Times of Huntington-Northport Review: Engeman presents a ‘Mamma Mia!’ fit for a ‘Dancing Queen’

Times Beacon Record

July 26, 2016

Rita J. Egan

 

The Long Island premiere of “Mamma Mia!,” the jukebox musical that features an assortment of iconic songs from the Swedish pop group ABBA, opened at the John W. Engeman Theater last week. And, it appears the name of the game for the Northport venue is success as it has produced another Broadway-quality show right here on the North Shore.

Director Antoinette DiPietropolo skillfully directs a multitalented cast of 20 who recreate the warmth, charm and energy that audiences loved when the production ran on Broadway for 14 years.

Written by Catherine Johnson, with music and lyrics by former ABBA members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, as well as some songs with Stig Anderson, “Mamma Mia!” tells the touching story of 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan who lives in a taverna on a small Greek island with her mother Donna. After reading her mother’s old diary, Sophie, who is about to marry her fiancé Sky, decides to invite three men from the single Donna’s past, one that may be the young woman’s father. While the threesome’s visit may or may not bring the answer Sophie is looking for, it does take Donna on a wonderful musical trip down memory lane.

Portraying Sophie’s mother, Donna Sheridan, is Michelle Dawson, who played the character in the Broadway National tour. The actress perfectly embodies the quirky, free-spirited, earthy nature of Donna, and she has great stage presence, too. With her animated facial expressions and dynamite smile, it’s easy for the audience to decipher whether Donna is in agony over past mistakes or enjoying beautiful memories. Her vocals are strong on every number, and when it comes to “The Winner Takes It All,” in the beginning of the song she uses her singing talents to deliver the lyrics as if they were a monologue, and then she powerfully builds the song up to its heartbreaking ending.

Dawson also shows off her comedic abilities with Heather Patterson King and Robin Lounsbury, who play her visiting friends Tanya and Rosie, respectively. The three are funny during the song “Chiquitita” where Tanya and Rosie try to cheer their friend up, and then deliver a well-executed “Dancing Queen” as they remember their days as Donna and the Dynamos. A couple of scenes later, they treat the audience to their fantastic vocal talents once more with “Super Trouper.”

King is perfect as the sophisticated yet fun-loving Tanya, and during Act II, she sings “Does Your Mother Know” like a rock goddess. Lounsbury as Rosie is funny and delightfully carefree, especially during the number “Take a Chance on Me” where she playfully lets one of Donna’s former lovers, Bill, know exactly how she feels.

Hannah Slabaugh as Sophie Sheridan is everything you expect the young woman to be — sweet, loving, curious and determined. She captures Sophie’s spirit perfectly, and her vocals are lovely on every song she sings.

Sean Hayden is charming and sweet as Sam Carmichael, one of Sophie’s potential fathers. On opening day, when Sam sang “Knowing Me, Knowing You” to the young woman, it seemed as if both Carmichael and Slabaugh were misty-eyed.

Frank Vlastnik is well-cast as the buttoned-up yet kind Harry, and during Act II, Vlastnik and Dawson treat the audience to a tender version of “Our Last Summer.” Jeff Williams captures the sexy, adventurous nature of Bill Austin and at the same time easily shows the character’s softer side. He demonstrates good vocals on the numbers he takes part in, too. Jacob Dickey is adorable and endearing as Sky, Sophie’s fiancé. Dickey possesses the handsome good looks of boy band member, but when he sings, he performs his parts like a successful solo artist. Jennifer Seifter (Ali), Lydia Ruth Dawson (Lisa), Darius Jordan Lee (Eddie) and Christopher Hlinka (Pepper) as Sophie’s and Sky’s best friends enhance the upbeat feel of the musical, and Hlinka shows a good amount of comedic ability when Pepper attempts to seduce Tanya.

Director DiPietropolo also choreographed the Northport production, and her choreography is at its finest at the end of Act I when the whole cast as well as ensemble delivers a fun, energetic “Voulez-Vous.” As far as the striking set in shades of blue and sand with floral accents, it’s worthy of a stage on the Great White Way.

Designed by DT Willis, the set includes doors that allow the actors to move effortlessly on and off stage as well as a section that easily switches from a front door to a bedroom. Not to be forgotten is the band featuring Alexander Rovang (conductor/keyboard), Anthony Brindisi (keyboard 2), Douglas Baldwin (guitars), Russ Brown (bass) and Josh Endlich (drums). The musicians do an excellent job recreating the instrumentals of the cherished ABBA tunes.

After the bows on opening night, in true “Mamma Mia!” musical form, the cast had no trouble getting the audience to get up and dance with them to favorite ABBA hits. The pop group once sang “the winner takes it all,” and in the case of the Northport production, the cast, crew and audience all walk away winners.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main Street, Northport, will present “Mamma Mia!” through Sept. 11. Tickets are $76 for Saturday evening performances and $71 for all other performances. For more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

 

Read online: www.tbrnewsmedia.com/engeman-presents-a-mamma-mia-fit-for-a-dancing-queen

NY Theatre Guide Review: ‘Mamma Mia!’ at John W. Engeman Theater

NY Theatre Guide

July 26, 2016

Kristen Weyer

 

The John W. Engeman Theater opens its 10th season with Mamma Mia!  This feel-good musical, with a book by Catherine Johnson, is written around the music of Swedish singing group ABBA.  With music and lyrics by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and occasionally Stig Anderson, this show features such classic hits as “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money, Money,” and naturally “Mamma Mia,” to name only a few.  Directed and choreographed by Antoinette DiPietropolo, Mamma Mia!  is a fun and energetic good time

Taking place on an idyllic Greek island, this romantic comedy has a slightly twisted, yet very humorous plotline.  Sophie (Hannah Slabaugh) is getting married, and she wants her father to walk her down the aisle.  The problem is, she has no idea who he is.  Her mother, Donna (Michelle Dawson), has raised her as a single mom her entire life. Not letting this deter her, Sophie secretly reads her mom’s old diary and discovers that she has three potential fathers!  So unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie invites all three men to her wedding, hoping to discover which one of them is her father.  Could it be handsome architect Sam Carmichael (Sean Hayden)?  The intrepid adventurer Bill Austin (Jeff Williams)?  Or perhaps the straight-laced London banker Harry Bright (Frank Vlastnik)?  When all three accept the invites, returning to the island, and woman, they haven’t seen in twenty years…well what could possibly go wrong?  As confusion and comedy reign supreme, audiences of varying ages will enjoy the amusing antics and marvelous music of this terrific show.

The Engeman’s production of Mamma Mia! is very well done.  A beautiful set by DT Willis, with just the right touch of blue, creates the perfect backdrop for this Greek comedy.  While DiPietropolo shows great talent in both direction and choreography throughout the production, it is quite noticeable during “Money, Money, Money,” and “Lay All Your Love On Me,” which are particularly good.  The dance numbers are pure fun, and the fabulous costuming by Tristan Raines ranges from classic beachy, to outrageously enjoyable throwbacks to the ‘70s. Music Director James Olmstead and the entire band, do a superb job with this fast-paced score.

The ensemble is full of talented dancers and singers.  Hannah Slabaugh and Jacob Dickey make a cute couple, with good chemistry as Sophie and Sky.  Michelle Dawson gives a convincing portrayal of the beleaguered Donna, while also boasting some impressive vocals.  Heather Patterson King and Robin Lounsbury are very funny as Donna’s best friends Tanya and Rosie.  Sean Hayden does a wonderful job portraying Sam’s trepidation of once again seeing Donna.  Jeff Williams’ laid back performance of Bill is perfect for his character, and his believable Australian accent adds that extra touch.  In contrast is Frank Vlastnik as the proper Harry, whose desire to loosen up and be spontaneous is endearing.

With lots of laughs, and fantastic fun, Mamma Mia! is an entertaining escape for the whole family.

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.

Advisory: Sexual references and innuendo.

Mamma Mia! runs until September 11, 2016 and is presented at the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport. For more information, click here.

 

Read online: www.nytheatreguide.com/2016/07/theatre-review-mamma-mia-at-john-w-engeman-theater

Smithtown Matters Review: MAMMA MIA!

Smithtown Matters

July 24, 2016

Jeb Ladouceur

 

Granted, many fans of the feel-good ‘Mamma Mia!’ featuring songs like “Dancing Queen,” … “The Winner Takes It All,” … and of course the title track … probably identify the play with the so-so motion picture adaptation starring the great Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. But the fact is, the movie was greeted with mixed reviews at best. It made $600 million with an investment of $50 million. In Hollywood parlance … hardly a blockbuster!

The stage show that opened in London’s West End in 1999, on the other hand, has been attended by 60 million theatergoers over the years, and it’s grossed a whopping two billion bucks! In fact, the musical played almost 6000 performances on Broadway alone, making ‘Mamma Mia!’ the longest running ‘Jukebox’ show in the Great White Way’s history!

But as The Bard has written in ‘The Tempest’ … “What is past is prologue.” In other words, historical events merely set the stage for what is about to take place today. And what’s currently going on at Northport’s snazzy Engeman Theatre is really quite a marvelous piece of show business indeed.

First, let’s get that silly definition disposed of: The term ‘Jukebox Musical,’ I hasten to point out, is not a pejorative; it merely defines a stage or film musical that uses previously released popular songs as its score. And it should be further noted that ‘Mamma Mia’s’ unquestioned success has contributed greatly to the acceptance of the genre throughout the world.

I frankly prefer not to use the ‘Jukebox’ idiom because a number of the people I know in this critiquing business tend to equate the expression with artificiality … but if there’s anything synthetic about Music Director James Olmstead’s appealing numbers at the heart of this show, I’ll eat my hat. The plain fact of the matter is that once any musical is revived, and new life is breathed into its familiar score, the show has essentially become the equivalent of what the theater industry foolishly (in this critic’s view) chooses to call a ‘Jukebox Musical.’

Be that as it may, the lovely Michelle Dawson (Donna Sheridan) wastes no time in assuming center stage with poise and élan in this story that takes place on a Greek island. You see … ‘Donna’s’ little girl (Sophie), played by Hannah Slabaugh, is getting married in the morning, but before she walks down the aisle, she’s determined to find the answer to something that obsesses her—which of three potential candidates (each of whom obviously has a 20-year-old history with Mamma)—is her daddy?

The potential for grown-up farce in this situation is evident. And the audience at the sold-out Engeman press opening responded to the rib-tickling challenge predictably.

Ms. Dawson has played ‘Mamma Mia!’ in the Big Town, as have performers Sean Hayden, and Jacob Dickey … and their experience shows. But the rest of the featured cast, though they’re new to this Tony-nominated play, are equally at home. They include Robin Loonsbury, Heather Patterson King, Jeff Williams, and Frank Vlastnik (a standout as Harry Bright) and they owe a lot to veteran Director-Choreographer Antoinette Dipietropolo and her creative team. These seasoned experts make the players look great!

There are a dozen more cast members who appear for our edification in this summertime toe-tapping delight, and unless I miss my guess, most of them are on their way to feature status … and even stardom.

After so many years of constantly producing Broadway quality shows, and individual virtuoso performances, there’s no reason to believe that appearance on the Engeman stage won’t ultimately lead these kids all the way to the top.

Read online: www.smithtownmatters.com/long-island-theater/2016/7/24/theater-review-mamma-mia.html

The Long Islander Review: Millie Supplies Laughs in Lively Performance

The Long Islander
June 23, 2016
Janee Law

Where the hair is short and the dresses sparkle and flap, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” takes audiences back to the roaring 20s, to witness a lively and energetic performance at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport Village.

At the height of the Jazz age in New York City, audiences are in for a night of laughter and sensational entertainment, which includes singing, tap dancing, scat singing and more.

The production, which on Broadway has won six Tony awards, follows the original story and screenplay by Richard Morris for the 1967 Universal Pictures film.

At Engeman Theater, choreography is done by Dena DiGiacinto and Drew Humphrey, who also directed the production. The story follows the journey of Millie Dillmount (Tessa Grady), a quirky and determined flapper, who moves from Kansas to Manhattan in search of a husband, finding what she initially tried to avoid: love.

In this journey, Millie meets a variety of characters that help her along the way including Miss Dorothy Brown (Sarah Stevens), a curly cued redhead, who shocks the crowd with pipes that can raise the ceiling.

Millie also meets Jimmy Smith (Daniel Plimpton), an eligible suitor who does whatever it takes to pursue Millie, including standing on the ledge of a window in “I Turned the Corner.”

In addition to the talented cast, Mrs. Meers (Michele Ragusa), owner of Hotel Priscilla who kidnaps orphaned women into slavery, had the crowd laughing every time she stepped on stage. With a mix of evil and humor and a poisonous apple has her weapon of choice, Mrs. Meers reflects classic Disney villains in “They Don’t Know.”

“I wanted to be sure that I created her with taste and with care and I think I’ve achieved that,” Ragusa said. “As an actor, to have a role where there’s really no boundaries at all is incredibly freeing. It’s so fun and to hear the response from the audience just feels awesome.”

Ragusa, who also appeared in Engeman’s “Lend Me A Tenor” and “Boeing, Boeing,” said her favorite scene to perform was with the laundry basket and “Muqin,” sung by Ching Ho (Anthony Chan) and Bun Foo (Carl Hsu). Although sung in Chinese, a screen is pulled down from the ceiling for the audience to follow the subtitles.

In the opening of Act II, the audience is jumped back into the excitement where a ban of women join together in an energetic tap dancing number, “Forget About the Boy.” The scene had the audience whistling, shouting and clapping with thrill.

“The voices were incredible,” said Dorothy Gouzoules, of East Northport, who was in the crowd. “You couldn’t imagine anybody else in the roles. It was very entertaining, and it kept you awake.”

Lisa Bentivegna, of Centerport, said she enjoyed the whole performance, from the singing and the acting.

“It was very upbeat, lively and Mrs. Meers was pretty funny,” she added.

When the curtains closed, the ensemble received a standing ovation from the audience.

The last day to witness the production is July 10. Showtimes are Thursdays and Fridays, at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the 250 Main St. box office, or at Engemantheater.com, and range $69-$74.

Read online at www.longislandernews.com/life-and-style/

The John W. Engeman Theater presents MAMMA MIA!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Northport, NY- June 2016) – The John W. Engeman Theater announces the cast and creative team for MAMMA MIA!  Performances begin on Thursday, July 21 at 8:00pm and run through Sunday, September 11, 2016.

Over 60 million people around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story and the music that make MAMMA MIA! the ultimate feel-good show! This tale full of sun and fun unfolds on a Greek island paradise when, on the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years before. Based on the music of Swedish pop group ABBA, this Tony Award-nominated musical includes hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “The Winner Takes It All,” and many, many more!

MAMMA MIA! is produced by RICHARD T. DOLCE the Engeman Theater’s Producing Artistic Director.

The Director and Choreographer is ANTOINETTE DIPIETROPOLO (Engeman Theater: Memphis, Miracle on 34th Street, The Producers, A Christmas Story, Evita!, The Music Man, South Pacific, Hairspray, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change and Nunsense. Off Broadway: With Glee. Regional: Annie, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago, Ragtime. National Tour: How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Associate Director/Choreographer for The Big Apple Circus).  The Musical Director is JAMES OLMSTEAD (Engeman Theater: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Memphis, West Side Story, The Producers, A Chorus Line, Evita. Broadway: Radio City’s New York Spring Spectacular (Keyboardist), On Your Feet! (Copyist). Off Broadway Music Director: 54 Below/Feinstein’s Broadway Swinger, Birdland’s BAA 10th Anniversary Concert, Laurie Beechman’s Perfectly Complicated. Off Broadway Synth Programmer: Fun Home. Composer: Mambo Italiano, Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist.).

 

The Creative Team includes: DT WILLIS (Scenic Design), TRISTAN RAINES (Costume Design), ADAM HONORE (Lighting Design), ADAM SHUBERT (Sound Design), GAYLE SEAY and SCOTT WOJCIK of WOJCIK/SEAY CASTING (Casting Directors), KRISTIE MOSCHETTA (Props Design), DENISE WILCOX (Production Stage Manager), and MEGAN E. COUTTS (Assistant Stage Manager).

