Review: Community theater at its best in ‘Annie’

11/16/2010 10:24 PM |

If I ruled the world I would make it mandatory for every woman, man and child to rush to Riverhead High School and see Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre’s production of “Annie,” as it exemplifies the best of both community and theater. Plus, it’s just so much fun! I left the theater in love with the North Fork all over again, because we can do something this grand and have it supported by the community.
And this was not a small segment of the community — this show is immense — with a cast of what feels like thousands, an orchestra and even a dog. And it was all done so very well. This show made me proud to be a part of this community; after months of political contentiousness I felt happy again as I left the theater.
Maybe that’s why live theater is so important: to mirror life in a way that just makes us smile, as the show “Annie” does. Set in 1933, right in the middle of the Great Depression, the show is full of mischievous orphans, singing vagrants, a mega-rich philanthropist and even the beleaguered president of the United States, all looking for a way out of the economic hardships of the Depression and finding answers from a little red-headed girl who doesn’t have enough sense to lose hope when life isn’t looking up. Sound timely? You bet.
The comedian W.C. Fields coined the adage, “Never work with children or animals.” Thomas Meehan, the author of “Annie,” proves him wrong with most extraordinary results. It’s only fair to start with the young lady who carries the title role. Ella Watts-Gorman is just delightful and can really sing. In the great spirit that suffused the audience the night I attended, several of the little girls around me were singing every word with her — it was as if Annie was “everygirl.” Ms. Watts-Gorman brings to the role of Annie something that often eludes young performers: a stillness and focus that makes it impossible not to watch her every move. She has a simple, clear singing style appropriate for her age that I much prefer to the swooping and gliding that afflicts many child performers. Well done.
There are 30 young ladies in the production — grubby little orphans all — and they are the cutest group that you or I are likely to see for a long, long time. They sing, they dance, they stomp on people’s feet. Molly, played by Ainsley Hipp, is just the sweetest thing ever. I appreciate the toughness of the rough-and-tumble Ashley Graziano, Victoria Carroll, Lauren Schmitt and Kate Garthe, who bring energy and joy to their parts. And what can I say about the adorable Lindsey Garthe except, “Oh, my goodness!” The entire orphan chorus is just perfect. They work together and therefore shine individually.
One of the theater’s great comic villainesses is Miss Hannigan, the orphanage’s headmistress, played to the hilt by Jan McKenna. When she sang “Little Girls” I felt for her. That’s the sign of a well-played villain, when every now and then you have empathy for his or her plight.
Oliver Warbucks is played with both restraint and elegance by Robert Boedeker, who sings with a lyricism that gives pathos to the gruff Mr. Warbucks. Grace Farrell, Mr. Warbucks’ secretary/gal Friday, as played by Lauren Sisson, has the sweetness and charm of a time gone by. The two of them have  warmth and connection. They are the calm in the center of this madcap romp and they are both lovely to watch.
Oh, my goodness! There are so many things I want to tell you about. I also want to sing the praises of the entire ensemble, which brings the show’s time and place to life. The orchestra that supports the singers — not an easy feat. Rooster and Lily, played by James Stevens and Erin McKenna with hilarious villainy. Dhonna Goodale — I noticed: you rock. Mr. President (Michael Horn), I salute you. The hilarious Boylan Sisters, bravi. And everyone who kept this immense boat of a show afloat and sailing strong — particularly its director, Robert Horn, and producer, Susan Hockett.
I overheard a gaggle of young girls chatting among themselves as I left the theater: “What was your favorite part?” one high-pitched little voice queried; “Every part!” was the riposte. I concur.

Annie
Presented by Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre. Performances continue at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 19 and 20, at Riverhead High School, Harrison Avenue. For tickets, call 725-2009.

479 Comment

  • Great show!!!

  • Everything depends on what your deed says!!!!

  • That’s neighborly.

    As for giving the Trustees more leeway, no thanks. Let’s have the same rules apply to everyone.

  • The woman is a bitch, plain and simple.

  • Seems to me Ms. Rivera is well within her rights and it sounds like “sour grapes” from the peanut gallery! As far as Mr. Cleary’s story goes I think he should look in the mirror because his nose seems to be growing at an “incredible” rate. No pun intended.

  • clearly the picture shown is NOT the the normal tide and speaking about “clear,” what is Mr. Cleary doing climbing over the Rivera’s fence other than to trespass? Seems to me all Mr. Cleary had to do was walk east on the public beach to get his needed exercise. Guess he wasn’t thinking too clearly!

  • If you look into the deeds of past owners, you will find that she does indeed own down to the mean high tide mark, but obviously that mark has been moved by nature & now the mean high tide mark is closer to their property. The problem comes in when you try defining what the phrase “mean high tide” is.
    I grew up on long island sound- my family is one of the original settling families in the area & I’m related to many of the other settling families on the north fork & in Mattituck specifically. I was told (by my father & grandfather both) that the “mean high tide” was the highest the tide got when there was no storm: in other words, when the moon is full. That would be up to the cliffs now that the sand has eroded so badly.

