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By Jeffrey Sanzel

Vonda N. McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun (1997) blended science fiction and historical romance. The novel won the Nebula Award for Best Novel, besting George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Among the book’s other accolades were a Publishers Weekly Best Book Award, Locus Recommended Book, and Intergalactic Award for Best Novel. Set in the seventeenth-century French court of King Louis XIV, the story follows the longest-reigning monarch’s search for immortality by ingesting an endangered sea monster’s flesh.

Talk of a movie version can be traced back to 2002, with Natalie Portman attached as the lead. But the film failed to be greenlit. Eventually, The Moon and the Sun was filmed in 2014, set for a 2015 release date, but the film remained on the shelf for nearly seven years. Various reasons have been proffered, including test audiences’ less than positive reaction to the visual effects and a tax evasion scandal involving the film’s mermaid, Fan Bingbing, China’s highest-paid female star. The film has finally been released under the title The King’s Daughter.

It has taken a quarter of a century for The Moon and the Sun to land on the big screen. But sadly, one suspects that this is not what McIntyre had in mind.

Choosing Julie Andrews as narrator probably seemed like a good idea on paper, but the once-upon-a-time illustrated prologue along with Andrews’ unique warmth and whimsy point towards Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, the child-friendly prologue presents the wrong signals for what is—or at least should be—a darker tale.

The opening convent scene features Rachel Griffiths as the Mother Abbess channeling The Sound of Music as she disciplines Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario) for being too … well, too Maria von Trapp. The Abbess’ departing shot to the girl is that she is going “to a lavish, glimmering hell … where you no doubt will thrive.” If only. 

The court seems to be short on courtiers. Outside of a scene of the king (Pierce Brosnan) addressing what looks like the peasants from a road company operetta, the population of Versailles seems to be on holiday. Perhaps they are off buying some of the strangely non-period dresses that occasionally pop up in the oddest places.

Quickly, with very little explanation other than a gift for music, she is whisked away to the court by the king’s personal confessor, Père La Chaise (William Hurt). Louis quickly elevates the feisty lass to court composer. 

Meanwhile, sailor Yves De La Croix (Benjamin Walker) has found the sea creature (Bingbing). The villainous court doctor (Pablo Schreiber) has promised the monster’s heart and life force will grant the king eternal life. The mermaid must be sacrificed during the upcoming solar eclipse. 

Louis shows particular interest in Marie-Josèphe, as she is his illegitimate daughter, spawning some of the most uncomfortable parent-child scenes ever found outside of the plays of Eugene O’Neill. 

The mermaid’s singing draws Marie-Josèphe to the pool in which the creature is imprisoned. The musician uses the siren’s pinging vocalizations to inspire her composition, meeting the king’s immediate approval. In addition, the girl falls for the sailor. However, as the court is in dire financial straits, Louis wants Marie-Josèphe to marry the wealthy merchant-heir Jean-Michel Lintillac (Ben-Lloyd Hughes).

Barry Berman and James Schamus have taken a range of liberties with the source in fashioning their clumsy screenplay. Director Sean McNamara’s lack of nuance does nothing to enhance the performances. Teeth-grinding earnestness fills every line; emotion is replaced by slow motion. Brosnan is always charming and could have excelled in the role, but the writers could not commit to what they wanted their Sun King to be. His relationship with Hurt’s priest seems like lifted from a buddy movie. Scodelario alternates between pleasantly upbeat (though occasionally a bit rom-com) and crying.

Films of this ilk can be saved by style-over-substance. Lady-in-waiting Magali (Crystal Clarke) tells Marie-Josèphe that “color and bravado are the order of the day.” Again, if only. The filmmakers were granted access to shoot at Versailles. Somehow, they made the spectacular palace look cheap—as if shot in the producers’ Hampton’s backyard.

