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Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts

By Heidi Sutton

For the second year in a row, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts will present outdoor performances of Disney’s Moana Jr. on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society through Aug. 14. With a new performance space behind the Frank Brush Barn, a larger and more elaborate set, fresh choreography and the return of most of the original cast, the show launched last Thursday night and brought the house down.

The Cast:
Moana: Gabriella Fugon
Maui: Michael Gualtieri
Gramma Tala: Gianna Oppedisano
Sina: Adrienne Porti
Chief Tui: Logan O’Leary
Tamatoa: Alia Romanelli
Pua: Zachary Podair
Hei-Hei: Lorelai Mucciolo
Chief Ancestor I: Max Lamberg
Chief Ancestor I: Dylan O’Leary
Chief Ancestor II: Gabby Blum
Chief Ancestor III: Gabrielle Arroyo
Right Claw: Derek Hough
Left Claw: Justin Walsh Weiner
TeFiti/TeKa: Savannah Shaw
Ensemble/Claw Understudy: Ari Spiegel
Ensemble: Jonathan Setzer

The strong-willed daughter of Chief Tui and his wife Sina, Moana lives on the Polynesian island of Motunui, never straying beyond the safety of the lagoon. When the island’s coconuts turn black and the fish in the lagoon disappear, she follows the advice of her grandmother and sets sail on a journey across the Pacific Ocean to find the demigod Maui, so that he might help her restore the heart of Te Fiti, the Polynesian goddess of earth and life, and save her people from starvation.

Along the way, the pair stop at Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters, to retrieve Maui’s magical fishhook from Tamatoa, a giant coconut crab, and battle the volcanic demon Te Kā.

Directed by Courtney Braun and Jordan Hue, with musical direction by Melissa Coyle, the stage adaptation follows the 2016 animated film Moana closely and hits all the right notes with the wonderful songs by Lin Manuel-Miranda from the film including “Where You Are,” “How Far I’ll Go,” “Shiny,” “I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)” and “You’re Welcome.”

The young energetic cast does an excellent job in retelling the story.

Reprising her role as Moana, Gabriella Fugon is perfectly cast and tackles her solos with confidence and ease. Her rendition of “How Far I’ll Go” could easily match that of Auli’i Cravalho (the voice of Moana in the film). Her vocals are flawless.

Michael Gualtieri is equally matched as the self-centered and egotistical Maui. His rendition of “You’re Welcome” is magnificent. 

While the entire cast has strong voices, special mention must also be made for Logan O’Leary in “Where You Are,” and Alia Romanelli in “Shiny.”

The show itself is a visual feast for the eyes. Costumes by Ronald R. Green III are colorful and fun with Polynesian dresses, grass skirts, leis and flowers in the hair. The set, designed by Michael Mucciolo, is quite impressive. Everywhere you look the legends and traditions of the Polynesian people are evident with Moana’s traditional camakau (canoe) and oar as the centerpiece. Long flowing sheets in shades of blue are used to represent waves and a screen print depicts the beach and ocean. 

As with many children’s theater productions, there is a moral to the story, best described by co-director Courtney Braun. “Moana really provides a lesson for each individual audience member. A journey of self-love and passion for some, the importance of family for others, and most importantly — a strong message of perseverance and overcoming fears.”

Don’t miss this one.

While folding chairs are available, theatergoers are welcome to bring blankets or chairs for seating. Mats are available for smaller children who would like to sit up front. Bathrooms are available on the premises and merchandise and water will be sold before and after the event (debit or credit only).

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents Moana Jr. on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society, 239 E. Main St., Smithtown on various dates and times through Aug. 14. Running time is one hour with no intermission. Tickets are $18 per person. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

By Julianne Mosher

After more than a year of being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts finally opened its doors and did so with a bang on Saturday, June 10 with its showing of the two-time Tony Award-winning hit musical Green Day’s American Idiot.

The rock opera, comprised mostly of songs from Green Day’s critically acclaimed 2004 album of the same name as well as several songs from its follow-up release, 21st Century Breakdown, is set in present time and centers around three friends; Johnny, Will and Tunny. The three dream of leaving their stifling, suburban lifestyle and plan to leave and head to the big city. 

In the nine-minute-long narrative, “Jesus of Suburbia,” the three are ready to board the bus, as Will’s girlfriend, Heather, tells him she is pregnant, so he stays. Johnny and Tunny head off, singing along to Green Day’s hit, “Holiday.”

