09/25/12 3:30pm
09/25/2012 3:30 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Pastor George Gaffga hugs Mary Motto Kalich, campaign chair, as Lauren Sisson, NFCT secretary; Deanna Andes, vice president; Marilee Scheer, theater board member and Jeff Strong, church trustee, look on.

A gathering took place Tuesday morning in front of the North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck to mark the ownership transfer of the theater building on Old Sound Avenue from the Presbyterian Church to the theater organization.

The Rev. George Gaffga, church pastor, blessed the building, a former church, and thanked those who shepherded the process along, including church trustee Jeff Strong, who spearheaded efforts to sell the building to the theater and Riverhead Town Justice Richard Ehlers, who the Rev. Gaffga said on his own time “did the legal legwork” needed to complete the transaction.

Last week the NFCT formally acquired the building, where it has staged productions since 1961, from the Presbyterian Church.

The pastor joked that now that the theater was legally separate from the church, it could now perform “Oh! Calcutta!,” a racy sketch series featuring nudity.

Mary Motto Kalich, the theater’s campaign chair, thanked the Rev. Gaffga and the church for all of their support throughout the years and presented him with an NFCT hat and 10 gift certificates for tickets to any upcoming NFCT show.

09/20/12 12:00pm
09/20/2012 12:00 PM

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Mary Motto Kalich was presented with flowers at the reception celebrating The North Fork Community Theatre’s purchase of its longtime playhouse. Ms. Motto Kalich chaired the group’s fundraising efforts, which exceeded $500,000 in less than four years.

No one, except maybe a few old-time theater enthusiasts, remembers The North Fork Community Theatre’s first play at Greenport High School in 1957. Few people can even recall the next few years, when the troupe performed its plays at what is now known as Poquatuck Hall in Orient.

For most local residents it would be hard to picture the theater company anywhere but at its current home on Old Sound Avenue in Mattituck.

Now they won’t have to.

The building where The North Fork Community Theatre has performed its plays since 1961 is officially property of the group, nearly four years after it learned its lease with the church that previously owned the building would not be renewed.

“This is permanent now,” said Mary Motto Kalich, who chaired the campaign to raise the more than $500,000 necessary to purchase the building. “This is not just for me and not just for my kid. This is for many generations beyond us.”

The North Fork Theatre Company closed on the building just after 4 p.m. Tuesday at a law office in Riverhead, less than two weeks after receiving the $13,000 donation that put it beyond its fundraising goal. The group had raised more than $100,000 since May and more than $200,000 this year.

North Fork’s most recent 20-year lease with Mattituck Presbyterian Church expired this month. In 2008, the church, which had allowed the theater company to use the building essentially rent free for more than 50 years, said it no longer wanted to continue the friendly arrangement.

“They were very gracious all these years,” said Marilee Scheer, who delivered the toast at a reception at the theater Tuesday. While the idea of a group with very little fundraising experience coming up with enough cash to purchase the property was daunting, Ms. Scheer said she knew the group could do it.

“The building itself has such a magical karma that I never doubted it,” she said of the theater building, which had been owned by the church since 1830.

Raising the money necessary to purchase the building and its surrounding property was phase one of The North Fork Theatre’s fundraising goal. Now the group will begin phase two, which includes making sure they have enough cash for deferred maintenance. While the board hasn’t yet determined what the next step is, president Bob Beodeker said phase two could include replacing the seats and other improvements to the theater.

Mr. Boedeker said that for now everyone’s just pleased to be able to continue calling the theater home.

“We’re very appreciative of all the people who made this possible,” he said. “It wasn’t just a few large donors. It was lots of people making all kinds of contributions of 100 dollars, 500 dollars, 1,000 dollars.”

In all, nearly 700 different people donated money to the effort, which began just as the economy started to tank.

“The community gave repeatedly, over and over, at a time when it was most difficult to do so,” said Ms. Motto Kalich, who began performing at the theater in 1985, when she was just 13 years old. “They really love this place and they wanted to make sure it was still here.”

Immediate past president and current treasurer Mike Hipp was one of five people who attended the closing Tuesday, a larger group than banks usually see at those types of proceedings.

“This was a bigger deal for us,” he said. “Now, we’ll always have a permanent home.”


07/24/12 4:00pm
07/24/2012 4:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | North Fork Community Theatre presents “South Pacific” beginning Thursday.

North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck sets sail for Bali Ha’i in this year’s Youth on Stage production of “South Pacific,” opening Thursday.

This classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, set in an island paradise during World War II, features unforgettable songs — including “Some Enchanted Evening” and “There is Nothing LIke a Dame” — and a cast of unforgettable characters, from spunky nurse Nellie Forbush to mysterious planter Emile de Becque, sly souvenir dealer Bloody Mary and lovestruck Lt. Cable.

