlines with small staffs, covering local government, breaking news, sports, business, entertainment, and more. Receiving recognition from their peers in another state is affirming and energizing. We salute them for the top quality, important work they do.”

TBR News Media’s weekly opinion piece, D. None of the Above by Daniel Dunaief, captured first place for Best Column. In reviewing the three submissions — “The complexities of plural nouns and words for animal groups,” “From Suffolk, UK, to Suffolk, NY, a family reflects on the late queen,” and “Seeing teachers through the eyes of an appreciative child” — the judge wrote, “Imaginative and compelling. Fun storytelling that makes for an easy read.”

Editor Raymond Janis won second place in the Coverage of Local Government category. Regarding his submissions of the articles “Uptown Port Jeff undergoes transformation” and “On the edge: Port Jeff Village weighs the fate of its country club,” the judge commented, “This reporter delves deep into a complicated story about a town landmark and development pressures and how a community can approach preserving a delicate area in the face of continued deterioration. Nicely written, well-sourced and clearly a story that is of deep interest to this community. This kind of coverage is the hallmark of strong local reporting.”

Janis also received an Honorable Mention in the Best News or Feature Series category for covering the Town of Brookhaven’s redistricting process.

TBR News Media was honored with second place in the Best Local Business Support Campaign category for its annual People of the Year feature which honors community members who have shared their time and talents to enhance the place they live for the benefit of all. “Nice program,” wrote the judge. “Shows involvement in the community. And involves the community.”

Managing editor Rita J. Egan received an Honorable Mention in the Best Feature Story category for her article titled “Town to move Roe Tavern back to North Country Road in East Setauket.” The judge wrote, “I like the way this combined current and historic information.”

Cartoon by Kyle Horne

The paper’s resident cartoonist Kyle Horne also received an Honorable Mention in the Best Editorial Cartoon category for an illustration related to the Town of Brookhaven’s redistricting process with the judge commenting, “I like the local angle this takes, even though it could be a cartoon drawn for any place in the country, following redistricting.”

Photographer Steven Zaitz won second place in the Best Picture Story category for his coverage of the Town of Smithtown’s Memorial Day Parade. “Good variety of parade photos. Clear photos, good composition and lots of expression!” wrote the judge.

TBR News Media’s annual supplement Harvest Times by editor Heidi Sutton received two third place awards — one for Best Special Section Cover and another for Best Special Sections/Niche Publications in Newsprint — with the judge commenting, “Love the entire fall theme, from festivals, farms to seasonal soup and pie recipes. Creative use of color. Layout is very readable.”

Art/Production Director Beth Heller Mason received an Honorable Mention for Best Small Space Ad for the design of the Pazzo Ristorante and Wood Fired Pizza ad in TBR’s Arts & Eats supplement. “The flames and brick in the background tell you that this is brick oven pizza without ever saying it in words. The ad tells me this is no ordinary pizza!” wrote the judge.

Rounding out the awards, Classifieds Director Sheila Murray won second place in the Classified Advertising category. “I like the way the designer used different line weights to separate sections. Also, the use of white space above and below the line ads makes the pages not feel so cluttered and makes it easier to read the ads. Sometimes designing in black and white can be challenging, but this layout is an example of how to do it right. This was very close between first and second places,” wrote the judge.

“I’m tremendously proud of our staff and grateful for their commitment to excellent journalism. I’m delighted that the awards represent the breadth of our talent, from writing to advertising to art,” said TBR News Media publisher Leah Dunaief. “In addition to it being our job, it is our pleasure to serve our communities.” For a full list of winners, visit nynewspapers.com/nypa.

The cast of 'Side By Side By Sondheim'. Photo by Steven Uihlein/Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Rita J. Egan

The cast and crew at Theatre Three have once again created an entertaining production of music and laughs with Side by Side by Sondheim. The show debuted on the Port Jefferson stage Feb. 18. 

Countless songs throughout the decades have been loved for generations, and Broadway tunes are no exception. The late composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim is among the talents who created those gems, and Side by Side by Sondheim is a testament to his immense talent by celebrating his earlier works.

From left, Linda May and Emily Gates in the duet ‘If Momma Was Married’ from Gypsy.

The production featuring music and lyrics by Sondheim as well as music by Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rodgers, Richard Rodgers and Jule Styne debuted in London in 1976 and on Broadway in 1977. The musical revue may leave some in the audience wanting to know more about Sondheim, as he composed so much more after the late 1970s. Despite this factor, it’s the perfect starting point to enjoy his contributions to the arts.

In Theatre Three’s version, director Christine Boehm has expertly directed a cast of five, and conductor Jeffrey Hoffman, on piano, leads bassist Logan Friedman and percussionist Don Larsen seamlessly from one number to another. The three are visible on stage the entire show and, a few times, join in on the jokes with the actors.

Emily Gates, Linda May, Ryan Nolin and Jack Seabury are the main vocalists in the production and have wonderful chemistry together. All four deliver strong performances whether singing as a quartet, trio, duo or solo.

Ana McCasland serves as narrator to fill in the audience on some of the backstories of Sondheim’s songs and his life, including how he met Leonard Bernstein, providing an interesting glimpse into musical history for Broadway enthusiasts.

May shines during “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music, and then just as easily makes everyone laugh during a silly number called “The Boy From,” a song featured in Sondheim’s off-Broadway revue The Mad Show.

Jack Seabury and Ryan Nolin perform ‘We’re Gonna Be All Right’ from Do I Hear a Waltz.

Gates belts out a “Losing My Mind” from Follies so beautifully and perfectly that it’s the tearjerker it’s meant to be. She and May on “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” capture all the anger, sorrow and tenderness that Maria and Anita felt after Bernardo’s death in West Side Story.

Seabury sings a touching “Anyone Can Whistle” from the musical of the same name, and Nolin delivers a strong “Being Alive” from Company. Nolin also is a delightful surprise during “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” a favorite tune from Gypsy. Seabury and Nolin are also priceless singing the duet “We’re Gonna Be All Right” from Do I Hear a Waltz. The song was originally written for a woman and man singing about their relationship, but the singers are wonderful in embracing the updated spin on the song.

McCasland is a charming narrator and has her chance to sing during “I Never Do Anything Twice,” featured in the movie The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Not only did she shine, she also had fun with the song, garnering laughter from the audience as she performed the tune to the hilt.

Subtle choreography and simple, colorful blocks of light on stage rounded out the show beautifully. Theatre Three has produced a lighthearted Side by Side by Sondheim, which is a breath of fresh air. The Cabaret-style revue is perfect for ending a special night or taking in some musical history.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Side By Side By Sondheim through March 18. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12 (under 5 not permitted), $20 Wednesday matinees. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Steven Uihlein/Theatre Three Productions, Inc.