The city is exciting, but eventually the duo realizes it’s not it’s all cracked up to be. Tunny quickly gives up on life in the fast lane, joins the military and is shipped off to war. Johnny turns to drugs and finds a part of himself that he grows to dislike, has a relationship and experiences lost love. Will, at home, drowns his sorrows in alcohol and marijuana. The audience sees Johnny’s addiction to heroin grow, with the help of St. Jimmy, his manifestation of a rebellious drug-dealing alter ego. 

At SPAC’s Saturday viewing, Mike Visconti’s St. Jimmy was full of energy and angst. The whole cast, in their best 90s punk-styled costumes, had the best chemistry as they head-banged the night away.

Standout performances were by Andrew Murano (Johnny) for his passion and depth of a character who was just trying to find his place in the world. Robbie Torres’s voice and range in “Before the Lobotomy” moved the audience nearly to tears. 

All of the cast members had individual talents that were spotted from the seats like Samantha Rosario’s range in “Extraordinary Girl” that could have been heard on Broadway.

For theater lovers who are fans of “Rent” or “Hair,” “American Idiot” is the lovechild of the two. 

The show contains content that might not be suitable for everyone, including adult language, themes and situations depicting sexual activity and simulated drug use, but its message is clear — life might not always turn out the way we think it will, and sometimes going home is perfectly okay when a plan doesn’t pan out. 

Don’t be an idiot — go see this groundbreaking musical.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown presents Green Day’s American Idiot on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through July 31. Tickets are $45 per person, $40 for seniors 55+ and members. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

A scene from last year's 'Moana Jr.' Photo by Courtney Braun

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts will present outdoor performances of Disney’s Moana Jr. on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society, 239 E. Main St., Smithtown from July 15 to Aug. 14. Join Moana and the legendary demigod Maui as they embark on an epic journey of self discovery, as they both learn to harness the power that lies within. Featuring all the beloved songs from the film, the adventures of Moana come to life live on stage. Tickets are $18 per person. To order, visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Photo by Heidi Sutton
A Message from Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts:
Since COVID 19 forced us to close the doors of our historic town icon, the community of Smithtown has been shut out from attending events on Main Street for the first time in the 88-year history of this majestic building.
We are pleased to inform you that we will be reopening on May 15, 2021 at 8 PM for a night of Stand Up Comedy with four Smithtown favorites – Buddy Fitzpatrick, Melvin George II, Tommy Gooch and Andrew Kennedy – taking the stage 428 days since March 16, 2020. Our GRAND reopening will occur on Saturday, May 29, 2021 with “The Cast of Beatlemania”, our 20-year Labor Day staple, ushering in the summer of 2021 for Memorial Day Weekend. (ADDED SHOW FOR BEATLEMANIA: Friday May 28, 2021)
Both of these events have extremely limited availability as we open under capacity restrictions due to COVID 19.
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our patrons and supporters who have endured the last year plus and held on to their tickets to the many events that had to be postponed over the last year. Your gracious act has allowed us to survive through these difficult times.
As conditions improve and capacity restrictions are lifted, we will begin to add to our schedule. We are doing our best to present to you all that was on our schedule when it became necessary to close. Please understand – there are many factors that must be taken into consideration when working towards providing you with these productions or concerts. Some of these are as simple as certain bands not yet comfortable in a live indoor environment, to performer and technician unions not yet allowing their members to work. It is our hope to have a full schedule of events running at the theatre by the end of the summer.
In person box office personnel will not be available until further notice. Tickets to these 2 events are available ON- LINE only at Smithtownpac.org. Existing ticket holders are asked to direct their inquiries via email to [email protected]. We will answer each inquiry as quickly as possible and if a phone call is necessary, we will coordinate with you to arrange a time that works for you. Please be patient as we have limited personnel at present to attend to your needs.
Again – thank you ever so much for your patience in these difficult times. We are working diligently to provide you, and the artists performing for you, a safe environment where indoor live entertainment can once again be enjoyed in Smithtown.
For All Inquiries – PLEASE EMAIL: [email protected]

Lorelai Mucciolo and Jae Hughes reprise their roles as Emily and Amos the Mouse this year. Photo by Carmen Barbosa

By Heidi Sutton

While the doors of the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts (SPAC) on Main Street remain shuttered, the theater continues its partnership with the Smithtown Historical Society to present the magic of live theater for young audiences. Following in the footsteps of sold-out performances of Moana Jr. in the summer and Spookley the Square Pumpkin in the fall, SPAC now brings the community a socially distant outdoor production of Ken Ludwig’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The show will run on various Saturdays and Sundays on the grounds of the society through Dec. 24.

