Tags Posts tagged with "Steven Uihlein"

Steven Uihlein

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

Looking for something to do with the kids on a hot and humid summer day? Allow me to recommend an afternoon of live theater. And with a princess, a prince, a wicked fairy and a spinning wheel, Theatre Three’s latest offering, the premiere of the timeless tale of Sleeping Beauty, will surely fit the bill. Oh and did I mention there’s A/C?

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Douglas J. Quattrock, the musical follows the storyline closely but goes one step further in questioning why the wicked fairy put a curse on the princess ultimately causing her to fall asleep for one hundred years. Is she just plain evil or was it all just a misunderstanding?

Directed by Sanzel, a cast of 7 adult actors along with 26 preteen and teen actors from Theatre Three’s Dramatic Academy present this charming re-telling of the most wonderful fairy tale of all.

King Gilder and Queen Gwen have sent out invitations for Briar Rose’s first birthday party. While the good fairies Aurora and Lily receive theirs, the wicked fairy Algabrine does not. Insulted, she crashes the party and as her “gift” to the little princess, she casts a spell that Briar Rose will prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her 18th birthday and die. When she leaves, Lily, who has not given her gift yet, changes the spell to have Briar Rose fall into a deep sleep for one hundred years only to be awakened by her one true love.

The king decries that all spinning wheels be destroyed. But there’s always one somewhere, isn’t there?

Steven Uihlein serves as narrator and uses flashbacks to tell the story and to teach an important lesson along the way. Here we meet Algabrine when she was kind and sweet and witness the moment things take a dark turn. A nice touch.

Cassidy Rose O’Brien is perfectly cast as Briar Rose. Strong-willed, confident, thoughtful and kind, she is the perfect fairy tale heroine  and quickly becomes the audience favorite as does her counterpart, a terrific Kiernan Urso as Prince Constantine. Accompanied on piano by Quattrock, their duet, “When I Close My Eyes,” is magical. 

Aria Saltini and Heather Rose Kuhn are wonderful as fairies Aurora and Lily, as is Marianne Schmidt as Cecelia, Constantine’s mother. Josie McSwane knocks it out of the park as Algabrine and has the best entrance I’ve ever seen, thanks to the incredible sound effects and lighting. Costumes by Jason Allyn are the icing on the birthday cake.

The preteen and teen supporting cast play numerous roles throughout including singing and dancing and several have lines (great jokes!). For many, this is their first time performing in front of an audience and it is an amazing opportunity to hone their craft and all did an amazing job. 

With only three performances left,  order your tickets now. And if you reserve seats in the center section of the theater, you will be in for a special treat!

Take a keepsake photo with the cast in the lobby on your way out.

Cast: Steven Uihlein, Cassidy Rose O’Brien, Area Saltini, Heather Rose Kuhn, Josie McSwane, Kiernan Urso, Marianne Schmidt, Maggie Abcug, Kate Marin, Courtney Pearsall, Guiliana Vavalle, Jared Acevedo, Marlaina Baessler, Alissa Boryushkina, Mia Caputo, Aiden Choudhary, Tara Choudhary, Kelsie Curran, Erin Curtin, Ava Garcia, Kathleen Han, Faith Hennessy, Carissa Kaplan, Chloe Kelly, Sophia Kosinski, Amelia Lappe, Hailey Polanish, Lyla Reyes, Michael Rotundo, Francesca Scott, Sophie Weeks, Emilyanne Williams and Rebecca Williams.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Sleeping Beauty on Friday, Aug. 12 at 11 a.m. and Saturday, Aug. 13 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Children’s theater continues with A Kooky Spooky Halloween from Oct. 8 to 22 and Barnaby Saves Christmas from Nov. 19 to Dec. 30. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

Magic mirror on the wall,

Who is the fairest of them all?

It’s Snow White of course and now children of all ages can come see a hilarious retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson through June 18. 

Based on the story by the Brothers Grimm with a nod towards Disney, the production — written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin F. Story —  is a delight to watch.

All the elements of the classic fairy tale are here: the evil queen, the magic mirror, the seven dwarfs, the handsome prince, the poisoned apple and, of course, the beautiful Snow White. Even though Walt Disney’s original 1937 version had several scary moments, this show, directed by Sanzel and featuring an all adult cast, infuses humor and silliness into every scene, keeping the mood light and upbeat.