 

The cast of MAMMA MIA! features MICHELLE DAWSON as Donna Sheridan (Broadway: Mamma Mia!, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, Ragtime, Showboat, & Cyrano); JACOB DICKEY as Sky (Regional: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Theatre Raleigh), Mamma Mia! (Royal Caribbean), Next to Normal (Charleston Stage); SEAN HAYDEN as Sam Carmichael (Broadway national tours: Lincoln Center’s The Light in the Piazza and Mamma Mia! Off Broadway: Confidentially, Cole); HEATHER PATTERSON KING as Tanya (Regional and NY: Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof, The Wizard of Oz); ROBIN LOUNSBURY as Rosie (Regional: Fulton Theatre, Barrington Stage, Paper Mill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre); HANNAH SLABAUGH as Sophie Sheridan (National Tour: Annie; NYC: Babes in Arms (Musicals Tonight); JEFF WILLIAMS as Bill Austin (Broadway/National Tour: The Music Man, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Pirate Queen, A Christmas Carol, The Will Rogers Follies, Me and My Girl); FRANK VLASTNIK as Harry Bright (Engeman Theater: The Sunshine Boys; Broadway: A Year with Frog and Toad, Sweet Smell of Success, Big. Off-Broadway: Sondheim’s Saturday Night).

The cast also includes: LYDIA RUTH DAWSON, JOEY DIPPEL, JAY GAMBOA, CHRISTOPHER HLINKA, STEPHANIE ISRAELSON, YURINA KUTSUKAKE, DARIUS JORDAN LEE, SUZANNE MASON, EDWARD MISKIE, ANJULI REGNIER, AVERY ROYAL and JENNIFER SEIFTER.

Press Opening is Saturday, July 23rd at 8:00pm

 

MAMMA MIA! 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 www.EngemanTheater.com, 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 www.EngemanTheater.com

Long Island Press Review: A Thoroughly Marvelous ‘Millie’ Opens at Engeman Theater

Long Island Press
June 6, 2016
Elise Pearlman

Thoroughly Modern Millie—the most highly acclaimed show of 2002, and winner of both Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical—has opened at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater.

The theater has pulled out all the stops in its retelling of the madcap escapades of a small town girl who casts aside her provincial background to embrace the ‘modern’ lifestyle of 1920s Manhattan. To truly capture the spirit of the decade that roared, the cast, music, singing, dancing, choreography, lighting, set and costume design have to be exemplary. Engeman’s production delivers on every level. Simply put, Thoroughly Modern Millie is a delight not to be missed.

The era, known alternately as the Roaring Twenties, the Crazy Years (France) and the Golden Years (Germany), was ushered in by unprecedented economic growth and prosperity. In this period of unbridled optimism and risk-taking, dynamic cultural changes took place. Emboldened by the right to vote, women entered the workforce in droves and cast off prim and proper stereotypes. In big cities around the world, people’s zest for life was reflected in music (jazz), dance, architectural styles (art deco) and elaborate, colorful trends in fashion.

As the show opens, Millie Dillmount (Tessa Grady), a starry-eyed ingénue from a “one-light town” in Kansas, has fulfilled her dream of getting to New York City. She literally makes her transformation from sedate small town girl to a free-spirited ‘modern’ before our eyes. Sporting newly bobbed hair, her stunning yellow outfit sets her apart from the ensemble clothed in light colored, metallic-toned costumes. As Millie sings and dances against a shimmering backdrop depicting the Manhattan skyline, she is the centerpiece of the title number “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Prepare to be smitten.

Alas, Millie does not remain starry-eyed for long. She is summarily stripped of her purse, hat and even one shoe by a thief. What’s a penniless girl to do?

A passerby, Jimmy Smith (Daniel Plimpton) who has seen the likes of Mille before and warns her to go back home, dishes out one piece of handy advice—to seek lodging at Hotel Priscilla, where the owner is known to be lenient to financially strapped young single women seeking fame and fortune in the big city.

Millie’s plan for putting an end to her financial woes is by no means a feminist one. She envisions finding a single, well-to-do boss and marrying him. Love doesn’t have to figure into the equation in this brave new world where reason is supposed to preside over romance. Or does it?

Millie finds what she is looking for in the very business-like Trevor Graydon (Tim Rogan) at the Sincere Trust Insurance Company. As Millie takes her place at the typewriter to show off her prowess, she sets the stage for “The Speed Test,” one of the show’s most engaging and intricately timed musical numbers. The entire ensemble tap-dances as Millie types and tap-dances beneath the desk. Rogan is terrific, and his no nonsense demeanor is the perfect foil for Grady’s exuberance.

Meanwhile, something clearly unsavory is brewing at Hotel Priscilla, where young boarders are disappearing at an alarming rate. Don’t let the red-and-black kimono worn by the owner, Mrs. Meers, fool you. This woman—who boasts the world’s worst Chinese accent—is really a frustrated actress who is making a bundle selling girls with no family ties into white slavery. Mrs. Meers, played by Michele Ragusa, is uproariously funny as are her partners-in-crime, brothers Ching Ho (Anthony Chan) and Bun Foo (Carl Hsu).

The recent immigrants are trying to save enough money to bring their mother from Hong Kong. I won’t give away the details, but their antics and their unexpected parody (rendered in song, of course) had the audience laughing uncontrollably.

Jimmy and Millie run into each other again, and before they know it, they are quasi-dating yet both remain conflicted. Jimmy reflects on this in his soul-searching solo, “What Do I Need With Love?”

Millie finds an unlikely confidante in stylish socialite and singer Muzzy Van Hossmere (Nicole Powell), whom she meets through Jimmy. Ms. Powell’s extremely impressive voice is showcased in “Only in New York” and “Long As I’m Here With You.”

Jonathan Collins’ sets never fail to astound and this versatile design pays homage to the art deco motif that defined the ‘20s. It’s a masterpiece that was eight months in the making and it shows.

Collins said that the design called for “a steel emerald city.”

“I wanted to make it as detailed and interesting as possible,” he said of the trio of architectural portals which are ornamented with three different silvers and golds and art deco’s signature repeating bold geometric shapes.

Cory Pattak uses lighting to accent this set throughout the production and the results are stunning. I was particularly wowed by the dreamy, surrealistic use of oranges and magentas in the scene in the speakeasy where intoxicated patrons stumble around and appear to dance in slow motion.

Kurt Alger has done a phenomenal job with costume and wig design. The boldly striped suits, delicious jewel-hued fringed and sequined gowns, feather boas, and cloches speak authentically to the period and are utterly fabulous.

Kudos to Drew Humphrey, whose direction is flawless. He also choreographed the dance numbers with Dena DiGiacinto, and their efforts will leave you wanting more.

Wojcik/Seay Casting has outdone itself in assembling one of the most talented troupes ever to appear on the Engeman Stage. Tessa Grady, the star of the show, is a true gem.
As always, the impeccable performance by the band led by James Olmstead (who does double duty as conductor and keyboardist) is indispensable to creating the era’s ambiance.

Thoroughly Modern Millie runs through July 10. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, by calling 631-261-2900 or visiting www.engemantheater.com

Read online at www.longislandpress.com/2016/06/06/a-thoroughly-marvelous-millie-opens-at-engeman-theater/

NY Times Review: ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ in Northport Tap-Dances Around Dated Mores

NY Times
June 4, 2016
Aileen Jacobson

As you watch “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” it is difficult to remember that the old-fashioned musical set in 1922 dates only to a 2002 Broadway debut. Its staging at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport reinforces that sense of nostalgia, as it blithely features a time when the “modern” goal of a smart gal was to marry for money instead of love, and when “white slavery” was something to joke about.

The audiences that poured into the hit show during its more than two-year Broadway run, during which it picked up six Tony Awards, including best musical, apparently weren’t bothered by those themes. And, indeed, that effervescent production, which made Sutton Foster a star, erased, or at least plowed through, most misgivings with precision tap-dancing and quirky performances that emphasized sending up, rather than accepting, the mores of the 1920s. I remember liking the show.

These days, the kidnapping (or trafficking) of women, as well as men and children, is a more serious topic. Marrying for money, of course, still goes on, but it’s not considered cutting edge. Creating a “Millie” that overcomes shifting attitudes must still be possible, but the Engeman production, under Drew Humphrey’s direction, never gets as fabulously funny as it needs to, though it is largely enjoyable.

The choreography, by Mr. Humphrey and Dena DiGiacinto, often becomes tedious, relying on repetitive stylized moves while the dancers, in one or two rows, face the audience. The set, designed by Jonathan Collins, features repeated Art Deco designs, as do the glittery costumes by Kurt Alger. Everything is too coordinated.

Fortunately, the singing, acting and dancing are all solid. Tessa Grady is charming as Millie Dillmount, who arrives in New York from Salina, Kan., determined to stay no matter what, even after she is mugged and left with no purse, hat or scarf and only one shoe. Jimmy Smith, a dapper young man she trips so he will stop to help her, advises her to return to Kansas. When she refuses, he steers her toward a hotel for actresses. “They’re used to girls who can’t pay,” Jimmy, nicely played by Daniel Plimpton, tells her.

It turns out that the hotel’s proprietor, Mrs. Meers, makes her money by kidnapping some of the aspiring actresses and selling them into slavery in Hong Kong. Mrs. Meers (Michele Ragusa) wears a kimono and speaks in a stereotypical accent that occasionally sounds more Southern American than Southeast Asian. Her posturing, though strange, is supposed to be part of the comedy, because as the script makes clear, she is American-born and not of Chinese heritage at all.

Ms. Ragusa is funny, though not as hilarious as intended. Her best moments come in interactions with two Chinese brothers — engagingly played by Anthony Chan and Carl Hsu — who handle laundry for the hotel and participate in the kidnapping scheme. Watch for their hilarious second-act “Muqin,” in which the brothers sing “My Mammy” in Chinese while supertitles do the translating.

The brothers stop cooperating after one of them suddenly falls in love with the latest victim, Miss Dorothy Brown (a lovely, strong-voiced Sarah Stevens), a friend of Millie’s. Another man who falls instantly for Dorothy is Trevor Graydon (Tim Rogan), Millie’s wealthy boss and the man she hopes to marry. Mr. Rogan masters “The Speed Test,” a quick-paced patter song with music borrowed from Arthur Sullivan and some lyrics from W. S. Gilbert, though most of the words, about stenography, are by Dick Scanlan.

Though the musical uses other borrowed material, most songs are original. Mr. Scanlan wrote all of the new lyrics and wrote the show’s book with Richard Morris, who wrote the screenplay for the 1967 movie, starring Julie Andrews, upon which the musical is loosely based. Among the borrowed songs is “I’m Falling in Love with Someone,” a duet ably sung by Mr. Morris and Ms. Stevens, which Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald sang in the 1935 film “Naughty Marietta.” The number succeeds as a spoof.

The music for the original songs — including the lively “Gimme, Gimme” — was written by Jeanine Tesori, who usually composes for more thoughtful shows, like “Fun Home,” currently on Broadway. James Olmstead, the music director, leads his band tunefully.

The musical ends with a revelation made by Muzzy Van Hossmere, a rich widow and nightclub singer. Earlier, Nicole Powell, a smoky-voiced chanteuse who plays Muzzy with a refreshingly calm dignity, delivers an elegant “Only in New York,” one of the best Tesori-Scanlan songs. It’s a highlight in a production that is often pleasant and entertaining.

Read online at www.nytimes.com/2016/06/05/nyregion/review-thoroughly-modern-millie-in-northport-tap-dances-around-dated-mores

Broadway World Review: THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE at the Engeman

Broadway World
June 1, 2016
Melissa Giordano

Closing out a spectacular 9th season at Long Island’s John W. Engeman Theatre is a first-rate incarnation of the Tony winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. Is this show done consistently? Perhaps. But let me tell you everything about this production, running through July 10th, is absolutely top-notch and certainly a must-see for this season.

The zany tale, set in the roaring 1920’s, gives us a peek into the lives of “moderns” – now more popularly known as flappers – living in a jazz filled New York City when women began bobbing their hair, entering the workforce, and just completely throwing all the rules out the window. Running through July 10th at the gorgeous Northport venue, the Broadway caliber company is superbly directed by Engeman Theatre vet Drew Humphrey.

Expertly leading Mr. Humphrey’s cast is Tessa Grady (Broadway: Annie, Dames At Sea, et.al) who exquisitely portrays Millie Dillmount, the role portrayed by Julie Andrews in the 1967 movie. Indeed a favorite among the enthusiastic audience is her rendition of “Not For The Life Of Me” in Act I and “Gimme, Gimme” in Act II. A strong, fabulous voice and a lot of sass make Ms. Grady a natural for the role.

Speaking of the movie incarnation, with some differences, of course, the musical stays close to Ms. Andrew’s movie. The evil Ms. Meers, portrayed by Michele Ragusa, kidnaps the orphans that register at her hotel and she has her two sidekicks from Hong Kong. Ms. Ragusa puts a brilliant comedic spin on the role that leaves everyone in absolute stiches. In addition, Nicole Powell (Broadway: Ragtime revival, Hairspray) gives a thrilling diva performance as Muzzy Van Hossmere, portrayed by Carol Channing in the movie version.

I really could go on and on about the entire company; they are all truly remarkable.

Mr. Humphrey’s creative team is also stellar. He choreographs with Dena DiGiacinto on the wonderful performances. The rousing tap dance numbers are especially well received. And Jon Collins’ stunning set is enhanced beautifully Cory Pattack’s spot-on lighting and Kurt Alger’s dazzling costumes. And naturally it is always wonderful to see a fantastic live orchestra under the direction of Musical Director James Olmstead.

And so, Thoroughly Modern Millie is definitely another hit for the Engeman Theatre. I dare say that if you have seen this before, this production could breathe new life into it for you; the Engeman has a habit of doing that.

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Thoroughly Modern Millie is presented by the John W. Engeman Theatre through July 10th.

Directed by DREW HUMPHREY, Choreography by DREW HUMPHREY & DENA DIGIACINTO, Musical Direction by JAMES OLMSTEAD, Scenic Design by JON COLLINS, Costume/Hair and Wig Design by KURT ALGER, Lighting Design by CORY PATTAK, Sound Design by CRAIG KAUFFMAN, Casting by GAYLE SEAY & SCOTT WOJCIK of WOJCIK/SEAY CASTING, Props Design by KRISTIE MOSCHETTA, Stage Management by JULIANNE MENASSIAN

Starring TESSA GRADY as Millie Dillmount, DANIEL PLIMPTON as Jimmy Smith, MICHELE RAGUSA as Mrs. Meers, SARAH STEVENS as Miss Dorothy Brown, TIM ROGAN as Trevor Graydon, and NICOLE POWELL as Muzzy Van Hossmere with ANTHONY CHAN, ELISH CONLON, DARIA DEGAETANO, MARIA GARVEY, MORGAN HARRISON, ALICIA HEMANN, CARL HSU, DARRELL T. JOE, RYAN KOERBER, OREN KORENBLUM, KIM MCCLAY, NICK MONALDO, HILLARY PORTER, JOHN SCACCHETTI and MICHAEL VERRE.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com

Read online at www.broadwayworld.com/long-island/article/BWW-Review-THOROUGHLY-MODERN-MILLIE-at-the-Engeman

Smithtown Matters Theater Review: ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’

Smithtown Matters
June 1, 2016
Jeb Ladouceur

None of our Dear Readers, will remember the height of the Jazz Age in New York City in 1922. Matter of fact, some of you weren’t around even as recently as 2002 … the year a Broadway musical titled ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ took home more Tony Awards than did any other show that season.

But if that’s the case, what you missed then, you can readily make up for now, thanks to the glitzy, glorious gem of a production that’s on the boards at Northport’s snazzy Engeman Theater thru July 10.

Produced by Richard Dolce (most of us know him as the father of Katie Dolce, still a few years away from starring as ‘Millie’) and directed by the inimitable Drew Humphrey, who once choreographed a blockbusting ‘White Christmas’ on Broadway, this musical is probably better than any of the huge successes either impresario has yet been involved with.

Never mind the eleven Tony nominations and six wins (including top musical) that ‘Millie’ garnered in ’02 … or the fact that remarkable Julie Andrews shot the 1967 film into orbit … the primary reason you simply must see this show is a young singing, dancing, acting sensation named Tessa Grady.

