The Long Islander Review

‘Newsies’ – A Tale For The Times At Engeman Theater

August 2, 2018
By Janee Law

Engeman Theater’s newest production, “Newsies,” is filled with passion, inspiration and energy.

Last Thursday night at the Northport Village theater, Woodmere resident Tina Millman was among an audience that was captivated from start to finish. “I think they did a nice job with the scenery, everyone had a terrific voice and the dancing was great.”

The production takes the audience to lower Manhattan and back in time to the newsboys’ strike of 1899. The story follows charismatic newsboy Jack Kelly (portrayed by Dan Tracy), the strong and courageous leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies.’

“Newsies” is based on a 1992 Disney film of the same name that was written by Bob Tzudliker and Noni White.

Engeman’s production is directed by Igor Goldin and choreographed by Sandalio Alvarez. It features a score by eight-time Academy Award-winner Alan Menken and Jack Feldman that includes powerful numbers like “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” “King of New York” and “Santa Fe.”

Last week’s performance had many in the audience grinning ear-to-ear from the start. “Carrying the Banner” sets the tone early on in the show’s runtime, delivering a number that’s action-packed and lively, and that gives the audience a taste of the high-energy performances to come.

Engeman’s ensemble takes things up a notch with exciting dance number “Seize the Day,” to which the crowd couldn’t help but clap along to.

Unlike the film, the musical takes a different approach to the role of the reporter by casting a woman, Whitney Winfield, who portrays Katherine. Winfield’s portrayal of the character is mesmerizing. She delivers a strong and empowering message regarding a woman’s drive to break into a male-dominated field in “Watch What Happens.”

Her journey parallels that of male lead, Jack Kelly, as both characters take a stand against an unjust society and fight for their dreams.
Audience member Alice Tibbert, of Queens, said after the show the two characters were her favorite, praising their chemistry and love story.

Tibbert also noted her satisfaction with the production, adding, “It was full of action, had fantastic dancing, and the songs were great.”
Tracy said after the show that Jack Kelly’s journey is inspirational.

“Jack is the leader, but I don’t think he sees himself as that, he’s like the glue,” Tracy said. “I think the cool part about the show is the journey he takes from a kid who doesn’t know how important he is to a man who understands that he has a voice and can make an impact in the world.”
Tracy added that “Santa Fe” is his favorite number to perform, but also enjoys “The World Will Know” and “Seize the Day,” during which the cast comes together and unites as a powerful front.

“That type of stuff with all the boys is so fun, and I think that a lot of the kids in this ensemble are going to be on Broadway very soon,” he said. “This cast is worth seeing.”

 

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The Long Islander Review

‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Makes Big Splash at Engeman Theater

May 31, 2018
By Janee Law

Engeman Theater’s latest production is making a big splash with audiences.

The May 19 showing of the Northport Village theater’s “Singin’ in the Rain” production, with its high-energy tap-dancing numbers and comedic performances, was met with a standing ovation.

Audience member Lisa Malaszczyk, of Garden City, called it “pure fun” and praised its spectacular dance numbers.

Engeman’s production is directed and choreographed by Drew Humphrey, with musical direction by Jonathan Brenner.

The production is an adaptation of the hit 1952 musical film of the same name, a romantic comedy that starred Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor and Jean Hagen.

Mirroring that of the film, the ensemble for Engeman’s production is talented and agile, producing lively tap dancing sequences that had audience members beaming with delight from start to finish.

Danny Gardner portrays the charismatic Don Lockwood and is unforgettable and alluring in the role, embodying a young Gene Kelly, who played the character in the film.

Gardner’s solo performance of title number “Singin’ in the Rain” dazzles as he passionately taps across the stage, making a splash in the process, while showing off his huge grin.

The number went over swimmingly with audience member Skip Laisure, of Garden City, who called it his favorite number of the night. “There was real rain on the stage. You don’t see that all the time,” he said.