Aria Saltini is wonderful as the sweet Snow White who infuriates the wickedly vain evil queen, played by Elizabeth Ladd, because she “is sooooo nice!” Saltini’s rendition of “I Love It All” and Ladd’s follow-up “I Hate It All” are terrific.

As the Mirror, Steven Uihlein plays his role with just the right amount of sarcasm as he answers the burning question, “Who is the fairest of them all?” over and over. His rendition of “I’ve Got Those ‘I’m-Just-a-Mirror-on-the-Wall’ Blues” is reflective.

Although the names are different, the dwarfs have the personalities of the original Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey, and keep the audience in stitches. Special mention must be made of Dana Bush as the very funny Iggy (aka Dopey) who can’t remember what happened a minute ago, and Jason Furnari as Froggy (aka Doc) who has a hard time corraling his fellow dwarfs.

Kyle Breitenbach is perfectly cast as the handsome Prince who is on a quest to save a damsel in distress when he meets Snow White. The chemistry between Breitenbach and Saltini is fun to watch as they try to hide their identity from each other, and their duet, “I Think I’m in Like with You,” is very sweet.

Special mention must also be made of the exquisite costumes. Designed by Jason Allyn, they look like they’ve jumped right off the pages of a children’s book.

With the overall message to be true to oneself, this fairy tale production will keep audiences entertained from beginning to end. Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show for a group photo. 

Theatre Three, 412 Main St. Port Jefferson presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on June 4, 11 and 18 with a special sensory sensitive performance on June 12. All performances begin at 11 a.m. and costumes are encouraged. Children’s theater continues with Puss-In-Boots from July 8 to 30. All seats are $10. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

Looking for something fun to do with the kids during Spring Break? May I recommend the most adorablest show around, Theatre Three’s The Adventures of Peter Rabbit, a tale based on the characters and stories created by Beatrix Potter. As a child, Beatrix and her brother were homeschooled and kept sheltered from other children. She turned to her pets, especially her two rabbits — Benjamin Bouncer and Peter Piper — who served as inspiration for her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. 

Now the stories of Flopsy, Mopsy, CottonTail, Peter and Mrs. Rabbit come to life on Theatre Three’s stage in the form of a musical written by Jeffrey Sanzel and the late Brent Erlanson, with musical arrangements by Kevin F. Story. 

The story follows the antics of the mischievous Peter Rabbit and his cousin Benjamin Bunny who have an insatiable appetite for carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, parsley, cucumbers and string beans. Where can they find such a cornucopia? In their neighbor Mr. McGregor’s garden, of course! 

But taking without asking is not very nice and one too many trips to the garden patch gets Peter caught by the farmer. Will he end up as rabbit stew or will the McGregors and the Rabbits come to a compromise?

Directed by Sanzel, the incredible cast of eight adult actors present a high-energy, fast-paced show that keep children at the edge of their seats with audience participation as the cast walk or run up and down the aisles.

This year’s production has stepped it up several notches with so many special little details including adorable new costumes and wigs by Jason Allyn, colorful lighting along the walls of the theater and fresh choreography. The bunnies even sport new ears and a tail!

The show uses the set from the theater’s Mainstage production, Steel Magnolias, for the rabbit house and quickly transform it into the McGregor’s garden with a fence, bushes and trees. 

The most special part of the production is the musical numbers. From the catchy duet “One More Time Around” with Peter and Benjamin to the hip hop number “Peter’s Socks,” the songs are heart of the show. The final number incorporates all of the songs in a super mega-mix extravaganza.

This wonderful spring production is guaranteed to keep both kids and parents entertained. Don’t miss it.

Souvenir bunnies in spring colors will be sold before the show and during intermission for $5 (proceeds will help maintain the historic building) and the entire cast will be in the lobby for photos after the show.

Sponsored by Furnari Exit Realty, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents The Adventures of Peter Rabbit on April 21, 22, 23, 30 and May 7 at 11 a.m. with a special sensory sensitive performance on April 24 at 11 a.m. Children’s theater continues with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from May 28 to June 18, and Puss-In-Boots from July 8 to 30. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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 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.

