03/26/15 7:00am
Bill Kitzerow (left), Susan Wojcik and Manning Dandridge star in 'Over the Hills and Through the Woods.' (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Bill Kitzerow (left), Susan Wojcik and Manning Dandridge star in ‘Over the River and Through the Woods.’ (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Long Island has one of the largest Italian-American populations in the country and, while North Fork Community Theatre’s current production of “Over the River and Through the Woods” speaks right to Italian-Americans, the subject matter is relatable to just about anyone.  (more…)

01/23/15 7:00am

Performances of ‘Moon over Buffalo’ continue through Feb. 1 at the North Fork Community Theatre. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Theater can serve as an opportunity to explore and provoke profound ideas and emotion. It also can serve as a brief respite from our day-to-day woes. If a little escapism is what you’re looking for during these dark, cold midwinter evenings, head on down to North Fork Community Theatre, where that vacation from reality, along with plenty of laughter, awaits.

George and Charlotte Hay, a once-famed acting couple, have been reduced to running their own traveling troupe, alternating “Cyrano De Bergerac” and “Private Lives” in repertory in Buffalo. George is quite happy to remain on stage, but Charlotte wants to go to Hollywood and be a movie star. Their daughter, Rosalind, who gave up the stage for a “normal life,” returns for a visit with her new fiancé, Howard, a television weatherman, right about when Charlotte discovers another of George’s dalliances — this time with Eileen, the company ingénue.

The troupe includes Charlotte’s nearly deaf mother, Ethel, and Paul, the stage manager and Rosalind’s former fiancé, who is still in love with her and wants her to return to the theater life. Richard, the company’s lawyer, also pays a visit, and we discover he is in love with Charlotte. Add to the mix a phone call from Hollywood informing them that Frank Capra will be at the matinee to consider them for the leads in his new movie.

Director Robert Horn and his producer, John Hudson, have put together a classic community theater cast, which covers a range from seasoned pros to nearly newbies. And this time, the mix works wonderfully, thanks to Mr. Horn’s guidance — and his funny-bone. There is much physical comedy in this play and it all comes together expertly.

Phil Eberhardt, known for his skillful dramatic work, is hilarious as the self-centered, womanizing George. He handles the lightning pace like the pro he is, and even makes the character more sympathetic than he deserves. Dee Martin, as Charlotte, complements Mr. Eberhardt’s level of performance. They are well-matched to play this kooky couple.

Mary Vienneau steals the stage each time she enters. Ethel says what’s on her mind, caustic or kind, and though sometimes Ethel’s responses when she can’t hear well provide some of the best laughs, it’s the times she does hear well and the others assume she cannot that bring down the house.

Ryan Farrell, as Paul, and Kelly Lynn Cassidy, as Rosalind, have a nice chemistry; you find yourself rooting for them to get back together. Christopher Smith brings a geeky goofiness to poor Howard, and his laugh is priceless. Lena Trbojevic is pretty and fitting as the innocent ingénue, Eileen, and Jim Pearsall does a fine job as the besotted lawyer, Richard.

Watching Ken Ludwig’s “Moon Over Buffalo” is what it must feel like to watch a hilarious sitcom filmed live. The players all look like they are having such a blast up there. I won’t name names, but an actor or two — and they know who they are — broke character once or twice and we caught them suppressing giggles, à la Jimmy Fallon on “Saturday Night Live.” This is something that actors themselves never want to do, but we in the audience absolutely love it. With the play’s fast pace and wacky action, we delight in seeing that the actors find the jokes as irresistibly funny as we do.

All the technical aspects were up to NFCT’s high standards, including Deanna Andes’ nostalgic costume design of the era and the flattering lighting design by David and Charles Scheer.

This production of “Moon Over Buffalo” is the perfect way to warm up a frigid winter’s eve!


‘Moon Over Buffalo’
North Fork Community Theatre, 12700 Old Sound Ave., Mattituck
Performances continue Jan. 23, 24, 30 and 31 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 at 2:30 p.m.
For tickets, visit nfct.com or call 631-298-NFCT (6328).

11/21/14 6:00am
The first performance of 'Godspell' is scheduled for Friday at the (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Performances of ‘Godspell’ are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Jamesport Meeting House. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

“Godspell” is a musical retelling of the Gospel According to Matthew, in which Jesus shares parables with his followers. It seems fitting, then, that this year’s annual production by Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre — temporarily homeless due to renovations at the high school — would land in the historic Jamesport Meeting House, which has its own history of religious services and has had numerous “resurrections” of its own over the last 275 years.  (more…)

10/31/14 12:00pm

‘The Boy Friend’ runs through Nov. 9 at North Fork Community Theatre. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Sandy Wilson’s “The Boy Friend” is the latest spirited musical production to be offered by North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck. Set in France during the Roaring Twenties, this play may be light on plot but it is strong on engaging song-and-dance numbers and laughs.  (more…)

05/21/14 8:49am
Alexis Monetti (from left), Kristen Alestra and Matt Senese in a scene from "Into the Woods" at North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Alexis Monetti (from left), Kristen Alestra and Matt Senese in a scene from “Into the Woods” at North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

“Once upon a time” is a phrase filled with the promise of adventure, thrills, true love, lessons learned and happy endings. And so begins “Into the Woods,” a musical that combines numerous well-known fairy tales into its own unique story that offers all of the above and more.