Along with “Singin’ in the Rain,” tap dancing numbers “Fit as a Fiddle,” “Moses Supposes” and “Good Mornin’” kept audience members’ eyes glued to the stage.

Along with Gardner’s, mesmerizing performances are dealt out by Tessa Grady, who plays the charming and feisty Kathy Selden; and Brian Shepard, who depicts the energetic and comical Cosmo Brown.

Laughter intensified whenever Emily Stockdale walked on stage, as her high-pitched voice and spot-on portrayal of Lina Lamont had the audience howling throughout the show.

The fun-filled dance number “Good Mornin’” sees Gardner, Grady and Shepard take the stage together, and the trio’s chemistry is alluring.

The number is Shepard’s favorite, he said after the show, praising his fellow cast members.

For Shepard, performing in the show is a personal accomplishment, he said, as it was the 1952 film that first inspired him to join the entertainment industry.

“I saw ‘Singin in the Rain’ when I was 12 years old and it ultimately was the reason why I went and took a dance class,” Shepard said. “I was obsessed with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Conner, I wanted to be those guys.”

As Cosmo, who was played by O’Conner in the film, Shepard tackles song-and-dance routine “Make ’Em Laugh,” a high-energy and hysterically-exhausting performance in which he performs several stunts and gags to incite laughs from the crowd.

On the role as a whole, he said, “It’s interesting finding the right balance of clowning, zaniness and being truthful. That’s what’s fun for me and maybe a little bit challenging, trying to stay real and stay really heightened, while emulating Donald O’Connor.”

Performances of “Singin in the Rain” continue at the 250 Main St. theater in Northport Village each Thursday and Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 p.m.; through July 1. There are also select Wednesday, 8 p.m. and Sunday, 7 p.m. shows.

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The Long Islander Review

Engeman’s In The Heights Excites With Musical Diversity

By Janee Law
March 29, 2018

The John W. Engeman Theater brings summer time to Northport with “In The Heights,” an energetic production that brings audience members to the vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights.

Before he created the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda wowed audiences with “In The Heights,” his first musical that went on to win a Tony Award for “Best Musical.”

Engeman’s adaptation of the production brings romance, comedy and a diverse musical performance that excited the crowd at the Main Street theater last weekend.

The production is directed by Paul Stancato and choreographed by Sandalio Alvarez, with musical direction by Alec Bart, and Dana Iannuzzi as associate director.

Through rap, hip-hop, reggaeton and merengue, the music and energetic dance sequences take audiences on a journey of a dream filled community that faces the ultimate struggle of whether or not to carry the traditions of the past or leave it behind.

Audience members Gail and Don Conrad said after Saturday’s show that the “music was excellent” and the “dancers were fabulous.”

They added that their favorite character was Usnavi (Spiro Marcos), who had members of the audience bobbing their heads during his rhythmic rap sequences.

For other audience members like Lidia Rodriguez, the cast made her want to join the fun.

“I wish I could dance like that,” she said. “I love it and it was very touching. They talked about everything: life, death, hope, and home. It was a great show.”

With spirited numbers like “96,000,” “The Club” and “Carnaval del Barrio,” the production entertains from start to finish and tugs at the heartstrings with performances like “Breathe” and “Alabanza.”

With that, the story offers a love story that audiences can connect with, whether it’s Usnavi (Spiro Marcos) and his pursuit of Vanessa (Chiara Trentalange), or childhood friends Benny (Josh Marin) and Nina (Cherry Torres) whose relationship turns romantic with age.

Torres said the relationship between Benny and Nina is natural and one that many can relate to.

“Seeing someone that you grew up with your entire life and then all of a sudden seeing them in a different way is such a beautiful and natural progression that these characters have,” she said, adding that working opposite Marin is a pleasure.

Torres said she saw herself playing the character of Nina when the original production hit Broadway.

“I’ve wanted to play it for years because I had so many similarities with her,” she said, adding that when she landed the role, she was in tears. “It means the world to me to have gotten this part. I’m just honored to be able to get on the stage and play her every time.”