It’s Christmas Eve and Uncle Brierly (Evan Donellan) attempts to read his favorite poem, Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to the audience. He gets as far as, “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” only to be interrupted by a mouse who is in fact stirring batter to make cookies for Santa in hopes that he’ll show up this year.

The mouse, named Amos (Jae Hughes), insists that Santa skipped the house the year before, a claim backed up by Emily (Lorelai Mucciolo), Brierly’s niece and Amos’ best friend. An elf named Calliope (Gabrielle Arroyo) suddenly appears and confirms that Santa’s naughty-or-nice list went missing last year and other families suffered the same fate.

With only a few hours left until Christmas Day, Calliope, Emily and a very reluctant Amos set off on a plane to the North Pole on a quest to prevent this from happening again and to save Christmas.

When they arrive at Santa’s workshop, they overhear a former elf, Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Donellan), tell his sidekick Mulch (Anthony Panarello), how he sold the children’s Christmas wish list to retailers last year and plans to do it again this year. What follows is a madcap rush to retrieve this year’s list with a surprise appearance from Amos’s brother from Kansas (the incredible Hughes in a dual role), a hysterical case of mistaken identity, an exciting sword fight, an elf cheer, a visit from Santa Claus (Panarello) and a hilarious chase scene around the stage to the Benny Hill theme song.

Will Emily, Amos and Calliope succeed in their quest? Will all the boys and girls receive presents this year? Was it all a dream? With the underlying holiday message that the best Christmas presents don’t come in packages and to make life an adventure, this show is truly a joyful tribute to the holiday season!

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents Ken Ludwig’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in the open air outdoor performance space behind the Smithtown Historical Society’s Roseneath Cottage, 239 Middle Country Rd., Smithtown on Dec. 12, 13, 19, 20 and 24 at 11 a.m. Running time is one hour with no intermission. Masks are required. Tickets are $18 per person.

For an additional $7 per family (5 person maximum), guests are invited to stay after the show for a distanced photo opportunity with a live Santa followed by photo opportunities at other locations on the property with Santa’s elves, field of snowmen, lighted Christmas tree, etc., all outside and safely distanced, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Bring your own camera.

To order tickets for either event, please visit www.smithtownpac.org.

By Heidi Sutton

In perfect harmony with autumn and Halloween, a special little pumpkin patch has sprouted in Smithtown; one that sings and dances and teaches us that the things that make you different make you special.

In partnership with the Smithtown Historical Society, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents a socially distant outdoor production of Spookley the Square Pumpkin: The Musical on the society’s grounds through October.

Based on the animated film Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano and Tom Hughes and the book The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Troiano, it tells the story of a square pumpkin living in a round pumpkin patch and his struggle to fit in.

Kieran Brown stars as Spookley

It’s Halloween and all of the pumpkins at Holiday Hill Farm are hoping that Farmer Hill will choose them as the Pick of the Patch this year, the highest honor a pumpkin can receive. Jack Scarecrow introduces the audience to the top contenders —  Big Tom and Little Tom who are attached by a vine and Bobo the perfectly round and pretty pumpkin. When a square pumpkin named Spookley appears from under a leaf he is immediately bullied by Little Tom who convinces the other pumpkins to shun him because he looks different.

Spookley makes friends with Jack and three spiders, Edgar, Allen and Poe, who encourage him to try out for the Pick of the Patch contest but he has lost his confidence because of the constant teasing. When a mighty storm appears and all the round pumpkins start rolling away toward the river, Spookley realizes it is up to him and his square shape to save the day. Will they stop teasing him now? Will he win the contest?

Directed by Jordan Hue, with musical direction by Melissa Coyle, choreography by Courtney Braun and costumes by Ronnie Green, the professional young cast of 13 give a flawless performance and succeed in bringing this sweet treat and its important message to life during National Bullying Prevention Month.

Special mention must be made of Kieran Brown who is perfectly cast as the soft-spoken and kind Spookley and Max Lamberg as Little Tom who steals the show with his incredible personality. This adorable show has it all — a terrific cast, wonderful songs and an important lesson. Your kids will love it!

The cast: Gabrielle Arroyo, Ava Bernardo, Gabby Blum, Kieran Brown, Max Lamberg, Emmerson Lebrecht, Stephanie Nigro, Dylan O’Leary, Logan O’Leary, Adrienne Porti, Savannah Shaw, Ari Spiegel, and Justin Walsh Wiener

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents Spookley the Square Pumpkin: The Musical in the open air outdoor performance space behind the Smithtown Historical Society’s Roseneath Cottage, 239 Middle Country Rd., Smithtown on Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 31. Running time is one hour with no intermission. Masks are required and costumes are encouraged. Tickets are $18 per person. For a complete schedule and to order tickets, visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Photos by Courtney Braun

‘Spookley the Square Pumpkin’

In partnership with the Smithtown Historical Society (SHS), the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents a performance of “Spookley the Square Pumpkin: The Musical,” the story of a square pumpkin living in a round pumpkin patch, in the open air outdoor space behind the SHS’s Roseneath Cottage, 239 E. Main St., Smithtown on Oct. 10, 12, 17, 18, 24, 25 and 31 at 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Masks are required for this socially distanced production. All seats are $18 at www.smithtownpac.org.