 The royal ball in the Hall of Mirrors is a missed opportunity to showcase excess and opulence, further ruined by an excruciating father-daughter dance. The underground cave where they keep the mermaid is quasi-Pirates of the Caribbean (not the film—the ride). The special effects seem generated on an ancient laptop, with the final sequence particularly appalling. 

After dithering about souls and morality, the final platitude is “only love is immortal.” Yes. But clear storytelling and character development can be nice, too.

Rated PG, The King’s Daughter is now playing in local theaters.

Ward Melville kept pace with the visiting Commack Cougars, tied at 14 all going into the halftime break, but Commack dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Patriots to surge to a 12-point lead. The Patriots unable to answer the Commack offense onslaught fell to the Cougars, 48-35, in the League II matchup Jan. 24.

Fiona Kernaghan led the way for the Cougars with 17 points, and Jordan DiPrima banked 13, while Deanna Pagliaro netted eight. The Patriots Julia Greek scored two triples, four from the floor and a free throw leading her team with 15 points.

The win lifts the Cougars to 8-2 in league, 11-5 overall, and the loss drops the Patriots to 6-4, 9-5 overall. 

The Northport Tigers came to visit the Newfield Wolverines in a League II matchup Jan. 21, where Newfield, after taking the early lead, stayed within striking distance until late in the game. Northport at 8-0 cashed in on a pair of technical fouls against Newfield to add five uncontested points from the charity stripe to put the game away, 47-35.

Newfield senior Josh Jacob did his damage down low to lead his team in scoring with 10, Kyle Miliano netted eight, and Hamza Yousef banked seven.

Brendan Carr led the way for Northport with 15. Nick Watts scored nine, and J.J Ahlstrand and Dylan McNaughton added seven points apiece.

The win lifts Northport to 9-0 to stay atop the League II leaderboard. Newfield slips to 6-3 in league, 9-6 overall, with five games remaining before post season play begins.

Clark Gillies, a former member of the New York Islanders, died Jan. 21 at the age of 67. The Greenlawn resident played left wing for the Islanders when they won four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83.

Members of Huntington’s Town Board, Supervisor Ed Smyth and councilmembers Eugene Cook, Joan Cergol, Dave Bennardo and Sal Ferro remembered the hockey player in a joint statement where they called him “a pillar of our community” and said he had a “larger-than-life personality.”

“His ice hockey career is legendary, eclipsed only by the great work he did after he hung up his skates,” the board wrote. “Clark always ensured that the spotlight reflected off of him onto a variety of worthy causes, including a new pediatric wing at Huntington Hospital.”

The hockey player founded the Hauppauge-based Clark Gillies Foundation. The nonprofit helps children who are physically, developmentally or financially challenged through medical services, family financial aid, events to enhance a child’s quality of life and more, according to the foundation’s website.

In addition to Huntington Hospital’s pediatric and pediatric emergency units named for Gillies, the foundation has also partnered with former Islander Pat LaFontaine’s organization to create the Brianna’s Cub Room at the hospital.

Huntington Hospital executive director, Dr. Nick Fitterman, commented on Gillies passing.

“On the ice, Clark Gillies was known as an enforcer, but to us at Huntington Hospital he was known for his friendship, generosity and work with children,” Fitterman said. “Mr. Gillies was an extremely kind and tender person, really a big teddy bear. He would deliver gifts to children during the holidays, and he treated everyone he met with respect. His legacy will live on through the Clark Gillies Pediatric Emergency Unit at Huntington Hospital. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

Kathleen Lanese, of Kings Park, and Elyse Henn, of Ronkonkoma, both worked on fundraisers with Gillies when he participated in the annual golf outings organized by the nonprofit Michael W. McCarthy Foundation. They also volunteered for the Clark Gillies Foundation in the past.

Lanese said it was a privilege meeting Gillies after watching him play for the Islanders when she would attend games with her father and described the hockey player as warm, generous and funny.

