The cast list had been set and one single rehearsal was held for “The Producers” at North Fork Community Theatre in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic upended plans and forced cancellations.
Then uncertain about what the future would hold, the cast and crew rolled with the punches. They logged into Zoom meetings to run lines and sang together virtually. Choreography routines were recorded on iPhone cameras so dancers could practice their moves at home. Soon, it became evident that the show would not, in fact, go on — not in 2020 at least.
But now, two years later than originally planned, the curtain will rise on the long-awaited production at the Mattituck theater.
“The mantra of ‘the show must go on’ is huge,” said director Mary Kalich. “We were just hellbent on making this happen.”
The 2001 musical is based on the 1967 Mel Brooks film about a pair of schemers who conspire to produce the biggest flop on Broadway.
Ms. Kalich said the musical farce features big dance numbers and captures the glitz and glamour of the Great White Way, while also making you laugh out loud.
“It’s off-the-wall hysterical. Each of the actors finds different little nuances in the lines and the gags and it makes me laugh and laugh and laugh at every rehearsal,” she said. “It never gets old.”
After two years living through a depressing reality, the comedic timing is a welcome remedy. “It’s exactly what we think people need,” Ms. Kalich said.
The cast of about 25 is putting the finishing touches on the show, set to open Thursday, May 12. There are hundreds of costume changes and props to keep track of, tech to troubleshoot and tap shoes to polish to bring the intricate productionto life.
Ms. Kalich said the show’s real-life associate producers, Michael and Emilie Corey, enabled them to take the show to the next level.
Certain performances will feature a “guest” producer in a walk-on role as a prison guard — and you may recognize their faces from the community. Jeff Strong of Strong’s Marine will play the role on May 13, followed by Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards (May 14), Lori Cohen of CrossFit North Tribe & North Fork Women (May 15), Paul Romanelli of Suffolk Security Systems (May 19), town councilman Greg Doroski (May 20), Jill Schroeder of JABS (May 21), Kelly Siry of North Fork Endless Summer (May 22), Cathy Demeroto of CAST (May 26), Amy Loeb of Peconic Bay Medical Center (May 27), Stacey Soloviev (May 28) and Holly Browder of Browder’s Birds (May 29).
“We’re always looking for ways to engage other parts of the community,” Ms. Kalich said. “It draws us closer to the people on the North Fork.”
In addition to preparing for the production — NFCT’s first musical since the COVID-19 shutdown — volunteers are also completing some renovations to the attic and downstairs bathrooms, building on work done before the pandemic to upgrade infrastructure and technology in the historic building.
Current donations will be matched up to $100,000, Ms. Kalich said, which will help the theater enter the next phase of improvements, set to addressthe aesthetic of the auditorium and remove poles that block sightlines from some seats.
The seats themselves, Ms. Kalich said, are hand-me-downs from the Westhampton air base that were donated to NFCT in 1982. “We fix them on a weekly basis,” she said.
The theater’s fundraising effort will continue with its annual gala, planned for Saturday, June 11, at Veterans Beach in Mattituck, overlooking Peconic Bay.
Matinee and evening “seatings” are planned and the event will feature catering by Lucharitos, silent and live auctions and a preview of NFCT’s Summer Youth on Stage production of “Rent.”
Tickets, which are now on sale for the run through May 29, are selling fast, Ms. Kalich said. She believes it’s a combination of people wanting to get back to seeing live theater and to be involved in the community again. “We’re just really excited about it,” she said.
“The Producers” will be performed Thursdays through Sundays from May 12 to May 29. Show times are 8 p.m. on Thursdays-Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. onSundays.
There will be an opening night reception sponsored by the Village Cheese Shop at 7 p.m. on May 12. Tickets are $25 and can be reserved online at nfct.com or by calling the box office at 631-298-6328.