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Sari Feldman

By Stephanie Giunta

Almost 180 years ago, Charles Dickens gave us the immortal gift of A Christmas Carol, which has become a pillar of holiday culture and a reminder to hold the spirit of the season near and dear. 

Port Jefferson’s Main Street, already adorned with wreaths on the lamp posts in preparation for its 27th annual Charles Dickens Festival, was only trumped by Theatre Three’s warmth and inviting decor during last Saturday’s opening night performance of the holiday classic. Carolers, singing familiar tunes before the show, further ignited the magic of Christmas in the air. 

Revisited, adapted, and never told quite the same way twice, Theatre Three’s version transports the audience back to 19th century England for an introspective, festive excursion that touches hearts and minds in a profound way. Jeffrey Sanzel, the show’s executive artistic director who doubles as the stingy curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge, reinvents the show each season, bringing a unique twist and newfound beauty to the timeless tale. 

Sanzel’s versatility is remarkable; his expressive nature and ability to portray a character with such complex, emotional layers is exceptional. Along with the power of his reprimands, I could feel Scrooge’s sardonic “Good Afternoon!” down to my bones. I felt like I was being asked to leave the office along with his chipper and persistent nephew, Fred Halliwell (Sean Amato) and warm and loving clerk, Bob Cratchit (Ray Gobes Jr.) on Christmas Eve. Both Fred, joyful and optimistic, and Bob, loyal and dedicated, are talented bookends who symbolize the redemption, compassion, and transformative power of the Christmas spirit over even the harshest of humans. 

The Fezziwig duo, played by the talented Stephen T. Wangner and Ginger Dalton, are the essence of fanciful charm. Their playful interaction and bubbly nature personify the merriment of the season. I could smell their mince pies, plum porridge, and zest for life from a mile away. In tandem, daughter, Belle Fezziwig (Julia Albino), wonderfully captures Scrooge’s heart, but pivots beautifully to letting him go to his newfound love: money.

A flawless performance from the three spirits is not to forget. Cassidy Rose O’Brien is angelic as the Ghost of Christmas Past, walking Scrooge through a painful review of his mistakes and heartbreaks, including the loss of his relationship with Belle, and the deaths of his older sister, Fan (Alexa Eichinger, Brooke Morrison) and partner, Jacob Marley (Steven Uihlein). 

I was particularly enthralled with the scene in which townspeople are asking Scrooge to “Buy” or “Sell.” There are so many overlapping dialogues intersecting at once, providing the audience with a line of sight into Scrooge’s psyche, and how he may be processing the key occurrences of his past simultaneously. It was brilliant.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Wangner) has a belly laugh that echoes throughout the theater, yet showcases the firm, tough love Scrooge needs to realize the gravity of matters at hand.

Lastly, I mouthed “wow” when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Amato) appeared on stage. What a vision! The scenes that follow produce a scared-straight version of Scrooge that even he didn’t know existed. 

I would be remiss in mentioning the short scene featuring Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s housekeeper (Dalton), in which she was inebriated on his gravesite. Her quick wit and boisterous mirth adds an unexpected and appreciated twang of comedy to the performance.

Randall Parsons and Jason Allyn truly bring 19th century England to Port Jefferson through beautiful production design and authentic costuming. The audience is transported through time with spine-tingling special effects by Robert W. Henderson Jr., and Brad Frey injects jollity into the atmosphere with signature Victorian carols and hymnal tunes. 

When I first saw A Christmas Carol about 20 years ago, I remember being impressed with Scrooge and the cast because they made the story feel so real. Through an adult lens, it was even more apparent. Somehow, Sanzel and the cast are able to draw out a variety of emotions, connecting you not only to Christmas, but the treasures of giving of yourself to those less fortunate, being kind to others, and finding happiness. It’s a show that plays on the heartstrings in so many different capacities, reminding children and adults alike of what is most important during the holidays.

Theatre Three makes Christmas spirit feel so tangible that you can wrap it up in a box with a big, red bow. Bravo to Sanzel and the cast for bringing something so wonderful to life! Be sure to stick around post-performance for a photo memento with Scrooge. The $5 charge contributes to the theater’s scholarship fund.

