04/17/14 6:00am
04/17/2014 6:00 AM
Vail-Leavitt Music Hall

Vail-Leavitt Music Hall. (Credit: file photo)

To the editor:

For over a decade, Vail-Leavitt Music Hall has been dedicated to preserving Riverhead’s first landmark theater and providing educational, cultural and charitable benefits to our community. Its board is now asking you — the community we serve — for constructive input and support.  (more…)

04/13/14 3:38pm
04/13/2014 3:38 PM
Vail Leavitt Music Hall, Tim Bishop, Randy Altschuler, Debate

The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall on Peconic Avenue in Riverhead is modeled after the Ford Theater in Washington D.C. (Credit: Barbarellen Koch, file)

For over a decade, Vail-Leavitt Music Hall has been dedicated to preserving Riverhead’s first landmark theater and providing educational, cultural and charitable benefits to our community. Its board is now asking you — the community we serve — for constructive input and support.

(more…)

03/09/14 7:00am
03/09/2014 7:00 AM
Cindy Clifford (from left), Diane Tucci, Debbie Slevin and Megan Heckman sharing a piece of apple crumble pie at the Riverhead Diner and Grill before ordering their breakfast Monday morning. (Barbaraellen Koch Photo)

Cindy Clifford (from left) and Diane Tucci of Riverhead, Debbie Slevin of Hampton Bays and Megan Heckman of Eastport came up with the idea for the Apron Strings Project while having breakfast one morning in Riverhead. (Barbaraellen Koch Photo)

The team of East End women behind the very unique Apron Strings Project will host auditions for the production March 21-22 in Riverhead. (more…)

10/09/13 2:30pm
10/09/2013 2:30 PM

 

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO  |

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO |

Smack in the middle of mental illness awareness week, a group of individuals will be spending Thursday combining art and mental health advocacy on Thursday at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall.

Creative Explorations Network, a group who seeks “to self heal and build connections through artistic expression” according to their website, will host an artists’ exhibition and mental health awards luncheon from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The daylong event is open to the public and features an art gallery with works from nearly 20 artists, live music, and a presentation of two short films. The Mosaic Voices Show, an original one-act play, will be performed in the evening, and awards will be given to people who have performed outstanding advocacy work, particularly in the mental health field.

“It’s really more of a human rights celebration,” said Julie Burroughs Erdman, the group’s founder and associate director. “That’s the crux of what we’re doing.”

Founded in 2011, Creative Explorations Network is composed of artists, writers, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, and other craftspeople, according to their website. They meet primarily at members’ houses, usually on the East End.

“Flashbacks From My Past,” an animated documentary produced by artist and filmmaker Irra Verbitsky, is one of two short films that will play at Thursday’s event. Ms. Verbitsky, who lives in New York City and has a studio in Baiting Hollow, said the 13-minute movie is a blend of three of her other short films — “Starry Night, “Departure,” and “The Portrait.”

“Flashback From My Past,” Ms. Verbitsky said, is based on events from her life, such as the experience of being a little girl during World War II. An animation professor at New York City’s School of Visual Arts, Ms. Verbitsky drew each scene in “Flashback From My Past” by hand.

“It’s about my life, but it’s my life within the scope of what is going on in the world,” Ms. Verbitsky said of the film’s theme. Some of her paintings and drawings will also be displayed at the event’s art gallery, she said.

“Her films are so moving,” Ms. Burroughs Erdman said of Ms. Verbitsky’s work. “Part of what we want to do is kind of show the resilience of the human spirit, and part of the way to do that effectively is to sort of contrast what’s worst about humanity with what’s best.”

Guests can register for the exhibition and luncheon at www.creativeexplorations.org. If attending the luncheon, the event is $15 per person. All other guests are asked to make a suggested $10 donation, Ms. Burroughs Erdman said.

ryoung@timesreview.com

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

KEVIN WOOD COURTESY PHOTO | Tech. Sgt. Kevin Moos surprises his kids with an onstage appearance at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall.

The Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre’s recent production of “Last Stop … Broadway” had a surprise ending at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall.

And it had nothing to do with the plot.

At the conclusion of the play, when the full cast was being introduced to the audience, one additional introduction was made — for someone who wasn’t a performer.

Technical Sergeant Kevin Moos had just returned that Friday afternoon from a six-month tour of duty in southwest Asia as a security forces member for the 106th Air National Guard in Westhampton, where he is a reservist.

