06/09/13 8:44pm
06/09/2013 8:44 PM

JOE DOLL COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead Idol winner 2013 Taylor Burgess.

Tonight, Riverhead has a new Idol.

When 16-year-old Taylor Burgess stepped onto the stage to perform, those in attendance saw a calm teenager. When she opened her mouth for the first notes of “Breathless,” a Corinne Bailey Rae song she says she loves, they heard just how talented she is.

By the time she stepped off the stage, the audience was left mesmerized.

The Riverhead High School junior, who hopes to study vocal performance and dreams of one day being famous, was the winner of tonight’s Riverhead Idol competition at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall.

After the performance, judge Dee Martin could only gush.

“That was effortless,” she said. “It was seamless. It was gorgeous.”

JOE DOLL COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead Idol 2013 winner Taylor Burgess, right, with second place finalist Ryan Mancini and third place finalist Megan Schlichting.

Ms. Burgess won a $250 cash prize, a $150 gift card to Tanger Outlet Center, $50 at The All-Star bowling alley and a trophy. Second place went to Ryan Mancini, an eighth grader from Riverhead Middle School, while third place was awarded to Megan Schlichting, a seventh grader.

When asked how she prepared for today’s competition, Ms. Burgess smiled.

“The shower,” she said with a laugh. “I sing in the shower.”

Read more about the Riverhead Idol competition in Thursday’s issue of the News-Review.

06/09/13 10:15am
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO  |  The Riverhead Blue Masques rehearse a scene in 'Fiddler on the Roof.'

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The Riverhead Blue Masques’ production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ earned a Teeny Awards nomination for choreography.

The 11th Annual Teeny Awards will be held at Southold High School today. The awards, presented by East End Arts and sponsored by Suffolk County National Bank and Riverhead Toyota, showcase the best in local high school theater.

The red carpet begins at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 at the door.

Southold, with 11 nominations, and Riverhead, with 10 nods, lead the way for local schools.

Check back this evening for a list of winners.

The nominees for all the North Fork high schools are listed alphabetically by school below:


Lead Actor in a Drama

Eliminas Abromaitis, Riverhead, “A Christmas Carol”

Jonathan Troiano, Riverhead, “A Christmas Carol”

Jamie Tuthill, McGann-Mercy, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”


Lead Actress in a Drama

Nicole Chiuchiolo, McGann-Mercy, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Brionna Cook, Riverhead, “A Christmas Carol”

Amanda Osborne, Riverhead, “A Christmas Carol”

Jordan Tapley, Riverhead, “A Christmas Carol”


Supporting Actor in a Drama

Andrew Nucatola, Riverhead, “A Christmas Carol”

Patrick O’Brien, McGann-Mercy, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”


Supporting Actress in a Drama

Danielle Allen, McGann-Mercy, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Emma Bernhardt, Riverhead, “A Christmas Carol”

Erin Plitt, Riverhead, “A Christmas Carol”

Jessica Sisti, Riverhead, “A Christmas Carol”


Lead Actor in a Comedy

Zach Fisher, Shoreham-Wading River, “Don’t Drink the Water”

Sean Mannix, Shoreham-Wading River, “Don’t Drink the Water”

Oliver Orr, Mattituck, “Are Teachers Human?”


Lead Actress in a Comedy

Maggie Daley, Shoreham-Wading River, “Don’t Drink the Water”

Gayle Gammon, Southold/Greenport co-production, “Trixie, Teen Detective”

Mally Fogarty, Mattituck, “Are Teachers Human?”

Rachel Lohrius, Shoreham-Wading River, “Don’t Drink the Water”


Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Tom Batuello, Mattituck, “Are Teachers Human?”

Anthony DeVita, Shoreham-Wading River, “Don’t Drink the Water”

Ryan Zlatniski, Mattituck, “Are Teachers Human?”


Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Nicole Chiuchiolo, McGann-Mercy, “You Can’t Take it With You”

Gwyn Foley, Mattituck, “Are Teachers Human?”

Sydney Campbell, Southold/Greenport co-production, “Trixie, Teen Detective”


Lead Actor in a Musical

Sam Bracken, Southold, “Grease”

John Drinkwater, Greenport, “Guys and Dolls”


Lead Actress in a Musical

Laura Logan, Shoreham-Wading River, “Sweeney Todd”

Susanna Kelly, Southold, “Grease”

Brianna Pagano, Greenport, “Guys and Dolls”


Supporting Actor in a Musical

Matt Drinkwater, Greenport, “Guys and Dolls”

Jack Dunne, Southold, “Grease”


Supporting Actress in a Musical

Lea Gianbruno, Shelter Island, “Legally Blonde”

Michaela Manno, Southold, “Grease”

Shelby Pickerell, Southold, “Grease”

Outstanding Performance

This category recognizes students who “shine brightly” in roles not eligible for adjudication in the leading or supporting categories.