—————————

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

October is such a great time of year with  the lovely weather, the changing leaves, mums, pumpkin and apple picking and trick or treating. It also means the return of the holiday treat A Kooky Spooky Halloween at Theatre Three. With emphasis on the power of friendship and the importance of helping others, the original musical, written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Steve McCoy, runs through Oct. 30.

The star of the show is a nice ghost named Abner Perkins (Steven Uihlein) who has just graduated from Haunting High School. Awarded a medallion of invisibility, he is given the coveted assignment of haunting Ma Aberdeen’s Boarding House, famously known for being the most haunted house in Harrison County U.S.A … and for serving the best toast! Abner must abide by two rules — he can only haunt at night and he can’t lose the medallion or he’ll become visible and lose his powers.

There’s only one problem — Abner is afraid of the dark, which is “like a vampire who’s afraid of necks!” according to his best friend Lavinda the Witch (Alanna Rose Henriquez). She gives him a night light as a graduation present and promises to help him adjust to his ghostly duties.

When Abner and Lavinda arrive at the boarding house, they find the Petersons — Paul (Liam Marsigliano), his wife Penelope (Stephanie Moreau) and son Pip (Darren Clayton) — and Kit Garret (Heather Rose Kuhn), who has just come “from a small town to the big city with a suitcase in my hand and hope in my heart,” in the kitchen helping Ma Aberdeen (Ginger Dalton), the finest toast maker in the land, prepare treat bags for Halloween.

In one of the funniest moments in the show, Abner casts a speed spell on the group, making them dance, sing, spin like a top, quack like a duck and do jumping jacks in fast motion. His final spell of the night is to have them “join together like birds of a feather.”

Things are going hauntingly well until fellow graduate Dora Pike (Beth Ladd) appears out of thin air. Filled with jealousy, (she was hoping to be assigned to Ma Aberdeen’s boarding house) Dora steals Abner’s night light and medallion and threatens to drop them into Black Ridge Gulch, the deepest, darkest gorge in the entire world (where it’s really, really dark).

Still stuck to each other, the group can now see Abner who must convince them to help him retrieve his medallion and undo the spell. What follows is a “Golden Goose” moment throughout the theater that will leave you in stitches!

Peppered with Halloween riddles and jokes, the show is wonderful on so many levels. Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the 8-member adult cast know their target audience well and deliver standout performances with special mention to Ginger Dalton as Ma Aberdeen, a character she has played since the musical originated in 2017. I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role. 

Accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock and choreographed by Sari Feldman, the song and dance numbers are the heart of the show, especially “Into the World I Go” by Abner, “A Witch Is a Person” by Lavinda, and the fun group numbers, “A Need for Speed” and “It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast.”

Jason Allyn’s gorgeous costumes are on fleek, from the ghosts dressed from head to toe in flowing white and the witch’s purple dress and pointy hat, to the Peterson’s coordinating orange and black outfits and the spooky lighting design by Steven Uihlein sets the mood and ties everything together perfectly.

Halloween is always such a fun holiday for children. This year, make it extra special and take them to see A Kooky Spooky Halloween. They’ll love you for it.

Snacks and beverages are available for purchase during intermission and costumes are encouraged. Souvenir cat, pumpkin, Frankenstein, Dracula and ghost dolls will be available for purchase before the show and during intermission for $5. Meet the entire cast in the lobby for a group photo.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents A Kooky Spooky Halloween on Saturdays, Oct. 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 11 a.m. and Sunday, Oct. 17 at 3 p.m. Children’s theatre continues with Barnaby Saves Christmas from Nov. 20 to Dec. 26, Puss-In-Boots from Jan. 15 to Feb 5, and a brand new production, Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz, from Feb. 23 to March 26. All seats are $10 and COVID protocols are in place. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

Do you ever think back to your teenage years, to the time you were hanging out at the beach, local candy store or park and you turned around to stare into the eyes of the most gorgeous person you’ve ever seen? That snapshot is lodged somewhere in the deep recesses of your mind, but when you allow it to surface, you get that sweet nostalgia of those “Summer Nights.”

