08/11/13 2:20pm
08/11/2013 2:20 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Dan Yaiullo, center, leads a song and dance in a scene from Oklahoma!

A couple has given $100,000 to help fund renovations at the North Fork Community Theatre building in Mattituck.

On top of that, Emilie and Michael Corey have pledged to match all other donations to the theater, up to $300,000, through December 2015. That means as much as $700,000 could go toward rehabbing the facility.

The theater’s president, Mary Motto Kalich, called the donations “inspiring.”

“This really inspires all of us to work together and contribute,” Ms. Kalich said. “It makes it easier, if you will, for the community to say, ‘Hey, now my $100 is really $200.’ They are reaching out in a tremendous way to help us do these renovations to the theatre.”

The Coreys were not available for comment this week but, according to published reports, Ms. Corey is a retired social worker and Mr. Corey is a retired managing director of JP Morgan. The couple has a home Riverhead Town and ties to the East End and New York City.

The money will be used to purchase and install a new cesspool, curtains, as well as lights and rigging for the theater. The structure was built in the 19th century as a church and has been used for performances since 1957. The theater’s 166 chairs — hand-me-downs from the 1980s, Ms. Kalich said — will also be torn out and replaced for an estimated cost of $35,000. The theater’s exterior will be painted and re-shingled.

“The curtain has some sort of tape on top of it because there’s a big rip in it,” Ms. Kalich said. “You make do and you fix what you can.”

This isn’t the first major donation the theatre has received. Last year, with the help of donations from community supporters, the group was able to purchase the building itself from Mattituck Presbyterian Church for $465,000. The amateur theater group had been leasing the theater since 1961.

“We had never really done much fundraising before,” Ms. Kalich said. “Then we realized we needed to buy the building. About five years ago we started a campaign, reached out to the community and received wonderful support from a wide variety of people.”

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03/01/11 12:32pm
03/01/2011 12:32 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Amanda Mousakes rehearses a scene from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

North Fork Community Theatre begins its 53rd season this March with the Tony award-winning musical comedy “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

Click to see photos

In the play six young people face off in the county spelling bee and learn that winning isn’t everything and losing doesn’t have to make you a loser.

Ken Rowland will direct a cast of lovable misfits, nerds, neurotics and a few volunteers from the audience. The play’s producer is Margaret Motto, Brian Dornicik is the musical director and Michael Disher is the choreographer.

Evening performances will be given at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, March 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19. Sunday matinees will be at 2:30 p.m. March 6, 13 and 20.

The theater is located at 12700 Old Sound Ave. in Mattituck. Tickets are $20, available at nfct.com or by calling 298-6328.

01/13/11 8:00am
01/13/2011 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Riverhead Middle School Middle Masques actors rehearse a scene from 'Alice in Wonderland.'

The Riverhead Middle School Middle Masques actors are preparing for three performances of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ scheduled for January 20th and 21th at 7 p.m. and January 22nd at 2 p.m.

The show is produced by Patricia Skura, directed by Edward Tholl, the set built by chief custodian Chris Hand and painted by Kathy Muth of BOCES.

Tickets can be purchased in advance and at the door for $8. Call Patricia Skura at 369-6767.

View slide show below.

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11/16/10 10:24pm
11/16/2010 10:24 PM