Grady plays the title role to perfection in this nifty musical about small town girl ‘Millie Dillmount’ who arrives in The Big Apple half a century before it was commonly referred to as such. Her objective is to get some rich guy to the altar … an aspiration that, if generally undeclared in flapper days, you can bet your boyish bob existed nonetheless.

Anyway, women were just entering the workforce at the time, and Millie, who quickly falls for the ‘modern’ lifestyle, fits right in! In more ways than one, it must be noted, because if anybody ever filled a sequined chemise or a fringed cocktail dress better than Tessa Grady, we haven’t had the pleasure.

On that subject: The Engeman seems to have become acutely aware of a Show Business axiom that someone once labeled ‘dress for success.’ The period costumes in this production easily live up to the near-breathtaking standards that Richard Dolce and Kevin O’Neill have set for the company in such musicals as ‘A Chorus Line’ and ‘White Christmas,’ among others. Indeed, one wonders how Costume and Wig Designer Kurt Alger is able to fit so many changes into this fast-paced show. And the garlanded guys are as artfully arrayed as the festooned flappers.

However, the real eye candy in this visually appealing musical is Millie herself. The young woman is a clothes horse chameleon if ever there was one. She can wear any color and accommodate any style without seeming the least bit uncomfortable in her routines … she even performs one intricate tap dance number while seated … at a typewriter … yes, tapping and typing simultaneously!

Sharing the spotlight with Tessa Grady is a youthful actor named Tim Rogan. You’ll spot him right away when you catch this must see production in Northport. He plays Millie’s broad-shouldered boss at ‘The Sincere Trust Insurance Company.’ Rogan is a show biz natural. He’s got all the tools—speaking, singing, dancing—and he looks like a million bucks! To those attributes, add stage presence and an intuitive comedic sense, and you’ve got a star who belongs in the same league with Grady.

With apologies to the dozens of hoofers in this wonderful show who have not been mentioned, let it be said that the magnificent production obviously couldn’t have been mounted with only two performers … regardless of their excellence. The entire cast combined to give us an unforgettable delight, and this reviewer looks forward to singling out each contributor for praise when The Engeman brings them back in the near future.

And the sooner the better.

Read online at www.smithtownmatters.com/long-island-theater/2016/6/1/theater-review-thoroughly-modern-millie

NY Theatre Guide Review: ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ at John W. Engeman Theater

NY Theatre Guide
May 30, 2016
Kristen Weyer

Thoroughly Modern Millie, a winner of six Tony awards, is closing out the 9th season at the John W. Engeman Theater. Based on the Academy Award winning movie from 1967, the musical’s book was written by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, with new music by Jeanine Tesori and new lyrics by Dick Scanlan.

It’s the 1920s in New York City, the Jazz Age, where prohibition is in full swing, and flappers abound. Young Millie Dillmount has just arrived from Kansas a wide-eyed innocent, intent on transforming herself into a “modern.” She shortens her skirts, bobs her hair, and finds a job. With a goal of nabbing a wealthy husband, she sets off to execute her plan unsuspecting of the complications life would throw in her way. As she meets friends and fiends, she learns lessons about life and herself, with laughs, love and adventure along the way.

This show is a unique and fun blend of tradition and humor. It contains, and lovingly pokes fun at, the elements of a 1920s’ timepiece. Purposeful sequences of over dramatization are arranged in such a way that they simultaneously forward the action and plot, while still asking to be found comical. You will surely smile, possibly cringe, and definitely laugh.

Tessa Grady is a fabulous triple threat, as she plays the irrepressible Millie with perfection. Her beautiful, vibrant voice rings out with feeling and strength, while her feet fly with speed and accuracy. Not only does she perform well, her facial expressions clearly denoting her character’s thoughts, but she does so with energy and verve.

Daniel Plimpton portrays love interest, Jimmy Smith. His debonair attitude and light footwork enhance his charm, while his wonderful voice floats through the theater.

Sarah Stevens plays Millie’s new friend Miss Dorothy Brown. Her sweet naiveté, and slight accent make her instantly likeable, while her stratospheric soprano alternately adds to the harmony or the humor of her scenes.

Tim Rogan is exquisitely funny as Mr. Trevor Graydon. Both his portrayal of the self-absorbed businessman, and his diction are phenomenal.

Nicole Powell plays the famous Muzzy Van Hossmere with regal bearing, and powerhouse vocals.

Anthony Chan as Ching Ho, and Carl Hsu as Bun Foo, add another entire level of humor to the action with their antics and singing, while Michelle Ragusa is perfect as the malevolent Mrs. Meers, with a marvelous flair for the melodramatic.

The talent level involved with this production is very high. A beautiful, versatile set by designer Jonathan Collins, and absolutely fabulous costumes by Kurt Alger, make an immediate and continuous impression. Wonderful dance sequences are masterfully executed with stunning precision and synchronicity. This points not only to the skill of the cast, but also of director/choreographer Drew Humphrey, and choreographer Dena DiGiacinto. As always, the orchestra under direction from James Olmstead, performed magnificently.

With silliness, poignancy, humor and truth, Thoroughly Modern Millie is a wonderful show. Fun for all ages, this production is definitely worth seeing.

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours including one 15 minute intermission.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is playing at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, until July 10, 2016. For more information, click here.

Read online at www.nytheatreguide.com/2016/05/theatre-review-thoroughly-modern-millie-at-john-w-engeman-theater/

Newsday Review: ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ review: Fun, with a caveat

Newsday
May 31, 2016
Steve Parks

WHAT “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through July 10, John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, 250 Main St.
TICKETS $69-$74; 631-261-2900, engemantheater.com

What makes Millie so thoroughly modern? She thinks marrying for money, not love, makes her a brash New Woman. But dependence on a man is hardly feminist. Still, in the Engeman Theater’s sparkly “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” 2002 Tony winner for best musical, we can forgive the title character, since it’s 1922 and women won the right to vote just two years earlier. Plus, she’s played with irresistible flapper/tapper exuberance by Tessa Gray (Roaring ’20s costumes by Kurt Alger).

Millie arrives by bus from Kansas to New York, all shiny with the metallic gleam of Jonathan Collins’ Art Deco design. The first thing she does is tear up her return ticket. Go back to Kansas? “Not for the Life of Me,” she sings with the defiant optimism of an ingénue. But where will she live in this high-rent town?

The Hotel Priscilla for Women takes in young ladies of minimal means, though there’s a catch. If the proprietor, cartoonishly sinister Mrs. Meers, finds that the girl has no family, she packs her off to a Hong Kong “white slavery” ring. Michelle Ragusa as Meers, flaunts her faux Chinese accent with the spite of an actress scorned, imposing revenge on girls who might succeed where she failed. Her accomplices, played by Anthony Chan and Carl Hsu, work in a Chinese laundry. If the stereotypes weren’t bad enough, the show’s creators — Richard Morris wrote the 1967 film screenplay, Broadway lyrics by Dick Scanlan and music by Jeanine Tesori — go too far with Al Jolson’s “Mammy” in Chinese. I’m not without a sense of humor, but I find this shtick offensive.

But back to Millie. As directed by Drew Humphrey, accompanied by James Olmstead’s period-sound orchestra, she brightens every room, including the offices at Sincere Trust, where she lands a stenography job (“Speed Test,” ably assisted by Daria DeGaetano). She intends to marry her boss, the millionaire voice of authority (Tim Rogan). But he’s smitten by Millie’s friend Dorothy, played by Sarah Stevens like the Kansas refugee in “Oz.” Meanwhile, Millie is off and on with ardent suitor Jimmy, who literally goes out on a ledge to see her in “I Turned a Corner.” Nicole Powell as a nightclub chanteuse dispenses love advice with soaring conviction in “Long as I’m Here with You.”

Despite her marry-for-money notions, Millie’s OK. The Asian subplot, not so much.

Read online at www.newsday.com/entertainment/theater/thoroughly-modern-millie-review-fun-with-a-caveat

NY Times Review: Race and Rock ’n’ Roll in ‘Memphis’

NY Times
April 1, 2016
Aileen Jacobson

A goofy white guy who has trouble keeping a job as a stock boy finds success as a radio D.J. A gifted black singer stuck in her brother’s underground club gains mainstream recognition and a glossy new life as a star. The two share a tender, bittersweet romance. And all around them, dancers flip and kick their way through songs that evoke the early days of rock ’n’ roll: the 1950s.

It’s easy to understand, why “Memphis,” now electrifying the stage at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, won four Tony Awards, including best musical, in 2010 and stayed on Broadway for nearly three years. It’s a feel-good show with a snappy score and a book that addresses — as gently as possible — issues involving racism. It allows audience members to feel virtuous and leave happy.

Igor Goldin, the director, and Antoinette DiPietropolo, the choreographer, have gone all out to showcase the talents of their limber and exuberant cast. And the actors — moving on a sturdy set designed by DT Willis to a lively beat provided by the music director James Olmstead and his band, and outfitted by the costume designer Tristan Raines — run with it.

The character of Huey, played by Carson Higgins, is loosely based on Dewey Phillips, one of the first white D.J.s to play music by black performers. Credit Michael DeCristofaro
Carson Higgins exudes a sweet charm as Huey, the D.J., who can be both endearing and annoying. Unlike most people around him in Memphis, and in the rest of the South and beyond, he is virtually colorblind. In one number, “The Music of My Soul,” he sings about how closely he identifies with the music he hears when he visits a black-owned club. He sees no reason he shouldn’t be in the club, though the patrons are at first shocked and wary.

Soon, he finds a job at a white-owned (and thus mainstream) radio station, and a measure of fame by playing what is called “race music.” His show draws a huge audience of white teenagers. Despite his affinity for music, however, Huey is tone-deaf in failing to comprehend the consequences of openly showing his affection for Felicia, the singer who becomes his beloved, and not willing to consider Felicia’s more cautious feelings about public displays. Mr. Higgins is adept at letting Huey’s unconscious hubris show through the decent and moral sides of his rebellious views.

As Felicia, Breanna Bartley has both the rich voice and, just as important, the warmth needed for her role. She sings with a heartfelt directness— as in “Colored Woman,” a declaration about breaking free of limits and following dreams — and she convinces us that she really likes, and then loves, the awkward and often childlike Huey.

Felicia, played by Breanna Bartley, is a gifted singer who falls in love with Huey. Credit Michael DeCristofaro
Surrounding them are other fine performers, including the strong-voiced C. Mingo Long as Delray, Felicia’s protective older brother; Arthur L. Ross as Bobby, a janitor at Huey’s radio station who later becomes a singing sensation; and Kathryn Markey as Gladys, Huey’s mother, who starts out a bigot but later softens her stand. Ms. Markey is the only actor who consistently retains a Southern accent, even when she sings, with an apt country music twang. Actors in smaller roles and in the chorus also shine.

Still, there is a whiff of condescension in “Memphis,” even as it righteously highlights important moments in history — like the “stealing” of black music, mainly rhythm and blues, by a white music establishment. Couldn’t one say that this is what is happening here? The musical, written by Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and David Bryan (music and lyrics), is absolutely well-intentioned and follows in a long and largely respected tradition of white guys — as the musical’s creators are — writing about discrimination against minorities. “Show Boat,” “West Side Story,” and “Hairspray” come to mind.

The character of Huey is loosely based on Dewey Phillips, one of the first white D.J.s to play music by black performers, though probably more famous as the first D.J. to spin a record by Elvis Presley — who borrowed a tune or two from black artists.

Perhaps partly because of the recent focus on racism in America, the white perspective in the musical can sometimes bring discomfort. The lyrics of “Everybody Wants to Be Black on a Saturday Night,” an entire-cast blowout number, seem to assume that “everybody” means white people. (The premise is also doubtful for 1950s Tennessee.) To the creators’ credit, they do have Felicia point out to Huey that while he has a choice of when to be seen as “black,” or at least pro-black, she doesn’t. And then they sing another rousing song.

“Memphis” continues through May 8 at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, 250 Main Street. Information: 631-261-2900 or engemantheater.com.

Long Island Press Review: A Riveting ‘Memphis’ Opens at Northport’s Engeman Theater

Long Island Press
April 1, 2016
Elise Pearlman

The multiple award-winning musical, ‘Memphis,’ which opened last week at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater, is the rare musical that showcases spectacular singing and dancing while boasting a storyline and characters so engaging that they stir your innermost sensibilities. Memphis is that rare breed of musical and I was riveted to the stage from the onset.

The winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Memphis features the book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, of ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ fame, with music and lyrics by David Bryan, a founding member of Bon Jovi.

Set in Memphis, Tenn., the musical draws the audience into the black underground dance clubs of the1950s. The story is loosely based on the real-life escapades of Dewey Phillips, a pioneering white DJ who was one of the first to see the allure of black music and boldly play it on Memphis radio.

Huey Calhoun (played by Carson Higgins) is a high school drop-out who has trouble holding down even a menial job. He finds his field of dreams when an intoxicating medley of rock n’ roll, rhythm and blues draws him into a world that he has never known. Although he is the only white person in the underground joint beneath Beale Street and the black clubbers are not thrilled with his intrusion, Huey cannot help, but declare (in song, of course) that this is the “Music of My Soul.”

It is there that his path serendipitously crosses with Felicia Farrell (Breanna Bartley), an astoundingly talented singer whose career is constrained by intolerant times. Huey, clearly smitten with Felicia, is determined to take this music mainstream and get her voice heard—not an easy task as this genre of music is referred to as “race” or “colored” music, and not viewed as appropriate for God-fearing white Christians. But Huey, who dreams big, is not about to be derailed and soon commandeers a radio station when the disc jockey takes a break. The station’s owner’s fury is soon diminished by the deluge of phone calls asking for more. In short order the station is voted No. 1.

Songs like “Scratch My Itch” and “Everyone Wants to be Black on a Saturday Night” will have your toes tapping. Yet other songs resonate with a poignancy that tugs on your heartstrings. In “Colored Woman,” Felicia recalls her mother’s warning that her success will be limited in a light-skinned world. Yet the feisty singer summons up her courage to defy the status quo. While Felicia, her brother/club owner Delray (C. Mingo Long) and their crew explore electrifying artistic freedom within the sheltered confines of the club, outside they have reason to be afraid. They are continuously kept in line and belittled by racist remarks and harbor horrifying memories. Gator (Jarred Bedgood), the bartender, has not spoken since he saw his father lynched as child; Delray bears a mark on his neck which he sustained as a thirsty 14-year-old who dared to drink from a whites-only water fountain.

If the effort to break the racist glass ceiling of the Southern music industry is not enough, Felicia and Huey have fallen for each other. Can this unorthodox love affair survive and what impact will it have on their careers?

There are so many wonderful songs that I am hard-pressed to pick my favorites. In Act II. I particularly liked “Tear Down the House” and “Memphis Lives in Me,” both sung by Huey and Company. I was dazzled by the finale “Steal Your Rock ‘n’ Roll. Sung by Huey, Felicia and Company, its message is about never losing sight of your personal vision. It had the audience on its feet and clapping. What a grand finale indeed!

Higgins, who plays the extraordinarily likeable colorblind idealist whose enthusiasm for music is contagious, has made an astounding debut at the Engeman Theater where he sings and dances with the best of them. Featured on Season 10 of American Idol, he says that Huey Calhoun is his favorite role, and one he has played before at Connecticut’s Ivoryton Playhouse.

The chemistry between Bartley and Higgins rings true and makes for a believable love story. An extremely gifted vocalist with a powerhouse of a voice whose credits include ‘Dreamgirls,’ Bartley has the versatility to render both high energy, upbeat songs and more tender ballads to perfection.

C. Mingo Long excels as Felicia’s rightfully protective brother and makes his point with his deliciously deep voice in “She’s My Sister.”

Some of my other favorite characters include Gator (Jarred Bedgood), Gladys (Calhoun’s mother played by Kathryn Markey), and Bobby (Arthur L. Ross), all of whom will take the spotlight and undergo startling transformations that will lift your spirit.