CAST & CREW: Julia Albino, Jason Allyn, Sean Amato, Karin Bagan, Steven Barile Jr., Kyle M. Breitenbach, Mairead Camas, Shannon Cooper, Ginger Dalton, Alexa Eichinger, Angelina Eybs, Sari Feldman, Griffin Fleming, Brad Frey, Julie Friedman, Christina Gobes, Ray Gobes Jr., Skye Greenberg, Tim Haggerty, Kathleen Arabelle Han, Robert W. Henderson Jr., Patrick Hutchinson, Zach Kanakaris, Linda May, Brooke Morrison, Cassidy Rose O’Brien, Randall Parsons, William Roslak, Jeffrey Sanzel, Finn Thomas, Isabela Thomsen, Melissa Troxler, Steven Uihlein, Addyson Urso, Stephen T. Wangner, Cassidy Worrell, Kaylin Zeidler and Stanley Zinger

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “A Christmas Carol” through Dec. 30. All tickets are $25 in November and range from $25 to $40 in December. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

See a trailer of the show here.

By Heidi Sutton

Theatre Three closes its 2022-2023 children’s theater season with a most fitting choice, an original musical retelling of the  timeless fairytale Cinderella.

With book by Douglas Quattrock with Jeffrey Sanzel and music and lyrics by Quattrock, the rags-to-riches story combines Charles Perrault’s classic story with Mark Twain’s The Prince & the Pauper with lots of hilarious twists and turns along the way.

Charles Perrault (Steven Uihlein) serves as narrator as well as “squire to the sire” and transports audiences to the palace of King Charming (Jason Furnari) who wishes for his son Prince Charming (Sean Amato) to get married and take over the kingdom so he can retire. He decides to host a royal ball and invites all eligible maidens.

The squire delivers the invitations to the home of Cinderella (Danielle Pafundi) who is forced to cook and clean for her stepmother Lady Jaclyn (Louisa Bikowski) and stepsisters Gwendolyn (Kaitlyn Jehle) and Madeline (Samantha Fierro) and be at their beck and call. When Cinderella asks if she can go to the ball, her stepmother tells her she has to do all her chores first, including washing the cat (do they even have a cat?), but we all know how that turns out. 

Left behind while the meanies go to the ball, Cinderella is visited by her fairy godmother (“I don’t mean to be rude but where have you been?!”), Angelica (Heather Van Velsor), who uses her magic to whip up a beautiful dress and carriage and sends Cinderella on her way.

Meanwhile, the prince hatches a plan to switch places with the squire in hopes of meeting a girl who “really likes me for me.” Things go haywire at the ball, thanks to the spoiled stepsisters, and it ends before Cinderella can get there. When she finally arrives, Cinderella is greeted by a squire (the prince) who asks her to dance because “the band is paid till 1 a.m.” Will she  accept his invitation and waltz the night away? Will they live happily ever after?

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the lively show is perfectly executed with a clever script and all of the wonderful scenes we have come to love overflowing with singing, dancing and lots of magic.

Each actor has his/her chance to shine with solos and duets. Accompanied on piano by Douglas J. Quattrock with choreography by Sari Feldman, the songs are sweet and endearing theawith special mention to “Hey There, Charming,” “Please, Mother, Please!” and “If the Shoe Fits,” “A Girl Like Me (and a Boy Like You)” and “Here in Your Arms.”

The costumes, designed by the uber-talented Jason Allyn, are exquisite, especially Cinderella’s dress which received gasps from the audience when it was first seen, and the lighting and special effects are simply magical.

If you’re looking for something to do with the kids this weekend, Theatre Three’s Cinderella fits the “shoe” perfectly. Costumes are encouraged. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for a keepsake photo.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Cinderella through June 17 with a sensory sensitive performance on June 4 at 11 a.m. All seats are $10. For more information or to order, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. While Scrooge undergoes a transformation on the Main Stage with A Christmas Carol, Barnaby the Elf is busy making sure all the Christmas presents are delivered on time in the adorable children’s musical, Barnaby Saves Christmas. The show opened last Saturday and runs through Dec. 30. 

Written over 18 years ago by Douglas Quattrock and Jeffrey Sanzel with music and lyrics by Quattrock, it remains  as relevant as ever with the ultimate message that “every day is a golden opportunity to be better than you used to be.”

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa’s workshop at the North Pole is a flurry of activity. Head elf Sam (Josie McSwane) and fellow elves Blizzard (Michelle LaBozzetta) and Crystal (Kaitlyn Jehle) are busy putting the final touches on the Christmas presents and loading them on the sleigh. A fourth elf, Barnaby (Ryan Worrell), is the newest trainee and has been given one task by Santa (Sean Amato) — to make a little stuffed bear with dark blue pants, buckles on his shoes and a bright yellow vest. 