Alexandra Lasot, Southold, Teen Angel in “Grease”

Lara Mahaffy, Southold, Ursula in “Trixie, Teen Detective”


Victoria Carroll, Riverhead, “Fiddler on the Roof”

Southold dance captains, Southold, “Grease”

Outstanding Ensemble

Mattituck, “Once Upon a Mattress”

Playbill/Poster Art

Stephen Spinelli, Shoreham-Wading River, “Sweeney Todd”

Gretchen Walter, Southold, “Trixie, Teen Detective”

Judge’s Choice Award

This noncompetitive award is given for a scene, musical number, dance number or group that the judges feel stands out enough to warrant special recognition.

The Greek Chorus, Shelter Island, “Legally Blonde”

Stage Management Recognition


Mariah Brengel, Shoreham-Wading River

Ian Byrne, McGann-Mercy

Quinn Carey, McGann-Mercy

Helen Chen, Mattituck

Jaclyn Conway, Southold-Greenport co-production

Jaclyn Conway, Southold

Mayra Gonzalez, Mattituck

Melissa Hickox, Mattituck

Julie Lindell, Shoreham-Wading River

Anne O’Rourke, Mattituck

Stephen Spinelli, Shoreham-Wading River

Jerilynn Toole, Riverhead

Sean Walden, Greenport

Rachel Williams, Riverhead

Technical Design recognition


Savannah Calderale, Southold, set design for “Grease”

Catherine Penn, Riverhead, costume design for “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Footloose”


05/26/13 12:37am
05/26/2013 12:37 AM
COURTESY PHOTO  |  Colleen Hewson of Syosset had her artwork chosen to represent this year's

COURTESY PHOTO | Colleen Hewson of Syosset had her artwork chosen to represent this year’s Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival.

Every Memorial Day weekend for the past four years, Colleen Hewson has shown off her artistic skills at the East End Arts’ Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival.

At this year’s festival, which starts Sunday, Ms. Hewson’s artwork will be prominently featured. The 17-year-old Syosset High School student created the artwork that’s being used to represent this year’s festival. Ms. Hewson said she loves to draw, paint and take photos. Next year she plans to attend a university in Austria to take a general studies program with a goal of earning a degree in early childhood education.

The festival is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. on the grounds of of East End Arts and along the Peconic River in downtown Riverhead.

The event features plenty of entertainment, including live music and gourmet food trucks. A rain date is Monday.

Click here for more information.

05/12/13 10:00am
05/12/2013 10:00 AM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Ellie Schultz, a 9-year-old ballerina from Jamesport, warming up at the Mo Chuisle Moya Strast School of Dance in Mattituck.

Her auburn hair pulled back into a tight bun, 9-year-old Ellie Schultz practices jetés on the hardwood floors.

Ellie, who is small for her age, leaps swiftly from one foot to the other across the small studio in Mattituck, her freckled face a canvas of concentration.

“You missed a step,” instructor Cheryl Kiel tells Ellie. “Do it again,” she says encouragingly.

Uncomplaining, the ballerina completes several more series of jumps, not seeming to tire. Only once, after a set of particularly successful jetés, does Ellie allow herself to convey any emotion. She glances quickly at herself in a large mirror.

She grins.

Ellie has good reason to smile. The Aquebogue Elementary School third-grader was recently accepted to the American Ballet Theatre’s Young Dancer Summer Workshop, a fiercely competitive two-week program in New York City. She was encouraged to audition by Ms. Kiel, who owns Mo Chuisle Moya Strast School of Dance on Pike Street and has instructed Ellie in Russian ballet for the past four years.

DEBORAH SCHULTZ COURTESY PHOTO | Ellie performing at a dance recital in 2012.

“She’s the first student I’ve had that I felt was ready for the program,” Ms. Kiel says. “I told her mom from the first time I gave her a private lesson that I knew she had special talent. Being a ballet dancer myself I can see the feet, the body, the alignment. I knew if she had the correct training she would probably be able to do something [with it].”

“I think it might be cool to try it,” Ellie says shyly of the Young Dancer Summer Workshop, for which she auditioned in January. The 14-day program, which begins at the end of July and will be held at ABT’s dance studio in Union Square, is for dancers ages 9 through 12. For five days each week, Ellie will take ballet classes and attend educational workshops on topics such as nutrition and technique.