Kudos to Wojcik/Seay casting for assembling this stellar cast. The award-winning Igor Goldin, who has directed some of Engeman’s finest productions, is once again at the helm and his work is impeccable. Major kudos to Antoinette DiPietropolo who has choreographed the musical to perfection. These dancers do not miss a beat and dance and fight captains, Ivory McKay and Carson Higgens, are also to be complimented. Musical Director James Olmstead has once again outdone himself. DT Willis is to be complimented on his set which undergoes some amazing metamorphoses during the course of the production. Tristan Raines’ costumes are pure eye candy.

Memphis runs through May 8, but buy tickets early as show might very well sell out. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, by calling 261-2900 or visiting engemantheater.com

Read online at: www.longislandpress.com/2016/04/01/a-riveting-memphis-opens-at-northports-engeman-theater/

Village Tattler review: A Memorable Memphis at Northport’s Engeman Theater

Village Tattler
March 31, 2016
Claudia D. Wheeler

The talent is undeniable, the music is catchy and inspirational, and the energy in the theater is palpable—for anyone who is lucky enough to see this amazing production of Memphis, the Musical, at The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport. Produced by Richard T. Dolce, the Engeman’s Producing Artistic Director, Memphis runs from now through May 8, 2016. On opening night, the cast received a standing ovation from the entire house.

The musical features a Tony-winning book by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) and a Tony-winning score with music by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan. It is loosely based on Memphis, Tennessee, disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s. Memphis played on Broadway from 2009 through 2012. It won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The radio DJ in Memphis, the Musical is Huey Calhoun, played brilliantly by Carson Higgins, who has enormous talent and stage presence. Higgins has played this role before at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut. His credits also include the National Tour of Green Day’s American Idiot, and he was featured in season 10 of Television’s American Idol and when you hear him sing, you will understand why. There are too many stand-out songs in Memphis sung by Higgins to list them all here.

The plot is familiar: Calhoun falls in love with the dance club singer Felicia Farrell, played by Breanna Bartley, and vows to make her famous. The relationship is full of the trials of an interracial relationship in the 1950s. Farrell is ready for her big break, but has more than her fair share of obstacles as a black singer. Calhoun is instrumental in helping her. Bartley’s vocals have an intensity that is riveting, and we are rooting for her to succeed despite the odds. Bartley’s credits include New York Theater: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular; Regional Theater: Dreamgirls (Michelle); Memphis (Felicia); Annie (Grace), and In the Heights.

The brilliance of Antoinette DiPietropolo’s choreography is evident throughout Engeman’s Memphis, with masterful dance performances in opening number “Underground,” as well as “The Music of My Soul,” “Everybody Wants to be Black on a Saturday Night,” “Make Me Stronger, “Stand Up,” “Memphis Lives in Me,” and “Steal Your Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

DiPietropolo returns to the Engeman Theater as choreographer after notable work in Miracle on 34th Street, The Producers, A Christmas Story, Evita!, The Music Man, South Pacific, Hairspray, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change and Nunsense. Her Off- Broadway credits: With Glee, and Regional: Annie, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago, Ragtime; National Tour: How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Associate Director/Choreographer for The Big Apple Circus.

Memphis’ musical direction is by James Olmstead, who also directed the following Engeman Theater productions: West Side Story, The Producers, A Chorus Line, and Evita. Broadway: Radio City’s New York Spring Spectacular (Keyboardist), On Your Feet! (Copyist). Off-Broadway Music Director: 54 Below/Feinstein’s Broadway Swinger, Birdland’s BAA 10th Anniversary Concert, Laurie Beechman’s Perfectly Complicated. Off-Broadway Synth Programmer: Fun Home. Composer: Mambo Italiano, Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist.

The creative team also includes Igor Goldin as Director. In addition to his fine work on Memphis, Goldin has directed the following productions at the Engeman: West Side Story, The Producers, Evita, The Music Man, Twelve Angry Men and South Pacific. Other credits include the following Off-Broadway productions: YANK!, With Glee, A Ritual of Faith, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Crossing Swords; and Regional Theater: Molly Sweeney, Learning How to Drown; An Irish Musical, Crossing Swords and Tick, Tick…BOOM!).

This production has numerous other performances of note by Kathryn Markey who excels as Huey’s mom Gladys, Jarred Bedgood as Gator who impresses with a soulful and moving “Say a Prayer,” and C.Mingo Long as Felicia’s protective brother Delray with his incredible, prominent vocals, especially in “She’s My Sister,” as well as a well-cast ensemble of talented dancers and singers.

The cast also includes David McDonald as Mr. Simmons, and Arthur L. Ross as Bobby, as well as Tony Chiofalo, Jessica Crilley, Marissa Girgus, Tatiana Green, Chavon Hampton, Jenny L. Harvey, Brandon Heyward, Michal Kolaczkoskiz, Katie Lombardo, Suzanne Mason, Ivory Mckay, Chris Medlin, Brandon Riddle, and Alec Varcas.

The performance schedule for Memphis is: 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 $74 on Saturday evenings, $69 all other performances, and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at EngemanTheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.

Read online at: villagetattler.com/2016/03/31/memorable-memphis-northports-engeman-theater-2/

Times of Huntington-Northport Review: ‘Memphis’ is another smash hit for the Engeman

Times Beacon Record
March 30, 2016
Heidi Sutton

Well, hockadoo! The John W. Engeman Theater was full of soul last Saturday night, engaging theatergoers with a sizzling production of “Memphis” that raised the roof and culminated with a five-minute standing ovation.

Directed by Igor Goldin (“West Side Story” and “Evita”) and choreographed by Antoniette DiPietropolo, the rock ‘n’ roll musical is loosely based on the life of “Daddy-O” Dewey Philips, a Memphis disc jockey who dared to play the music of black artists in the late 1950s, when segregation was still the norm in the South. With book and lyrics by Joe Dipietro and original music and lyrics by David Bryan — a member of rock band Bon Jovi — the production ran on Broadway from 2009 to 2012 and won four Tony Awards, including best musical in 2010.

The story follows Huey Calhoun, who, in his quest to find the sounds of early rock ‘n’ roll, finds himself in a black nightclub on the seedy side of town. Owned by Delray, the club features his sister Felicia, a black singer with whom Huey quickly falls in love and vows to get on the radio so the world can hear the music that Delray says is “just Negro blues sped up.”

Carson Higgins is the lead as Huey, a role he has played in the past and has by now perfected. Higgins makes Huey likable and endearing and draws the audience in from the beginning. An incredible actor and singer, Higgins’ rendition of “Memphis Lives in Me” is unforgettable.

Breanna Bartley is perfectly cast as Felicia. With a smooth singing voice, she shines in the musical numbers, especially in “Someday” and “Colored Woman.”

The entire supporting cast is wonderful, with powerful voices and the moves to match. Standouts include Kathryn Markey as Huey’s sassy mother Gladys; C. Mingo Long as Delray; and Jarred Bedgood as Gator, who doesn’t speak or sing until the end of Act I but then treats the audience to a moving rendition of “Say a Prayer.”

Hidden from view but not to be overlooked is the six-piece powerhouse band. Musical Director James Olmstead, who doubles on keyboard, returns to the Engeman to lead a talented group of musicians, including Josh Endlich on percussion, Russ Brown on bass, Joe Boardman on trumpet, Brian Schatz on reeds and Douglas Baldwin on guitar, all playing Bryan and Dipietro’s rousing score.

Set design is handled neatly by D.T. Willis and works well, utilizing sliding panels and a second level to tell the story, and the gorgeous period costumes by Tristan Raines are spot-on, pulling the production together successfully. Don’t miss this wonderful high-energy production, a perfect ending to a night out on the town.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport, will present “Memphis” through May 8. Show includes some adult language and staged violence. Running time is 2.5 hours, including one 15-minute intermission. Free valet parking. Tickets are $74 on Saturday evenings and $69 for all other performances, and may be purchased by calling 631-261-2900 or by visiting www.engemantheater.com.

Read online at: tbrnewsmedia.com/memphis-is-another-smash-hit-for-the-engeman/

Newsday review: Racial musical’s stellar debut at Engeman

Newsday
March 29, 2016
Steve Parks

WHAT “Memphis”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays through May 8, John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, 250 Main St.
TICKETS $69-$74; 631-261-2900, engemantheater.com

There’s arguably no American city that symbolizes race relations and rock and roll more starkly than Memphis. It’s here you’ll find both the National Civil Rights Museum on the site of the Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and Graceland, where Elvis Presley lived and died.

“Memphis,” the 2010 Tony winner for best musical, makes its Long Island premiere at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport with a rollicking celebration of a genre once derogated as “race music.”

The musical by Joe DiPietro (“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”) and Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan weaves a story loosely based on the life of Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, among the first white DJs to play black music, including that of Southern white boys like Elvis. In the 1950s South, promoting black causes was a dangerous occupation.

Huey (rhymes with Dewey) is a high-school dropout who wanders into a literally underground black nightclub on Beale Street when he detects the rhythmic beat through his feet. Regarded warily as a cracker interloper, Huey wins over all but the owner of Delray’s when he bangs out a raucous “The Music of My Soul” on the piano. Among them is Delray’s sister Felicia. With no idea how he’ll pull it off, Huey promises to get Felicia on the air of a mainstream (as opposed to “colored”) radio station.

Predictably, he falls for Felicia while her brother goes ballistic. “She’s My Sister,” C. Mingo Long’s Delray wails after Felicia is beaten by racist thugs when she’s caught kissing Huey. Breanna Bartley as Felicia justifies her brother and lover’s faith in her as a budding R&B star with a blistering “Love Will Stand When All Else Fails,” while Carson Higgins as Huey is indomitable with the clueless courage of his character’s conviction in his “Memphis Lives in Me” anthem. Supporting players Kathryn Markey as Huey’s mom, Arthur Ross as a singing floor sweeper, Jarred Bedgood as Delray’s once-speechless protégé and David McDonald as Huey’s radio boss create a Memphis that feels like home to the crusading DJ.

Igor Goldin, Engeman’s go-to director of musicals, delivers the goods with help from James Olmstead’s rocking band, Antoinette DiPietropolo’s flashy choreography framed by DT Willis’ cavernous set and accessorized by Tristan Raines’ costumes.

While “Memphis” is somewhat derivative of “Hairspray” and “Dreamgirls,” this fine cast makes it feel authentic.

Read online at: www.newsday.com/entertainment/memphis-review-racial-musical-s-stellar-debut-at-engeman

NY Theatre Guide Review: ‘Memphis’ at John W. Engeman Theater

NY Theatre Guide
March 28, 2016
Kristen Weyer

If you’re looking for an entertaining evening of theater, then look no further than Northport. The John W. Engeman Theater’s current production of Memphis is full of great acting, fantastic singing and fun music. With a book by Joe DiPietro, and score by David Bryan, Memphis originally opened on Broadway in 2009 and received four Tony Awards. Directed here by Igor Goldin with choreography by Antoinette DiPietropolo, Memphis is a rock-and-roll good time for all.

The action takes place, obviously enough, in Memphis, Tennessee during the early 1950s. It is a time fraught with racial tension and segregation. Young Huey Calhoun (Carson Higgins), however, seems not to notice or care. He’s a white boy who loves good music, and if the good music happens to be found on the “dark” side of town, well then, that’s where he’s going to go. When he meets the beautiful and talented, black singer Felicia (Breanna Bartley), he vows to get her on the radio where all of Memphis will hear her. Even with his crazy ways, his charm and determination help him to turn Memphis upside down.

This cast is simply wonderful. Filled with talent, each voice seems to be better than the next. Carson Higgins plays the awkwardly adorable Huey to perfection. His gangly stride, goofy grin, and impeccable comedic timing make his every scene a pleasure to watch. Felicia is portrayed by vocal powerhouse Breanna Bartley. Her stunning performances bring not only her character, but the story to life. Felicia’s brother Del Rey is played by C. Mingo Long, whose incredible voice resonates throughout the theater whenever he sings. Jarred Bedgood does wonderfully in the touching role of Gator, while Arthur L. Ross is superb as the amusing Bobby. The beleaguered Mr. Simmons, and stressed-out Gladys are delightfully played by David McDonald and Kathryn Markey respectively.

DT Willis’ set design works brilliantly for this production. The clever two story set contains sliding panes which allow the audience to “see” who is on the air above the radio station below. Intelligent sound design by Laura Shubert brings the rock-and-roll volume without losing the lyrics. The band, under direction from James Olmstead, marvelously performed the high energy score. All of this, combined with the fun costuming of Tristan Raines, assisted in bringing this production to its successful completion. With its rockin’ music, touching story and clever one liners, Memphis is a fun time that is sure to appeal.

Running Time: Approximately 2 ½ hours including one 15 minute intermission.

Memphis is running at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport until May 8, 2016. The theater is located at 250 Main Street, Northport. For tickets call the box office at (631) 261-2900 or click here.

Read online at: nytheatreguide.com/2016/03/theatre-review-memphis-at-john-w-engeman-theater/

Times of Huntington-Northport: Theater brings a decade of entertainment to Long Island

Times Beacon Record
March 24, 2016
Victoria Espinoza

The streets of Northport have come alive with music and laughter in the past 10 years — and that’s all thanks to the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport.

The Main Street theater first opened its doors in 2007 and has been providing Long Island residents with quality entertainment at an affordable price ever since.

When it comes to why theater lovers should chose the Engeman theater over a Broadway show, Director of Operations Michael DeCristofaro said the Northport venue offers an experience you could never get on Broadway.

“We don’t have the space Broadway has,” DeCristofaro said in an interview. “We don’t have wing space or fly space, so we really are able to slow these shows down and find the heart and the essence of the show. People come and see shows like they’ve never seen them before. We’re really able to get into the story of the characters.”

DeCristofaro said some shows like “West Side Story,” “The Producers” and the upcoming show “Memphis” stand out as really being able to accomplish just that.

“We were told by numerous patrons, ‘better than Broadway,’” he said. “People felt that seeing it in an intimate venue like this without all the distracting flash of pizzazz and set pieces moving in and out really helped them focus on the characters and have fun and get involved.”

Another aspect of the theater that may contribute to the more intimate setting is the distance from the seats to the stage. According to Jessie Eppelheimer, the operations administrator, the back seats are only about 75 feet from the stage, “which you could never get at a Broadway show,” she said in an interview.

But there is one crucial way in which DeCristofaro thinks his theater stands shoulder to shoulder with Broadway, and that’s in the talent.

“We have a really good amount of Broadway talent,” he said. DeCristofaro listed Eddie Mekka, a Tony-nominated actor, and Michael McGrath, a multiple Tony award-winning actor, as two actors who had lead roles in previous shows at Engeman.

“If our alumni are not on Broadway, they’re in a national touring production,” DeCristofaro said. “We get some really incredible top-notch talent and it’s great for the local community to try and see that top notch talent here in Northport for half of the price they’d paid on Broadway.”

But it wasn’t always that way.

What is now a year-round full equity theater, producing multiple shows a year, was once just a small village movie house.

Originally built in 1912, silent movies used to play at the theater for 50 cents a person. In 1913, the Northport trolley helped make night shows a possibility, and by 1930, talking films came to the village. But two years later, the theater was struck with a fire that completely destroyed the establishment, forcing it to close its doors.

The new theater opened in November 1932 with 754 seats and was positioned directly next door to where the original one had stood. “Sherlock Holmes,” starring Clive Brook and Ernest Torrence, was first to be shown.

According to Eppelheimer, many of the original aspects of the 1930 theater still stand today, including the entire lobby, walls in the theater room and some of the lighting.

“People were attached to [the original design] and they tried to keep it as familiar as possible when they reopened,” she said.

In 2007, Huntington residents Kevin O’Neill and his wife Patti, owners of the theater, welcomed audiences to see real-time plays for the first time, and residents from all over Long Island have been filling in the seats ever since. The theater was named in tribute to O’Neill’s brother, Chief Warrant Officer Four John William Engeman, who was killed in Iraq in May 2006.

The theater now holds up to 400 audience members, has a full bar and lounge and shows multiple musicals and plays annually. Eppelheimer said there are about 5,000 season ticket holders and the theater has an 80 percent retention rate.

For the 10th anniversary season, the Engeman will feature a lineup exclusively of musicals, including a repeat of the inaugural show “Jekyll and Hyde.”

