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Smithtown Historical Society

From left, Nancy Vallarella, Myra Naseem and Priya Kapoor. Photo from SHS

The Smithtown Historical Society is cooking up something new. 

Beginning on June 9, the Society will launch a new cooking series titled Cooking with Stars featuring local culinary professionals sharing their tips, techniques and skills while presenting trending foods, recipes and offering a taste to bring the community together. 

The cooking classes will be held outside on the property’s outdoor theater (in the case of inclement weather, presentations will be moved indoors in SHS’s Roseneath Cottage) and will run through September.

According to Priya Kapoor, Executive Director of SHS, the series was inspired by the Society’s 2021 series, Interview with the Stars. “One of our most popular interviews was with Chef Marco Pellegrini of Osteria Umbra,” said Kapoor.

Just in time for summer entertaining, the first presentation on Thursday, June 9 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. will be on platters and boards. Myra Naseem, co-owner of Elegant Eating in Smithtown, will be joined by recipe developer and food writer Nancy Vallarella, Long Island Locavore. 

“Outdoor entertaining is here. This presentation will cover three themed boards/platters that will require little to no cooking freeing hosts from the kitchen and grill. Elegant Eating has been doing that for over 35 years,” said Vallarella. 

Tickets are $20 per person in advance at Eventbrite.com, $30 at the door (cash or check).

The series continues on Tuesday, July 12 when Chef Marco Pellegrini returns to SHS to share his cooking techniques showcasing Italian favorites. 

Further cooking classes will be posted on the Smithtown Historical Society’s website, www.smithtownhistorical.org, under Events. 

The Smithtown Historical Society is located at 239 E. Main St., Smithtown. For more information, call 631-265-6768.

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Stay connected! The Smithtown Historical Society hosts a Technology Savvy Seniors program at the Brush Barn, 211 E. Main St., Smithtown every other Friday including March 11 and 25 at 10 a.m. This free technology workshop is geared to help seniors with their cell phones, tablets, laptops and more. Topic will vary at each session. Call 631-265-6768 for further details.

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For the second year in the row, the Smithtown Historical Society had to scale down its Heritage Country Christmas event due to COVID-19. However, there was still plenty for the hundreds of attendees to enjoy on Saturday, Dec. 4.

The historical society grounds were filled with vendors, reenactors, musicians and more. Santa was also on hand to hear children’s gift requests and have photos taken with him. While the society didn’t offer their usual house tours, a train show and crafts were hosted inside its buildings for a break from the cold, while the barn housed the wreath raffle and some music.

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The Smithtown Historical Society (SHS) will host a Community Wreath Contest with a deadline of Dec. 1 at the Roseneath Cottage, 239 E. Main St., Smithtown. Open to all, the wreath must be a minimum of 12″ to a maximum of 24″ in diameter. Any materials may be used. Wreaths will be displayed at the historical society’s Heritage Country Christmas Fair on Dec. 4 (rain date Dec. 5) and the public will select the winners. Entry fee is the donation of your wreath entry to the SHS to use as it sees fit. For more information, call 631-265-6768.

Pictured from left, director of social studies Charles Benvenuto, award winner Josie Muratore, social studies teacher Joan Havranek, assistant principal Annemarie Freund

Smithtown High School West senior Josie Muratore fondly recalls her experience at Smithtown Elementary School. “Smithtown El gives all of its students a chance to be creative,” Muratore said. “They really always made me feel safe. Every single teacher I had made a really big impact on me and who I am now. I just love everyone I ever met at that school.”

Muratore was so moved by her experience, she profiled the school’s history as part of the Smithtown Historical Society’s Mildred Smith Historical Essay Contest. And her entry now has been selected as the winner. Muratore will receive a $1,000 scholarship, which will be awarded at the Historical Society’s Heritage Ball at the Watermill on Nov. 4. Her essay also will be published in the Heritage Ball Journal.

The Smithtown Historical Society has sponsored the Mildred Smith Historical Essay Contest for the past 15 years. It is open to all 11th graders attending High School East and High School West as well as Commack, Hauppauge and Kings Park high schools and the Knox School and Smithtown Christian School.

Mildred Smith helped found the Smithtown Historical Society and served as the organization’s first president. She possessed an intense passion for the history of Smithtown.