Ballet has been a part of the Jamesport girl’s life for nearly as long as she can remember. When Ellie was in kindergarten, her mother, Debbie Schultz, signed her up for one of Ms. Kiel’s group ballet classes. The then-5-year-old had joined the class a few months later than her peers so Ms. Schultz, who works for Honeywell, a technology company, enrolled her daughter in private lessons with Ms. Kiel to help her catch up with the other students for an upcoming recital. Ellie learned the material quickly and began to flourish. She now comes to Mo Chuisle four days a week and dances alongside teenagers in an advanced class.

“She quickly fell in love with ballet,” Ms. Schultz says of her eldest child. She and her husband, Fred, who owns Sterlington Deli in Greenport, also have a 6-year-old daughter, Sadie.

Her raw talent aside, Ellie’s determination and studious approach to ballet help set her further apart from other dancers her age.

When she was 6, the wisp of a girl walked into the dance studio wearing a white tutu and clutching the sheet music for “Giselle,” a famous French ballet in which she was set to perform a solo during an upcoming recital.

“I need to do it again,” Ms. Kiel remembers Ellie telling her. “I don’t have the timing right.”

“That’s when I knew she was different,” Ms. Kiel recalled.

Ms. Kiel grew up in Babylon and has been teaching Russian ballet, which emphasizes the development of a strong upper body and use of the arms, for 12 years. As a teenager, she trained seven days a week with a number of teachers, including Yuli Zorov, a graduate of the internationally famous Bolshoi School in Moscow. This particular afternoon, Ellie is practicing a solo from the comic ballet “Coppélia,” which she’ll perform in June in a recital at Pulaski Street School in Riverhead. After doing some pliés at the barre to warm up, the 9-year-old waits, her tiny body composed but relaxed, for the music to start. When it does, the song, with its intense dramatic flair, provides a stark contrast to Ellie’s innocent face. As she dances, she exhibits a gracefulness unusual for a 9-year-old girl: it’s almost womanly, with focused but fluid movements.

“All little girls love ballet; when Ellie dances you can see that she has something extra,” says Linda Stavrinos, the mother of one of Elllie’s classmates. “You can just see it.”

Ellie’s talent is undisputed, but when the ballet slippers come off, she’s a 9-year-old who likes writing, playing lacrosse and going to sleepovers at a friend’s house. When asked what she likes about ballet, she answers, “My teacher.”

“We never really pushed her, Fred and I,” Ms. Schultz says. “We always ask her, ‘Do you still want to continue? Is this what you want to do?’ She has always wanted to take more classes. She loves being here.”

Does she want to be a ballerina when she gets older?

“Sure. Maybe. I don’t know,” the girl says.

And then, perhaps pondering the future, she smiles.


05/09/13 2:10pm
05/09/2013 2:10 PM

Llewyn 1

A new trailer for “Inside Llewyn Davis,” the latest film by the Coen Brothers that filmed in Riverhead last year, features two shots of the sets in town.

The red-band trailer, which was released yesterday, includes two quick scenes filmed at a Riverhead potato barn and a town water district property that were converted to look like 1960s gas stations last March.

The first Riverhead location seen in the trailer is the potato barn on Northville Turnpike which comes on screen at the 1:11 mark as seen in the photo above.

Llewyn 2
The water district property at the intersection of Northville Turnpike and County Road 105 is featured 1:26 into the trailer.

(You can watch the full trailer here. Warning: the trailer has been rated R for strong language and sexual references.)

The movie, a period piece about a folk singer set in 1961, features movie stars such as John Goodman of the “Big Lebowski,” Justin Timberlake of “The Social Network,” and Carey Mulligan, who is starring in the new movie adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.”

Oscar Isaac, who had a supporting role in 2011′s crime drama “Drive,” plays the lead character.

The film is based in part on a memoir by late folk singer Dave Van Ronk, entitled “The Mayor of MacDougall Street.”

Directors Joel and Ethan Coen’s previous movies include “Fargo,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “Raising Arizona,” “The Big Lebowski,” and “No Country for Old Men,” which won a best picture Oscar in 2007.

Riverhead Town was paid $10,000 for the use of the two locations. Police set up roadblocks along nearby roads during the two shoots.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” was one of many television series and films to shoot in the Riverhead area recently.

Last March, another independent film, “El Cielo Es Azul” (The Sky is Blue), held movie shoots at several locations in Riverhead, including Cody’s BBQ and Grill and in September, a fishing show called “Lunkerville” shot scenes in Riverhead and Southold towns.