When it’s time to deliver the presents to all the good little girls and boys, Barnaby is left behind with Mrs. Claus (Danielle Pafundi). He soon realizes that Santa has left the stuffed bear behind and convinces Blizzard’s fawn Franklynne (Samantha Fierro) to find Santa and “save Christmas.”   

On their adventure they crash land on the roof of the house of Sarah (Danielle Pafundi) and her nephew Andrew (Sean Amato) and learn all about Hanukkah and the Festival of Lights. They also come across S.B. (spoiled brat) Dombulbury (Steven Uihlein), a Scrooge in his own right who has stuffed up all the chimneys with coal with his partner in crime Irving (Jason Furnari), in order to ruin Christmas and has hypnotized Crystal and Blizzard to help him. With the help of his friends, Barnaby will save the day but just wait until you see how!

Directed by Sanzel, the entire cast does an incredible job telling this heartwarming story. The wonderful songs, accompanied on piano by Quattrock, are just lovely, with special mention to Worrell’s solo “Still With a Ribbon on Top,” Pafundi’s solo “Miracles” and Amato’s solo “Within Our Hearts.”

Gorgeous costumes that sparkle and shine for the holidays by Jason Allyn, the incredible lighting by Steven Uihlein and the great choreography by Sari Feldman tie it all together with a beautiful holiday bow. I can think of 100 reasons to go see this show but I will only give the first — it is an unforgettable experience the entire family will love. Elf and reindeer souvenirs will be sold before the show and during intermission and the entire cast will be in the lobby after the show for photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Barnaby Saves Christmas on Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24, 28, 29 and 20 at 11 a.m. Children’s theater continues with The House That Jack Built from Jan. 21 to Feb. 4, 2023 and Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz from Feb. 22 to March 18, 2023. All seats are only $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

“Luck Be a Lady”

“If I Were a Bell”

“I’ve Never Been in Love Before”

“Take Back Your Mink”

These familiar songs are part of the rich tapestry that makes up American musical theatre history and all are in the classic, Guys and Dolls, the perfect choice to launch Theatre Three into its 52nd season of bringing fine entertainment to Long Island  audiences.

Frank Loesser’s stunning music combined with his compelling lyrics accompanied by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows’ whimsical book resulted in a one-of-a-kind show that truly represents Broadway’s Golden Age.

Inspiration for this 1950’s musical came from early 20th Century short stories penned by Damon Runyan most notably “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown,” “Blood Pressure” and “Pick the Winner.” Runyan’s penchant toward gambling, especially craps and horse racing, played out in his short stories and in this musical. Likewise, Runyan’s connection to the underworld and best friend, mobster accountant, Otto Berman, is reflected in his works with Berman given the alias “Regret the horse player.” Runyan and his humorous works about gamblers, hustlers, and gangsters from Brooklyn or Midtown Manhattan with unusual names such as “Nathan Detroit,” “Big Julie” and “Harry the Horse” proved a perfect springboard for creating this delightfully entertaining musical. 

Guys and Dolls premiered on Broadway in 1950 winning the Tony Award for Best Musical. It was adapted for the movies in 1955 with a star-studded cast including Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine. Since then, this fan favorite has enjoyed numerous Broadway and London revivals before venturing into Port Jefferson.

This captivating Theatre Three production takes hold of the audience right from the start with a spirited overture under the musical direction of Jeffrey Hoffman that instantly immerses the audience in the light-hearted tone of the show. Then lights go up on the company of actors in mid-twentieth century period piece colorful dresses and dashing suits thanks to costume designers Jason Allyn and Ronald Green III.

Randall Parsons’ scenic design is abstract yet functional with a backdrop of towering city skyscrapers inside a frame outlined with tiny white lights then transforms into the Hot Box Club, this time with a backdrop of shimmering silver streamers before morphing into industrial pipes and smog representing the gambling garage. Stacey Boggs’ lighting design accentuates each scene from brilliant whites to smoldering greens and reds.

Director Jeffrey Sanzel has assembled a dynamic cast that dazzles and owns the flavor of 1950’s New York City. 

There are essentially four leads in this show. Rachel Greenblatt is engaging as puritanical missionary Sarah Brown, dedicated to saving sinners and surprised by her own vulnerability at falling for smooth talking gambler, Sky Masterson (Kevin Shaw). Greenblatt hits the stratosphere with her trilling soprano in such songs as “I’ll Know, If I Were a Bell” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.” Shaw’s Sky Masterson is suave, charismatic and oh so cool as a big-time gambler, but becomes equally surprised to realize he has fallen for this prudish do-gooder. There are two showstoppers in this musical and Shaw owns one of them with his rousing “Luck Be a Lady.”