“We’re paying tribute to the first season,” Eppelheimer said. Other shows in the coming year include “Mamma Mia,” “Oklahoma” and “Mary Poppins.”

Over the years the theater has expanded, offering children shows, theater-school programs and hosting charity events.

“It was always intended to not just be a theater,” DeCristafaro said. “We wanted to be able to do more for the community and get children and parents involved.”

View online at: tbrnewsmedia.com/theater-brings-a-decade-of-entertainment-to-long-island/

Will & Anthony’s “Showstoppers! Tour” comes to The Engeman leading up to Carnegie Hall debut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Northport, NY- March 2016) – On April 11, 2016 the John W. Engeman Theater will welcome back Will and Anthony Nunziata with their new “Showstoppers” concert.

Hailed by the Huffington Post as an “impossible pairing of stage, talent and charm,” Brooklyn natives Will and Anthony Nunziata are a classically trained singing and comedy duo who have gained critical and popular acclaim throughout the United States and the World. Last seen on the Engeman Stage with their “Broadway, Our Way” concert in April 2015, they are set to return on April 11, 2016 with their new concert “Showstoppers”

“Showstoppers” includes the twin brothers’ exciting takes on all the hits, from Pop Music, 60’s Hits and the American Songbook to Motown, Italy and Broadway. The concert will showcase Will and Anthony’s beautiful tenor voices, acting and comedy skills with songs from The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Adele, Broadway, Motown, Sammy Davis Jr. and more.

This performance is part of Will & Anthony’s 2016-2017 “Showstoppers! Tour,” celebrating and culminating in the duo’s Carnegie Hall debut in December 2016. The brothers will headline the New York Pops’ holiday concert alongside Broadway stars and sibling duo, Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway on December 16 and 17, 2016.

Tickets are on sale now, starting at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for the General Public. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.engemantheater.com or calling the Box Office at (631) 261-2900.

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 www.EngemanTheater.com. Get social with the brothers on Facebook and on Instagram & Twitter @willandanthony.

 

The John W. Engeman Theater presents MEMPHIS

 

MemphisIndex

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Northport, NY- March 2016) – The John W. Engeman Theater announces the cast and creative team for MEMPHIS.  Performances begin on Thursday, March 24 at 8:00pm and run through May 8, 2016.

Inspired by true events from the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, MEMPHIS follows the fame and forbidden love of a radio DJ who wants to change the world and a club singer who is ready for her big break. Winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, MEMPHIS is filled with laughter, emotion and roof-raising rock ‘n’ roll, and features a Tony-winning book by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) and a Tony-winning score with music by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan.

MEMPHIS is produced by RICHARD T. DOLCE the Engeman Theater’s Producing Artistic Director.

The Creative Team is IGOR GOLDIN, Director (Engeman Theater: West Side Story, The Producers, Evita, The Music Man, Twelve Angry Men and South Pacific. Off Broadway: YANK!, With Glee, A Ritual of Faith, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Crossing Swords. Regional: Molly Sweeney, Learning How to Drown; An Irish Musical, Crossing Swords and Tick, Tick…BOOM!); ANTOINETTE DIPIETROPOLO, Choreographer (Engeman Theater: Miracle on 34th Street, The Producers, A Christmas Story, Evita!, The Music Man, South Pacific, Hairspray, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change and Nunsense. Off Broadway: With Glee. Regional: Annie, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago, Ragtime. National Tour: How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Associate Director/Choreographer for The Big Apple Circus.) and JAMES OLMSTEAD, Musical Director (Engeman Theater: West Side Story, The Producers, A Chorus Line, Evita. Broadway: Radio City’s New York Spring Spectacular (Keyboardist), On Your Feet! (Copyist). Off Broadway Music Director: 54 Below/Feinstein’s Broadway Swinger, Birdland’s BAA 10th Anniversary Concert, Laurie Beechman’s Perfectly Complicated. Off Broadway Synth Programmer: Fun Home. Composer: Mambo Italiano, Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist.)

 

The Creative Team also includes: DT WILLIS (Scenic Design), TRISTAN RAINES (Costume Design), CORY PATTAK (Lighting Design), LAURA SHUBERT (Sound Design), LEAH LOUKAS (Hair & Wig Design), GAYLE SEAY and SCOTT WOJCIK of WOJCIK/SEAY CASTING (Casting Directors), KRISTIE MOSCHETTA (Props Design), TREY COMPTON (Assistant Director and Fight Choreographer), DENISE WILCOX (Production Stage Manager), and MEGAN E. COUTTS (Assistant Stage Manager).

 

The cast of MEMPHIS features CARSON HIGGINS as Huey Calhoun (National Tour: Green Day’s American Idiot (St. Jimmy). Regional: Memphis (Huey), Little Shop of Horrors (Orin). TV: American Idol Season 10) and BREANNA BARTLEY as Felicia Farrell (NY Theater: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Regional: Dreamgirls (Michelle), Memphis (Felicia), Annie (Grace), and In the Heights).

 

MEMPHIS also features: JARRED BEDGOOD (Gator), C. MINGO LONG (Delray), KATHRYN MARKEY (Gladys), DAVID McDONALD (Mr. Simmons), and ARTHUR L. ROSS (Bobby).

The cast also includes: TONY CHIOFALO, JESSICA CRILLEY, MARISSA GIRGUS, TATIANA GREEN, CHAVON HAMPTON, JENNY L. HARVEY, BRANDON HEYWARD, MICHAL KOLACZKOSKIZ, KATIE LOMBARDO, SUZANNE MASON, IVORY MCKAY, CHRIS MEDLIN, BRANDON RIDDLE, and ALEC VARCAS.

Press Opening is Saturday, March 26 at 8:00 pm

 

MEMPHIS 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 $74 on Saturday evenings, $69 all other performances and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at EngemanTheater.com, 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 www.EngemanTheater.com

The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport Announces 2016 Special Events Series

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Northport, NY) – The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport (Kevin O’Neill, Managing Director and Richard T. Dolce, Producing Artistic Director) announces its Special Events series for 2016. The lineup of 17 performances includes a diverse array of shows ranging from improv comedy to classic Broadway concert series. Audience members can choose from returning favorites as well as several new acts. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the Box Office at (631) 261-2900, visiting our website at www.engemantheater.com/special-events or at the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street Northport, NY 11768.

 

CLADDAGH – THE PRODIGALS SHOW

March 10, 2016 at 8PM

Returning to the Engeman after two sold out performances in 2015, Claddagh – Prodigals and Dancers’ Story Theater features a fusion of the Prodigals’ iconic music, world-champion dancers – both Irish and tap – and a modern day Irish fairy-tale that immerses the audience in a rich universe of love, life and laughter. The romantic story line is told through the music and dance, in a sparkling show that forges way beyond the typical expectations of traditional performance. Tickets start at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for Single Tickets.

 

THE IVY LEAGUE OF COMEDY

March 11, 2016 at 8PM

New to the Engeman, The Ivy League of Comedy is the premier group of stand-up comedians touring America. Known for their elite brand of clever comedy, you’ve heard their brilliant comedic voices on late-night TV and Comedy Central. The Ivy League of Comedy honors audiences with original, well-written comedy that doesn’t resort to playing on stereotypes or picking on the audience. From theatres to corporate events to fund-raising shows for charities, The Ivy League of Comedy brings you stand-up comedy’s funniest and brightest. Tickets on sale now for Season Ticket Holders, complimentary with voucher or $25 without. Single tickets are available for $35.

 

VOCAL TRASH

March 13, 2016 at 2PM and 7PM

Described as, “Glee Meets Stomp”, Vocal Trash asks you to recycle your imagination as their urban themed Broadway style show energizes audiences of all ages with first class singing, industrial style drumming, comedy antics and award winning break-dancing. With an emphasis on recycled instruments, this green minded ensemble tours globally on a relentless pursuit to bring people together utilizing the universal language of song and dance. Tickets start at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for Single Tickets.

 

NEIL BERG’S PIANOMEN

April 3, 2016 at 7PM

October 11, 2016 at 8PM

An returning audience favorite Neil Berg’s Pianomen pays an intimate tribute to the compositions and songwriting of two of the most iconic composers of the 20th Century, Billy Joel and Elton John. Hear the crowd pleasing popular hits and forgotten songs of the last four decades. These timeless songs light up the stage as they are performed by Award-Winning Composer, Lyricist and Producer Neil Berg on piano and two incredible Broadway/Rock vocalists. . Tickets on sale now for Season Ticket Holders, complimentary with voucher or $25 without. Single tickets are available for $50.

 

WILL & ANTHONY SHOWSTOPPERS

April 11, 2016 at 8PM

Returning to the Engeman with a brand new show, Will & Anthony are a force of nature. Will & Anthony’s “Showstoppers” concert includes exciting takes on some of the greatest songs ever written, from Pop Music, 60’s Hits and the American Songbook to Motown, Italy and Broadway. A 90-minute tour-de-force concert that transcends generations, it’s sexy, heart-warming, funny and entertaining. With their soaring tenor voices and acting & improv comedy chops, Will & Anthony sing fresh arrangements of classic and contemporary songs including You’re All I Need to Get By, Feeling Good, O Sole Mio, The Impossible Dream, Unchained Melody, Someone Like You, God Only Knows, What Kind of Fool Am I, The Prayer…songs from The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Broadway, Motown, Sammy Davis Jr., Adele, Rascal Flatts and more. Tickets start at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for Single Tickets.

 

LIVE IN CENTRAL PARK [REVISITED]: SIMON & GARFUNKEL

April 18 & 19, 2016 at 8PM

Relive one of the largest and most memorable concerts in history this season at The Engeman Theater with Live in Central Park (Revisited): Simon and Garfunkel. Vocalist Lee Lessack and singer-songwriter Johnny Rodgers bring the classic set list to life, revisiting the biggest hits of the greatest folk rock duo of all time. From “Sound of Silence” to “Mrs. Robinson,” Live in Central Park (Revisited): Simon and Garfunkel showcases two international vocal talents as they recreate the legendary, original 1981 reunion concert that brought Simon and Garfunkel back together again. Tickets start at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for Single Tickets.

 

BROADWAY’S NEXT H!T MUSICAL

April 25, 2016 at 7PM

The hysterical Broadway’s Next H!T Musical is the only unscripted theatrical awards show. Master improvisers gather made up, hit song suggestions from the audience and create a spontaneous evening of music, humor, and laughter. The audience votes for their favorite song and watches as the cast turns it into a full blown improvised musical – complete with memorable characters, witty dialogue, and plot twists galore. BNHM has been seen recently at The Triad, Tribeca Film Festival, and at the New York Musical Theater Festival, among many others. Under the direction of improv veterans Rob Schiffman and Deb Rabbai, TheaterWeek hailed the show as “brilliant” and The New York Post called Broadway’s Next H!t Musical “remarkable.” Tickets start at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for Single Tickets.

 

BROADWAY GENTLEMEN

May 2, 2016 at 8PM

Join us for an unforgettable evening of Broadway favorites performed by some of today’s incredible Broadway leading men.  Some of the most memorable songs from LES MISERABLES, JERSEY BOYS, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, WICKED, and many more! Tickets start at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for Single Tickets.

 

UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE TOURING COMPANY

June 5, 2016 at 7PM

UCB TourCo brings the best improv comedians from the legendary Upright Citizens Brigade Theatres in New York and Los Angeles to new audiences all around the country. The UCB Theatre – founded by Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh – has been home to some of the biggest stars in comedy today. From TV shows like Broad City, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Veep, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, to films such as Bridesmaids, The Hangover, and The Heat, our performers are everywhere. The show is a 90-minute, unscripted and totally improvised performance. Four improvisers at the top of their game perform a high-energy, surprising and hilarious show that has never been seen before and will never be seen again. Tickets on sale now for Season Ticket Holders, complimentary with voucher or $25 without. Single tickets are available for $50.

 

BEST OF CLASSIC BROADWAY

June 13, 2016 at 8PM

Broadway’s greatest hits of all time, from Jerome Kern to Comden and Green.  These are the songs that Broadway fans around the world want to hear sung by the stars of the Great White Way.  Featuring three of today’s brightest Broadway stars backed by a trio of musicians. Tickets start at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for Single Tickets.

 

NEIL BERG’S 100 YEARS OF BROADWAY

August 1, 2016 at 8PM

Neil Berg’s widely acclaimed 100 Years of Broadway recreates the greatest moments from the finest shows of the century featuring the actual stars of shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, CATS, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Jekyll & Hyde. These amazing performers light up the stage with songs from the hit shows in which they starred. Neil Berg presents brilliantly revived arrangements of Broadway classics as well as thrilling numbers from Broadway’s newest hit shows. Tickets start at $40 for Season Ticket Holders and $75 for Single Tickets.

 

LIGHTS, CAMERA…THE OSCARS!

August 15, 2016 at 8PM

Since 1934, our most beloved songs have been Oscar winners or come from an Academy Award winning movie. TITANIC, AN OFFICER AN A GENTLEMAN, ROCKY, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, THE GODFATHER, GONE WITH THE WIND, CHARIOTS OF FIRE and many more! Tickets start at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for Single Tickets.

 

THE PRODIGALS – ACOUSTIC MIX

August 29, 2016 at 8PM

The Prodigals go acoustic! Born of a performance at Austin Celtic Festival, a new forum that combines “thoughtful, intelligent lyrics”  [Washington Post] with “expertise on accordion and understanding of Irish music [that] elevate” (All Music Guide), “outstanding vocals” (Rambles.net) with virtuosic rhythm work, to create a sound that the Irish Voice dubbed an “artistic triumph.” Tickets on sale now for Season Ticket Holders, complimentary with voucher or $25 without. Single tickets are available for $50.

 

BEHIND THE MASK

October 3, 2016 at 8PM

The greatest shows of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber combined with hits by Kander and Ebb, Stephen Schwartz, and more! Featuring music from: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, CATS, EVITA, SUNSET BOULEVARD, SONG AND DANCE, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, WICKED, THE JERSEY BOYS, CHICAGO, A CHORUS LINE and SPAMALOT. Tickets start at $25 for Season Ticket Holders and $50 for Single Tickets.

 

Season tickets and single tickets may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, by visiting www.engemantheater.com, or at the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted.  To purchase Season Tickets and Gift Cards please contact the Box Office directly.  For group rates or to host an event at the John W. Engeman Theater, please contact the Group Sales Department at 631-261-9700 ext. 23.  For information on advertising in our Programs or in our Lounge, please contact the Advertising Sales Department at 631-261-9700 ext. 22.  The Theater is also home to the John W. Engeman Theater Studio of the Performing Arts, offering classes and camp programs for children; for more information call 631-261-9700 ext. 25.

The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport is Long Island’s only year round professional theater company, casting our 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 www.EngemanTheater.com

The Long Islander Review: Characters Unravel In Dark Comedy, ‘God Of Carnage,’ At Engeman Theater

February 11, 2016

By: Janee Law
jlaw@longislandergroup.com

The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport was roaring with laughter Thursday night as members of the audience witnessed the unraveling chaos between two sets of parents in the popular international comedy, “God Of Carnage.”

Written by Yasmina Reza, the dark hour and a half comedy that’s composed of a single scene is produced and directed by Engeman’s Richard Dolce, who incorporates intense energy and action into the show.

With only four actors in its cast, the play explores the internal and external struggles that couples face. The intense story of parents coming together to solve a fight between their sons reveals that the childrens’ problems are a reflection of their own.

At first, Alan (Chris Kipiniak) and his wife Annette (Alet Taylor) embody the overworked husband and passive wife, while Veronica (Nancy Lemenager) and her husband Michael (Mickey Solis) display characteristics of an overbearing wife and a submissive husband.

As the story unfolds, so do the characters. Roles begin to reverse as they push each other’s buttons and, when alcohol is added to the mix, the meeting spirals into madness as characters turn on one another, demonstrating ill-mannered, childish behavior.

The scene starts out with the parents stiffly sitting to discuss the situation between their sons. The play’s intensity is heightened by Veronica’s character; she takes notes as she paces back and forth, speaking in an automated voice.

Alan thickens the tense situation with his crude behavior, taking phone calls throughout the show, chomping down on his food like a savage and delivering the first of many f-bombs.