    Before the US was even an independant country, the King of England granted the right of ALL citizens to have full & unimpeded use of the beaches. This includes sunning, swimming, etc. If the people are above the mean high mark, then the Riveras are correct in asking them to move: if they are below the line, then they have no right to say anything, as long as the people are not bothering anything (Example- excessive noise, leaving garbage, etc.)

    Beach lover- what if you started walking on the beach & were told that you could NOT walk off the town beach property because some greedy, controlling ‘person’ didn’t want you on “THEIR” property? How would you like that? Because that’s where this is all leading to. Guess YOU weren’t thinking too clearly!

    If you buy beachfront property, you are aware that you can have papers drawn up to say that you “own” the beach as well, aren’t you? That doesn’t mean that you have changed the ownership- just means that you paid to have that paper drawn up. The ORIGINAL DEEDS (previous owners) is what should prevail, & probably would have had the town’s lawyers referanced them & presented them to the state courts.

    Life was SO much nicer before the non-locals came out & started making up their own rules.

  • See my reply above-

  • This is a sad day. Fences should not be allowed on beaches.

  • If the fence is below the high tide mark then it is like any other piece of driftwood and can be salvaged for the fireplace!

  • And another thing- The fence will be “grandfathered in”? The permit should never have been given to her in the first place! (IMHO) Ask anyone on the beach more than weekends- like a fisherman that’s always on the beach- & they’ll tell you that the sand goes in & out & the beaches of the Sound are eroding more & more with each storm. Look at some old pictures from 50+ years ago & you’ll be shocked at how much has been lost. Seems to me that Ms Rivera could put her concern & $$ to better uses- like worrying about the pollution of the Sound & what to do to help clean it up- or doesn’t she mind having EColi floating around in front of her? Not to mention all the other stuff that washes up or floats by.

  • What a sad situation is right. Since when do people own the beach or sand. When I lived there we would always walk the beach and search for shells and driftwood and really enjoyed the walk. This man that walks the beach for his heart should be able to do so without hoppin over someones stupid fence. These people that have moved into Greenport sure have taken over the town haven”t they.I can’t believe all the changes that have happened to our nice town in the years. Some of theses people need to go back to the big cities and leave the nice towns alone for the people to enjoy for their time.
    50′s Girl

  • This has been a problem in Riverhead Town as well, and probably in other beachfront communities.

    The problem is particularly complex at Mattituck, because of the inlet jetties. The littoral drift of sand along the Sound shore is from west to east. The breakwater jetties cause accretion (buildup) on the beach to the west, and scours out the beach to the east. That’s why neighbors on either side fight for shortening of the jetties, or to keep them as they are, as has happened at Goldsmith’s Inlet.

    Nobody wants unwanted visitors lounging in their front yard, but nobody wants homeowners blocking legal access to the beach below the mean high water mark.

    Landowners on the west side have seen their property expanded. If the mean high water mark changes, their property shrinks. In that case, their fences should be shortened.

    “Hardening” of the shoreline through bulkheading, groins and jetties, boulder walls, etc. seriously decrease the natural transport of sand along the shoreline, exacerbating problems, as seen in the notorious Westhampton Beach groin controversy, where many houses were lost to the ocean as a result of blocked sand transport scouring out beaches downstream of a jetty field. (The sand on the South shore moves from east to west.)

    Many erosion studies have focused on the South shore, but relatively few on the Sound shore.

    Take a look at “Mattituck Inlet,NY” on Google Earth, and the buildup and scouring of sand on respective sides of the jetties is obvious.

  • So, after the storms, who determines where the mean high water mark is now?

  • Seems that there is a small click that have nothing better to do then to try to harass people…Property rights must be respected… Are these complainers American? ….. If THEIR property rights were questioned they would really have something to complain about. They should concentrate on important issues in the community. Mrs. Rivera has unselfishly done more for this community then these goons can every take credit for.

  • Local Since Birth, You are so misinformed… come into the 21 century. NYS courts once again upheld the rights of waterfront property ownership to the mean high tide. The captioned picture was obviously taken during a storm. Shows how desperate people are to spin an issue.

  • Beachlover is right- there is so much beach to the east of Rivera, there should never be an excuse not to be able to get your exercise. The only time you need to traverse the Rivera’s fence is on a storm tide or extreme high tide. A majority of the time there is no issue walking the beach. The man who hurt his back climbing the fence rather than turning around and walking the expanse of beach to the east is clearly not thinking straight or is lying. Risking personal injury in an effort to make a point when there so much beach to the east is just plain stupid. This is nothing more than a neighborhood dispute. I hope the neighbors sue so a judge can put an end to it once and for all.