The other two leads in the show are Nathan Detroit (Steven Uihlein), who is obsessed with gambling and not his fiancée, Adelaide (Sari Feldman), with whom he has been engaged for the past 14 years. Uihlein and Feldman are adorable together and their duet in “Sue Me” is humorous as Nathan tries to deflect Adelaide’s insistence that they marry. Feldman equally shines when belting out “Adelaide’s Lament” bemoaning that her one continuous cold is due to waiting so long for that band of gold. Feldman luxuriates in Adelaide’s affectations including her high-pitched New York City accent, rhythmic gait and innocence mixed with determination to finally marry that man.

Nathan is not only dealing with Adelaide’s pressures, but he is being pressured to rent the Biltmore garage for the big crap game. The only problem is he doesn’t have the money for the rent, hence he makes a bet on what he perceives is a sure thing. Nathan bets Sky $1,000 that he will not be able to get Sarah to go to dinner with him in Havana the following evening. 

But the smooth-talking Masterson convinces the sweet missionary to fly off to Havana for dinner. That leaves Nathan in a double mess. He doesn’t have the money for the garage and now he owes Sky $1,000 for losing their bet.

The adroit Company in this show takes on Ryan Nolin’s impressive choreography with gusto. In the Latin flavored Havana interlude the dancers — Rob Ferzola, Melissa Norman, Cassidy Rose O’Brien and Alex Yagud-Wolek — exude sensuality as they ease into Nolin’s gorgeous tableaus. Nolin keeps the party going with Adelaide’s animated Hot Box chorus girls and their effervescent dance routines. 

The second showstopper belongs to Finn MacDevitt’s animated Nicely-Nicely Johnson whose bouncy aerobic routines in “Sit Down, You’re Rockin the Boat,” received rousing applause on opening night.

Theatre Three’s Guys and Dolls is a jubilant celebration of Broadway’s Golden Age. Don’t miss this one. 

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents ‘Guys and Dolls’ through Oct. 22. Tickets are $35, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Brian Hoerger/Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

After a two-year delay because of COVID, the Festival of One-Act Plays returns to Theatre Three in all its glory. Now in its 23rd year, the One-Acts are a wonderful opportunity for audiences to watch actors hone their craft up close and personal on the theater’s Second Stage. The festival opened last Sunday for a 10-performance run.

Festival founder and Executive Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel was tasked with selecting six original works from over 500 submissions and then selected an uber talented cast to tell their story. Fantastic costumes designed by Jason Allyn (with special mention to The Beat Goes On) tie it all together resulting in an incredible evening of live theater. 

“For the first time on any stage, these works come to life,” said Sanzel. “How challenging and exciting to present a unique universe in the space of no more than 25 minutes—and often as short as ten…” in a two-hour marathon in the cozy setting of The Ronald F. Peierls Theatre on the Second Stage, a space so intimate that “there is no wall. There is no division.” 

The show opens with Philip Darg’s Confessions of a Successful Playwright, a hilarious look at One-Act Festivals of all things. Wade Lawson (Stephen T. Wangner) meets up with a reporter (Tamralynn Dorsa) for an interview to share his struggles, triumphs, determination and eventual obsession to becoming the most produced, but least known, playwright in history.

Next up is The Turn-Around, by Cary Pepper. In a constant battle with his next door neighbor Lester’s many assault rifles and gun range, Robert (Antoine Jones) approaches Lester (Steve Ayle), with a change of heart in their ongoing war over the Second Amendment. The Turn-Around addresses one of today’s hot button issues from a wickedly humorous point-of-view.  

The first half concludes with the darkest offering of the evening. Joshua Young’s disturbing Bad China shows Nos (Steven Uihlein) asking for a favor from his sister, Reba (Brittany Lacy), which she keeps from her husband, Del (Evan Teich). A brutal portrait of the opioid crisis is played out within a dysfunctional family, where choices lead to harrowing results.

After a brief intermission, the show continues with Benign Departures, Tony Pasqualini’s vision of a national health crisis from a catastrophic perspective. Set some fifty years in the future, Dr. Elizabeth Baker (Tamralynn Dorsa) visits the homeless Maggie Elmer (Mary Ellin Kurtz) and a battle of wills ensues in which the two very different people find a common ground and a deeper understanding.