If I ruled the world I would make it mandatory for every woman, man and child to rush to Riverhead High School and see Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre’s production of “Annie,” as it exemplifies the best of both community and theater. Plus, it’s just so much fun! I left the theater in love with the North Fork all over again, because we can do something this grand and have it supported by the community.
And this was not a small segment of the community — this show is immense — with a cast of what feels like thousands, an orchestra and even a dog. And it was all done so very well. This show made me proud to be a part of this community; after months of political contentiousness I felt happy again as I left the theater.
Maybe that’s why live theater is so important: to mirror life in a way that just makes us smile, as the show “Annie” does. Set in 1933, right in the middle of the Great Depression, the show is full of mischievous orphans, singing vagrants, a mega-rich philanthropist and even the beleaguered president of the United States, all looking for a way out of the economic hardships of the Depression and finding answers from a little red-headed girl who doesn’t have enough sense to lose hope when life isn’t looking up. Sound timely? You bet.
The comedian W.C. Fields coined the adage, “Never work with children or animals.” Thomas Meehan, the author of “Annie,” proves him wrong with most extraordinary results. It’s only fair to start with the young lady who carries the title role. Ella Watts-Gorman is just delightful and can really sing. In the great spirit that suffused the audience the night I attended, several of the little girls around me were singing every word with her — it was as if Annie was “everygirl.” Ms. Watts-Gorman brings to the role of Annie something that often eludes young performers: a stillness and focus that makes it impossible not to watch her every move. She has a simple, clear singing style appropriate for her age that I much prefer to the swooping and gliding that afflicts many child performers. Well done.
There are 30 young ladies in the production — grubby little orphans all — and they are the cutest group that you or I are likely to see for a long, long time. They sing, they dance, they stomp on people’s feet. Molly, played by Ainsley Hipp, is just the sweetest thing ever. I appreciate the toughness of the rough-and-tumble Ashley Graziano, Victoria Carroll, Lauren Schmitt and Kate Garthe, who bring energy and joy to their parts. And what can I say about the adorable Lindsey Garthe except, “Oh, my goodness!” The entire orphan chorus is just perfect. They work together and therefore shine individually.
One of the theater’s great comic villainesses is Miss Hannigan, the orphanage’s headmistress, played to the hilt by Jan McKenna. When she sang “Little Girls” I felt for her. That’s the sign of a well-played villain, when every now and then you have empathy for his or her plight.
Oliver Warbucks is played with both restraint and elegance by Robert Boedeker, who sings with a lyricism that gives pathos to the gruff Mr. Warbucks. Grace Farrell, Mr. Warbucks’ secretary/gal Friday, as played by Lauren Sisson, has the sweetness and charm of a time gone by. The two of them have  warmth and connection. They are the calm in the center of this madcap romp and they are both lovely to watch.
Oh, my goodness! There are so many things I want to tell you about. I also want to sing the praises of the entire ensemble, which brings the show’s time and place to life. The orchestra that supports the singers — not an easy feat. Rooster and Lily, played by James Stevens and Erin McKenna with hilarious villainy. Dhonna Goodale — I noticed: you rock. Mr. President (Michael Horn), I salute you. The hilarious Boylan Sisters, bravi. And everyone who kept this immense boat of a show afloat and sailing strong — particularly its director, Robert Horn, and producer, Susan Hockett.
I overheard a gaggle of young girls chatting among themselves as I left the theater: “What was your favorite part?” one high-pitched little voice queried; “Every part!” was the riposte. I concur.

Presented by Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre. Performances continue at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 19 and 20, at Riverhead High School, Harrison Avenue. For tickets, call 725-2009.

11/02/10 5:05pm
11/02/2010 5:05 PM

Live theater will thrive on the North Fork for the next several weeks.

At North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck, residents will have a rare opportunity to see the Chekhov classic ‘The Three Sisters,’ which premieres tonight, Nov. 4. The Northeast Stage production of ‘Bottom’s Up: The Private Lives of Noel Coward’ opens Nov. 5 at Brecknock Hall in Greenport. And at Riverhead High School, the story of the heroic orphan ‘Annie’ will debut Nov. 12, staged by the Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre.

‘The Three Sisters’ director Peg Murray thinks this may be the first time Chekhov’s work has been performed on the North Fork. She has adapted the story of three cultured sisters from Moscow who are enduring life in a provincial town in the Russian countryside.

“It’s in three very long acts and I put it in two,” said Ms. Murray. “I want them to love Chekhov. Everybody’s used to shows being 90 minutes and I didn’t want to belabor the Russian philosophy.”

She said that while preparing her adaptation this past year, she studied three translations before deciding she wanted to most closely mirror Stark Young’s interpretation of the text.