As part of her five-page essay detailing Smithtown Elementary School’s history, Muratore wrote:  “Smithtown was in need of a new school to accommodate its post-World War II growing population. In 1948, the Smithtown Central School District held a vote to purchase 12 acres of the Charles D. Miller Estate, and groundbreaking of the new building began in December 1949. The design of the new building was made to accommodate the children and make them feel welcome, according to The Smithtown Star, which wrote about the 371 students who attended the first day of school.

“Every classroom was referred to as ‘outside rooms.’ Each room had a wall entirely of glass — a wall of windows, in other words, where the children could observe the environment, the weather and nature as it changed throughout the school year. In today’s time it might not seem as a big deal, but in 1950, it was a luxury to have students be able to look and feel outside of their classroom, as opposed to the claustrophobic and less stimulating traditional windowless rooms.”

Photo courtesy of Smithtown CSD

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

In this COVID era where outdoor activities are preferred, the Carriage House Players, in partnership with the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithtown Historical Society, has extended the usual summer open air entertainment by heralding autumn with an under the stars production of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Twelfth Night.

East Main Street in Smithtown is well lit at night by passing car headlights but once you turn off the main road and head up a narrow country lane, you are instantly immersed in a blanket of serene darkness save for an illuminated structure standing tall in the distance. 

A string of white twinkling lights guides the way through a meadow that ends at this grandiose structure decorated as a red barn framed by natural towering trees. You have just entered the world that is Twelfth Night.

This tale of unrequited love, believed to have been written around 1601–1602, has a whirlwind of twists and turns bursting with intrigue and mistaken identities that one remains riveted throughout.

The pre-show antics make it worth getting to the grounds early. Actors in Victorian garb circulate, hob knob with the audience, one strums a guitar and even reads tarot cards.

High-test energy explodes right from the start and maintains momentum through to a rollicking ending. This exceptionally well-rehearsed cast, thanks to director, Christine Boehm, appears comfortable with Elizabethan English and flings Shakespeare’s words in an easy, conversational manner just as the Bard intended. 

The opening springs to life with the song I Put a Spell on You and the stage rocks with a captain at the helm trying to stay the course of his ship veering off through a turbulent storm. Black sheers fiercely whip up and down, an abstract representation of violent waves which ends with a catastrophic shipwreck. 

Enter Anna Stacy, dynamic as Viola, in a role that shifts genders from female to male and back again. Viola was rescued by the sea captain, the adept Patrick Campbell, while Dan Schindlar, charismatic as her brother Sebastian, is rescued by Antonia, played by the expressive Zöe Katsaros. Neither are aware that the other has survived which adds another layer of intrigue to the plot. 

Viola disguises as a young man, ‘Cesario’, to go into the service of Michael Mandato’s evocative Count Orsino. Orsino is tortured by unrequited love for Countess Olivia a damsel in mourning for seven years over the death of her brother. Mary Caulfield captivates as the grieving countess shrouded in black and spurning all suitors. ‘Cesario,’ in doing the bidding of Orsino, professes his master’s love for Olivia, but it backfires when the countess falls in love with ‘Cesario’ instead. 

Upon seeing Sebastian, Olivia assumes he is ‘Cesario’ and implores him to marry her which he does willingly. In a final twist, ‘Cesario’ and Sebastian appear before Olivia and Orsino causing more confusion. But Viola reveals her true identity, declares her love for the count and is reunited with her twin brother. 

Sub-plots abound with Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby, a drunkard performed with gusto by Evan Donnellan and his comrade, Sir Andrew, (Jae Hughes), a delightful fop who also pines for Olivia. This duo adds much madcap humor into the mix! 

Another comical twist happens when Maria, Olivia’s maid, played with relish by Katie Murano, pulls a prank on the pompous steward, Malvolio, making him think Olivia is in love with him. Kevin Callaghan’s Malvolio falls into hilarious raptures as the lovesick steward and nearly stops the show. 

Another participant in the plot against Malvolio is Feste, Olivia’s jester, played by the multi-talented Ana McCasland who displays all of her talents from singing to playing the guitar to acting.

For an electric celebration of wits, intrigue and an enthusiastic ensemble thoroughly committed to Shakespeare’s raucous comedy, catch a performance Twelfth Night, now playing through Oct. 31.

The Carriage House Players presents Twelfth Night on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society, 239 East Main Street, Smithtown on the evenings of Oct. 15, 17, 22, 24, 29 and 31. Tickets are $20, $15 seniors and children 12 and under. To purchase, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

The cast of 'Spookley the Square Pumpkin'. Photo by Jordan Hue

By Heidi Sutton

Travel down any country road on Long Island this October and you are sure to come upon a farmstand overflowing with round pumpkins. But there’s only one place where you can find a square pumpkin by the name of Spookley who has an important message for all of us.