  • this rude, selfish, ignorant woman comes into Mattituck with all her big money, and tries to take over the beach. Ive lived down that way my entire life – there used to be a cute little house right there, …that was picked up and moved up the road, and that monstrosity was built in place. Nice how it blocks the beautiful view of the beach coming down the hill, huh? It looks like a B&B. She built up the other walkway entrance/exit to the dead end, with sand and bushes, so the path that had been there all my life and for years before me, is no longer there. She must have Southold PD on speed dial, because i can count on 2 hands and 2 feet the amout of people who i know from town that have had issues with her… her harrassing people, who do no more that walk down to enjoy the beach. Police, instead of being available to tend to accidents, emergencies, calls, ect… have to waste time to put up with this womans imature bs. I dunno how many times ive seen a police car in her driveway. I didnt realize she was God, just because she could afford an expensive home on our lovely beach, in our lovely community. its a beach. if i wanna walk the shoreline in front of ur house, u shouldnt say boo to me lady. grow up. Between the piping plovers and this woman… its becoming quite depressing down at breakwater 2. i pray that karma is real.

  • Sad, sad, sad. What does the future hold? Maybe fences down to the mean high tide mark as far as the eye can see. Everyone who is not as fortunate as Ms. Rivera will be left with a small dead end beach to walk around in a circle at. Make the right move now and a bigger problem down the road will be avoided. Fences are for animals!!!! Not loving human beings.

  • The ignorance of those who think they are entitled to someones back yard! For those who have nothing to do, please count the waves on a stormy day.

    Don’t interfere with something that ain’t bothering you none
    ~ Old Wild west Talk

  • when someone else pays my property taxes i will be more than happy to let them climb my fence and trespass to get their much needed exercise,but until then mr. cleary and mr. calabro et. al. should respect people’s property rights.what makes people think that beachfront property is public and not private and that they have the right to trespass? these people should spend their time and energies doing something meaningful for the community .

  • it’s a shame that the rich think they own the beach

  • the town has got to be kidding me by issuing the woman a permit to do such a thing. You own up to the mean high water mark lady!!! You’re impeding fisherman and beach walkers with your piece of crap fence. elitist suck!!!

  • Tis is a great woman, she has transformed this sleepy village into a thriving Astoria-like neighborhood! No more nusance side yards, no more stupid little houses on oversized lots, build it big and block that sea air! no one wants the hot sun peeping into their windows, sunsets? seen one you’ve seen them all. Look she is very popular with the Town Hall, all those big houses she builds bring in big tax bucks, as far as her own big house well she needs it as she runs her General Contracting business out of it! Her husband is constantly getting harassed by the beach people and he has to call the Police! He spends hours out on that big deck receiving dirty looks from little kids and such that he has no recourse. Yes leave her alone, lets build up and oversize every house on that strip!

  • Wow I must have missed all that community service, are you talking about improving every new house by overdeveloping the neighborhood? Or is it her taking Lemonaid down to the little kids on her beach?

  • How about a big brick wall? This way all the people from Astoria will have something to write grafetti on (Town Beach side only, not allowed on her side)

  • She does mush for this community, early this spring the Town of Southold put a UGLY sign on her fence, it must have been ordered by someone who hates her as it was 6″X6″ inches and had ugly color writing, it said “PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO USE BEACH UP TO HIGH TIDE MARK”, it was real small ugly letters and you had to squint to read it, well her gardeners took off that ugly sign, Thank God that’s unselfish community action! Yeah for her!

  • Mr. Cleary could just crawl under the fence, maybe Tina could put a rope on his wrist and drag him under the fence (Mr. Tina couldn’t because he’s a little wimp)

  • Zig Heil – Zig Heil

  • Really? I say if the high water mark has changed, so does her property line. I ain’t no newcomer here!

  • Not jealous, live right here too. just wanta share the walkway on the beach.

  • Wrong! most of the beach is west of this atrocity! Vast open beaches all the way to Riverhead and beyond!

  • Not so small and living in the shadow of a monstrosity!

  • Ok, then we are ok, there is lots of sand way down past her fence. I say everyone go walk there! Don’t linger, but you have the right to walk by. My friend was harassed for wading in the water there!

  • meant to say the beach growth,not her fence… there is room from there to the water

  • Seems like the green monster is out. This is not about a fence…this is a revenge and a lot of jealousy. Grow up, get a life. If you don’t like “Astoria” people, MOVE. I bet they were here before you..kept this “sleepy town” beautiful with character..perhaps you should hibernate until it’s time to harrass Mr. & Mrs. Rivera next summer.

  • Who do you think contacted and arranged for the water pressure to be improved In Captain Kidd Estates? Who paid and supplied the materials to renovate the bathrooms at the public beach? It wasn’t Santa. You are ignorant.

  • Gee, I thought it was Suffolk County Water and the Mattituck Park District, I didn’t know Tina runs them, boy you are one smart person, my bad.

  • Place your bet. I bet you are an ignorant bigot.