Displaying wide eyes, boiling faces and screaming in anger, Alan and Veronica demonstrate great chemistry acting opposite one another. Michaeland Annette are also similar in that both characters started out passive and become aggressive when pushed over the edge by their spouses.

The comic relief also grows as characters unravel under Michael’s sarcasm, Alan’s total disregard for others, Veronica’s quick wit and Annette’s childlike actions.

In the scene where they become intoxicated, Taylor, playing Annette, takes the stage in a dramatic performance as the drunken wife hysterically mocking her husband to show her frustrations.

Audience member Debbie Biggs of Greenlawn said that scene was one of her favorites because the actors were “hysterical.”

Another audience member, Cecily Frankum, said she loves “a dark kind of comedy.”

“It was a really good ensemble and they played really well with each other,” Frankum, of Huntington Station, said.

Chris Kipiniak, who plays the character Alan, said he enjoyed playing a character that’s unlike himself.

“It certainly is a lot of energy but… it’s a lot of fun to play a high energy character,” Kipiniak said. “It’s an excellent play. It’s nice to be working with people who are different than you and have a different style of working and I think that it makes it exciting. It’s been a lot of fun.”

“God of Carnage” runs at the Engeman Theater through March 6. Showtimes: Thursdays and Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Tickets are $59-$64.

The Long Islander: Paying it Forward

The Long Islander

February 6, 2016

Donna Galluccio, Director of the Ecumenical Lay Council’s food pantry, and Pastor Tim Hoyt of First Presbyterian Church in Northport, dropped by the Engeman Theater earlier this week to receive funds donated by theater audiences over the holiday season. Theater owners Kevin O’Neill, managing director, and Richard Dolci [sic], producer and artistic director, turned over $35,000 which was collected over the holiday season by passing the basket during show intermissions.

“We raise funds every year and are happy to be able to support the food pantry and church,” O’Neill said.

It’s more of a story of mutual support. The church has for the past decade allowed the theater’s valet parking operation to use its parking lot on show night, O’Neill explained. The church also houses the Ecumenical Lay Council’s food pantry.

“Pastor Tim is a progressive thinker. He is good enough to let us use the church parking lot at night and he’s also good enough to provide space for the food pantry,” O’Neill said, adding the pantry provides assistance to 160 families a week.

The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport Announces its 10th Anniversary Season

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Northport, NY) – The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport (Kevin O’Neill, Managing Director and Richard T. Dolce, Producing Artistic Director) is thrilled to announce its 10th Anniversary Season. To celebrate the occasion, the 2016-2017 season brings you six exciting musicals!

 

Kicking off the season is the East Coast Regional Premiere of MAMMA MIA!  Over 60 million people all around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story and the music that make MAMMA MIA! the ultimate feel-good show! This tale full of sun and fun unfolds on a Greek island paradise when, on the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years before. The story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship.  July 21, 2016 – September 11, 2016.

 

Ring in the election year with 1776, the classic Tony Award®-winning musical about how the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence and gave birth to a new nation. A unique show that presents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin in all their fractious, fascinating complexity, 1776 features beloved songs such as “Sit Down, John,” “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men,” and “He Plays the Violin.” The show will remind you of how far America has come – and how little we’ve changed.  September 22, 2016 – November 6, 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.  November 17, 2016 – January 1, 2017.

 

Beat the winter blues with THE FULL MONTY.  The 10-time Tony Award® nominee is filled with honest affection, engaging melodies and a raucous mix of razor-sharp humor and toe-tapping pizazz … not to mention the most highly anticipated closing number in Broadway history! In need of quick cash and low on prospects, six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers come up with the outrageous idea to put on a strip act after seeing their wives’ enthusiasm for a touring company of Chippendales. As they prepare for the big night, working through their fears, self-consciousness and anxieties, they overcome their inner demons and find strength in their camaraderie.  January 19, 2017 – March 5, 2017.

 

JEKYLL & HYDE brings to life the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson, complemented by a breathtaking score from Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse. An evocative tale of two men, one a doctor, passionate and romantic and the other, a terrifying madman, and two women, one beautiful and trusting and the other, beautiful and trusting only herself. Both unaware of his dark secret. Their story unfolds in this gripping musical thriller resplendent with a sumptuous score including the unforgettable, “This is the Moment,” “Someone Like You” and “A New Life.”  March 16, 2017 – April 30, 2017.

 

To close the season, the John W. Engeman Theater presents Broadway favorite OKLAHOMA!  This is the show that set the standard for all future musicals by incorporating music, lyrics and dance into a well-crafted serious story. OKLAHOMA! spins the tale of the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys in the Indian territory of Oklahoma at the turn of the twentieth century. This provides a colorful background against which Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl, play out their love story. Nominated for 7 Tony Awards® and winner of a Pulitzer Prize, it’s filled with some of the most recognized songs in theatre including “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin,’” “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and of course, the resounding “Ok-la-hom-a.”  May 11, 2017 – June 25, 2017.

 

 

 

Season tickets are now on sale. Single tickets will go on sale beginning April 1, 2016.

Season tickets and single tickets may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, by visiting www.engemantheater.com, or at the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted.  To purchase Season Tickets and Gift Cards please contact the Box Office directly.  For group rates or to host an event at the John W. Engeman Theater, please contact the Group Sales Department at 631-261-9700 ext. 23.  For information on advertising in our Programs or in our Lounge, please contact the Advertising Sales Department at 631-261-9700 ext. 22.  The Theater is also home to the John W. Engeman Theater Studio of the Performing Arts, offering classes and camp programs for children; for more information call 631-261-9700 ext. 25.

The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport is Long Island’s only year round professional theater company, casting our 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 www.EngemanTheater.com

Long Island Press Review: Comedy of Manners: God of Carnage Debuts at Northport’s Engeman Theater

Review: God of Carnage

By: Elise Pearlman

The internationally acclaimed God of Carnage is possibly the most unique theatrical offering that I have seen at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater. The dark farcical comedy makes for uproarious pandemonium and laughter, and the audience (myself included) simply loved it. It is so good that you might want to see it more than once.

French playwright Yasmina Reza hones in on one of the universal fears of parenthood—that your child will be hurt by, or might hurt, another child. The play, originally written in Reza’s native tongue and translated into English by Christopher Hampton, has captured the imagination of theatergoers around the world.

After its debut performance in 2006, God of Carnage made its way to London where it received the Olivier Award for Best New Play of the Year. Its 2009 stint on Broadway boasting a stellar cast, including James Gandolfini, garnered three Tony Awards. Since then, it has graced stages in Spain, Ireland, Serbia and Croatia, to name a few.

The play is set in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. After another boy breaks two of their 11-year-old son’s teeth during a playground brawl, Annette and Michael go where angels fear by inviting the parents of aggressor to their home to discuss the incident. Although we never meet the boys, Henry and Benjamin, whose antics ignite the fuse, it is the parents who entertain us with their unexpected emotional explosions.

This unlikely rendezvous is the brainchild of Veronica, an art aficionado with a forthcoming book on the Darfur. Her husband, Michael, is a wholesale distributor of household goods. The other set of parents are Alan, a well-to-do lawyer with international clientele and Annette, who simply says that she is into wealth management.

It all starts out with polite, amicable conversation in Annette and Michael’s posh living room. In the name of peaceful coexistence, mouthwatering clafouti, a fruity French dessert, is served and expensive yellow tulips adorn vases.

Yet these niceties cannot mask the fact that the couples are understandably very wary of each other and looking for holes in each others’ polished façades. The best laid plans go horribly astray as the meeting progresses and at a delightfully dizzying pace.

It seems that no clafouti, no matter how delicious, can pacify the god of carnage, whom Alan explains has reigned supreme since the dawn of time and unleashes our basest and most primitive instincts.

Alan turns out to be right. In short order, the thin veil of civility is pierced, and the couples are at each other’s throats. Reza’s script is replete with clever, hilarious surprises and shifting marital allegiances that animate the set, especially after a bottle of primo rum is uncorked. Kudos to Richard Dolce for his impeccable directing of this talented cast whose performances requires split second comedic timing. This is ensemble work at its best.

Which is the funniest scenario? I’ll hint at them. Who had done a hamster wrong? What happens after Annette—understandably a bundle of nerves—upchucks on a collection of Veronica’s treasured coffee table books displayed like window dressing in the living room? How do the characters change after imbibing that primo rum?

Nancy Lemenager is ideal as the highbrow art lover who has unrealistic expectations about human nature and does not recognize a highly combustible situation when she sees one. Mickey Solis is hilarious as Michael, Veronica’s polar opposite, a man who proudly announces that he is “not a member of polite society,” but rather a Neanderthal.

Alan (Chris Kipiniak) skillfully fits the bill as the prototypical lawyer who is welded to his cell phone and more concerned with advising a pharmaceutical company on their defense against charges of a dangerous drug than dealing with his son’s conduct. His wife, Annette (Alet Taylor), who first appears to be the most restrained of the foursome, is emboldened and comes out fighting after some of that rum enters her system. It made for some very funny and feel-good moments.

Stephen Dobay’s set—decorated with the minimalist flair—makes it the perfect venue for maximal action. Showcased is a large-scale wooden sculpture created from found objects à la Louise Nevelson, one of the most influential and distinguished sculptors of the 20th century. Painted a monochromatic dark gray, the disparate pieces that compose the sculpture become unified textural content. Splashes of red, white and black further enliven the room’s décor.

It is pure eye candy. Bravo, Mr. Dobay!

God of Carnage runs through March 6. Tickets can be purchased at the theater’s box office, 250 Main St, Northport, by calling 261-2900 or by visiting engemantheater.com.

Broadway World Review: The Engeman’s GOD OF CARNAGE

Review: The Engeman’s GOD OF CARNAGE

By: Melissa Giordano

Having seen a previous less-than-stellar local production of Yasmina Reza’s Tony winning play God Of Carnage, I’m thrilled that Long Island’s John W. Engeman Theatre has added it to their season this year. Leave it to The Engeman to redeem a show. This intelligent and well-executed incarnation runs through March 6th at the gorgeous Northport venue.

Engeman’s Producing Artistic Director, Richard T. Dolce, wonderfully directs the four person cast in the one act comedy. The tale centers on two couples meticulously discussing an altercation their sons had at school. In turn, as the show progresses, we find the parents becoming increasingly juvenile and belligerent. Of course, that is partly due to the rum that was offered as refreshments.

The first couple of the Broadway caliber ensemble consists of Alet Taylor as Annette, who is in “wealth management” (her husband’s wealth, that is) and Chris Kipiniak (Broadway: Metamorphoses, Macbeth) and Alan, an always-on-the-damn-cellphone corporate lawyer. It is their son that allegedly did the assaulting. The second couple is Nancy Lemenager (Broadway: Chicago, Movin’ Out, et. al.) as Veronica, an author, and Mickey Solis as Michael, a houseware wholesaler. They all work incredibly well off each other and completely let loose particularly with the childish shenanigans.

It seems the most important thing you must have is a very strong comedic cast to mount this show. The Engeman’s fantastic company delivers superbly as expressed by the enthusiastic sold out audience. The chemistry is apparent and its relatability seems to be another reason why this is such a well-received piece. You regularly see parents wrongfully defend their “little angels” and the parents end up looking as bad as the children.

Mr. Dolce’s creative team is just as outstanding as the cast. Set in the living room of Veronica and Michael’s home, Stephen Dobay’s beautiful design, enhanced stunningly by Driscoll Otto’s lighting, consists of a high back wall filled with brick-a-brack and many books with several tables and couches perfectly positioned on the stage for the upscale Brooklyn home.

And so, God Of Carnage, is indeed another hit for Long Island’s John W. Engeman Theatre. A wonderful company and hilarious story make for a wonderful night of theatre.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

God Of Carnage is presented by the John W. Engman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, through March 6th. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

By Yasmina Reza, Directed by RICHARD T. DOLCE, Scenic Design by STEPHEN DOBAY, Costume Design by TRISTAN RAINES, Lighting Design by DRISCOLL OTTO, Sound Design by LAURA SHUBERT, Casting by WOJCIK/SEAY CASTING, LLC, Stage Management by FRAN RUBENSTEIN

Staring CHRIS KIPINIAK, NANCY LEMENAGER, MICKEY SOLIS, and ALET TAYLOR

Photo by Michael DeCristofaro; NANCY LEMENAGER, MICKEY SOLIS, ALET TAYLOR, CHRIS KIPINIAK

The John W. Engeman Theater Raises $35,000 for Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry of Northport and First Presbyterian Church of Northport

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Northport, NY – February 3, 2016) – On Wednesday, February 3, Richard T. Dolce and Kevin J. O’Neill, owners of the John W. Engeman Theater presented a check to Chairperson Donna Galluccio of the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry of Northport and Pastor Tim Hoyt-Duncan of the First Presbyterian Church of Northport with money raised in support of the Food Pantry.

 

Following each performance of Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical, cast members collected donations for the Food Pantry. In total, $35,000 was collected during the run of the 2015 holiday production.

 

O’Neill stated that this fundraising effort represents an ongoing commitment to give back to the communities of Northport and greater Long Island. This is the second year that the Engeman Theater has raised funds for the Food Pantry and the First Presbyterian Church of Northport, which hosts the Food Pantry.

 

Since it opened nearly ten years ago, the Engeman Theater has had a partnership with the First Presbyterian Church, allowing theater patrons to have their cars valet parked to the church parking lot. “This partnership is vital to the existence of the theater,” said O’Neill, who stressed the importance of working together with local organizations and businesses to support the community and economy of Downtown Northport.

 

The Engeman Theater also receives support from Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ Health System) for its Mainstage series and Bethpage Federal Credit Union for it Children’s Theater series, in the form of multi-year corporate sponsorships.

The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport is Long Island’s only year round professional theater company, casting our 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 www.EngemanTheater.com

Times Beacon Record Review: ‘Junie B. Jones, The Musical’ takes on Northport

Review: ‘Junie B. Jones, The Musical’ takes on Northport

By Rita J. Egan

“Junie B. Jones, The Musical” opened at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport this past Saturday to an audience filled with young children eager to see their favorite literary characters in the flesh, and with a fun, lively show, the cast did not disappoint.

The musical, based on the children’s book series by Barbara Park, follows the adventures of Junie B. Jones as she tackles life’s little obstacles she finds along the way in first grade. Among the many challenges she faces are losing her best friend, Lucille, to twins Camille and Chenille, finding out she needs glasses, and being unable to participate in the big kickball tournament. However, with the help of her family and friends, and jotting everything down in her Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal, the endearing redhead figures everything out and learns that when life hands you lemons you make lemonade.

Kate Keating is youthful and charming as the main character, Junie. As lead on many of the numbers, her clear soprano voice is perfect for revealing the story through song, and she easily draws the young audience in as she talks directly to them in a number of scenes.

Playing the role of mother, as well as fellow first-graders Grace and Sheldon, is Suzanne Mason whose stage presence as always is a strong one. The actress especially shines as the awkward, stuffy-nosed Sheldon, and she elicited loud giggles during a scene where Sheldon, ready to play the cymbals at the kickball tournament, experiences stage fright. Mason convincingly delivers the song “Sheldon Potts’ Halftime Show” as if she were a child herself.

Joshua Cahn plays Mr. Scary, Daddy and Gladys Gutzman, and it’s as Gutzman, the cafeteria lady, that Cahn takes center stage. The way he delivers the role is reminiscent of Edna Turnblad from “Hairspray,” and with funny lines and a cute dance number with Keating, he received well-deserved laughs and giggles from the audience members.

Michael Verre tackles dual roles as Junie’s new friend Herb and one of the twins, Chenille. While Verre is sweet as Herb, particularly during the number with Keating, “You Can Be My Friend,” he is hilarious as Chenille, where he good-naturedly dons a wig and dress, and gracefully sings and dances along with Camille and Lucille during the number “Lucille, Camille, Chenille” to the delight of the audience.

Jennifer Casey as Camille and Jose, Allie Eibeler as Lucille and Lennie, and Alyson Clancy as May and Bobbie Jean handle their role changes seamlessly, and no matter what part they are playing, effortlessly add to the fun and high energy of the musical.