 

By Heidi Sutton

Doot Ba Da Ba Da Doot Doot Dah! Zip! Boink! Hubba-wha!? Guess what show is back in town?

Through Sept. 13, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents a socially distanced outdoor production of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie’s ‘We’re In a Play!’ on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society. The author’s award-winning, best-selling children’s books about Gerald the elephant and his “bestus” friend, a pig named Piggie, fly off the pages and on to the stage for an adorable musical experience young children will love.

With script and lyrics by Willems and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, the show centers mostly around Elephant and Piggie’s We are in a Book! but draws from other stories including I Am Invited to a Party! Elephants Cannot Dance!, Should I Share My Ice Cream?, Listen to My Trumpet! and I Love My New Toy!

Directed by Courtney Braun, the fast-paced production follows Gerald and Piggie’s rollicking adventures as they solve problems and learn friendship etiquette with the help of The Squirrelles, Ice Cream Penguin and Delivery Dog.

With every new situation, every dilemma, every disappointment or triumph, the pachyderm and swine prove that they are best friends over and over again and, more importantly, demonstrate to children in the audience how friends should treat each other.

When Piggie is invited to a party hosted by the Squirrelles, she brings Gerald along so he won’t feel left out. When Gerald gets an ice cream cone and it melts before he can share it, Piggie appears with two ice cream cones. When Piggie plays the trumpet badly and everyone at the party leaves, Gerald stays to support her … and so on. Each scene ends on a positive note.

Logan O’Leary is wonderful as Gerald. Funny, engaging, polished, with an incredible singing voice, he portrays his good guy worrywart character perfectly. “I hope nothing goes terribly, horribly, best-friendship-ending wrong in the next hour!”

Aubrey Gulle is amazing as Piggie, Gerald’s “best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best friend.” Always smiling with a powerhouse voice, she shines in every scene with boundless energy.

The two actors are backed by a terrific supporting cast — the harmonizing Squirrelles: Gabrielle Arroyo, Lorelai Mucciolo and Gabriella Fugon; Alia Romanelli as Ice Cream Penguin; and Zachary Podair as Delivery Dog,

The songs and their heartfelt lyrics are the heart of the show. Each number, from the terrific intro, “Lucky to See You,” to the toe-tapping “Swimmy! Fancy!,” “Elephant in the Room” and the big show stopper “Ice Cream Hero” are executed perfectly with musical direction by Melissa Coyle.

Costumes by Ronald Green III are subtle but effectively reflect the character’s animal traits with gray pants, vest and shirt for Gerald; a pink dress for Piggie, brown dresses for the Squirrelles, etc.

Towards the end of the play the cast suddenly discovers they have an audience. Breaking the fourth wall, they invite the crowd to join in the fun by clapping, shouting out “banana” and doing the “Flippy Floppy Floory” dance, a perfect ending to a hilariously fun afternoon.

Recommended for ages 3 to 8, performances of Elephant & Piggie’s ‘We’re In a Play’! will be held on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society’s Roseneath Cottage, 239 E. Main St., Smithtown through Sept. 13. Running time is one hour with no intermission. Masks are required. Tickets are $18 per person. For a complete schedule and to order tickets, visit www.smithtownpac.org.

All photos by Courtney Braun

By Heidi Sutton

There is a well-known saying in the theater world — “the show must go on.” And even among a debilitating pandemic that has forced many theaters to temporarily close their doors, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts has found a way to do that with another well-known saying — “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

In partnership with the Smithtown Historical Society, the theater is currently staging a colorful outdoor production of Disney’s “Moana Jr.,” and it could not have come at a better time as parents struggle to keep their children entertained with limited options. Through Aug. 15, the socially-distanced, one-hour show, presented with no intermission, will be held on the shaded grounds of the historical society’s Roseneath Cottage at various times throughout the week.

Rehearsals were already underway when the pandemic took hold, according to executive producer Michael Mucciolo, and then continued virtually until the end of June. “The first step was to see if the parents and kids had a desire to do the show in this new safer environment and if any did not then we wouldn’t have explored the idea any further. After a resounding yes we worked with our board, as well as legal and health professionals. Then we put out a request for volunteers to support us and without any of them we would not have felt comfortable with performing,” he explained in an email.