Ms. Murray said Mr. Young’s translation acknowledges that the play could just as easily be a comedy as a tragedy.

“The characters have a lot of pain; this happens to all of us, it’s not odd but it’s not all that fun,” she said. “They have faith in the possibility of happiness. They hang onto the idea that they’re going to be happy.”

The production stars Deborah Marshall, Amie Sponza and Catherine Maloney as sisters Irina, Olga and Masha and David Burt as their brother, Andrei. Suzette Reiss plays their nanny and Jim Navarre, Alan Stewart and David Markel play soldiers who take rooms in their house and vie for the sisters’ affections. Tom LaMothe plays Col. Alexander Ilyitch Vershinin, Joe Martinsen plays Masha’s husband, Feodor, and Lisa Dabrowski plays Andrei’s wife, Natasha.

Performances are at 8 p.m. on Nov. 4-6, 12-13 and 19-20 and at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 7, 14 and 21 at the Mattituck theater. Tickets are $15 and are available at 298-NFCT.

‘Bottoms Up: The Private Lives of Noel Coward’ was written by Southold playwright Daniel Rosenblatt in the mid-1990s. It was first produced off-Broadway in 1998. The play is a series of monologues by three different actors who play Mr. Coward at different stages in his life, and by three women who were his muses. It is being produced in memory of its author, who died last year.

James Pritchard, Mr. Rosenblatt’s partner and the co-director of this production, said Mr. Rosenblatt was unsatisfied by the New York production because only one actor played Mr. Coward at all stages of his life. He decided to revive the show as Mr. Rosenblatt would have wanted it.

“I had talked with him about five years ago, but he wasn’t in the mood to do it. He wasn’t really happy with the first production, and I wanted to do something in memory of him,” Mr. Pritchard said in an interview last week.

“It’s an awful lot of time and script for one person. For him to go from 18 to 70 was too much,” he added. “We decided to split that up so it would be a little easier on the actors.”

Actors Dan Yaiullo, John Tramontana and Terry Brockbank will play Mr. Coward at different points in his career. Beverly Gregory appears as Marlene Dietrich, Jenifer Corwin plays Tallulah Bankhead and Anna Aguilar has the role of Vivien Leigh. The production is co-directed by A.D. Newcomer.

“At a very early age — 24 and 25 — [Coward] got incredibly successful and had plays running simultaneously on the West End of London,” said Mr. Pritchard. “Two years later, he had a nervous breakdown. His life in the play is a cautionary tale of the downside of fame and success. He was smart enough to handle it, survive it and go on and have a long and productive career. It’s also about his determination to do it no matter what.”

Performances of “Bottoms Up” are set for Nov. 5, 6, 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 7 and 14 at 5 p.m. at Brecknock Hall in Greenport. Tickets, $15, are available at the door or by calling 765-1409.

‘Annie,’ the tale of the spunky little orphan that could, employs the singing, dancing and acting talents of 30 girls ages 7 to 14. Many of them just learned to tap dance over the course of the last several week’s rehearsals and the results are expected to be a highlight of the performance.

The production, directed by Robert Horn, benefits a scholarship fund for seniors graduating from Riverhead High School.

Ella Watts-Gorman, a 10-year-old from Southold, plays the title role and Robert Beodeker of Aquebogue, a veteran performer with RFCT, will play Daddy Warbucks.

After last year’s “Mame,” a story of bucking the Great Depression blues, Mr. Horn said that “Annie,” which is set in the same time period, expands on the theme for an audience that’s hungry for a message to help them through these tough economic times.

“The best part of this play is the optimistic approach that Annie has. Whatever was thrown this young girl’s way, she’s just upbeat,” he said. “It’s a little bright spot that people take away from this play that things will get better. It’s one of those shows where you come away humming a tune.”

“Annie” will be performed in the Riverhead High School auditorium on Nov. 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door and $5 for ages 17 and under. Tickets are also available at Wedel Sign Co. and Riverhead Florist or by calling 725-2009.

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