Written by Marcy Heisler, with music by Zina Goldrich, “Junie B. Jones” features upbeat, fun-filled numbers that are perfect for a musical geared toward young children. Stand out songs in the first act include the opening number “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax” where Junie tells the audience all about her new journal, and at the end of the act, “Now I See,” where, with the help of her friends, Junie begins to like her new glasses. Act 2 also features the heartwarming number “Writing Down the Story of My Life” that will inspire little ones to record their adventures.

Directed by Jennifer Collester Tully, “Junie B. Junes, The Musical” is a journal-worthy theater experience for the whole family. The set is colorful, the actors are energetic, and the story is a relatable one for children. Most of all, the delightful story will warm the hearts of young and old.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Junie B. Jones The Musical” through March 6. Tickets are $15 each. For more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

NY Theatre Guide Review: ‘God of Carnage’ at the John W. Engeman Theater

Review: ‘God of Carnage’ at the John W. Engeman Theater
By: LORI SPEISER JAN. 31, 2016

God of Carnage, currently on stage at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, was written by Yasmina Reza, a French playwright, novelist and screenwriter. She is known for her satiric plays which explore concerns of the middle-class.

“The play is full of humor and great acting.”

God of Carnage is a four-person play about an evening in which two sets of parents gather to discuss how to handle an incident which took place between their young sons. While on the playground, one boy hit the other in the mouth with a stick resulting in two damaged teeth. This awkward situation opens with both couples behaving in a cautiously polite manner. The play’s tagline is “A Comedy of Manners, Without the Manners,” and as implied, the play endeavors to point out how easy it is for people to lose their civilized veneer. As the evening progresses, the conversation veers off course, their behavior deteriorates, and with the addition of rum, disaster ensues.

The play is well-written and cleverly moves the characters along their descent into immature, self-indulgent behavior. As they turn on each other, their loyalties switch along the way. At times it is couple against couple, women against men, then husband against wife. Their behavior should make your crazy relatives or neighbors seem well-balanced.

Along this downward journey there is plenty of humor. Some unexpected moments had the audience erupting in laughter. Physical humor, sexism humor and much more are spread throughout. As their behavior worsened, the comedy increased.

The four actors: Chris Kipiniak, Nancy Lemenager, Mickey Solis and Alet Taylor did an excellent job portraying their different characters. Their facial expressions and body language were animated, expressing thoughts beyond the words of the script. As lines were spoken, the audience was laughing before the anticipated humorous response could be spoken. Their timing was terrific.

Richard T. Dolce did a great job directing. Four people, one set, lots of movement making full use of the stage, deftly moving the actors from calm conversation to farcical chaos.

The play is full of humor and great acting. As it devolves into watching people tear one another apart, you might even learn something about yourself as you laugh at behavior that would disturb you in reality.

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes. No intermission.

Advisory: The language throughout the play is littered with profanity

God of Carnage is running at The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, NY until March 6th, 2016. The theatre is located at 250 Main Street, Northport. For tickets, call the box office at (631) 261-2900 or click here.

Times of Huntington-Northport Review: Humanity’s inner struggle revealed in black comedy ‘God of Carnage’

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT | TIMES OF HUNTINGTON-NORTHPORT

Review: Humanity’s inner struggle revealed in black comedy ‘God of Carnage’
By CHARLES J. MORGAN JAN. 27, 2016

Four highly skilled Equity members starred equally in Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater’s production of “God of Carnage” that opened Friday, Jan. 21. This tightly written effort was written by Yasmina Reza in French and translated to English by Christopher Hampton. Direction was by Richard T. Dolce, who is also producing artistic director of the Engeman.

On a gleaming geometrical set with little depth and one, little used exit, the four characters — two sets of parents — meet to discuss in a calm, adult, logical manner the fact that the son of one of the couples had clobbered the other’s son with a stick, knocking out two of his teeth. The concessive discussion gradually escalates into a full-scale riot of threats, name-calling, replete with blistering vulgarities, physical assaults and, amid slugs of Puerto Rican rum and (let’s admit it), a technically pointedly directed vomiting scene right down stage center! At the height of it husband goes after wife to make it an eight-way free-for-all.

Chris Kipiniak and Alet Taylor play the first couple, Alan and Annette. The “offended” pair are played by Nancy Lemenager and Mickey Solis as Veronica and Michael. The two couples are equally combative, each with their own strategies.

But what are the strategies? Reza wants to bring out the inner rage that is in us all exemplified by the four battlers. They appear to be happily married upper-middle-class types, but this is a veneer. The furnaces of hate, vindictiveness and self-righteousness not too gradually come to the surface, shattering the patina of class politeness and sociability. This tsunami of ill will is made out to be what is truly natural, all else being a glaze of neighborliness under which lies not a madeleine but deadly nightshade.

It is a compelling play as a vehicle for getting inside the head and heart of the audience. And this it accomplishes piercingly. The intra and the inter of family squabbling is not exactly the story line. Reza uses more than a scalpel to surgically excise and reveal to the light the inner workings of the human psyche … she wields a meat cleaver.

If it would be productive to prescind from criticizing the show and talk about the acting, let’s proceed with vigor! The quartet performed as a theatrical exemplar. Kipiniak as Alan, an attorney, is wrapped up in one thing only … his cellphone. Taylor, as his wife Annette, starts off as a loving monument to marriage and motherhood. Lemenager as Veronica and Solis as Michael have careers; she an art loving crusader for the unfortunates of Darfur, he a toilet bowl salesman. All deserve high praise for their acting skills especially in the manner in which they gradually get at each others’ throats. This invaluable skill even prevented the whole thing from degenerating unto pie-in-the-face slapstick.

Your scribe would not say that Dolce had an easy task in this no-intermission show. He had to infuse real life into all four, and to block them accordingly, a result he achieved masterfully not only with aplomb but with art.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “God of Carnage” through March 6. Tickets range from $59 to $64. For more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Newsday Review: This ‘Carnage’ has plenty of punch

Review: God of Carnage

By Steve Parks steve.parks@newsday.com

WHAT: “God of Carnage”
WHEN | WHERE: 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through March 6, John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, 250 Main St.
TICKETS: $59-$64; 631-261-2900, engemantheater.com

Watching other people behave badly – unless they’re your children – is great fun. That’s why “God of Carnage,” the slim reed of domestic farce that won French author Yasmina Reza a 2009 Tony for best play, is a fat-free delight. As directed by Richard Dolce at the Engeman THeter, insults baring shards of humor high and low collide like verbal barbs propelled by a Punch-and-Judy atom smasher.

You smell blood from the start, although the only visceral substance hurled in this 80-minute descent from civility to savagery is – be warned – vomit.

Veronica and Michael have invited another couple, Annette and Alan, to their upscale Brooklyn apartment to discuss an altercation between their sons. Henry, the hosts’ scion, was struck by Benjamin with a stick that knocked out two teeth. Despite the polite veneer of their opening remarks, you know where this is headed once Veronica states that Benjamin was “armed.” Combat is implied but never realized as the couples square off, first against each other. But later, gender alliances form and dissolve and spouses go for the jugular with the ferocity of one who knows the most vulnerable vein.

Nancy Lemenager as Veronica epitomizes the folly of good manners in the face of bad vibes. She’s writing a book on Darfur and fancies herself an African-culture expert. She treasures an out-of-print book no one else cares about. Her husband, Michael, is a nuts-and-bolts guy – a housewares wholesaler whose expertise is literally in the toilet. Mickey Solis as Michael chafes at the restraint of politeness he suffers until he pours his guests – and himself – snoot-fulls of primo rum.

Annette, the so-called “wealth manager” played by Alet Taylor with a teetering balance between defensiveness and not-offending, throws up all over Veronica’s prized coffee-table books, while her husband, Alan, serially intrudes with constant and unapologetic cellphone interruptions. A corporate attorney, Alan is frantic to fend off charges against an errant pharmaceutical company he represents. Chris Kipiniak animates Alan’s savage instincts – he believes in the “god of carnage” who rules us all – with a gusto that can only be defeated by disarmament. (We won’t give away how he’s disarmed.)

Set designer Stephen Dobay brilliantly stages this confrontation with a Louise Nevelson-style art piece topped by out-of-reach books that bespeak intellectual phoniness.
We laugh, as well we may, because it’s not our kids, not our marriage.

The Reviews Are Out! West Side Story is a HIT!

What an honor to be part of this extraordinary show! West Side Story opened last week and all of the reviews have been phenomenal. Check out the wonderful news and let us know what you think! Leave your comments below.

NYtheaterguidetop5-Final-9-7-2013

“…{They} found the balance between a realistic portrayal of violence and an artful depiction of it.”
"..superbly sung and choreographed show.."
“..superbly sung and choreographed show..”
“The Engeman’s “West Side Story” is a rare, not-to-be-missed opportunity to truly appreciate an American theatrical treasure.”
“The entire cast of this performance is fabulous.”
“To put it plainly, West Side Story is indeed another “must see” for the Engeman Theater.”
"..wows audiences with a top-notch cast who bring this tearful, tragic story to life.."
“..wows audiences with a top-notch cast who bring this tearful, tragic story to life..”

Special Event Voucher Update!

Your Season Ticket Package Just Got Better!

We are constantly striving to make your membership at the John W. Engeman Theater better and better.

With this in mind, we are extending your 2015-2016 Special Event Vouchers until the end of the Season! This means your 2015-2016 Vouchers will be valid until the end of Thoroughly Modern Millie (July 10, 2016.)

Any remaining 2014 – 2015 Vouchers will expire on December 31, 2015.

Click HERE to see a list of our 2015-2016 Special Events. We’ve even added a few new Events! More will be announced as the Season continues.

Below are some of the upcoming events that you won’t want to miss!


Daisy Joplingmega

Daisy Jopling Band
August 2, 2015

Daisy is an internationally acclaimed violinist. She will join us with a full band for an EXCITING night of rock arrangements of great classical pieces, gypsy music, Irish Folk music, & tango.

mary thumb

Big Dummy
August 19, 2015

Mary Dimino is back! In April she sold out our theater with her hit “Scared Skinny.” Join this knee-slapping, one-woman comedian for a night to remember.

Joseph Joubert HR Head Shot

Fascinating Gershwin with Joseph Joubert
August 30, 2015

Mr. Joubert served as the conductor of Motown The Musical on Broadway and assistant conductor for Billy Elliot. His accomplishments are wide ranging and his talent has taken him not only across the continent, but also throughout the world. You will be reminiscing as you hear the gorgeous Gershwin melodies. Fascinating Rhythm, The Man I Love, I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’, I Got Rhythm, Swanee and more.


Have Questions? Contact Me!

Jackie Polden Season Ticket Manager

 

Jackie Polden
Season Ticket Manager
Email: JPolden@EngemanTheater.com
Phone:631-261-9700 ext 29

April Events Bring May Gents

In April, we welcomed 4 unique and excellent Special Events. It was such a blessing to watch and meet these extraordinary entertainers.

Earlier in the month we introduced Mary Domino to the stage with her one woman act ; Scared Skinny. Mary, winner of the 2010 MAC Award for Outstanding Female Comedian, entertained our Season Ticket Holder family with quirky and hilarious personal stories about growing up Italian and fat in Queens. This sold out show had audience members cracking up and begging for more! Luckily we were able to get her back onto our stage. Mary will be preforming her new act Big Dummy on August 19th, 2015 at 7pm! I was lucky enough to meet her after the show and I even got a t-shirt!

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Next up we had juggler and comedian Mark Neizer! He was seriously CRAZY. He might be the first person to ever be on a unicycle on the Engeman Theater Stage! I was so worried he was going to fall! Here is a photo of him on a unicycle juggling …KNIVES!

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His use of lighting effects, 3D glasses, and random items like ping pong balls, bricks, lasers, swords and even something he created called the “New Dimension Beam” were fantastic. The “New Dimension Beam” is a juggling stick that allows him to play music, cues lighting effects and juggle all at the same time. It was very cool! His final act left our theater a mess with toilet paper but we still love him.

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We also welcomed Will and Anthony Nunziata. The twin brothers, born in Brooklyn and raised in Pelham Bay. They certainly wowed our sold out Special Event Series Night attendees. The Nunziatas have recently been on Good Morning America, The Rachel Ray Show and NPR Music Radio.

The Nunziatas are full of energy, jokes and both have absolutely wonderful voices. After the show they autographed photos and their debut album “Make Someone Happy.” The album is an intimate collection and eclectic mix of songs from the Great American Songbook, show-tunes, and contemporary music.

Here is a photo I snagged with Season Ticket Holder Anna C. What a lucky woman!

Anna and the Nunziatas

Our last Special Event for April was debuting group Shades of Buble. The three man trio sang their hearts out for our packed house. This was a very special evening not only for us but for them. It was their premier as a group for their act.

Producers;  Melissa Giattino and Ron DeStefano (who you might recognize from Two on Tap) pulled together these three wonderful men and a full band to sing  incredible songs like “Come Fly With Me, “Moondance,” “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” and many more.

The boys brought the swinging standards and pop hits of this modern-day Sinatra to our stage and the audience absolutely loved them. Here is a quick video of the boys singing one of my favorites, “Moondance:”

Hopping into May we were lucky to have the Gents from Apollo Link join us. This is our only Special Event in May but it was great! This very unique male vocal group met on the Broadway set of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark!

Primarily an A Capella group, they mixed it up with a two hour pop concert for our crowd, accompanied with guitar player Sergio Ortega. The boys, Brandon Rubendall, Adam Roberts, & Jake Odmark sang songs from Etta James, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Nick Jonas and even threw in some of their favorite Broadway songs! Their harmonies gave us all goosebumps. After the show they did a meet and greet where patrons were able to take photos, get autographs and buy one of their really awesome shirts! Here are the Bensons posing with the “Spidey Boys!”

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Hope everyone enjoyed the Special Events as much as I did! I am looking forward to all the other amazing Special Events coming up.

Have suggestions? Questions? Concerns? Please feel free to reach out to me.

 

 

 

Jackie Polden

Jpolden@Engemantheater.com

(631)261-9700 ext 29

Season Ticket Manager

NEW SPECIAL EVENTS!

SpecialEvents

Your Season Ticket membership just got even better! We just added 14 new Special Events!

Don’t miss out! If you have not yet renewed for the 2015/16 Season, call us today!

Special Events are on a first come first serve basis and can be reserved beginning at 10 am April 14th. Tickets will go on sale to the General Public April 20th.

Call the Box Office or sign into your account online to book your seats.

Don’t forget all vouchers expire December 31st, 2015!

[box type=”info”]Not a Season Ticket Holder? Call to find out how you can see these shows for free! 631-261-2900[/box]


Friend
You’ve Got A Friend: The Music of the Brill Building
Monday, June 15th at 7pm.

2nd SHOW ADDED! Due to popular demand we have added an additional performance of You’ve Got A Friend: The Music of the Brill Building!


BrodwayConcert mega menuBroadway Concert Series
Monday, June 22nd 2015 7pm

We are pleased to welcome back our acclaimed Broadway Concert Series. Join us for an amazing evening of entertainment from four incredibly talented Broadway performers. The artists will be announced at a later date.


shotgun megaShotgun Wedding
Sunday, June 28th 2015 7pm

Shotgun Wedding is a Brooklyn-based band blazing their own trail with a new music genre, “City-Country”. Their songs reflect life in NYC – steeped in Bakersfield country, rock-n-roll, with a dash of swing.


rnh1Rodgers & Hammerstein Celebration!
Wednesday, July 29th 2015 at 7pm

Starring Oscar ‘Andy’ Hammerstein III, grandson of the beloved librettist and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, and author of “The Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family”. Thrill to the brilliant music of this legendary team with songs from their celebrated collaborations. A favorite for audiences of all ages!


daisy 2Daisy Jopling Band
Sunday, August 2nd 2015 7pm

The Daisy Jopling band play rock arrangements of great classical pieces, spiced up with some gypsy music, Irish folk music, tango and original compositions.