Ariana Rose’s comedy The Beat Goes On takes a peek at what goes on inside a display case at the Smithsonian, as various musical containers vie for superiority. Hilarity ensues as Cass (Sari Feldman), Trax (Steve Ayle), L.P. (Antoine Jones), Cee Dee (Brittany Lacey), and Dayta (Steven Uihlein) all hope for a transfer to the newer adjacent display case, leaving the audience in stitches.

The evening closes with Frank Tangredi’s Play Date, a whimsical look at fatherhood from two very different perspectives. The elderly Lou Gershwin (Bradlee Bing) just had a child with his second wife who is 30 years younger and 15-year-old Tyler Hill (Eric J. Hughes) gets limited visitation rights with his child. Meeting at a park bench, the two fathers share their stories and connect in a poignant, charming story.

With an excellent lineup and incredible cast, this festival is not to be missed. Get your ticket before they’re sold out.

Sponsored by Lippencott Financial Group, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present The 23rd annual Festival of One-Act Plays through April 2. Please note: The plays contains adult language and subject matter. Parental discretion is advised. Running time is two hours with one 15-minute intermission. All seats are $20. To order, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com

All photos by Peter Lanscombe/Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

 

By Heidi Sutton

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Theatre Three in Port Jefferson has a brand new children’s show and it’s over the rainbow!

First published in 1900 as a children’s book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the story of Dorothy Gale and her three travel companions in the Land of Oz has given rise to many sequels, spin-offs and adaptations including radio shows, musicals and the iconic 1939 MGM film starring a 16-year-old Judy Garland.  

Now Theatre Three presents a brand new take on the classic tale with the world premiere of the family-friendly musical Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz. While the message stays the same, the show features over 10 original song and dance numbers as it travels down the Yellow Brick Road.

We first meet Dorothy at the L. Frank Baum Central School in Harrison Corner. As the editor of the Baum Bugle, she is on deadline trying to get the paper out when a big storm approaches. A wind knocks her down and when she awakens she finds herself in Munchkinland. 

Her news stand has landed on the Wicked Witch of the North causing her demise. When confronted by the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy is protected by Glinda the Good Witch who gives her those famous ruby slippers and sends her down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City to find the Wizard of Oz who can help her get home.

Along the way Dorothy meets a Scarecrow who wants a brain, a Tinman who yearns for a heart, and a Lion who longs for courage. The three join her on her quest and the adventure begins.

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the cast of nine adult actors embrace the wonderful script and run with it. Incredibly all of the scenes from the iconic movie are there: the talking apple trees, the poppies, meeting the Wizard, the flying monkeys, the Winkies and the melting scene, with several actors playing multiple roles.

With a wonderful singing voice, Katie Lemmen is perfectly cast as the sweet yet determined Dorothy who learns many lessons on her journey. Sari Feldman knocks it out of the park as the limber Scarecrow with a great tap dance number titled “I Think” and Steven Uihlein is excellent in the role of the Tinman who keeps rusting up. 

However, it is Finn MacDevitt, in the role of that fraidy-cat Lion terrified of his own tail, who draws the most laughs and is simply divine. His “I’m a Lion” solo is terrific.

Toto, played by the incomparable and adorable Shay Francis Feldman, makes a well-behaved appearance in the first and final scene. 

Stephanie Moreau and Josie McSwane make a wicked good pair as Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West, Jason Furnari is a wise Wizard, Liam Marsigliano is a hilarious Winkie and Heather Rose Kuhn’s winged monkey is charming.

The song and dance numbers choreographed by Sari Feldman and  accompanied on piano by Douglas J. Quattrock are energetic, creative and fun with special mention to “Pitta-Pat” and “Poppies!”

The astounding special effects with the lighting and sound, the awesome props (wait until you see the crystal ball!) coupled with the impressive polished costumes by Jason Allyn are the icing on the cake.

A fun afternoon for the entire family, Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz is a wonderful reminder that “there’s no place like home!”

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz through March 26. Children’s theatre continues with The Adventures of Peter Rabbit from April 16 to May 7 and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from May 28 to June 18. All seats are $10. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

Do you have close-knit forever friends applauding your successes as well as offering encouragement during challenging times? If your answer is yes, then you are truly lucky to have such treasures in your life. The Marvelous Wonderettes, a feel good musical romp back to the 50’s and 60’s now playing at Theatre Three, follows four such friends as they navigate life’s often unpredictable twists and turns together.