In partnership with the Smithtown Historical Society, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents an outdoor production of Spookley the Square Pumpkin The Musical on the society’s grounds through Oct. 31.

The cast sings ‘The Boo Song’ during the Sept. 25 performance. Photo from SPAC

Complete with pumpkins, scarecrows, friendly ghosts, bats, spiders, bugs and a pair of watermelons, with lots of singing and dancing, the show is a great way for young children to celebrate autumn and get excited for Halloween. Based on the popular book series by Joe Troiano, it tells the story of a square pumpkin living in a round pumpkin patch and his struggle to fit in.

It’s Halloween on Holiday Hill Farm and that means it’s time for Farmer Hill to choose a pumpkin to be the Pick of the Patch. We meet the top contenders — Bobo the perfectly round pumpkin whose ego “grows and grows” (“I’m so pretty I glow!”) and Big Tom and Little Tom who are attached by a vine. 

When Spookley appears, he is teased by Little Tom who tells him that he doesn’t belong because he looks different. Spookley’s new friends, spiders Edgar, Allen and Poe and Scarecrow Jack, try to convince him to run for the Pick of the Patch contest, but his confidence has been shaken. When a strong storm rolls all of the round pumpkins towards the river, the square pumpkin discovers the chance to prove his own worth and save the day.

Kieran Brown stars as Spookley. Photo from SPAC

Directed by Jordan Hue, with musical direction by Melissa Coyle, choreography by Courtney Braun and costumes by Ronnie Green, the talented cast of 13 give a flawless performance and succeed in bringing this important story to life during National Bullying Prevention Month with the ultimate message that was makes you different makes you special.

Kieran Brown returns to reprise his role as Spookley and does an excellent job. Never breaking out of his square character, he has the audience rooting for him from the beginning. And wait until you hear him sing! Brown’s rendition of “If I Was Round” and “I’m Gonna Try” leaves you wanting more.

Gabrielle Arroyo, last seen as the bus driver in “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!,” shines in “She’s Bobo” and “The Transylvania Twist” and the whole cast has fun with “The Boo Song.”

As Big Tom and Little Tom, Kenny Arroyo and Max Lamberg are hilarious and Stephanie Nigro, Adrienne Porti and Justin Walsh Weiner as Edgar, Allan and Poe are terrific as no-nonsense spiders. Ari Spiegel, as Boris the Bat with a vivacious appetite is always interrupted from snacking on a spider or bug by his vegan friend, Bella the Bat played by Gabby Blum, a nice touch. 

Ari Spiegel, Kieran Brown and Gabby Blum in a scene from ‘Spookley’. Photo from SPAC

Emerson Lebrecht and Ava Bernardo return as cute watermelons Mimi and Lala (how did they end up in a pumpkin patch?). Savannah Shaw sparkles as Bug and newcomer Tristan Prin as Jack Scarecrow and Farmer Hill tackles the dual role with ease. 

The special effects, beautiful set, and adorable costumes pull it all together for a spooktacular Halloween show your kids will love.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents Spookley the Square Pumpkin the Musical on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society, 239 E. Main St., Smithtown on various dates and times through Oct. 31. Running time is one hour with no intermission. While folding chairs are available, theatergoers are welcome to bring blankets or chairs for seating and bathrooms are available on the premises. Tickets are $18 per person. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

See a quick video from the show here.

 

The Frank Brush Barn

The Smithtown Historical Society presents its annual Fall Lecture Series at the Frank Brush Barn, 211 E. Main St., Smithtown on Oct. 5, 12 and 19 at 7 p.m.  All events are free but registration is required by visiting www.smithtownhistorical.org.

October 5th—Smithtown During World War II with SHS Vice-President Maureen Smilow

Join the Smithtown Historical Society’s Vice President and former Smithtown Social Studies teacher Maureen Smilow as she takes us back in time to World War II era Smithtown.  Learn how the citizens  of our town responded as they were inescapably drawn into the horrific events of the day.  Blackened headlights, Victory Gardens and hometown heroes: Smithtowners did their part to make the world safe for democracy.