Piano IllustrationNeil Berg’s Pianomen – An Intimate Tribute to Billy Joel & Elton John
Sunday, August 16th 2015 7pm

Neil Berg’s Pianomen pays an intimate tribute to the compositions and songwriting of two of the most iconic composers of the 20th Century, Billy Joel and Elton John. Hear the crowd pleasing popular hits and forgotten songs of the last four decades.


mary thumbBig Dummy
Wednesday, August 19th 2015 7pm

Mary Dimino is back! Mary is the creator of the critically acclaimed hit Scared Skinny, which sold out on our stage earlier this month! Now see her in “Big Dummy” A one woman show about growing up smarter than your father in Queens!


frank thumb100 Years of Sinatra
Sunday, August 23rd 2015 7pm

Frank Sinatra is the most beloved and admired singer of our lifetime. He sold 150 million records and won 11 Grammy Awards, but that hardly begins to tell his story. We will honor Francis Albert Sinatra with an extraordinary evening of his most famous hits from throughout his career, starring Sal Viviano.


gershwin 2Fascinating Gershwin with Joseph Joubert
Sunday, August 30th 2015 7pm

Fascinating Gershwin™ Marvel at the extraordinary showmanship of pianist Joseph Joubert! You will be reminiscing as you hear the gorgeous Gershwin melodies. Fascinating Rhythm, The Man I Love, I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’, I Got Rhythm, Swanee and more.


LaurenFox thumb The Songs of Joni Mitchell & Leonard Cohen Starring Lauren Fox
Sunday, September 27th 2015 at 7pm

Through stories and song, Lauren Fox examines the creative genius–and conflicted desires–of two of folk music’s most enduring artists. Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen are widely known to be two of the best and most prolific songwriters of their generation. Less known about the fellow Canadian artists is that they had a relationship early in their careers that lasted only a few months, but had a lasting effect on their work.


guyGuy Bavli – “Master of the Mind”
Sunday and Monday, October 4th and 5th 2015 at 7pm

Come join the award winning mentalist Guy Bavli on his journey into the mysteries of the human mind. You will enjoy an evening of telekinesis, humor, ESP, and interactive audience participation that’ll have you buzzing long after the final curtain call.


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Scotch, Soul & Rock ‘n Roll
Wednesday, October 7th at 7pm

Let charismatic singer Ron Gartner bring you the music you grew up with, danced to and romanced to. This is the show for music fans who love Frank, Sammy, Dean, Bobby Darin, Temptations, Four Tops, Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, Doo-Wop & more!


billboard thunbOh What a Night! Billboard Hits of the 1960’s
Wednesday, October 14th at 7pm

This show features Billboard hits from 1957-1969 that will have people dancing in their seats! Starring two of Broadway’s hottest leading singers and featuring music by: The Four Seasons, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, Bobbie Darrin, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder and even the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin!


John PizziJohn Pizzi
Sunday, October 18th at 7pm

Back by popular demand! One of the hottest rising comics in the entertainment industry, has brought his unique brand of comedy to audiences around the country! Opening acts for entertainers like Jerry Vale, Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge, Joy Behar, Weird Al Yankovic, The Trammps, The Regents, Al Martino, Clint Holmes and many more!


 

Tickets can be reserved beginning Tuesday April 14th at 10 AM!

631-261-2900

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call!

Have a wonderful day,
Jackie Polden
Season Ticket Manager
The John W. Engeman Theater

Special Event Overview

Kiss Today Goodbye : A Chorus Line

Inspired. That’s exactly how I felt after watching the fantastic and mesmerizing cast of A Chorus Line.

Cast Photo
(Drew Humphrey, Dena DiGiacinto and The Cast of A Chorus Line-Patrick Ball, Rachel Marie Bell, Sissy Bell, Nic Casaula, Abby Church, Hayden Clifton, Matthew Couvillon, Courtney Fekete, Omar Garibay, Jessica Lee Goldyn, Francesca Granell, Eric Greengold, Stephanie Israelson, James Ludwig, Andrew Metzgar, Courtney Moran, PJ Palmer, DJ Petrosino, Alexzandra Sarmiento, Kelly Sheehan, Maria Cristina Slye, Michael Warrell, Sari Weinerman and Danny Wilfred)*

I have seen the show and the movie a handful of times, and for years sang the songs in Chamber Choir at Carmel High School (shout out to Mr. Smith,) but this was different.

It gave me goosebumps, it made me cry and laugh. I left the theater dancing and looking forward to sitting in the back of the theater watching it again and again (one of the many perks of my job!)

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If you don’t know the story it is pretty simple : A director, played by the handsome James Ludwig, is casting for a new Broadway musical. His auditions are grueling and everyone must be perfect or they will get cut.

For 17 dancers, this audition is the chance of a lifetime. It’s the opportunity to dance on a world famous Broadway stage. Each of the 17 dancers have their own individual story and reason why they became dancers. Boys who dreamed of dancing because they watched their sisters do it and girls who found a home at the ballet to escape their family. Some stories more relate-able than other but none the less all great stories! The character development for each actor is perfect. My two favorite characters are “Kristine” played by Rachel Marie Bell and “Richie” played by Danny Wilfred. They are both phenomenally quirky and charismatic!
One of the 17 dancers isn’t like the others though…Her name is Cassie. Cassie is played by Jessica Lee Goldyn, who is by far one of the best dancers I have ever seen. She also performed the revival of A Chorus Line on Broadway as Val along side Mario Lopez! Jessica’s performance of “The Music and the Mirror” is gripping and leaves the entire audience spellbound. Here is a sneak peek of her dance:

I won’t give any spoilers but the acting, dancing, singing and the lighting for this show is out of this world. Director Drew Humphrey and choreographer Dena DiGiacinto have really out done themselves! The show is open from now until May 10th. If you don’t have tickets you might want to jump on it quick as we are already selling out!

https://engemantheater.com/event/a-chorus-line/

*Video by Michael DeCristofaro from the John W. Engeman Theater. Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter-Keddy

March Newsletter : Goodbye Winter!

We are incredibly happy that you joined us for the 2014 – 2015 Season. With only 2 more shows left in our 8th season, we would like to send you a friendly reminder that Renewals are now due. If you have already renewed THANK YOU!

Our 2015 – 2016 Season is filled with amazing Main Stage performances and plenty of Special Events, we don’t want you to miss out!

Recapping the month of March, we wrapped up Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and were able to bring you two great Special Events. Next we will be opening and celebrating the 40th Anniversary of A Chorus Line.

On Saturday March 14th, we sold out both our matinee and evening performance of The Prodigals presenting Claddagh. They were absolutely wonderful on our Main Stage and we hope to have them back next Saint Patrick’s Day.

engeman and the prodigals
We also welcomed Greg Kennedy: Innovative Juggler to our stage! His combination of traditional and inventive juggling had all family members on the edge of their seats. His post show Q&A really opened our eyes to the science that goes behind Greg’s creative juggling skills. Check out this behind the curtain video of him whimsically juggling 4 hats!

To see my reviews, more photos and videos be sure to check out my blogs on our website under Jackie’s Corner!

In April we will be announcing MORE Special Events for 2015, as well as presenting, SOLD OUT Scared Skinny, Will & Anthony Nunziata, 4D Comedians and Juggler Mark Nizer, and SOLD OUT show of Shades of Buble on our stage.

Please be aware that vouchers should be treated like tickets. If you are unable to attend a show, it is important to let us know as soon as possible. This will give other on our waiting list ample opportunity to see our sold out Special Events! If you would like to discuss this please email me.

Hope everyone is getting ready for Spring and I look forward to seeing you for A Chorus Line!
Have a Great Day,
Jackie Polden

Greg Kennedy, Innovative Juggler, Amazes All

Another successful Special Event for the books at The John W. Engeman Theater. Over the weekend adults and children were in awe of International gold medalist juggler, Greg Kennedy.

Greg combines traditional juggling with his own wacky and hypnotizing tools. His props included bean bags, hats, swords, devil sticks, pendulums, stacking boxes and a whole slew of Greg’s personally engineered devices.

Check out this awesome video taken from the audience of Greg juggling and bouncing 4 balls off of a wooden platform! His hands are moving so quickly! Can you keep up?

After the show Greg had a Q&A session to talk about his achievements and studies. His background with physics and engineering helped him create his inspiring and captivating tricks!

Our next Special Event for 2015 is Mary Dimino in her one woman stand-up comedy of Scared Skinny! Scared Skinny was the winner in the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival and Mary won 2010’s MAC Award  for Outstanding Female.

Another Awesome Special Event : The Prodigals presents Claddagh

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Everyone!

The weather might have been rainy, but we had such a wonderful night with The Prodigals!  The band was absolutely invigorating and pumped the audience up with their beautiful voices and various instrumental skills. Let’s not forget to mention the extraordinary dancers! Their legs were moving so fast and effortlessly, it looked as if they were floating!

It is safe to say the combination of dancing and Celtic music was beyond moving. My favorite song in the first half of the show was “Rattlin’ Bog.” After every verse the song got faster and faster. The dancers danced faster and faster! I could barely keep up. In the second half they preformed “Danny Boy.” You could hear a pin drop in the theater. It was magnificent.

Engeman and The Prodigals
Owner, Kevin J. ONeill and Director of Operations, Michael DeCristofaro, take the opportunity to take a photo with The Prodigals.

After the show I was lucky enough to meet all of the band members and the dancers. They each had such wonderful stories about their journey and were so please to preform on the Engeman Theater Stage. It was such an honor to have them and we hope everyone enjoyed them as much as I did.

Jackie Polden and The Prodigals
Me with Gregory Grene, Dave Fahy, and Brendan Smith!

 

Fingers crossed they will join us again for next Saint Patrick’s Day Weekend!

Village Tattler’s Review : Escape With Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Northport’s Engeman Theater

 Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, by award winning playwright Christopher Durang ,Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike runs through March 8, 2015, at The John W. Engeman Theater and you don’t want to miss it. This is a comedy that enthralls its audience with hilarious moments and equally serious undertones that reflect on themes from playwright Anton Chekov’s plays. The humor in Vanya colors the despair of the situations these three middle-aged siblings find themselves in as they reflect on their lives, past and present. If you are familiar with Chekov, you will recognize the names of the characters and references to his plays such as the play’s setting in a cherry orchard and references to The Seagull, but the familiarity is not necessary to enjoy this play. Performances of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike are on Thursdays at 8:00 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm.

A hilarious, almost 10-minute long, monologue by brother Vanya brings the play into modern times, touching on global warming and the way electronic devices now control everyone’s lives, as compared with the past when we “had to have patience; when we had to lick postage stamps.” While certainly funny, Vanya’s monologue is also sad as middle-aged and older audience members reflect on how disconnected human beings have become now that there’s texting, twitter, and Facebook rather than shared experiences playing board games such as Scrabble and Monopoly, as noted by Vanya. Actor Kevin Pariseau is fabulous as Vanya. His credits includeBroadway/Off-Broadway: Show Boat (in concert with the NY Philharmonic), Legally Blonde the Musical, The Explorers Club, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh; Film/TV: Boardwalk Empire (series finale), Tower Heist, Morning Glory; and Regional: Nerds (Philadelphia Theater Company), It’s a Wonderful Life (Bucks County Playhouse), 1776 (Paper Mill Playhouse), and Santa in The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Grand Ole Opry).

There are many memorable moments. Highlights include the first scene when we are introduced to Vanya and his sister Sonia, who are living in their parents’ home where they grew up in Bucks County, PA. “I had a bad dream last night that I was 52 and not married,” laments Sonia. Queries Vanya, “Do you dream in the documentary form?”

Sonia continues, “We took care of our elderly parents while Masha (their sister) carried on with her successful acting career.” Sonia’s world is tedious and full of self-pity; she is the only one to have been unadopted and she is unsure why they ever wanted her; she is unmarried and 52 and has lived in the same house all her life, never really leaving the house. “Our lives are over, aren’t they?” she asks Vanya several times. She is almost paralyzed by her circumstances until she comes alive for a costume party, to which Masha has invited her siblings. Laurie Dawn adds just the right elements of tragedy and comedy to her character Sonia. Credits include Off-Broadway: Strictly Personal; Regional highlights: Last Of The Red Hot Lovers (New Harmony); Good People (Public Theatre); Always… Patsy Cline (Ivoryton Playhouse – Broadway World Nomination); Faith Healer (Riverside Theatre – Broadway World nomination), and several productions of Steel Magnolias; Television: Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order: Svu and Broad City; and Film: The Adjustment Bureau, Revolutionary Road and 8:46: A 9/11 Tribute Film.

Instead of “I am a seagull,” (from Chekov’s The Seagull), Sonia repeats, “I am a wild turkey,” which brings laughs and lightens the heavier mood.

After a long opening scene, largely filled with doom and gloom, while Vanya and Sonia discuss their situation, we are introduced to Cassandra, the cleaning lady. Cassandra offers more comic relief with her zany predictions of the future that oddly come true. And then, with a surprise visit, in walks Masha, the sibling who has been out in the world living life as a successful actress, with her latest boyfriend Spike. At first it seems as if Masha has returned to attend a costume party at a nearby house, where Dorothy Parker lived and committed suicide. Then, we learn that Masha wants to sell the family house and has contacted a realtor; she has been supporting her siblings by paying for all the house bills all these years while Vanya and Sonia have not contributed anything since they aren’t employed.

The character of Masha is brilliantly acted by Sean Young, a famous actress playing a famous actress. We all know Young from films such as Bladerunner, Dune, Stripes, Wall Street, No Way Out, A Kiss Before Dying, Fatal Instinct and Ace Ventura. Young has numerous film, television, and stage credits to her name including Starlight with Toni Tenille and Hinton Battle at the Wilshire Theatre in Los Angeles. The most enjoyable Masha scenes are when she insists that her family and boyfriend dress for the costume party as characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs since she has chosen to go as Snow White. Vanya prefers to go as Doc instead of Grumpy, but plays along with her wishes, while Sonia rebels and refuses to go as Dopey. Instead, she dresses up as The Evil Queen as portrayed by actress Maggie Smith on her way to the Oscars. In the end, Sonia steals the show at the costume party with people not recognizing Masha as Snow White and instead thinking she is a hummel figure or Little Bo Peep. Sonia even meets a man named Joe, who later asks her for a date.

Another comedic highlight is the reverse striptease by actor Stephen Mark Lukas who plays Spike, Masha’s boy toy of the moment who enters her life after her fifth marriage has failed. Lukas is fantastic as Spike. Credits include Broadway: The Book of Mormon; National Tour: Little Women: The Musical (Laurie); Regional: Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees (Goodspeed), Curly in Oklahoma!, Cable in South Pacific, George Musgrove in Little Me, Link Larkin in Hairspray, Marius in Les Miserables and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella starring Leslie Uggams; and Television: Gossip Girl.

The character of Cassandra played by Isabel Santiago once again lightens the mood that has darkened when Vanya and Sonia realize that Masha really plans to sell the house. She hangs up on the realtor who calls a few times. She creates a voodoo doll of Masha, attempting to convince her not to sell the house and the scenes she is in are convincing and entertaining. Santiago’s credits include Off-Broadway: Giant (Petra); First National Tour: In The Heights (Daniela); Regional: Giant, Little Shop Of Horrors (Audrey), Vanya, Sonia, Masha, Spike (Cassandra), Show Boat (Julie), West Side Story (Maria), And Guys And Dolls (Sarah Brown); Select New York Credits: If/Then (Cathy), Bizet’s Carmen(Micaela); and National TV: A Gifted Man, So You Think You Can Dance, Lopez Tonight.

Young and pretty Nina, portrayed by Megan Yelaney, attracts the attention of equally young and pretty Spike, but she also becomes friendly with Uncle Vanya, as she calls him, and convinces him to let her star as a molecule in a play he has been secretly writing. When Spike starts texting during the reading of the play, Masha is horrified and Vanya begins his monologue on present times. Yelaney’s credits include Regional: Godspell (Totem Pole), VSMS (Flat Rock), Memphis and Chasing the Song workshop (La Jolla), Jo in Little Women opposite Donna McKechnie, Beehive and Hair (TheatreZone-Florida).

The entire cast makes its Engeman debut under the admirable direction of Richard T. Dolce, the Producing Artistic Director at Engeman. The set by Jonathan Collins is wonderful.

Tickets are $59 and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at EngemanTheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.

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