The story is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by James Michener. The cast of 14- to 22-year-olds is directed by Bob Beodeker; Jake Boergesson is musical director/assistant director, Lucille Naar-Saladino is choreographer and Sherry Beodecker is producer.

Performances are set for July 26-29 and Aug. 2-5 and 9-12. Show time is 8 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday; Sunday matinees start at 2:30 p.m. An opening night reception starts at 7 p.m. All tickets are $20. Order online at NFCT.com or call 298-6328.

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05/16/12 5:00pm
05/16/2012 5:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | 'The King and I' opens at North Fork Community Theatre Thursday.

North Fork Community Theatre will present “The King and I,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fifth musical collaboration, which premiered on Broadway March 29, 1951.

The NFCT production opens Thursday, directed by Laura Jones and produced by Marion Stark, with musical direction by Nancy Deegan. “The King and I” is based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel “Anna and the King of Siam.” The novel derives from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, who became governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s, as part of the king’s drive to modernize his country. Anna’s relationship with the king is marked by conflict as well as love that neither is able to express.

“The King and I,” which features Lauren Sisson, Rusty Kransky, Dee Martin, Jessica Raven, James Stevens and a host of children, will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. through June 3. Free pre-performance receptions will be held Thursdays only at 7 p.m. All tickets are $20, and are available at 298-NFCT or nfct.com.


Rusty Kransky (The King) — Rusty made his North Fork Community Theatre debut playing the title role in 1999's Sweeny Todd. Says Rusty, "It's good to b the King!"

Lauren Sisson (Anna) | Lauren comes back to the NFCT stage for the first time in 25 years to play a "dream role," complete with hoop skirts. She lives in Mattituck.

Jessica Raven (Tuptim) | This is Jessica's ninth production with the NFCT. She works a full-time day job at North Fork Radiation Oncology.

James Stevens (Lun Tha) | From his first youth show in 1997 to 'Oklahoma' last year, James is always glad to be at the NFCT.

Dee Martin (Lady Thiang) | Dee has been with the NFCT for a number of year, most recently in the musical 'Gypsy.' During the day she is a teacher at Pulaski Street School in Riverhead.


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05/04/12 11:00am
05/04/2012 11:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Peter Peterson (from left), Luke Sisson and Charles Lehner in the spring's production of 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying' at North Fork Community Theatre.

The race is on for the North Fork Community Theatre to raise $500,000 to purchase its building before this August’s deadline, and an anonymous donor has just pledged a $10,000 matching grant toward making the group’s dream come true.

The theater has been in its current Old Sound Avenue location, owned by Mattituck Presbyterian Church, for 51 years. Its lease expires in August and the group is in contract to buy the building. So far the group has raised $395,000, more than $100,000 of it in the past four months, said Mary Motto Kalich, chairperson of the group’s building on tradition campaign committee.

“It’s absolutely incredibly awesome,” she said. “We’re seeing people coming forward and contributing. If we keep up the pace, we’re pretty sure that it will happen.”

Ms. Kalich said the matching grant donor is hoping her contribution will help inspire other people to join the cause.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to donate their own $100 and have it turn into $200,” she said.

The committee is also planning its fourth annual gala for June 16 to raise funds for the building project. This year’s event will honor current and former members of the theater’s Youth on Stage program. Now in its 41st year, the program mounts an annual summer production starring young actors between ages 14 and 22.

“We have people coming in from all over the country,” said Ms. Kalich. She added that when contacting former Youth on Stage members, she often found that they were still close friends with others they met through the program.

“There are people who’ve been out of the program for 30 years who say they’re still best friends,” she said. “There’s been a lot of Facebook chatting about the event. Youth on Stage is an opportunity to learn how to sing, dance and make friends across high school barriers. It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to gain strength and confidence in themselves.”

The gala will be held at Stonewalls Restaurant in Riverhead. Recent Youth on Stage participants will provide entertainment and there will be a live auction with auctioneer and actor David Markel. The cost is $50 for regular admission and $25 for current Youth on Stage participants.

Donations can be made at nfct.com or sent to NFCT at P.O. Box 86, Mattituck, NY 11952. Tickets to the gala are available on the website or by calling Ms. Kalich at 917-334-6639.


03/22/12 6:00pm
03/22/2012 6:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The North Fork Community Theatre presents 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying' beginning tonight and running through April 1.

“How to to succeed … ” Well, first of all, go to North Fork Community Theatre and “without even trying” you’ll succeed in adding two hours of joy to your life. Then, driving home, sing what you remember of “I Believe in You,” furtively glancing at your own image in the rearview mirror.

The ingenious Pulitzer Prize musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” is the work of the theatrical giants Cy Feurer, producer; Abe Burrows, writer; and the great Frank Loesser, who provided the memorable music and lyrics.

‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’
North Fork Community Theatre
Old Sound Avenue, Mattituck
Performances continue March 22, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 31 and April 1. Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday, 2:30 p.m. For tickets, call 298-6328 or visit nfct.com.

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Its brilliant satire, sharp but appealing, shares its ’60s sensibilities with the hit TV show “Mad Men” (which, incidentally boasts the original star of “How to Succeed,” Robert Morse). The material was originally from a book by Shepard Mead entitled “The Dastard’s Guide to Fame and Fortune” and makes fun of the treacherous path up the corporate ladder. Frank Loesser said he liked the idea of making money by making fun of people devoted to making money.

One of the reasons to go see the NFCT production is the role of J. Pierrepont Finch, performed by the personable, inventive, likable charmer Michael Hipp. We watch enchanted as he advances from window washer to chairman of the board.

Rosemary, who desires to be his corporate wife, is played by Tara McKenna with dedication and aplomb. It demands a stretch of the imagination for a 2012 woman to convince us she is a female of 1960 — especially in numbers like “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm” and “A Secretary Is Not a Toy.”

Peter Peterson is excellent as the boss’ nephew and Lindsey Scoggin is the only actor up there who is completely believable as a businessman. He provides the whole production with a basic standard from which the comedy can take off. Sherry Powers does the same for the secretaries.

David Markel, who consistently provides the NFCT with excellent performances, gives his best yet here as J.B. Biggley. He creates a hilarious and original characterization which is delightful. Jan McKenna as Hedy LaRue is a great audience favorite and her duet “Love From a Heart of Gold” with Mr. Markel is exactly right, skillfully funny with a dash of sincerity.

Other rewarding moments are Marguerite Volonts’ surprising and memorable contribution to “The Brotherhood of Man,” Luke Sisson’s perfect game show announcer and Amanda Mouzakes’ wonderful scrubwoman. The rest of the company includes Samantha Payne-Markel, Charlie Lehner, Lon Shomer, John Hudson, Heather Cusack, Brandon Hollborn, Corinne Araneo and Becca Mincieli.

Unfortunately, the show as a whole is slow and laborious, although intermittent numbers and scenes sparkle.

America’s great contribution to the theater is how our musicals are models of integration. They cement story, lyrics, acting, singing and dancing, creating a closely woven continuity.

The piano cannot run out of cover music, and an actor must not run out of words before he gets to his exit; the audience must not sit in quiet darkness, ever. The answer to all these problems is divinely inspired cuts. Don’t be afraid to cut; be afraid not to.

We are all aware of NFCT’s admirable endeavor, now nearing its deadline, to buy its theater building. You can do your part in supporting that endeavor by buying tickets to see this lively show, directed by Bob Beodeker and produced by Mary Motto Kalich. You won’t be disappointed.


03/10/12 11:00am
03/10/2012 11:00 AM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Jeff Smith in the Mattituck studio where the 'book voices' were recorded for 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.'

While brainstorming for North Fork Community Theatre’s upcoming presentation of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” president and leading man Michael Hipp, director Bob Beodeker and producer Mary Kalich figured out a way to kill two birds with one stone.

In an effort to simultaneously raise awareness of the theater and its current “Building on Tradition” campaign and fill the role of the play’s unseen “book voice,” the three decided to cast 12 different community leaders for the part, each for a different performance.

The play tells the tale of New York City window washer J. Pierrepont Finch and his climb up the corporate ladder as he reads from a book entitled “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” The book voice narration is provided by a cross-section of some of the North Fork’s best known voices.

WLNG radio host Gary Sapiane is among these — his is the voice that has awakened Eastern Long Island for more than 40 years. He recorded his part in the WLNG studio and said he was more than happy to help the theater out.

“It was a perfect part for me because on the radio I am heard and not seen and so is my part in the play,” he said. Mr. Sapiane’s performance will take place Saturday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. He said despite his role being close to his line of work, this will be his theatrical debut.

Ms. Kalich said all the local community leaders she approached for the “book voice” role, including Suffolk Times editor Tim Kelly, gladly accepted.

“I probably could have gotten 70,” she said with a laugh. “There’s always some famous person who is the book voice.

“For example, Walter Cronkite was the book voice with Matthew Broderick and now it’s Anderson Cooper,” she said. “We wanted to transfer that idea and use the movers and shakers of our own community. Each person has their own night and it’s super exciting how much ownership and leadership each person has taken over their own night.”

Ms. Kalich said Andrew Mitchell, CEO of Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, purchased 50 tickets for his staff to attend his performance and an anonymous donor is matching all the tickets sold on the Riverhead Building Supply night as a donation to the theater.

Director Bob Beodeker said giving local leaders some theater experience was an excellent way to bring the community into the theater.

“As a community theater we’re always looking to involve people in the theater’s productions in ways they may never have been before.”