Grease, now rockin’ the rafters at Theatre Three, is that journey down memory lane with 1950’s Pink Lady jackets, Greasers and Greased Lightnin’. It explores the innocence of youth, the pangs of first love and the teenage psyche when everything was a crisis and monumental. This effervescent romp brimming with electrifying familiar songs ignites the audience making it difficult not to jump up, dance and sing along with the spirited ensemble.

The team of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey wrote the book, music and lyrics with the original concept derived from Jacobs’ personal experiences at William Taft High School in Chicago. The name was changed to Rydell High in deference to the pop 50’s singer Bobby Rydell. Grease was first produced at the Kingston-Mines Theatre Company, Chicago in 1971, then went to Off-Broadway before moving to Broadway closing on April 13, 1980. The show received seven Tony Nominations in 1972.

This story of teenage love centers around greaser Danny Zuko and innocent Sandy Dumbrowski who have a summer romance that ends as the new school year begins. To the surprise of both, they bump into each other on the first day of school. But this reunion is awkward at first. Danny, leader of a greaser gang, is not what Sandy thought he was and Danny doesn’t want his gang to know he fell for this prim girl. Supported by a cast of exuberant characters and bursting with hits, this show has continued to delight audiences for decades.

The success of the 1978 movie version launched John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John into movie history and their performances are etched in our brains making it a monumental task for other actors to compare, but Jon Sawyer Coffin as Danny and Jenna Kavaler as Sandy are charismatic. The moment Coffin struts down the aisle in his seductive first entrance, he has the audience eating out of his hands. Kavaler, with her sweet smile, emits wholesomeness and her floating soprano wraps Hopelessly Devoted to You with emotion. We are with this Sandy right from the start and cheer for her and Danny to get together. 

Director Jeffrey Sanzel has assembled a dazzling ensemble of supporting characters with Pink Ladies, Rizzo (Rachel Greenblatt), Jan (Alanna Rose Henriquez), Marty (Heidi Jaye) and Frenchie (Michelle LaBozzetta). They are the cool girls hanging out with the super cool Burger Palace Boys, Kenickie (Steven Uihlein), Doody (C.J. Russo), Roger (Eric J. Hughes) and Sonny (Darren Clayton). This powerhouse company attacks the rock and roll score with vigorous dancing and stunning voices.

There are many stand out performances. Greenblatt’s Rizzo is dynamic as she grasps the audience with her cynical teasing of Sandy in Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee, then exposes her vulnerable side with There Are Worse Things I Could Do. Jaye’s Marty portrays sophistication beyond her years and her Freddie My Love is such fun. LaBozzetta’s bubble-headed Frenchie flunks out of beauty school, but finds guidance from her Teen Angel played with animated elan by Londel Collier. The not so cool Jan (Henriquez) teams up with the jokester Roger (Hughes) for a comical Mooning. And, of course, we can’t have Grease without a hot rod, so suddenly taking center stage is Kenicke’s dream car replete with big round headlights prompting the Burger Palace Boys into a lively Greased Lightnin’.

Costumes by Ronald Green III from Pink Lady jackets to black leather jackets mirror the personalities of the characters. Sandy is wrapped in white cardigan over pastel full skirt as opposed to Rizzo’s tight-fitting reds and blacks. The dream sequence of Beauty School Drop Out is a delight with silver curlers piled on the girls’ heads and the entire company swathed in silver beauty parlor capes.

Nicole Bianco’s choreography is bouncy and artistic with many dance routines ending in gorgeous tableaus. Born to Hand-Jive with its synchronized sequences is frenetic.

The multi-level set design by Randall Parsons allows action to flow seamlessly. Lighting design by Robert W. Henderson, Jr. sets the mood from bright to sultry and provides flawless continuity.

Music director, Jeffrey Hoffman, and his four-piece band underscores the fun with their sparkling orchestration. A standout is Bill Kinslow’s sexy saxophone in There Are Worse Things I Can Do.

Theatre Three is celebrating its 51st season of bringing fine entertainment to Long Island audiences by kicking off the festivities with the world’s most popular musical, Grease. Come join in the fun!

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Grease through Oct. 30. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12. For COVID protocols, please visit the website at www.theatrethree.com. For more information, call 631-928-9100.

All photos by Brian Hoerger/Theatre Three Productions, Inc.