The decision to move the production outdoors came after the theater was approached by the Smithtown Historical Society (SHS). “It was the evolution of an idea after the SHS graciously offered the use of their space and to show the community what SHS has to offer in terms of tranquil outdoor spaces,” said Mucciolo.

Originally scheduled for April, the show opened on July 24 and has already sold out numerous performances.

“The response from the community has been amazingly positive. Some had concerns not having a full understanding of what this would be like but people have been very appreciative of all the hard work the cast, crew, and staff have done to make this happen in a safe way. The story of a girl facing uncertainty and loss, finding friendship and bravery is so important right now. It is especially at home in this open space framed within picturesque trees and the sounds of nature,” said Mucciolo.

Featuring songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina, the musical introduces us to Moana (Gabriella Fugon), the strong-willed daughter of Chief Tui (Logan O’Leary) and his wife Sina (Priscilla Russo) who live on the Polynesian island of Motunui.

When a blight on the island causes the coconuts to turn black and the fish to disappear, Moana follows the advice of her grandmother (Gianna Oppedisano) and  embarks on a journey across the Pacific Ocean to find the demigod Maui (Michael Gualtieri) in hopes he will help her return the heart of Te Fiti (Savannah Shaw), the Polynesian goddess of earth and life, and save her people.

Along the way, the pair make a detour to Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters, to retrieve Maui’s magical fishhook from Tamatoa (Dori Ahlgrim/ Alia Romanelli), a giant coconut crab, and battle the lava demon Te Kā (Savannah Shaw).

Directed by Courtney Braun and Jordan Hue, with musical direction by Melissa Coyle, the stage adaptation follows the storyline closely and includes all of the wonderful songs in the film including “How Far I’ll Go,” “Shiny,” “I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)” and “You’re Welcome.”

The cast members, ranging in age from 11 to 17, do a tremendous job bringing the story of “Moana” to life on stage with special mention to Michael Gualtier who plays the demi-god Maui in a way that would make The Rock proud. His rendition of “You’re Welcome” is hilarious. But it is 17-year-old Gabriella Fugon, perfectly cast as Moana, who steals the show. Her beautiful rendition of “How Far I’ll Go” is breathtaking and when she sings “I am Moana” the audience will believe it too. She even looks like Moana!

The costumes by Ronald Green III, choreography by Courtney Braun and the incredible set by Mike Mucciolo tie the show together nicely.

Both the Smithtown Historical Society and the theater have taken many steps to make the performances as safe as possible for both the cast, crew, and audience members. “Studies have show your risk of being exposed to Covid-19 is 95% lower outdoors than indoors, because of wind dispersing and sunlight breaking down the virus does not allow for particles to concentrate like in a store or restaurant. Safety is not just from a business concern as members of the production team are also parents of cast members and so do not take lightly anyone’s health,” said Mucciolo.

The Cast: Dori Ahlgrim, Gabrielle Arroyo, Riley Ferraro, Gabriella Fugon, Michael Gualtieri, Aubrey Gulle, Derek Hough, Anabelle Kreitzman, Jackson Mucciolo, Lorelai Mucciolo, Gianna Oppedisano, Priscilla Russo, Dylan O’Leary, Logan O’Leary, Zach Podair, Alia Romanelli, Jonathan Setzer, Savannah Shaw, Juliana Spataro, Ari Spiegel, and Justin Walsh Weiner.

Bathrooms are available on the premises and souvenirs, including flower sunglasses, flower hair clips, leis and paper fans,  are available for purchase.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents “Moana Jr.” at the Smithtown Historical Society, 239 East Main St., Smithtown through Aug. 15. Up to 75 tickets are sold for each performance with ticket holders safely distanced in their groups away from others and masks are required. All seats are $18. To order, visit www.smithtownpac.org.

All photos by Courtney Braun

Photo by Courtney Braun

‘Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown presents “Shrek The Musical Jr.” through March 1. In a faraway kingdom, Shrek finds his swamp invaded by banished fairy tale misfits, runaways who’ve been cast off by Lord Farquaad, a tiny terror with big ambitions. Farquaad tells Shrek he can get his swamp back if he rescues Princess Fiona from the dragon-guarded tower. But every fairy tale has its unexpected twists and turns! Performances are held on Saturdays and Sundays at various times and Feb. 17 to 21 at 1 p.m. for Presidents Week break. All seats are $18. For further information or to order tickets, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.