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Long Islander Review: One Time Not Enough To Witness ‘Once’ At Engeman Theater

The Long Islander
Janee Law
February 1, 2018

The newest show at John W. Engeman Theater in Northport Village is taking audiences overseas, to the streets and green landscapes of Dublin, Ireland.

Starting off in an Irish pub, “Once” warms up the crowd with pre-show melodies of high energy that set the stage for what’s to come.

The tale that follows delivers a captivating love story that follows Dublin street musician Guy (Barry DeBois) and Czech immigrant Girl (Andrea Goss). The couple meets at a time when both their lives have “stopped,” but soon help each other push forward.

The cast delivers the beautiful narrative through acoustic, folksy music and choreography while adding a touch of comedy to the mix.

Together, the relatable characters share an inspirational message of pursuing one’s dreams and the music’s powerful ability to form connections among people.

“Once,” which at Engeman is directed and choreographed by Trey Compton, with musical direction by James Olmstead, and Natalie Malotke as associate director and movement consultant, is an adaption of the eight-time Tony Award-winning feature that rocked Broadway from 2012-2015.

At Engeman, the talented ensemble shows off several skills. Not only does the cast act, sing and dance, but they also play instruments — guitar, drums, violin, piano, bass, cello, accordion, mandolin and viola, just to name a few — live on stage.

Joanne Freiberger, an audience member at last Thursday’s show with her daughter Amelia, said her favorite part was a slow dance during which cast members also play their instruments.

Freiberger, of Huntington, added, “We think the cast was great, a really talented bunch of musicians. It was definitely an exciting and unique theater experience.”

Other highlights of the show include the fittingly-titled “Gold.” For the number, the ensemble fills the stage with a musical brilliance that made audience members yearn for an encore.

“Once” delivers, but with a twist as the reprisal of “Gold” sees the characters put their instruments aside for an acapella rendition.

Musical numbers “If You Want Me,” “Sleeping,” “When Your Mind’s Made Up” and “The Hill” also show off the ensemble’s breathtaking ability to unite through music.

Another audience member, Diane Wilenski, of Centerport, called the production amazing. “This is Broadway in Northport,” she said.

“I think what stands out for me are the two main characters. I liked how down to earth and natural they were,” Wilenski added. “I loved [Girl’s] zest for life and how she kind of brought that out in Guy.”

Goss, who portrays Girl and plays piano in the show, said the character’s energy is a quality she loves to play with. She also finds Girl’s passion for music and need to help others incredible.

Goss’ favorite number to perform changes show-to-show, she said, but last Thursday it was “When Your Mind’s Made Up.”

She continued, “There’s something about the musicality of it when everybody comes in and our minds focus all the energy on Guy. There’s something really special about that.”

 

Read online: http://www.longislandernews.com/life-and-style/one-time-not-enough-to-witness-engemans-once

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Long Islander Review: Engeman’s ‘Gypsy’ Cast Is Broadway Quality

The Long Islander

Janee Law

September 28, 2017

 

The John W. Engeman Theater’s rendition of “Gypsy” instantly sets the scene, as the orchestra opens up the production with a jazzy introduction that brings audience members back to the 1920s.

Directed by Igor Goldin and choreographed by Drew Humphrey, “Gypsy” depicts the rags-to-riches transformation of Louise (played by Austen Danielle Bohmer), an awkward girl who rose to national prominence as burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee.

The production brings energetic musical numbers, comedy and sincerity.

The journey is ruled by Rose (played by Michele Ragusa), who pushes her daughters Louise and June (played by Charity Van Tassel) into show business in an effort to live vicariously through them.

The show begins, however, with younger versions of the sisters, Baby June (played by Kyla Carter) and Baby Louise (played by Amanda Swickle), before jumping years ahead in the story.

Ragusa’s performance as the fame-hungry mother is mesmerizing. Her passion to push her daughters into show business intensifies throughout the production, climbing up the ladder that will lead her to discontent and awareness.

