The John W. Engeman Theater presents MARY POPPINS


(Northport, NY- October 2016) – The John W. Engeman Theater announces the cast and creative team for MARY POPPINS. Performances begin on Thursday, November 17 at 8:00pm and run through Saturday, December 31, 2016.

Celebrate the holiday season with MARY POPPINS! Based on the classic Disney film, this is the story of a mysterious nanny who magically appears at the Banks household in Edwardian London to care for Jane and Michael Banks. Adventure abounds as she whisks them away to meet dancing chimney sweeps, shopkeepers and an array of colorful characters. Featuring an irresistible story, breathtaking dance numbers and beloved songs such as the Academy Award-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Feed the Birds,” “Step in Time” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” audiences will have a “Jolly Holiday” with Mary and discover a world where “Anything Can Happen” if you let it.
MARY POPPINS is directed and choreographed by DREW HUMPHREY (Engeman Theater: Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Chorus Line, White Christmas (Choreographer)) and musically directed by MICHAEL HOPEWELL (NYC: Once We Lived Here (U.S. Premiere), Billy Bishop Goes to War (Starring Dan Butler), Rent).


The Creative Team includes: JASON SIMMS (Scenic Design), KURT ALGER (Costume and Wig Design), ZACH BLANE (Lighting Design), LAURA SHUBERT (Sound Design), GAYLE SEAY and SCOTT WOJCIK of WOJCIK/SEAY CASTING (Casting Directors), KRISTIE MOSCHETTA (Props Design), and SEAN FRANCIS PATRICK (Production Stage Manager).


MARY POPPINS is produced by RICHARD DOLCE the Engeman Theater’s Producing Artistic Director.


The cast of MARY POPPINS features ANALISA LEAMING as Mary Poppins (Broadway: The King and I, On the Twentieth Century); LUKE HAWKINS as Bert (Broadway: Xanadu, Cirque du Soleil, Banana Shpeel); LIZ PEARCE as Winifred Banks (Broadway: Billy Elliot; National Tours: Little Shop of Horrors, Jesus Christ Superstar, Seussical); DAVID SCHMITTOU as George Banks (Engeman: A Christmas Story); KATHERINE LAFOUNTAIN as Jane Banks and CHRIS MCKENNA as Michael Banks.


Press Opening is Saturday, November 19th at 8:00pm


MARY POPPINS will play the following performance schedule: Thursdays at 8:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00.  Some Wednesday and Sunday evenings are available. Tickets are $76 on Saturday evenings, $71 all other performances and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.  Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted.


The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport is Long Island’s only year round professional theater company, casting actors from the Broadway talent pool. From curb to curtain, we have made it our business to provide affordable, quality, theater in an elegant one-of-a-kind location with outstanding facilities and extraordinary service. The renovated Theater offers stadium-style seating, state-of-the-art lighting and sound, a full orchestra pit, and a classic wood-paneled piano lounge with full bar.


For a complete show schedule and more information contact the theater directly at 631-261-2900, visit the box office at 250 Main Street, Northport or visit

Long Island Press Review: 1776: Hit Musical About Birth of Our Nation Opens at Northport’s Engeman Theater

The Long Island Press

October 8, 2016

Elise Pearlman


Expect to be thoroughly entertained by an enthralling slice of American history set to music as 1776, the multiple Tony Award-winning musical about the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which recently opened at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater.

The show spans the summer months of its title year. It’s uncomfortably hot in the fly-plagued Philadelphian Hall that is home to the Second Congressional Congress, and business is moving at a snail’s pace. John Adams, the Massachusetts delegate, is deeply frustrated because Congress has not moved forward on his proposal that the American colonies break free from British rule. In fact, a year has trickled through the hourglass, and Adams has earned the reputation of being obnoxious and disliked because of his persistence.

This was a rebellious act that no other British possession had ever dared contemplate. Yet life in the colonies had given rise to a new breed, less refined than the British perhaps, yet tantalizingly bold. Delegates teetered on the decision to brave “the sea in a skiff made of paper” for three sweltering months.

Eventually, when delegates do commit to a “yea” or “nay,” a deadlock emerges, with the South pitted against the North. To make matters more difficult, John Hancock, Congressional President, rules that the decision for or against independence must be unanimous, so “no colony be torn from its mother country without its own consent.”
Adams calls for a postponement and suggests that a document clarifying the reasons behind the break from Great Britain be drafted. Hence the Declaration of Independence would be written.

Jamie LaVerdiere, who boasts Broadway, national and international tour credits, previously appeared in Engeman’s The Cottage and Sweet Charity. He excels as Adams, the principled idealist and passionately annoying squeaky wheel who refuses to be silenced. Adams and his wife, Abigail, had a deep bond nurtured by written correspondence. Their responses to each other’s missives are depicted in the show. Jennifer Hope Wills, who has appeared on Broadway and regionally, does full justice to the role of Abigail. Their voices blend in sweet harmony in the songs, “Until Then,” and “Yours, Yours, Yours.”

