05/22/15 5:00am
05/22/2015 5:00 AM

Rusty Kransky (from left), Kelsey Cheslock and Brett Chizever play Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot in ‘Camelot,’ running through May 31 at the North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck.

Proposition: “Camelot” has always been one of my favorite musicals; it had been quite some time since I’d seen it on stage, so I was looking forward to seeing North Fork Community Theatre’s current presentation. Resolved: I was not disappointed.

“Camelot,” with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, is based on the novel “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White. It is the story of King Arthur who, when he meets his intended bride, Guenevere, is inspired to be the most wonderful king who ever sat on a throne. In an era when the rules support the concept of “might is right,” with knights fighting and pillaging, he conceives the idea of a civilized world of “might for right” and chivalry, with knights protecting honor and justice.

Arthur creates the legendary Round Table, which becomes renowned across the land. This attracts the radically religious Lancelot, who travels from France to devote his life and soul to serve Arthur. Most of us know what happens to Camelot when Guenevere and Lancelot fall in love. If you don’t, well, you will just have to see the play.

Richard Gardini plays Arthur’s teacher, Merlyn, with much more youthful vigor than you would expect from his ancient appearance. But then again, Merlyn is growing backwards — “youthening” — and can “remember the future.”

Peter Peterson portrays Mordred, the bastard son who arrives to stir up trouble in the court, with swagger and sneer, and he offers his wickedly twisted take on life in his solo “The Seven Deadly Virtues.”

King Pellinore is an old friend of Arthur’s who wanders into the realm lost and homeless, and Rick Peters provides depth to this robust but daft “Pelly.”

Marilee Scheer brings a comical touch to the traditionally evil Morgan LeFey, who is easily led by Mordred with his lure of tasty treats. Young Ben Eager, as both a page and Tom of Warick, is adorable and earnestly focused.

Three key knights are portrayed perfectly by Matt Tuthill (Sir Dinadan), Kyle Breitenbach (Lionel) and Patrick O’Brien (Sagramore) and provide excellent choral support, as do Kelly Cassidy, as Lady Anne, and Jen Eager, Joyce Stevens, Aria Saltini and Victoria Carroll as ladies in waiting.

See more photos here.

The ultimate success or failure of any production of “Camelot” ultimately falls to the triad of leads, and those here are more than up to the task.

Kelsey Cheslock is lovely as Guenevere. Her voice is angelic and she imbues the queen with a playful, youthful energy. Brett Chizever brings is own sublime voice to the table as he always does, but plays Lancelot as a bit more of a clown. He does, however, still offer the intensity and polish we have come to expect in all his work. Singing together, they bring on the goosebumps.

Rusty Kransky has played Arthur before in other local productions, so I expected a fine performance from him. I found his take on Arthur this time around more subtle, moving and satisfying than ever. It doesn’t really need saying, but I will anyway — his singing is as much a pleasure as always.

The combined efforts of director Caroline Ciochetto, Mr. Kransky as assistant director, rehearsal music director Nancy Deegan and production music director Jeff Wentz have contributed to this most enjoyable production, with its fine acting and singing across the board, and producer Babette Cornine has put together a terrific theatrical team. The orchestra is skilled and complements the singers nicely. Diane Peterson outdoes herself with the costume design, which is beautiful and realistic. The set by Dee Martin and lighting design by David Scheer also enhance the illusion.

Proposition: You enjoy theater that combines quality performances and beautiful music with humor, action and romance. Resolved: You make sure you don’t miss NFCT’s production of “Camelot”!

North Fork Community Theatre
12700 Old Sound Ave., Mattituck
Performances continue Thursdays-Sundays through May 31. Show times: Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 298-NFCT (6328) or visit nfct.com.

03/26/15 7:00am
03/26/2015 7:00 AM
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
01/23/2015 7:00 AM

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
11/21/2014 6:00 AM
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
10/31/2014 12:00 PM

‘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
05/21/2014 8:49 AM
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…)