“In addition to his incredible work with his own foundation, he never hesitated to extend his generosity to other organizations,” Lanese said. “He supported all my charity events with sponsorships, signed jerseys and his presence — he never said no, and I usually didn’t even have to ask. He took a genuine interest in my boys, both on the autism spectrum, and how autism affected families like ours.”

Henn echoed the sentiments.

“He had enough smiles, love and stories for everyone,” Henn said. “He had a true love of life and his community. If you met him once, he treated you like a friend. He was truly one of a kind. Not just a hockey legend, but a true gentleman and friend. He will be truly missed. He had a zest for life that is inspiring.”

Before playing hockey, Gillies played three seasons of minor-league baseball with the Houston Astros farm team, according to the foundation’s website. When the Canadian native switched sports, he played junior hockey with the Regina Pats for three seasons in the Western Hockey League. He was drafted to the Islanders in 1974. He went on to be a 1st team All-Star in 1978 and 1979. He was MVP in the 1979 Challenge Cup series versus the Soviets, where he played for the Canadian team.

In 1986, Gillies was drafted to the Buffalo Sabres and in 1988 he retired from hockey. He was inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, and in 2002 he was elected into the NHL Hall of Fame.

According to Gillies’ obituary in The New York Times, he is survived by his wife, Pam; daughters Brianna Bourne, Jocelyn Schwarz and Brooke Kapetanakos; and eight grandchildren.

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Tackan Elementary School students officially got into the swing at their new playground on Jan. 13.

With the temperature reaching the upper-40s and the sun brightly shining with no wind, Barbara Beard and Kelly Bennis’ third grade students became the first of several classes to use the new playground throughout the school day.

Students shouted, “I’m so excited!” and, “This is so cool!” and, “It’s like a wild carnival ride!” as they approached and then began using the state-of-the-art new playground.

The playground includes eight swings, a pair of slides and several other climbing structures. One swing even resembles a car seat for those who may have accessibility issues with a traditional playground swing.

Staff, including the entire group of cafeteria workers, were so excited by the Tackan addition, they posed for photos on Day 1 of its use.

The playground is part of Director of Facilities Daniel Leddy and the Smithtown Central School District’s ongoing project to try to introduce one new playground annually around the district, provided the budget continues to allow it.

By Heidi Sutton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) has been active in the community for years as a past president of the Three Village Civic Association and a member of the school district’s board of education. However, after being elected into office last year, he had the opportunity to learn even more about the Three Village area.

When he had the opportunity to visit the American Legion Irving Hart Post 1766 in Setauket, he realized the post members needed help with repairs, starting with the roof. Knowing people in the home improvement industry and also the ins and outs of fundraising, Kornreich made a promise to the post members that he would get the roof repaired.

The councilman took the job on as a personal mission and said it wouldn’t require any financial help from the town. The roof was repaired in December with materials donated by Home Depot and anonymous donors sending in money to honor post members including Capt. Hugh P. Sheppard and Korean War veteran Carlton “Hub” Edwards who is treasurer of the post. Thanks to the donations, workers were paid to replace the roof which is just the first step of the post being restored.

Joe Bova, the post’s community liaison, said he was grateful for Kornreich following through on the project and that he never met someone that showed so much kindness and respect.

“I never met someone who says something and actually does it,” Bova said.

Kornreich said he has been intrigued for years by the history of the American Legion post, which was established after World War II by members of the mixed-heritage Black and Native American community who lived in the Bethel-Christian Avenue-Laurel Hill Historic District area. The residents built the post from community members’ contributions including the land donated by Irving Hart’s sister, Rachel.

The councilman said the stories of those who have belonged to the post over the years are also interesting to learn. “When you walk into the post, on the wall, there are maybe 100 photographs of men and women in uniform who were stationed all over the world,” he said.

According to Kornreich and Edwards, a fundraiser will be established in the future for additional interior renovations. Edwards said the post members are grateful for the roof replacement.

“We’d like to thank everyone who took part in the donations for the roof to be completed,” Edwards said.

Kornreich echoed the sentiment.