Playwright Roger Bean was approached by the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre to write a small-scale musical for their black box space. With constrictions such as little room backstage, Bean wrote the one-act version of The Marvelous Wonderettes produced in 1999. He got the inspiration for the musical from a conversation with his mother about when she was a high school song leader and part of a singing trio. Bean also credits his mother for instilling in him a love of 50’s and 60’s music. 

That Milwaukee production was so successful that the theatre revived it in 2001, this time as a full-scale two-act musical. Then came the Los Angeles production in 2006 followed by a smash Off-Broadway run in 2008 with an Off-Broadway revival in 2016.

It’s prom night, 1958, at Springfield High School and song leaders, Betty Jean (Cassidy Rose O’Brien), Cindy-Lou (Noelle McLeer), Missy (Kate Keating) and Suzy (Ashley Brooke) in frilly crinoline dresses, wrist corsages and teased up hair burst onstage delivering a bouncy rendition of “Mr. Sandman” followed by “Lollipop” and segue into “Sugartime.” When Cindy-Lou steals the microphone and belts out Betty Jean’s signature song “Alleghany Moon,” slapstick antics of trying to upstage each other ensue thus highlighting their competitive natures and the hilarious tone of the show.

The girls explain to the crowd that they are last minute stand-ins for the evening’s entertainment. It seems the boys’ glee club lost the gig after lead singer Billy Ray Patton was suspended for smoking behind the girls locker room. They go on to announce the theme for this year’s prom, “Marvelous Dreams,” and break into a rapturous “All I Have to Do Is Dream” followed by “Dream Lover.”

Each girl in this ensemble is as unique as the individual colors they wear with Betty Jean and her all-American looks in lime green, the bespectacled and comedic Missy in orange, ditzy gum chewer Suzy in blue and self-centered Cindy-Lou in pink.

A nice choice of playwright Bean was to set Act II ten years later reuniting the girls at their 1968 class reunion. This act is brimming with pop 60’s tunes. The crinoline has now been replaced by flowing robes trimmed with feathers, knee high white go-go boots and hoop earrings. A lot has changed for each girl, but they come together once more in harmony realizing they have a bond that stands the test of time.

All four of these actresses deliver powerhouse performances with dynamic acting, rich voices and lithe dancing. Keating’s Missy is passionate as she reveals her crush in “Secret Love” and then gives a standout version of “Mr. Lee” replete with impressive, sustained notes that receive spirited applause from the audience. 

Brooke’s Suzy punctuates Act I with an exuberant “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and then delivers an intense “Maybe I Know” in Act Two. O’Brien’s Betty Jean explodes in a heart-wrenching “You Don’t Own Me” followed by “That’s When the Tears Start” and McLeer’s Cindy-Lou sends chills in “Son of a Preacher Man” into “Leader of the Pack.”

It must be noted there is some humorous audience participation that puts the crowd right in the center of all the action.

Linda May’s direction keeps the festivities lively. She has created an ensemble that holds on to the audience from their first effervescent entrance until their final bow. Sari Feldman’s stylized choreography is reminiscent of the best girl groups of that era. Costumes by Ronald Green III are a cornucopia of colors and fabrics. Green’s attention to detail accentuates the 50’s and 60’s flavor of the show.

The band under the musical direction of Cesar Flores is built into the backdrop so they are onstage for the entire show keeping the energy high. Tim Haggerty’s sound design infuses exhilaration to each number.

Scenic design by Randall Parsons offers a buoyancy even before the show begins with a pink backdrop and sparkling fringe bordering the band shell. Lighting design by Robert W. Henderson, Jr. generates vibrancy to songs like “Lollipop” and “Wedding Bell Blues” as well as mood lighting with “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and “That’s When the Tears Start.” The disco ball swirling blue spots around the theater is a nice touch to close Act I. Heather Rose Kuhn’s properties joins in the fun with giant lollipops, a hanging crescent moon and bubbles.

Theatre Three’s The Marvelous Wonderettes is such a fast-paced delight that at the end you can’t believe it’s over already. See it with your best friends — you’ll be glad you did!

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents The Marvelous Wonderettes through March 26. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 and up. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com. 

 

By Heidi Sutton

Every five years or so, Theatre Three’s Children’s Theatre reaches into its vault filled with scripts and pulls out a gem. This time it’s a musical twist on the classic story of Puss In Boots. The show opened on Jan. 16.

