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Theatre Three

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Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson hosts a food and person care items drive to benefit the pantry at Infant Jesus Church on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Food items needed include mac & cheese, canned pasta (Chef Boyardee, etc.), coffee, sugar, flour, pancake mix, oatmeal, cereal, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, cooking oil, boxed milk, juice, canned fruit, healthy snacks, fresh chicken, fresh ground beef and hot dogs.

Personal care items needed include shampoo, baby shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, baby wipes, and diapers (size 6 and newborn).

Grocery gift cards and cash will also be accepted. Donations will be collected in the back of the theater on the south side of the building. Rain date is Sept. 27. For more information, visit www.theatrethree.com.

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Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson hosts a food and personal care items drive on Saturday, Aug. 22 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help stock the pantry at Infant Jesus R.C. Church in the village. Items needed and greatly appreciated include mac & cheese, canned tuna, bags of white rice, coffee, sugar, flour, pancake mix, pancake syrup, oatmeal, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, cooking oil, boxed milk, fresh chicken and ground beef, hot dogs, juice, healthy snacks, grocery store gift cards, shampoo, conditioner, soap and baby wipes. Please no pasta, peanut butter or cereal. A table will be set up in the back on the south side of the theater for donation drop-offs. Rain date is Aug. 23.

The show must go on(line). Theatre Three in Port Jefferson proudly presents Theatre Three Off-Stage/On-Line, an exciting series of short works, each no longer than fifteen minutes. 

In an effort to present original content in a unique way, Theatre Three’s call for scripts garnered over 125 submissions in its first week that can be presented exclusively on-line. The pieces have been written or re-conceived for the online platform, and writers have used the constraints of the format as a different way to tell stories.

The series will debut this Sunday, May 3, at 7 p.m. with the comedy Taking Sum Lumps by Ken Preuss, starring Michelle LaBozzetta and Brian Smith. This will be followed on Wednesday, May 6, at 7 p.m. with Phil Darg’s drama Trajectory, featuring Linda May and Stephen T. Wangner. 

The series is directed by Theatre Three’s Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel.  Technical production is by Tim Haggerty and Eric J. Hughes.

Coming soon will be You Give Me Fever by Thomas Pierce; Blinking in Treetops by Shirley King; Future Drew by John Mark Day; and Stage Fights Screen and The Birds Are Feeding Me, both by Rex McGregor, with more plays to be announced.

New premieres will be held every Sunday and Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on YouTube, Facebook and Theatre Three’s website, www.theatrethree.com.

Theatre Three continues to accept submissions; guidelines can be found at https://theatrethree.com/offstage-online.html.

The marquee sign outside Theatre Three on March 30. Photo by Heidi Sutton

To All of Our Friends,

On March 15, after the evening performance of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Theatre Three suspended operations, a week prior to the production’s scheduled closing. We had made the decision both in the interest of the safety of our “Joseph” company and our public.

We have now postponed our next production, “Steel Magnolias,” to the same time in 2021. We have moved our 50th anniversary celebration, originally to take place the first weekend of June, to next year on the same weekend. Our classes, children’s theater productions, and educational touring programs are all on hold. Like everyone in our community, we wait, day-to-day, to see what develops.

We want to express our deepest appreciation for those on the front line … the hundreds of medical personnel, grocery store and pharmacy workers, those in government offices … the hundreds of people who are out there every day, at great personal risk, keeping the essential pieces of our lives going. You are the heroes of these challenging times.  

Theatre Three has been a part of Long Island culture for half a century. Theater is a place where people can gather and share in the human experience, both reflected onstage and in the very act of gathering together. While we don’t know when our next act will begin, we know it will. We look forward to re-opening our doors to once again bring you the joy of live theater.

Until that time, be safe and stay well.

Jeffrey Sanzel

Executive Artistic Director

Vivian Koutrakos

Managing Director

Andrew Markowitz

Board President

Douglas J. Quattrock

Artistic Associate

 

By Heidi Sutton

When the Brothers Grimm published their Children’s and Household Tales in 1812, they probably had no idea that stories such as the cautionary Hansel and Gretel, would have such staying power. While Disney hasn’t gotten its hold on it yet, the folk tale has held its own over the years, most famously through opera (by composer Engelbert Humperdinck), and with recent revivals on the big screen (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and the even darker Gretel & Hansel). 

Now Theatre Three takes us back into the forest for a light-hearted and funny original retelling of Hansel and Gretel with a big surprise at the end that’s sure to satisfy every child’s sweet tooth. 

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Douglas Quattrock, with a brand new score by Quattrock, it follows Hansel and Gretel who are living with their father, a woodcutter, and detached stepmother. The family is starving and the stepmother blames the children. She gives her husband an ultimatum: “Either dump them in the forest or dump them in the forest!” The children overhear and gather white rocks to guide them back home. When her plan fails, the stepmother takes the reins and leads them back into the forest. This time Hansel leaves a trail of breadcrumbs (he eats the rocks by mistake) and the children become lost. 

