11/15/12 2:32pm
11/15/2012 2:32 PM
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.

11/12/12 3:59pm
11/12/2012 3:59 PM
The "On Golden Pond" cast, from left: Noah Ludlow, Thomas Cardisco, Rusty Kransky, Che Sabalja, Marion Stark and Bill Kitzerow.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO
The “On Golden Pond” cast, from left: Noah Ludlow, Thomas Cardisco, Rusty Kransky, Che Sabalja, Marion Stark and Bill Kitzerow.

What is more pleasant than visiting a glimmering pond in the woods, pinkish at dawn, golden all the afternoon and russet at dusk? Its placid surface seems created for contemplation.

In 1978, a 27-year-old Ernest Thompson used such a setting for his pleasant, placid play that he surprisingly titled “On Golden Pond.” It is a lovely play, as unsurprising as its title and it is given a lovely, unsurprising presentation at North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck.

Aristotle said drama depends on plot, but many distinguished people dispute him. There is no plot in “On Golden Pond.” It is all character and ingratiating conversation.

The father, Norman Thayer, is a crusty, crotchety senior, suspicious of foreigners (especially Jews), but as well played by Rusty Kransky, his tongue-in-cheek sharp wit allows him to get away with it — or did 34 years ago when the play was first produced.

Ethel, his honest and sensible wife, is played by Marion Stark with abundant good humor and charm. In one of the sweetest moments of the play, while Thayer is busy insulting people to keep them at a distance, Ethel tells him, “You are the sweetest man in the world and I am the only one who knows it.”

Their daughter, Chelsea, beautifully played by Che Sabalja, calls her father Norman, but her mother Mom. She complains gently that her father never made any close contact with her. When she comes for a visit, she brings her fiancé, honestly played by Tom Cordisco, and her prospective stepson, 10-year-old Billy, well played by Noah Ludlow.

The youngster is the one who finally thaws Thayer’s heart to genuine affection and Norman learns to live anew. This may sound like TV-style tidiness, but the audience is charmed and cheered by it. The director, Robert Horn, and the cast escape a disastrous dive into what one critic called “the deep end of weepitude.”

Whatever the play, brand new or a classic, an actor’s greatest magic is the ability to surprise. The turns an actor’s emotions can take, the waves of nostalgia a line washes over us, a scene nudging a memory or two of our own — these are the actors’ secret weapons. At one point in the play, Ethel and Chelsea surprise and elate us by breaking into an old camp song. It comes seemingly out of nowhere with utter naturalness. Charlie, the mailman, delightfully played by Bill Kitzerow, also surprises with his manic laugh and spaniel-like desire to please.

The movie, based on the play “On Golden Pond,” featured Henry Fonda and his daughter, Jane. Over the years, these two stars had made no secret of their estrangement, but they became reconciled during this filming, much in the same way Thayer and Chelsea did. Jane’s father died shortly after.

The American master of nature writing, Henry David Thoreau, shared with the character Thayer a poor opinion of his fellow men and avoided them when he could. He wrote: “I went to Walden Pond to front the essential facts of life and see if I could learn what it had to teach. We must learn to re-awaken ourselves by holding an infinite expectation of the dawn.” It’s a good reminder after the havoc of Hurricane Sandy.

Performances continue through Nov. 18. For tickets, visit nfct.com.

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.”

gparpan@timesreview.com

06/11/12 12:30pm
06/11/2012 12:30 PM

JOHN NEELY PHOTO | (Left to right) Hannah Schneider, Joe Carraseo, Tre Daniels, and Hayley Sheridan of Riverhead High.

North Fork high school actors’ comedic and musical talents shone at the tenth annual Teeny Awards competition, held Sunday night at Eastport-South Manor High School.

The Teeny Awards, inspired by the Tony Awards, are given each year by East End Arts to outstanding high school actors on the East End.

Actors from Southold High School’s cast of “Curtains” and Riverhead High School’s cast of “Working” entertained the crowds at the red carpet affair, along with actors from South Fork productions.