If you have never seen “Into the Woods,” written by James Lapine with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, you need to catch North Fork Community Theatre’s current production. If you have seen it and are a fan, as I am, you won’t want to miss the chance to enjoy it once again. (more…)

11/15/12 2:32pm
Doralee Rhodes, played by Kimet Speed, confronts her boss, Mr. Hart, played by James Zay).

JOHN NEELY PHOTO | Doralee Rhodes, played by Kimet Speed, confronts her boss, Mr. Hart, played by James Zay).

Many great (and not-so-great) movies have had their origins on the stage. Hollywood saw the popularity of classics like “Camelot” and “Fiddler on the Roof” and brought them to a wider audience via film. But sometimes this oft-repeated process reverses, as with “The Lion King” and “Hairspray.” This is also the case with “9 to 5,” which is based on the 1980 film starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton, and is Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre’s current offering.

Set in what appears to be the late ’70s, most of the action takes place at a large, impersonal corporation. The show opens with high energy to the foot-stomping “9 to 5.” Everyone is waking up and heading to their dreary jobs at Consolidated Industries. During this number, we meet our three leading ladies. Judy is beginning her first day at Consolidated, having had to find a job after her husband squanders their money and leaves her for his secretary. Violet, office supervisor and widowed mom, takes Judy under her wing. Doralee is the buxom secretary constantly dealing with the lecherous Mr. Hart.

We watch as these women slowly find a bond in their struggle against the tide of chauvinism. When they finally decide to fight back, will they go too far? If you haven’t seen the movie, you just might be surprised.

The book is written by Patricia Resnick, with music and lyrics by the indomitable Dolly Parton, who played Doralee in the movie. Due to Ms. Parton’s often caricaturish appearance, it’s easy to forget what a truly talented songwriter she is, and this is a play full of wonderful songs, some haunting and some hilarious.

Director Michael Horn has put together a lively and enthusiastic cast, but his true stroke of perfection is the casting of his three leading ladies.

Jan McKenna is perfect as the ambitious Violet. She is professional and strong in her business suits, yet shows her vulnerable side when pursued by a colleague. Her duet “Let Love Grow,” with Joe, played earnestly by Brandon Hollborn, is particularly sweet.

As Doralee, the role Ms. Parton created for herself, Kimet Speed is hilarious in her “double Ds.” But she also wears her heart on her sleeve, as she does singing “Backwoods Barbie,” and she moves us.

Jayne Freeman, as Judy, conveys both innocence and strength, and is a standout among standouts. Her solo, “Get Out and Stay Out,” nearly brought down the house.

Another standout is Laura Nitti as Roz, the office busybody who is obsessed with Mr. Hart. She had the audience in tears of laughter (at least I was) during her performance of “Heart to Hart,” during which she shares her romantic fantasies.

James Zay plays the obnoxious Hart with just the right touch of slimy arrogance. The always enjoyable Rebecca Mincieli portrays Maria, a secretary who is undeservedly fired. Will someone give this young woman a lead role, please? Patti Hausch turns in a believable and hilarious performance as Margaret, the office lush.

The supporting cast is equally on target: Rick Sicoli, Meagan Schmid, Susan Ehlers, Alecki Lui, Glenn Abramowitz, Rowland Hautsch, Peter Dunbar, Amanda Mouzakes and Siri Fink. The ensemble is also great — synched and in the moment and believable: Kathleen Colihan, Kathryn Wever, Corinne Araneo, Pat Speed, Peter Nolan and Tony Peraza.
Anita Boyer’s choreography is packed with diversity and fun, and it’s worth noting as almost being a distinct character of its own — as is the tight orchestra led by musical director Marguerite Volonts. This orchestra is one of the best I’ve heard locally in a long time.

All the elements have come together for a super-fun evening of musical comedy. Congratulations to Mr. Horn and producer Patti Hautsch for a sure-fire hit.

Performances continue at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17, at Riverhead High School. General admission, 15; students, $5 (at door only).

Jan McKenna (left) as Violet Newstead and Jayne Freeman as Judy Bernly.

JOHN NEELY PHOTOS | Jan McKenna (left) as Violet Newstead and Jayne Freeman as Judy Bernly.

Brandon Hollborn and Rebecca Mincieli.

Brandon Hollborn and Rebecca Mincieli.

Laura Nitti as Roz Keith and James Zay as Franklin Hart Jr.

Laura Nitti as Roz Keith and James Zay as Franklin Hart Jr.

From left: Kimet Speed, Jayne Freeman and James Zay.

From left: Kimet Speed, Jayne Freeman and James Zay.