As Gretel goes to find a path home, Hansel is kidnapped by Scrimshaw and Harvis, henchmen working for a child-eating witch who lives in a candy house. The witch promptly gets to work fattening Hansel up with cake, cookies and donuts. When Gretel trys to rescue him, the witch puts her to work cooking and cleaning. When the witch gets too close to the oven, Gretel has a decision to make. Will she push her in or find another way to get out of this mess?

Jeffrey Sanzel directs a brilliant adult cast of six in this delightful retelling of the beloved story. While the story of Hansel and Gretel isn’t all lollipops and gumdrops — after all, there is a wicked witch who preys on children — there are no scary moments in the show and everyone learns a lesson about the importance of family.  Nicole Bianco is perfectly cast in the dual role of stepmother and witch and delivers her lines softly, albeit sarcastically (“These kids are monsters!”), and never raises her voice. Her opening solo, “Stepmother’s Lament,” is hilarious.

Michelle LaBozzetta as Gretel and Eric J. Hughes as Hansel give standout performances. LaBozzetta’s character is strong-willed, confident and brave while Hughes plays a  carefree, clueless and sweet little brother. Their duets, “Stones Along the Way” and “Hansel’s Dinner” are perfectly executed. Steven Uihlein in the unpopular role of the father who goes along with his wife’s plans, does a fine job, as always. His character’s guilt in his solo “Lost” and at the end of the show is palpable. 

Although not part of the original story, Darren Bruce Clayton and Ryan Worrell, in the role of Scrimshaw and Harvis, entertain the audience by incorporating the Charleston, ballet and hip hop in their dance numbers, “Out of Step” and “Harvis and Scrimshaw.” What a treat!

The end result is a charming and imaginative production of Hansel and Gretel that should be added on your family’s to do list. Stay for a meet and greet with the cast in the lobby after the show.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Hansel and Gretel on March 7, 14 and 21 at 11 a.m. and March 15 at 3 p.m. with a sensory-sensitive performance on March 8 at 11 a.m. Children’s Theater continues with The Adventures of Peter Rabbit from April 8 to 25 and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves from May 23 to June 6. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

A scene from Theatre Three's 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'

By D. Bruce Lockerbie

D. Bruce Lockerbie

I see that Theatre Three is staging a production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” highly praised by this newspaper’s critic. It’s one of our favorite musicals for both entertainment and personal reasons. We’ve seen several versions of the musical, including the 1982 Broadway production along with several school shows, and we look forward to seeing it again. Here’s why.

In 1974, our family was finishing a sabbatical year in Cambridge, England. The leave granted me by The Stony Brook School had given Lory and me an opportunity to take our three teenagers around the world — Asia, the Indian sub-continent, Africa, Israel, Europe, then Great Britain, where we settled for the final five months. 

The British academic calendar extends into early summer, and so we attended several of Cambridge University’s college plays —Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Charley’s Aunt, and other standard student productions. 

But the most memorable was a show we’d never heard of, staged in a small theatre in Market Square. According to its publicity, this was an ever-expanding trial run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from its origins as a cantata being prepared for entry as a musical in the forthcoming Edinburgh Festival later that summer. 

It was a modest production: No orchestra, just two pianos, on one of which the 26-year old composer Andrew Lloyd Webber pounded out his catchy tunes. We loved the show and bought the newly released LP recording, which we played until its grooves wore thin. “Hey, hey, hey, Joseph, you know what they say?” and “Any dream will do” remain in memory. 

Three decades later, our older son Don — one of those teenagers — had grown into an international sports event producer, involved in staging FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl, among other events. In 2007, he was in charge of Cricket World Cup, hosted by nine nations in the West Indies. Lory and I went to see the matches being played in Saint Kitts, pitting Australia, Holland, Scotland, and South Africa against each other. Fans from around the world joined us to support the game the British Empire made popular.

A scene from Theatre Three’s ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’

As parents of the man most responsible for the tournament, we were seated with various dignitaries in the St. Kitt’s President’s box.  

One afternoon, as lunchtime arrived and the match was solemnly suspended, we made our way to the dining area adjacent to the cricket grounds. Don whispered to me, “Do you know who’s just ahead of you? Sir Tim Rice.” 

The food line was moving slowly, so I took the opportunity to introduce my wife and me to the knighted lyricist and collaborator with Lloyd Webber. He was gracious, asking what a pair of Americans was doing at a World Cup cricket match. I explained why, then went on to say, “We saw one of your early productions of Joseph in a Cambridge theatre in 1974.”

“Did you recognize me in the cast?” he asked.

“No, not that I recall . . .,” I admitted.

“I was Pharaoh,” he replied with great laughter.

“Oh, I get it! The King!” I said, and we went on to enjoy lunch together. ‘

Those of you who have already seen the local or any other production of Joseph will understand the double joke that opens Act II of the show. I won’t spoil it for the rest of you.