Although there have been many versions of the European fairy tale over the centuries, the most well known is The Master Cat or Puss in Boots from The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault in 1697. When Puss was reintroduced in Shrek 2 in 2004, a whole new generation was smitten.

Now the clever ‘tail’ returns to Theatre Three’s MainStage with a fresh score and choreography and does not disappoint. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Douglas J. Quattrock, the show was first performed in 1991 and has withstood the test of time.  

In the kingdom of King Vexmus, a kind-hearted young man named Christopher lives on a farm with his father and his two brothers, Shank and Amos. Every day his brothers force him to work the fields while they take naps. When their father dies, Shank and Amos inherit the farm while Christopher gets his father’s cat Puss and is promptly kicked out. 

With no food, money or a place to live, Christopher begins to lose hope until he discovers that Puss can talk. He confides in the cat that he has fallen in love with the king’s beautiful daughter, Princess Anafazia, who he met briefly when her entourage drove past the farm (in a great flashback scene). Puss agrees to help in the name of love and hatches a scheme to have Christopher pose as the rich and mysterious Marquis of Carabas to win Anafazia’s heart. Will everything go as planned? Will there be a happy ending?

Directed by Sanzel, the fast-paced show is wonderful on so many levels. Steven Uihlein is perfectly cast in the role of Christopher and also serves as storyteller. His plight gains the sympathy of the audience right away. Liam Marsigliano and Jason Furnari make a great comedic team as Amos and Shank. Their futile attempt to farm the land after Christopher leaves is hilarious. 

Michelle LaBozzetta, in the role of Puss, the cat of all trades, steals the show with her energetic and flamboyant personality. In one of the cutest scenes, her character acquires her famous boots by causing a ruckus outside Shank and Amos’s door. 

Sanzel and Josie McSwane are excellent in the roles of the bickering King Vexmus and Queen Ida (or should I say Queen Ida and King Vexmus) who in the end agree to disagree. Haley Saunders is terrific as the spoiled Princess Anafazia, who quickly reveals that this royal’s beauty is only skin deep. Rachel Max as Ida and Louisa Bikowski as Missy, the no nonsense wives of Shank and Amos, and Heather Rose Kuhn as the sweet Julia, Princess Anafazia’s lady-in-waiting, are a fine supporting cast.

Choreographed by Sari Feldman and accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, the 12 musical numbers are the heart of the show, with special mention to the duets “Puss in Boots” with Puss and Christopher and “Take a Moment for Yourself” with Puss and Julia, and the lively group number, “Song of the Marquis of Carabas.”

The charming costumes, designed by Jason Allyn, from the royal gowns in shades of lavender complete with wigs and crowns to the peasant garb in hues of brown, tie the story together perfectly. And wait until you see Puss’s fierce and fabulous outfit! 

This special show doesn’t come around often. Catch a performance before it’s gone.

Running time is one hour and 20 minutes with a 15 minute intermission. Meet the entire cast in the lobby on your way out for a keepsake photo.

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Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Puss In Boots on Jan. 22, 29 and Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. and Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. Children’s theatre continues with Dorothy’s Adventures In Oz from Feb. 23 to March 26 with a sensory friendly performance on Feb. 27 and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit from April 16 to May 7 with a sensory friendly performance on April 24. All seats are $10. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com

 

 

By Heidi Sutton

The holidays have officially arrived with the return of Barnaby Saves Christmas at Theatre Three. Celebrating its 17th anniversary, the endearing musical, written by Douglas Quattrock and Jeffrey Sanzel, tells the tale of a little elf named Barnaby and his reindeer friend Franklynne’s quest to save Christmas. 

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa’s workshop is a flurry of activity as elves Sam, Crystal and Blizzard make last minute preparations before they join Santa and his reindeer in delivering presents. The newest elf, Barnaby, is busy finishing a special request from Santa — a little stuffed bear with dark blue pants, buckles on his shoes and a bright yellow vest. 

When everyone else leaves on Santa’s sleigh, Barnaby soon realizes that the stuffed bear has been left behind and convinces Franklynne the littlest reindeer to help him track down Santa and give him the present.   

Along the way they meet Sarah and her nephew Andrew and learn about Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, and try to foil villain S.B. Dombulbury and his partner in crime Irma’s plan to steal Christmas by stuffing up all the chimneys with coal.

While the script, score and lighting are pure perfection, director Jeffrey Sanzel has added other elements to the show to keep it fresh and exciting. This year the gorgeous new costumes by Jason Allyn take center stage with revamped choreography by Sari Feldman and the final scene is streamed live on Facebook.