Audience member Sharon Boyle, of Sayville, said after last Thursday’s show that Rose was her favorite character of the night, praising Ragusa for her “strong voice” and “big personality.”

Another member of the audience Tove Abrams, of West Sayville, said the talent of the cast is of the same quality as that found on Broadway.

Abrams continued, “What impressed me was the scenic design. I very much enjoyed the transitions. It’s very well thought out and it moves the whole plot along very quickly.”

Her favorite scene of the night was “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” in which burlesque performers Mazeppa (played by Jennifer Collester Tully); Electra (played by Amber Carson); and Tessie Tura (played by Suzanne Mason) demonstrate their individual burlesque acts to Louise.

The number was packed with energy and drew plenty of laughs from the audience.

Another iconic scene, the energetic tap dancing number “All I Need Is The Girl,” comes in the first act of the production. Tulsa (played by Brian Thomas Hunt) and Louise deliver the number, conveying the dreams of the young characters, and hinting at Louise’s anticipated transformation.

Bohmer, who plays Louise, said after the show the scene is one of her favorites.

“I love that whole sequence,” Bohmer said. “I think that’s the first moment that [Louise] feels like a woman and that somebody really looks at her as a woman so I love doing that scene.”

She added that playing Louise is a dream role for her.

“She is one of the best well-written arcs in all of musical theater history,” Bohmer said. “She goes on quite the journey so to be able to go from zero to 100 really quickly has been awesome.”

Bohmer added that she enjoyed the second half of the production, working closely with Ragusa, to convey an intense, but caring, mother-daughter relationship.

“Working with Michele has just been a master class,” Bohmer said. “Michele is brilliant and getting to learn from her and work with her every night is the greatest gift I could have ever been given.”

 

Read online: http://www.longislandernews.com/life-and-style/engemans-gypsy-cast-is-broadway-quality

Long Islander Review: Engeman’s ‘Grease’ is Electrifying

The Long Islander

July 20, 2017

Janee Law

 

Audience members experienced high energy, fun choreography and lots of laughter during Thursday night’s show of the John W. Engeman Theater’s electrifying production of “Grease.”

The production, which kicks off the theater’s 11th season, is based off the 1971 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, which inspired the classic 1978 film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

Audiences are brought back to the late 1950’s at Rydell High, where leather jackets, bobby socks and greasy slicked back hair were the latest fashion.

With Paul Stancato directing and Antoinette DiPietropolo managing choreography, the cast lit up the stage last Thursday with dance numbers that made audience members whistle and holler in satisfaction.

In “Greased Lightnin’,” actors delivered a colorful performance jumping and jiving and pumping their arms on stage. Kenickie (Chris Stevens) was on lead vocals for the number, and gave an effortless and powerful performance while both singing and dancing.

The show doesn’t fall short on laughs either. Gags like Patty Simcox’s (Kaitlin Nelson) comical way of flirting, Sonny LaTierri’s (Casey Shane) failed attempt to make moves on the ladies, or Roger (Chris Collins-Pisano) and Jan’s (Hannah Slabaugh) hysterical rendition in “Mooning,” keep the laughs coming.

With that, the production touches on the pressures and stressors of being a high school teen in “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” performed by Betty Rizzo (Madeleine Barker).

Rizzo delivers an intense performance and captivates audiences with powerful vocals as a teen faced with a difficult situation.

Audience member Laurel Breen, of Sea Cliff, said after the show that was her favorite scene of the night.

“When Rizzo sang her number, she really stood out,” Breen said. “She was really on pitch tonight and it was a turning point for her character, as it should have been.”

Sandy Dumbrowski (Liana Hunt) also stood out on stage as the innocent school girl turned bad, demanding Danny Zuko (Sam Wolf) to “shape up” in the bouncy number “You’re The One That I Want.”

“This character takes such a huge journey throughout the show and where she ends up is so different from where she began,” Hunt said after the show. “That’s kind of all you can ask for in a role and where she ends up happens to be in spandex and giant heels. I’m having a great time.”