“Curtains” choreographers Marisa Fedele, Gayle Gammon and Winter Wilcenski took home the award for best choreography. Sam Kortchmar of Southold also took the award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical for his role in “Curtains.”

Riverhead’s Bishop McGann-Mercy High School’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” swept the comedy lead actors’ awards, with Nick Motlenski taking the award for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy and Nicole Chiuchiolo taking the award for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy.

Kristen Suarez of Shoreham-Wading River High School took the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy for her role in her school’s production of “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”

Veronica Reitz of Mattituck, who was in her school’s production of “Leader of the Pack” tied Emily Hinz of Pierson High School in Sag Harbor for the Best Lead Actress in a Musical award.

Jonathan Troiano of Riverhead took the award for Oustanding Performance for his role as “Action” in Riverhead High School’s production of “West Side Story.” The category was created to recognize a student who “shines brightly in a role that is not eligible for adjudication in the leading or supporting categories,” said the judges.

The cast and crew of Mattituck High School’s “Check, Please,” a one-act play produced in April, took the Judges’ Choice Award.

The award is chosen by a vote from the judges for a particular scene, musical number, dance number or group that the judges feel stands out enough to warrant special recognition.

Bishop McGann-Mercy High School was also recognized with the “Innovations in Theatre Education” award for its addition this year of a third production devoted to serious drama.

Stage managers from many East End shows were also recognized, including Sean Walden for Greenport’s production of “archy & mehitabel,” Kaylee Bergen and Kimberly Olsen for Mattituck’s production of “Leader of the Pack,” Maria Peroni and Julia Gaines for Mattituck’s production of “One Acts: The Rehearsal and Check, Please!,” Stephanie Strippoli for “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “The Glass Menagerie” and “Jeckyll & Hyde” at Bishop McGann-Mercy, Abigail Beodeker for Riverhead’s productions of “Working” and “West Side Story,” Jaclyn Conway for Southold’s production of “Curtains,” and Mariah Brengel for Shoreham-Wading River’s productions of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”

East End Arts Executive Director Pat Snyder said she’s excited at how the Teeny Awards have motivated East End students to produce quality shows over the past ten years.

“The Teeny Awards have accomplished in the past ten years exactly what was expected – calling attention to the value of theatre experience in developing well rounded, confident young adults,” she said. “East End Arts is proud to have introduced this very special program that recognizes and applauds our talented students of the East End.”

byoung@timesreview.com

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For photos of winners from Southold Town high schools, check out our slideshow on suffolktimes.com.

04/25/12 6:00pm
04/25/2012 6:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHRODER PHOTOS | McGann-Mercy High School will present a production of 'Jekyll & Hyde,' running from Thursday through Sunday.

More than 50 students at McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead have lent their talents to the school’s production of ‘Jekyll & Hyde,’ which runs from Thursday through Sunday.

Tickets to the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. the first three nights with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, are $10.

A $15 Spaghetti Dinner will be served before the Friday night show.

Check out more photos from the dress rehearsal below.

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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.

 

02/14/12 10:30am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riley Avenue Elementary School fourth grade teacher Jimmy Schaefer's annual production of the fractured fairy tale "Cinderella" was performed Saturday afternoon in the Riverhead High School auditorium.

Riley Avenue Elementary School fourth grade teacher Jimmy Schaefer’s annual production of the fractured fairy tale “Cinderella” was performed Saturday afternoon in the Riverhead High School auditorium. The performance has been an annual tradition for about 20 years, when he was teaching at Pulaski Street Elementary.

This year’s players were:

Cinderella — Ailie Kinniel

Princess — Kristy Troyan

Prince — Caleb Zuhoski

Queen- Caleigh Cantalupo

King — Alex Jehle

Stepmother —Ainsley Hipp

Stepsisters — Ryan Schlichting (in purple wig), Tim Duffy (pink wig) Jack Ludwig (green), Ryan Schlichting ( purple), and Jacob Raynor (yellow)

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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.

Doubt
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.