Adams’ primary supporters in the fight for independence are Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. In his Engeman debut, Michael Glavan is superb as the taciturn Jefferson, who possessed the written eloquence needed to compose the Declaration of Independence.

David Studwell endows Franklin with both wisdom and a keen comic flair, the latter of which is showcased in the clever repartee that takes place when Franklin and Adams run into Martha Jefferson. She has been sent for by Adams because Jefferson has been pining for his wife. When asked by Franklin how the inordinately quiet Jefferson managed to snare such a comely bride, Martha (Adriana Milbrath) responds with “He Plays the Violin,” a saucy song full of innuendos and double entendres. It makes for delightful levity.

At the end of Act I, a bedraggled courier (Matthew Rafanelli), who silently trudges into Congressional Hall bearing messages from George Washington, surprises the audience with a song, “Momma Look Sharp.” It is a poignant and heartbreaking reminder of the true cost of war and Rafanelli renders it to perfection.

South Carolina’s Edward Rutledge (Peter Saide) similarly delivers a wake-up call about the North’s hypocrisy with respect to slavery. “Molasses to Rum” is a stunningly dramatic number about the harsh realities of triangular trade.

The action really heats up in Act II and its songs like these two that kept me glued to my seat.

Expect to experience an engrossing behind-the-scenes look into the personalities who catapulted America into revolution. You might be reminded, as I was, of another spellbinding Engeman hit, 12 Angry Men, where there is similar deliberation. However, in 1776, the destiny of not just one man, but of an entire nation hangs in the balance. We identify with the characters’ moral and philosophical quandaries because the Founding Fathers are depicted, not as demigods, but as flawed and all too human.

The show is a deeply thought-provoking one. Given the present political climate, I felt wistful about the spirit of moral integrity that permeated Congressional Hall. Despite fundamental differences, in the final analysis, the delegates listened to others and were open to compromise, which was, at times, hard wrought.

Director Igor Goldin has been at the helm of many of Engeman’s finest productions, including Memphis, West Side Story, South Pacific, and, of course, 12 Angry Men. His astute direction and attention to detail is outstanding, making for ensemble work at its best. He once again delivers a theatrical masterpiece.

One of the first things that I noticed was the authentic period costumes, in keeping with the persona of each character. Major kudos to Kurt Alger for his costume and wig design, which delight the eyes. Compliments also to the five piece band led by Music Director Eric Alsford.

I would be remiss if I did not call attention to the playbill, which is something of a keepsake. It contains an image of the original Declaration with its signatures. There is a picture of each delegate, the actor that plays him, and fascinating details about the men who shaped history.

1776 runs through Nov. 6. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, by calling 631-261-2900 or visiting


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Long Islander Review: ‘1776’ Packed With Historical Drama

The Long Islander

October 6, 2016

Janee Law

Audience members were taken back to the 1700s Thursday night, when John W. Engeman Theater’s production of musical “1776” hit the stage and told the intense and courageous tale of how the founding fathers declared independence from Great Britain.

 The Tony Award-winning musical covers a three-month period during the hot summer months in Philadelphia. Actors incorporate drama into the story, with occasional moments of comic relief, leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

With a talented creative design team, and director Igor Goldin, the stage opens in the chamber of the continental congress on May 8, 1776. With several tables scattered among the stage holding feather pens, actors are finely dressed in 18th century wings, neck cravats, suits, stockings and buckle shoes.

The 25 cast members embody each of their characters, and embrace the time period through mannerisms, speech and poise.

Captivating in his performance as found father John Adams, Jamie LaVerdiere is intense, passionate and persistent in his efforts for independence.

LaVerdiere said after the show that it is a “great deal of fun” to play his role.

“It’s an inspiring story. It was a brand new thing and he was a visionary,” LaVerdiere added. “It’s a dream role of mine. I’ve worked out here a couple times and I’m just so honored for the opportunity to be doing it anywhere that this will always be a special experience in my career.”

 In addition, his performance with Jennifer Hope Willis (Abigail Adams) gives a beautiful rendition of the letters that John and Abigail wrote to each other while John was away in Philadelphia. As the actors sing to each other in “Yours, Yours, Yours,” they deliver heartbreaking yearning as John confides in Abigail during stressful times.

In other numbers, like “Cool, Cool Considerate Men,” led by Benjamin Howes (as John Dickinson), actors take the stage in a powerful performance as men standing their ground to remain loyal to the crown.

With each passing ‘day,’ the story intensifies, as characters entice one another and make unwanted sacrifices for the colonies to officially declare independence.

Audience member Lynn Ratner, of Merrick, said after the show that she enjoyed the production.

“We weren’t sure what to expect from a Long Island theater,” she added. “It’s a very impressive group, very talented people. The voices were wonderful and it’s a wonderful story.”