During our meal, Sir Tim talked about how gifted his composer-collaborator is and told this story: One day, Andrew sat at a piano and played a few measures of a new song for his father, the organist-composer William Lloyd Webber. “What does that sound like?” the son asked his father, who replied, “It sounds like five billion pounds (money) to me!” The tune became “Memory” in the show Cats. “Andrew’s father was prophetic,” said Tim Rice.

We have our Theatre Three tickets for later this month. See you there.

D. Bruce Lockerbie, a longtime resident of the Three Villages, is the author/editor of 40 books and heads an international educational consulting agency called PAIDEIA, Inc.

Nicole Bianco and Eric J. Hughes star in the Brothers Grimm fairytale. Photo by Peter Lanscombe/Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

‘Hansel and Gretel’

Artwork by Heather Kuhn

Children’s theater continues at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson with “Hansel and Gretel” from Feb. 29 to March 21 with a sensory-sensitive performance on March 8 at 11 a.m. Go into the woods for an outrageous adventure with the world’s most famous brother and sister team. A feeble father, a wicked stepmother and a well-meaning if misguided witch add up to hilarious hijinx. Tickets are $10 per person. 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.

Ginger Dalton and Kyle Breitenbach

Three more chances to catch a performance of “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today” at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson on Feb. 20, 21 and 22 at 11 a.m.  Amanda Sally Desdemona Estella Barbara Temple, better known as Little Red Riding Hood, takes a thrilling journey through the woods to her grandmother’s house. Joined by her twin sisters, Blanche and Nora, Little Red Riding Hood learns a big lesson about safety in this modern musical telling. All seats are $10. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.’

By Heidi Sutton

One of Theatre Three’s most important offerings, in my opinion, is its children’s theatre series. Each show teaches a moral lesson — don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t be a bully — while introducing young audiences to live musical retellings of wonderful fairy tales including “Cinderella,” “Pinocchio,” “Hansel & Gretel” and its latest offering, “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today.” The adorable show opened last Saturday and runs through Feb. 22. 

While it follows the Brothers Grimm version closely, the story is used as a tool to teach “stranger danger” in a most effective way. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin F. Story, the musical centers around a little girl named Amanda Sally Desdemona Estella Barbara Temple, although everyone in town calls her Little Red Riding Hood because she always wears the red cape her Granny Beckett made for her. 

When her grandmother sends Little Red Riding Hood’s mother a letter complaining “no one ever comes to visit. I might as well get eaten by a wolf!,” Amanda and her twin sisters, Blanche and Nora, head over the river and through the woods to bring her some Girl Scout cookies. Halfway there, Little Red Riding Hood tells her sisters to go back home because Nora is nursing a terrible cold. Now alone, she encounters a stranger (William “Billy” de Wolf) and commits a series of safety mistakes, placing her grandmother and herself in a dangerous situation.

Director Jeffrey Sanzel leads an adult cast of six who have the best time acting out this clever script.

Steven Uihlein serves as storyteller and does a terrific job introducing each scene, giving his own opinions and interrupting the show when he deems it necessary. Uihlein also plays numerous supporting roles, including a policeman, doctor and mailman.

Nicole Bianco is perfectly cast as Little Red Riding Hood, although she does love saying her long name a bit too much! Lol! Krystal Lawless tackles the challenging role of the forgetful Mrs. Temple with ease. Constantly mixing up her children’s names and attempting to make a cup of tea for Nora out of feathers, wrenches, sticky notes, etc. she draws the most laughs. 

Kyle Breitenbach has much fun in the role of the Wolf, who is all bark and no bite. Special effects make his stomach rumble and he is always asking the audience if they have any steak or a bone on hand. One of the best scenes is when the Wolf chases Granny Beckett around the bed, and when she steps away, he goes around many times more before he realizes she’s gone.

Michelle LaBozzetta has the most exhausting role in the show, skipping on stage as Blanche, turning the corner and reappearing as her twin sister Nora, hunched over and suffering from a cold. What a workout! LaBozzetta is so convincing that young children will not make the connection. 

But it’s Ginger Dalton as Granny Beckett who steals the show. Dripping with sarcasm, she pulls out all the stops to try to get her family to visit her and even fakes getting sick. Her solo, “Who’s at My Door?,” is superb.  

During the last 10 minutes of the show, the actors discuss the safety mistakes that Little Red Riding Hood made, including talking to strangers and giving out her grandmother’s address, and what she should have done instead.

The musical numbers, accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, are fun and catchy, especially “Little Red Riding Hood” and the tap dance number “To Granny Beckett’s House We Go.”

The great story line, the wonderful songs and the important message it conveys makes this show a perfect reason to catch a performance. Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show for photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today” is for ages 3 and up through Feb. 22. Children’s Theatre continues with “Hansel & Gretel” from Feb. 29 to March 21, “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” from April 8 to 25 and “Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs” from May 23 to June 6. Tickets are $10 each. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.