October 12th—George Washington’s Long Island Spy Ring, with Historian Bill Bleyer

Bill Bleyer, former prize-winning staff writer for Newsday, has written extensively about Long Island history for newspapers, magazines, and numerous books. His latest book focuses on the impact of George Washington’s Long Island-based “Culper Spy Ring,” and identifies Revolutionary War sites that remain today.

October 19th—The Lost Boys of Montauk with Journalist Amanda M. Fairbanks

Amanda M. Fairbanks is a journalist who has worked with The New York Times, HuffPost, and at The East Hampton Star, where she wrote investigative stories, features and profiles. Her debut novel is an account of a March 1984 tragedy at sea, when the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor on a routine offshore voyage. The fate of the Wind Blown—the second-worst nautical disaster suffered by a Montauk fishing vessel in over a hundred years—has become interwoven with the local folklore of the East End. The story is a universal tale of family and brotherhood; when the dreams and ambitions of social classes collide.

For further information, please call 631-265-6768.

The cast of 'Spookley the Square Pumpkin' in 2020. Photo by Courtney Braun

Just in time for Halloween, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents ‘Spookley The Square Pumpkin: The Musical’ on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown on various dates from Sept. 25 to Oct. 31.

The musical tells the story of a square pumpkin living in a round pumpkin patch on Holiday Hill Farm. Shunned by the other pumpkins but helped by some friends, Spookley tries his best, but he isn’t sure he has what it takes until a mighty storm threatens Holiday Hill Farm. Spookley helps all the pumpkins in the patch learn that the things that make you different make you special.

‘Spookley The Square Pumpkin: The Musical’ is no tricks and nothing but a treat for all ages!

Tickets to this outdoor performance are $18 per person. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org

The talented cast, from left, Gabrielle Arroyo, Alexa Oliveto, Ari Spiegel, Lorelai Mucciolo, Max Lamberg and Derek Hough. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Heidi Sutton

For too short a time, Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! flies off its pages and takes roost on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society in a children’s musical production by the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts that is too cute for words!

Written in 2003, it was Willems’ first book for children, and received the Caldecott Honor the following year. The book’s appeal was that it spoke to the reader throughout the story as a bus driver asks the audience to not let the pigeon drive the bus while he has to step away for a moment. The remainder of the story is the pigeon pleading with the reader to let him drive the bus … until he sees a semi-trailer truck.

While Willems went on to write many more Pigeon books, his debut novella was turned into a musical in 2019 and now comes to life in Smithtown through Sept. 17.

Directed by Evan Donnellan, with musical direction by Robbie Torres, the 6-member cast embrace this clever script and jazzy score and run with it.

The pigeon has a complaint. He never gets to do anything. When the park gets a new bus stop, he gets his first glimpse at the beautiful shiny bus and … he wants to drive it! As passengers board the bus, the pigeon begs and pleads but the bus driver won’t give in. When the bus suddenly won’t start and all the passengers begin to panic, the pigeon realizes he just might get a chance to do something after all.

Uber talented Derek Hough is perfectly cast as the pigeon. Every line, song and dance number is executed perfectly and he quickly becomes an audience favorite who complains about the lack of adventure in his life. When the pigeon is tasked with flying to all the other bus stops on the route to tell them the bus is running late, Hough runs through the audience and relays the message to all of the young children, a highlight of the show.

Gabrielle Arroyo shines as the enthusiastic bus driver who boasts that her bus, like all public transportation, must always be on time. (LOL) Her three passengers are terrific as well. Lorelai Mucciolo’s transformation into a little old lady who has a purse full of bird seed (and likes to throw it at the pigeon) is hilarious; Ari Spiegel as the high strung business man late for his first day at a new job is spot on; and Max Lamberg as a superhero-obsessed teenager who wants to catch the premiere of a new movie is excellent. Alexa Oliveto, as the “voice” of the bus engine, is tasked with delivering the silliest and hardest lines and does so with ease.

The songs, written by Mo Willems and Deborah Wicks La Puma, are catchy and fun with special mention to the fast-paced “Panic at the Bus Stop” and “Let Me Drive the Bus” and the melodramatic “What Could Have Been.” The set, painted in the same shades as the book, and the creative costumes by Ronald R. Green III tie the production together nicely. Catch a performance before it flies the coop.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The Musical! on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society, 239 E. Main St., Smithtown on various dates and times through Sept. 17. Running time is 50 minutes with no intermission. While folding chairs are available, theatergoers are welcome to bring blankets or chairs for seating and bathrooms are available on the premises. Tickets are $18 per person. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.