An upcoming television series also filmed at the A Cut Above hair salon in Aquebogue in October. In February, an independent film called “Gabriel” starring Rory Culkin, the brother of child star Macaulay Culkin, filmed on Ostrander Avenue near downtown Riverhead.

The HBO crime drama “Boardwalk Empire” shot scenes at a Calverton farm in 2011 for their season finale, and HBO’s “The Sopranos” filmed in Riverhead twice several years ago.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” will be released Dec. 6, according to media reports.


04/25/13 1:00pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The first performance of “Into the Woods” is at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

The McGann-Mercy Theatre Company presents “Into the Woods,” based on the stories of the Brothers Grimm beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m.

There will be another performance Friday at the same time and a matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday followed by and an evening performance at 8 p.m.

The show is performed at the school auditorium at 1225 Ostrander Avenue in Riverhead.

Tickets are $10.

04/24/13 4:00pm
04/24/2013 4:00 PM
ROBIN BAY COURTESY PHOTO | The chamber choir from Bishop McGann-Mercy High School prior to performing at the National Festival Chorus April 21.

ROBIN BAY COURTESY PHOTO | The chamber choir from Bishop McGann-Mercy High School prior to performing at the National Festival Chorus April 21.

The Chamber Choir at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead was one of 10 East Coast groups that performed at the National Festival Chorus at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center Sunday.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the kids,” said Jamie Calandro, the director of fine arts at Mercy and the chamber choir teacher. “They worked really hard to get here and it’s nice to see their efforts rewarded.”

Sixteen high school students and two junior high school students at Mercy were selected to sing at the concert, which was conducted this year by guest maestro Richard Mathey and featured the award-winning Troy High School Orchestra. Works performed included “O Be Joyful in the Lord” by John Rutter, “Spiritual” by Ysaye Barnwell, and “Silver Wings”, by John Carter.

“Working with the other choirs and guest conductor was one of the greatest experiences I have had as part of chamber choir,” said senior Kaylee Navarra of Manorville. Ms. Navarra, 17, is a soprano who joined the group her sophomore year.

In preparation for the concert, the chamber choir traveled to Manhattan Saturday to rehearse with the nine other groups selected to sing at the National Festival Chorus.

“It was intense,” Mr. Calandro, 32, said of the rehearsal. “They [the students] were a little worried because we had so little time to learn the music, but they were so excited. They got to perform with everybody and hear exactly what it’s going to sound like. It was a higher caliber than anything they’ve ever been a part of.”

Danielle Allen, a junior from Aquebogue who has been a member of the chamber choir for five years and sings alto, said that rehearsing with the other groups was “a little intimidating” at first.

“The other choirs were all so talented,” Ms. Allen, 16, said. “The sound we produced together was absolutely beautiful.”

Patrick O’Brien, a 16-year-old junior from Riverhead who sings tenor and baritone and has been a member of the chamber choir for five years, said he met a lot of “amazing people” during the experience.

“I think I left a better musician,” he said.

For Mr. Calandro, who has been teaching choir for 10 years at Mercy, the concert is a high point in a decade of hard work at the school.

“It’s very humbling and flattering to be recognized on a national level,” he said. “This is definitely my favorite moment since I started the Mercy chorus 10 years ago.”


04/19/13 3:00pm
04/19/2013 3:00 PM
Riverhead will get a chance to wish one legendary comedic actor happy birthday in person this week at downtown’s Suffolk Theater.

Golden Globe-nominated actor Charles Grodin, who starred in 1972′s The Heartbreak Kid before working as a talk show host and political commentator on CBS’s 60 Minutes, will host a discussion about his life and career this Sunday afternoon.
It will be his 78th birthday.

“He’s going to be just sitting and chatting and giving us anecdotes,” said Susan Gentile-Hackett, the theater’s director of marketing.
Suffolk Theater director Bob Spiotto said he contacted Mr. Grodin — who also co-starred alongside Robert Dinero in the 1988-hit Midnight Run — after learning it was the actor’s birthday.
Mr. Spiotto said he asked if Mr. Grodin would like to come to the theater to talk to his fans.

“He was both honored and delighted,” Mr. Spiotto said. “He was very impressed with what he saw online about the space.
“Talk about everything falling into place at the right time.”

Mr. Spiotto said Mr. Grodin’s talk will be very informal; there’s no plan for what he’ll talk about, beyond answering audience questions and sharing videos from his career.

“He is going to share all of his humorous insights about all of the things he’s experienced,” Mr. Spiotto said. “The man has done it all.”

The event, “An Afternoon of Humor with Charles Grodin,” will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Suffolk Theater. Tickets are available online or by calling the Suffolk Theater’s box office at (631) 727-4343.