When preparing for the role as Danny, Wolf said it involved having his own interpretation of the character and getting down to the basics of the script.

“The main thing for Danny was the sincerity in him,” Wolf said. “He’s not just this player, he really is very genuine, very sincere, especially when he’s with Sandy.”

He added that he is having the time of his life playing the iconic role.

“As painful as high school can be, it’s kind of fun to go back and relive that experience and do that coming of age story again,” Wolf said. It’s so much fun.”

Productions of “Grease” at The John W. Engeman Theater (250 Main St., Northport) are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets ($73-$78) are available at the box office or Engemantheater.com.

Read online: http://www.longislandernews.com/life-and-style/engemans-grease-is-electrifying

Long Islander Review: Northport Heads West With ‘Oklahoma!’

The Long Islander

Janee Law

May 22, 2017

 

John W. Engeman Theater’s “Oklahoma!” delivered a strong cast, catchy tap dancing, beautiful melodies and fits of both comedy and drama that kept the audience laughing and singing along Thursday night in Northport Village.

Audience member Abbey Slawitsky, of Central Islip, said loved both the cast and set designs.

She added, “I loved the costumes and I thought the orchestra was really great too. A lot of people don’t even notice that.”

“Oklahoma!” set the standard for all future musicals by incorporating music, lyrics and dance numbers into a well-crafted story. It follows two sets of love triangles amid a high-spirited rivalry between local farmers and cowboys in the Indian territory of Oklahoma.

Engeman’s production is produced by Richard T. Dolce, producing artistic director; directed by Igor Goldin; and choreographed by Drew Humphrey.

The cast is led by Bryant Martin (as Curly), Kaitlyn Davidson (as Laurey) and Nathaniel Hackmann (as Jud Fry). Supporting cast members include Jane Blass (as Aunt Eller), Chris Brand (as Will Parker), Brianne Kennedy (as Ado Annie Carnes) and Danny Gardner (as Ali Hakim).

Blass delivers authenticity to the story, while Hackmann delivers intense drama, and Gardner never fails to draw laughs whenever he’s onstage.

The intense love triangle between the three lead characters, Curly, Laurey and Jud, continues to grow throughout the production. However it’s balanced out by another, comedic love triangle between Will Parker, Ado Annie Carnes and Ali Hakim.

One of the most memorable scenes in the production is “Out of My Dreams-Ballet.” The cast takes audience members on a journey through Laurey’s subconscious that’s topped off with an intense, romantic dance number.

Although this isn’t his first “Oklahoma!” production, Brand said this is his first time playing a lead role in the play. He added that Engeman’s “Kansas City” number, which delivers a high-energy tap dancing, is his favorite to perform.

“I always love singing ‘Oklahoma,’ but this is maybe my favorite ‘Kansas City’ that I’ve seen or heard,” he said. “The guys are great dancers, the choreography is really great and it tells the story clearly. It’s just fun to feel something come together organically.”

When putting the play together, Brand said, the creative team was focused on “telling an honest, real and entertaining story to make these characters relatable and real people.”

“That’s been a really good experience,” he added.

“Oklahoma!” is showing Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets ($71-$76) are available at the 250 Main St. box office or Engemantheater.com.

 

Read online: http://www.longislandernews.com/life-and-style/northport-heads-west-with-oklahoma

The Long Islander: Huge Support Voiced For Inn Plan

May 18, 2017

By Janee Law

jlaw@longislandergroup.com

Northport Village Hall was packed Tuesday night with supporters, and at least one dissenter, of a plan to bring a boutique inn to Main Street.

The support was voiced during a public hearing on a proposal made by trustees to add a “Hotel/Inn” designation to village code, paving the way for the plan to move forward. Trustees are waiting on county and village planning department approval before voting on the change.

In the meantime, Trustee Ian Milligan said he wasn’t surprised by the support.