He said the voice recordings have all been completed and this weekend “tech rehearsals” will begin, where lights and audio will be introduced to the dress rehearsals. The book voice used will change from dress rehearsal to dress rehearsal, Mr. Beodeker said, to get the cast used to hearing the different voices.

“They were looking for recognizable voices so I guess that’s why I was asked,” said James McKenna, Mattituck-Cut-chogue school superintendent. “I do the snow closings and communications with the district at large.”

He said the recording was fun to do, but what surprised him most about the experience was hearing the way his voice sounded.

“When I heard it played back, I asked, ‘That’s me?’ ”

Mattituck-Cutchogue school board and Cutchogue Fire Department member Jeff Smith said what surprised him most was how little time it took to record the part.

“I think I was there a half-hour or 45 minutes. I expected it to take a lot longer,” he said. “Even my wife was surprised when I came home so quickly.”

Mattituck Chamber of Commerce president Donielle Cardinale said the experience was “a lot of fun. I am looking forward to the performances and will be there a few of the nights.”

She said the idea of finding multiple book voices showed a great deal of creativity.

“I think it was really effective in raising people’s awareness for what they’re trying to do with buying the theater,” she said.

NFCT’s “Building on Tradition” campaign is part of an effort to raise $500,000 by this August to buy the building from Mattituck Presbyterian Church, which Ms. Kalich said has generously allowed the theater to operate in its location on Old Sound Avenue for more than 50 years. So far, the theater has raised $380,000.

“The overall goal is $750,000, which includes the necessary renovations inside and out,” she said. “We have raised $100,000 in the past four months and we know we’re going to be able to do this.”

Tickets for “How to Succeed” are $20 and available at nfct.com or by calling 298-6328.


01/27/12 6:30pm
01/27/2012 6:30 PM
North Fork Community Theatre

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Alan Stewart (from left), Marilee Scheer and Becca Mincieli in a scene from John Patrick Shanley's 'Doube: A Parable.'

“When in doubt, abstain.” Thus spake Zoroaster in 700 B.C.

“Doubt requires more courage than conviction does, and more energy.” So said John Patrick Shanley in 2004.

The playwright chose “doubt,” that place between belief and disbelief, certainty or distrust, for the title and theme of his darkly funny Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play set in 1964.

North Fork Community Theatre
Old Sound Avenue, Mattituck
Performances continue Jan. 27 and 28, Feb. 3 and 4 at 8 p.m.; Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 at 2:30 p.m. The Jan. 28 performance is followed by a talk-back with director and cast.
For tickets, visit nfct.com or call 298-6328.

The plot dramatizes the balance of power between Sister Aloysius (Marilee Scheer), a nun who is certain even if truth is not, and Father Flynn (Alan Stewart), a young priest whom she suspects of molesting one of her students. The battle is between the fierce, forbidding school principal and the priest who preaches love and who wants to be believed. As written, they crash into each other, their perception clouded by paranoia like two semis blinded by fog on the expressway.

The clash on the Mattituck stage, while perfectly functional, attractive and well turned-out, lacks the combustion of human anxiety and urgency.

The excellent Marilee Scheer continues to amaze and delight with her ability to feel and project the heart of each one of the varied characters she plays. Alan Stewart is a skillful director as well as actor, but somehow the struggle between them is never death-defying. As film folk say, “The chemistry is wrong.”

Or perhaps the role of Father Flynn is not written as clearly as one might wish. Mr. Shanley’s writing was enormously successful with the ebullient screwball comedy “Moonstruck,” for which he won an Oscar. It seems less so in this subversive narrative. His old-fashioned storytelling is as clear and direct as Arthur Miller’s and as full of local color as Horton Foote’s. But it never has the poetry of Tennessee Williams or the musicality of August Wilson, and for all the wonderful prose in the world, it is the poets who shape our lives.

One of the great satisfactions for the audience at this production is the appearance Deborah Morgenstern, who plays the mother of the boy who may or may not have been involved to some degree with Father Flynn. In just one scene, this actress presents a whole woman, integrity intact, and we know her and care what happens to her.

The other role in the cast is the self-effacing Sister James, whose nature is to submit to Sister Aloysius in all things. When the principal asks what class she is teaching, Sister James answers, “Art,” and suffers a bull’s-eye put-down, “Waste of time!” Rebecca Mincieli has the challenge of being yes-woman to her boss and at the same time projecting a person in her own right.

One of the play’s themes is the treatment of women’s lack of power in the Roman Catholic Church and Ms. Scheer handles this beautifully. So does Mr. Shanley, who also hints that what led to the church’s scandals regarding young boys was the “doubt” people had about what was right and what was wrong.

We are all familiar with the fear and/or courage involved in making decisions, in taking sides and the irrevocability of certain choices. The play “Doubt” helps us understand and, like all really good theater, allows us to see we are not alone.