This year’s stellar cast of nine adult actors put on a great show. Eric J. Hughes is back as Barnaby, a little elf “whose dreams are twice his size.” Sari Feldman returns as a feisty Franklynne, a role that was originally written for her back in 2004. Jason Furnari (the original Barnaby) is hilarious in the role of head elf Sam while newcomers Josie McSwane (Blizzard the Elf) and counterpart Katie Lemmen (Crystal the Elf) spend most of their time being hypnotized by S.B. (Spoiled Brat) Dombulbury (an incredible Steven Uihlein). Still yearning for a song-writing career, audience favorite Dana Bush is back as Irma for the 17th year in a row.

Rounding out the cast, a phenomenal Phyllis March reprises her dual role as the forgetful Mrs. Claus and Sarah and newcomer Finn MacDevitt tackles the role of Andrew and Santa Claus with ease. 

The most wonderful parts of the show are the musical numbers by Douglas Quattrock with special mention to Hughes’ solo “Still With a Ribbon on Top,” “Miracles” by March (accompanied on guitar by MacDevitt) and the rousing finale, “Wouldn’t You Like to Be Like Barnaby?”

With the special message that Christmas lies within our hearts, the show spreads holiday cheer for children and adults alike. Add this one to your wish list.

Souvenir elves and reindeer are available for purchase before the show and during intermission and the entire cast will be in the lobby after the show for photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Barnaby Saves Christmas through Dec. 26. Children’s theater continues with Puss-In-Boots from Jan. 15 to Feb. 5, 2022 and a brand new production of Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz from Feb. 23 to March 26, 2022. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

It was hard to discern who was having more fun during last Saturday night’s opening of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Theatre Three – the audience or the actors. The fast-paced family-friendly show, with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is told almost entirely in song and makes for a wonderful time at the theater.

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the musical opens where the Narrator (Sari Feldman) is telling a group of children the biblical story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis, about a young man who lives in Canaan with his father Jacob and his 11 brothers. 

A predictor of dreams, Joseph is his father’s favorite (he reminds him of his late wife), causing much resentment and jealousy among the remaining brothers. When Jacob gifts Joseph a “coat of many colors,” the brothers decide that they must get rid of the chosen son once and for all and sell him into slavery to passing Ishmaelites who take him back to Egypt. They tell their grief-stricken father that Joseph was killed in an accident.

Joseph becomes a household slave to a wealthy man named Potiphar but is soon accused of seducing his wife and thrown in jail. He is eventually summoned by the Pharaoh to analyze his recurring dream, and in turn saves Egypt from a seven-year drought. Back in Canaan his brothers are not so lucky and are starving to death. They decide to go to Egypt to ask the Pharaoh for help but encounter Joseph instead. Will he seek revenge or find it in his heart to forgive?

Supported by an uber talented cast (38 in all), C.J. Russo is brilliant as Joseph and shines in his solos “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door.” Sari Feldman is terrific in the exhausting role of Narrator, shadowing Joseph and keeping his spirits up as he faces bad luck at every turn and leads the cast in an inspiring “Go, Go, Go Joseph.” Douglas Quattrock is hilarious in the duel role of Jacob and Potiphar and draws the most laughs with his perfect comedic timing.

Choreographed by Jean P. Sorbera, the many wonderful dance numbers in this huge production are each embraced by the cast with gusto, from the jaw-dropping country-western hoe-down “One More Angel in Heaven” featuring Kiernan Urso, the reggae inspired “Benjamin Calypso” with Londel Collier, the exotic Egyptian dance number “Potiphar” with Nicole Bianco and the too funny “Those Canaan Days” with Steven Uihlein. It is Andrew Lenahan’s Elvis-inspired “Poor, Poor Pharaoh”/”Song of the King,” however, that steals the show and brings the house down. 

The many colorful costumes designed by Ronald Green III, the live orchestra directed by Gregory P. Franz, incredible lighting by Robert W. Henderson Jr. and beautiful set by Randall Parsons tie it all together perfectly. Don’t miss this one.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” through March 21. The theater continues its 50th season with Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias” from April 4 to May 2 followed by the ’50s rock ‘n’ roll musical “Grease” from May 16 to June 21. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 students and seniors, $20 children ages 5 to 12. Wednesday matinees are $20. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Peter Lanscombe/ Theatre Three Productions, Inc.