“I think that people really want this, and we certainly need it, but we also definitely need to listen to the concerns of neighbors,” Milligan said. “We have to weigh that out.”

This inn is planned by John W. Engeman Theater co-owners Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce, who proposed the three-story Northport Village Inn in February. They want to build it at 255 Main St. in the building that was formerly Danyell’s Kitchen, footsteps away from their theater.

Milligan added, The “key is that someone’s willing to put such a huge investment to help build the infrastructure of the village. You have to recognize that as a positive.”

The proposed multi-million-dollar inn would span around 22,000 square feet. Along with 22-24 guest rooms across the two upper floors, they also want to have space for a restaurant on the first floor.

O’Neill said after the hearing that he was pleased with the warm reception. He said he thinks residents are in support of it because of the lack of lodging in the village.

“I’m very satisfied,” he said. “It sounds very well received.”

Kevin Lawlor, a Lisa Drive resident, one of 21 people to voice support during the public hearing, said he thinks the inn would “be a boon to this town.”

“I do think the place needs a facelift,” Lawler added. “It will be a boon to the establishments, the businesses that are in this town and it’ll put us on the map.”

Bruce Adams, an Ocean Avenue resident, said he’s thrilled with the plan.

“When you want to put people up, it is alwaysvery difficult to find a decent hotel,” Adams said. “We’ve had hotels here in the past, but they were all torn down and there’s still a need.”

An opponent of the proposal, JoAnne Hall, said she thinks the inn would bring more congestion to the village.

“There is no parking here at all. People park on my street and I can’t get out of my driveway,” Hall, of Woodbine Avenue, said. “There’s going to be additional traffic on that street and noise with people coming up the hill and coming down the hill… It’s a reality. I think the idea is lovely, but not for here.”

The focus of Tuesday’s hearing was a local law that would allow a business owners to operate their building, so long as it is smaller than 12,000 square feet, as a hotel or inn with sleeping accommodations for paying, transient customers.

The proposal would also allow such buildings to house a bar and restaurant, and other typical hotel features, such as a spa.

Northport officials will send two draft zoning resolutions, one to the Suffolk County Planning Commission and the other to the Northport Village Planning Board, before scheduling a vote.

 

Read online: http://www.longislandernews.com/the-long-islander-archives/huge-support-voiced-for-inn-plan

The Long Islander: Engeman Owners Unveil Parking Plan For Inn

April 20, 2017

Long Islander News photo/Janee Law Kevin J. O’Neill, co-owner and managing director of the John W. Engeman Theater, presenting the tentative parking plan for a proposed three-story Inn to be built on Main Street in Northport Village.
LONG ISLANDER NEWS PHOTO/JANEE LAW KEVIN J. O’NEILL, CO-OWNER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE JOHN W. ENGEMAN THEATER, PRESENTING THE TENTATIVE PARKING PLAN FOR A PROPOSED THREE-STORY INN TO BE BUILT ON MAIN STREET IN NORTHPORT VILLAGE.

By Janee Law
jlaw@longislandergroup.com

Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce, co-owners of the John W. Engeman Theater, presented the tentative parking plan for their proposed three-story, Northport Village inn at Tuesday’s trustee meeting.

The plan calls for a total of 54 parking spaces — 30 of which will be new — across two Woodside Avenue lots, which will be expanded and renovated as part of the plan. The lots sit behind the 225 Main St. plot eyed, up on the hill along Woodside.

O’Neill and Dolce, managing director and producing artistic director of Engeman Theater respectively, plan to expand the two parking lots 15 feet to the east into a wooded area. O’Neill said they also plan to take the lower lot and move it back while moving the upper lot forward so that is upper lot is suspended over the other. There will be separate entrances for both lots, avoiding the need for a ramp between the two, which O’Neill said would take up parking spaces.

In addition to renovating the parking lots, O’Neill said he will also help resolve the rapids in Northport by installing drainage and dry wells under the lower lot to catch water coming down from the upper lot, preventing roof water from running onto Main Street.