His introduction to the audience came as a particular surprise to three of the cast members: his kids.

“It’s the first time they’ve seen me in seven months,” Tech. Sgt. Moos said after his big appearance. “It was very moving.”

His oldest daughter, Kyra, 13, “was three people away when I popped out from backstage, and she just ran up and hugged me,” he said. His other two children, daughter Kaelin, 12, and son, Connor, 8, were in the audience and also ran up on the stage when they saw him, he said.

“It’s great to be recognized, but I wasn’t looking for that,” Tech. Sgt. Moos said. “I was all teary-eyed and everything, so I didn’t really want to display that to the community.

“But it was really nice. I got a standing ovation.”

Tech. Sgt. Moos said he had communicated with the show’s producer, Christine Springer, on Facebook and told her he’d be arriving that afternoon,

“She didn’t want me to upset the cast by showing up an hour before opening night,” he said. “So at the end of the show, they introduced me to the audience and I surprised my children on stage.”

Tech. Sgt. Moos has been with the 106th in Westhampton for more than 20 years.

He had left for training on Feb. 10 and headed out a month later on a tour of duty in Southwest Asia.

He said he’s home “indefinitely” now and hopes to retire soon.

tgannon@timesreview.com

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.

05/30/13 1:48pm
05/30/2013 1:48 PM
Downtown Riverhead, Blues & Music Festival, Vail-Leavitt

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Robert Ross of NYC at the 2012 Blues Festival in June.

The Riverhead Blues Festival as we know it is no more.

At least for this year.

Vail-Leavitt Music Hall

Vail-Leavitt Music Hall

Bob Barta, president of downtown’s Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, confirmed Thursday theater officials did not submit an application to hold the two-day music festival on town property downtown.

The once-wildly popular festival, which has served as the historic theater’s chief fundraiser, will likely be restructured as a series of in-house events, tentatively scheduled for September, Mr. Barta said.

Mr. Barta said Vail-Leavitt officials hope to hold the festival outdoors in the future.

“We’re unsure at this point, but we’re trying to work things so that we can hopefully have it outdoors in coming years,” he said.

Mr. Barta said there were “a couple of factors involved” regarding Vail-Leavitt’s decision to call off the outdoor festival, but could not comment further at this time.

Initially run by the downtown Business Improvement District, the original Riverhead Blues Festival ran into financial troubles and for the past six years — save for another year it was canceled, in 2011 — the festival has been run as a fundraiser for the historic Vail-Leavitt Music Hall on Peconic Avenue.

The festival had traditionally been held in July until last year, when it moved to June and lost $8,720, Vail-Leavitt officials have said.

Theater officials had said in March they were hoping to hold a two-day outdoor event in September on the north side of Main Street.

The festival has always been held on the south side of Main Street.

ryoung@timesreview.com

05/01/13 4:00pm

JOHN NEELY FILE PHOTO | Sophia Parise (left) accepts her first place award last year from Rose Sanders in the Riverhead Idol contest, which will be held in June this year.

Riverhead Idol will be back this year, a little later than usual, and it will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary, said Riverhead Councilman Jim Wooten, who annually serves as the master of ceremony for the singing contest.

This year’s competition will be held at 2 p.m. June 9 at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, Mr. Wooten said.

“We normally have it in March, and we were going to do it in early May, but between the testing they were having at the schools, and the fact that they they had a play going on, we moved it back,” he said. “A lot of the kids in the contest are multi-talented — they are in the choir and in band and in plays and the Blue Masques — so we wanted to make sure they are all done with those things first.”

This year’s Idol will be held in the afternoon for the first time because that’s when the theater was available, Mr. Wooten said.

Auditions will be held May 15 at Riverhead High School and at the middle school the next day. May 17 may also be used for auditions, he said.

From there, the field will be narrowed down to about a dozen singers for the June 9 show.

“Last year, we had about 40 people audition,” Mr. Wooten said.

The fact that the town doesn’t have a Youth Bureau director this year also may have contributed to the show’s later date, Mr. Wooten said.

“I think there was some confusion as to who would be running this,” he said.

Longtime Youth Bureau director Donna Lyczkowski retired last August and her position was not filled. The recreation department took over those duties.

Mr. Wooten said recreation department superintendent Ray Coyne took the job along with volunteers who served on the Riverhead Youth Advisory Committee and set up the June 9 date. The youth bureau and the advisory committee had produced the event in years past, Mr. Wooten said.

tgannon@timesreview.com