“I’m so proud to see that Three Village recognizes the cultural and historical importance of this structure, and the people who have been using it for almost 75 years,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the time when this will once again be a thriving and active place our community can enjoy.”

J & L Dream Productions, Inc. have announced their newest Long Island Queens! On Jan. 16at the Madison Theatre at Molloy College, Jessica Fuentes from Massapequa was crowned Miss Long Island Teen 2022 and Nadgeena Jerome from Baldwin was crowned Miss Long Island 2022. The event was held at the Madison Theatre at Molloy College in Rockville Centre.

They will begin their year of appearances promoting their platforms and engaging in the Long Island community. Jessica will be promoting her platform of mental health awareness and Nadgeena will be promoting her advocacy of mental health awareness through her initiative #reversethestigma.

Later this year, the 2022 queens will compete for the titles of Miss New York USA® and Miss New York Teen USA®, a title that is no stranger to the Long Island Pageants.

Top 5 Finalists Miss:

Miss Long Island 2022, Nadgeena Jerome, Baldwin; 1st Runner Up, Maxine Cesar, Valley Stream; 2nd Runner Up, Moumita Khondakar, Dix Hills; 3rd Runner Up, Lianne Webb, Baldwin, 4th Runner Up, Candace Johnson, Amityville

Top 5 Finalists Teen:

Miss Long Island Teen 2022, Jessica Fuentes, Massapequa; 1st Runner Up, Angelica Rivera, Merrick; 2nd Runner Up, Kennedy Ramos, Oceanside; 3rd Runner Up, Abigaille St. Fort, Valley Steam; 4th Runner Up, Gabriella Abruzzo, Massapequa

Other Award Winners:

Miss Photogenic Teen: Abigaille St. Fort, Valley Stream; Miss Photogenic: Janette Sheldrick, Centereach; Community Queen Teen: Emily Hall, Valley Stream; Community Queen Miss: Madisyn King, Shoreham; Directors Award Teen: Madeleine Cannon, Massapequa; Directors Award Miss: Lianne Webb, Baldwin; and Pageantry Spirit Award: Matessa Turner, Amityville

Also, I Am An Inspiration Teen: Angelica Rivera, Merrick; I Am An Inspiration Miss: Katrina Albanese, Center Moriches; Leader of Tomorrow Award Teen: Kennedy Ramos, Oceanside; Leader of Tomorrow Award Miss: Nadgeena Jerome, Baldwin; People’s Choice Teen: Erin Garnier & Sofia Garnier, Valley Stream; People’s Choice Miss: Candace Johnson, Amityville; Miss Congeniality Teen: Madeleine Cannon, Massapequa; and Miss Congeniality: Katrina Albanese, Center Moriches.

To follow Miss Long Island and Miss Long Island Teen’s journey to the state title or to request the 2022 queens for an appearance, please contact [email protected] For more information on how you can become the next Miss Long Island or Miss Long Island Teen, visit www.lipageants.com.

The North Country Peace Group hosted a birthday commemoration for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday, Jan. 15, at the corner of Route 25A and Bennetts Road in Setauket. Community members came together to remember King with songs, music and speeches. Photos by Myrna Gordon

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Ward Melville shined in the Tony Toro track meet at Suffolk County Community College Sunday morning, Jan. 16, where the 4 x 800 relay team put in a solid performance clocking in at nine minutes and 12.45 seconds for third place.

John Heraghty ran the grueling 3200-meter event with a time of 11:17.13 which placed him fifth overall. Sophomore Adam Marotto placed eighth in shot put with a 31-0.72 throw, while teammate James McGarrity threw 32-7 good enough for fifth. Jack Geraghty placed second with a throw of 34.6.75.

Julian Smith, a senior, won at 1600-meter distance with a time of 4:48.56, and senior Harrison Reduto placed first in the 55-meter hurdle event tripping the clock at 8.87 well ahead of the second-place finisher.