Showtimes for “1776” at the John W. Engeman Theater (250 Main St., Northport) are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $71-$76 and can be purchased at the box office, or at


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Programming Insider Review: ‘1776’ is Alive and Well at the John Engeman Theater

Programming Insider

October 6, 2016

Marc Berman


If you happen to be a history buff who likes musicals, or vice versa, and you don’t feel like spending that proverbial “arm and leg” for a Broadway production, I have a solution. The show is called “1776,” which runs until November 6. The outlet is the landmark John W. Engeman Theater in the picturesque town of Northport, New York. And the experience, unless you are a past attendee at this regional playhouse, will leave you wondering why it took you so long to discover this memorable outlet.

“1776,” for course, is no stranger to anyone who fancies themselves as a musical theater aficionado. The 1969 Tony Award winning production, with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and book by Peter Stone, is based on the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It dramatizes the efforts of frustrated John Adams (played here by Jamie LaVeriere, who adeptly mixes angst and moments of comedy and romance) to persuade his colleagues in the thirteen colonies to vote for American independence and to sign the document.

Naturally, writing history can be a painstakingly serious task. But as representatives of the colonies gather for the rousing first number, “For God’s Sake, John, Sit Down,” the mixture of drama and a good dose of humor becomes the inherent path for this two-hour production. And the arrival of Jennifer Hope Wills as Abigail Adams, the wife of John (and one of only two females in the entire show), displayed his softer, showcasing what life was like at that time for anyone of a female persuasion. A shining moment was Wills belting out “Yours, Yours, Yours.”

John Adams was not alone in his history making efforts, and credit, in particular, goes to David Studwell as fatherly Benjamin Franklin, the voice of reason, and Michael Glavan as Thomas Jefferson. As Jefferson yearns to see his wife Martha (Adriana Milbrath), the result is the truly glorious rendition of “He Plays to Violin” with LaVerdiere and Studewell.

Position mention also goes to the cluttered cast, who housed in that painfully warm room bickering about the Declaration of Independence manage to each have a standout moment…or two. In particular is Peter Saide as Edward Rutledge, who belts out “Molasses to Rum” with gusto. But it is young Matthew Rafanelli as the Courier, whose emotional rendition of “Momma Look Sharp,” which details the loss of the boys in the battlefield that leaves the audience in tears before intermission.

A sharp contrast to the glorious sing-along “Mamma Mia!” this past summer, the arrival of “1776” and upcoming “Mary Poppins” proves there is something for every member of the family at the John Engeman Theater.


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Smithtown Matters Review: ‘1776’

Smithtown Matters

October 2, 2016

Jeb Ladouceur


When ‘1776’ opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 1969, its producers were well aware that the show was about to establish a number of significant ‘firsts.’ Especially interesting is the odd fact that during its three-year run (when the play moved to the St. James, and ultimately the Majestic Theatre) ‘1776’ became the first Broadway musical ever, wherein theatergoers witnessed a full half-hour of continual performance in the middle of Act I, during which no songs were offered! Indeed, until ‘1776’ came along, it was established tradition that instrumentalists were prohibited from leaving their orchestra pit in the course of an act … but this show became the exception. Thirty minutes was simply too long to sit and do nothing, it seems.

One can only suppose that the musicians’ union had something to say about the undoubtedly welcome verdict.

Even today, some forty-five years and one fairly successful revival later, theater impresarios are divided in their opinions as to whether this story about the signing of the Declaration of Independence should be a musical at all!

Those who favor the purely dramatic approach may have a point. For this reviewer, the most riveting segments of the lavish production are those defined by dialogue, rather than lyricism.

This is not to say that ‘1776’ deserves no place in the annals of musical theater … it is every bit as good as most efforts in the melodic genre … in fact, it should be noted that in its current format the show was nominated for five Tony Awards, winning three, and one of those three was for ‘Best Musical.’ Go figure.

Jamie LaVerdiere is superb in the starring role of John Adams, and Jennifer Hope Wills acquits herself admirably as the legendary Abigail who ultimately became America’s stunning First Lady. Together, she and LaVerdiere form an exquisite team. Wills’ extensive Broadway resumé is evident in this characterization; the part seems tailor-made for the widely-traveled star. Not to be overshadowed, however, is David Studwell playing the irrepressible Benjamin Franklin. He has some of the best lines in ‘1776,’ and deservedly so, if the history books (and hundred-dollar bills) are to be recognized as appropriate salutes to his persona.

Regular attendees at the Engeman will recognize Michael Glavan and Tom Lucca who turn in a believable Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock respectively. And Broadway standout Benjamin Howes delivers a splendid interpretation of the lesser-known John Dickinson, while James D. Schultz also shines in the somewhat more obscure role of Dr. Lyman Hall.

The actors playing the other dozen-or-so Declaration signatories also do a bang-up job, befitting their inclusion in the excellent company in which they find themselves.

As always, The Engeman has supplied its sterling cast with all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from the Northport company. This naturally begins with veteran Director Igor Goldin. He never, ever, disappoints!

Any critic would be remiss were they to overlook Kurt Alger’s wonderful costumes (including the powdered wigs, naturally) of the Revolutionary War era. Throw in Stephen Dobay’s wonderful set, and one can easily conclude that no cast anywhere was ever given such remarkable tools with which to execute their craft.

Chalk up another hit for The Engeman!


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