In January 2016, both O’Neill and Dolce bought the building, which is across the street and few steps west of their theater.

A rendering of the proposed inn depicts it as a three-story building that would total approximately 22,000 square feet, O’Neill said. Dubbed as The Northport Inn, the building was inspired by The American Hotel in Sag Harbor, he added.

The multimillion-dollar project also calls for restaurant on the first floor. The upper floors would be a mix of around 22-24 rooms, and would also have some office space for management.

Dorothy Walsh, Northport resident and recording secretary for the Northport Chamber of Commerce, read a statement from members of the chamber at Tuesday’s trustee meeting.

“We receive calls all the time from residents and out of towners looking for accommodations for their friends and relatives, visiting for weddings and other events. Unfortunately, we have to suggest accommodations far from Northport,” Walsh said. “Kevin and Richard have certainly demonstrated in the past their concern for the quality of life in the village and have brought such a beautiful venue in the John W. Engeman Theater on Main Street. The Northport Chamber of Commerce wholeheartedly supports their project.”

Village officials are currently mulling a proposal to alter village code to allow for the land to be used for the inn. They plan to propose the resolution at their May 2 meeting, and will set a public hearing on it May 16.

If approved, O’Neill said, he’d like to break ground in October. Since they haven’t gone into detail with planning, he added, O’Neill wouldn’t be surprised if the project is pushed to the start of 2018.

In the meantime, he said, “The mayor and the trustees have all been very receptive to the concept and we’re happy to provide them with whatever they need to continue to make this project advance.”

 

Read online: http://www.longislandernews.com/the-long-islander-archives/engeman-owners-unveil-parking-plan-for-inn/

The Long Islander: Engeman Owners Plans Main Street Inn

March 02, 2017
By Janee Law

jlaw@longislandergroup.com

A rendering by Hoffman Grayson Architects, LLP, pictures the development of a proposed three-story inn on Main Street in Northport Village.

The minds behind Northport Village’s John W. Engeman Theater unveiled last week plans to create an inn with a restaurant on Main Street in the village.

Owners Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce, managing director and producing artistic director of the theater respectively, presented the plan to Northport Village trustees during their Feb. 21 public meeting.

Plans call to take over 225 Main St., across the street and a few steps west of the theater, which was previously home to now-closed Danyell’s Kitchen and is now used for office space.

“It’s a very unique piece of property and it offers the ability to provide onsite parking,” O’Neill said in an interview Tuesday. He did not specify how many parking spaces could be provided. “The concept is to develop this building into a beautiful inn with a restaurant.”

The building currently scales the hill along Woodside Avenue and has half of a Dutch Colonial home peeking out its top.

“That house is just sticking out of the top of the rectangular roof — it’s cut off at the waist, basically. It’s in disrepair,” O’Neill said, adding that he wants to “renovate this building in a serious way.”

Northport Village Trustee Ian Milligan said Wednesday that the inn would be a good addition to the village.

“Years ago, there were many hotels in Northport, so I don’t think that it’s not in keeping with the feel of the village,” Milligan said. “Judging by Mr. O’Neill’s past projects, we know that he’s going to do a good job with a renovation like that.”

O’Neill said that both he and Dolce bought the building in 2016.

A rendering of the proposed inn depicts it as a three-story building inspired by The American Hotel in Sag Harbor. What’s been dubbed The Northport Inn would total around 20,000 square feet.

O’Neill said the first floor of the building would house a restaurant. The upper two floors would be a mix of rooms, and some office space for management.

“We’ll have much greater detail available as time goes on,” O’Neill added. “We’ll continue to work with the village on whatever they need from us to hopefully complete this.”

In order for the plans to move forward, village trustees need to adjust current commercial codes to accommodate inns and hotels, according to Milligan.

He added that the board is looking into making a change and the potential impact it could have.

“We’re going to see what we need to do to carefully move forward and do something that’s in the best interest of everyone,” Milligan said.

At their March 7 meeting, village trustees plan to schedule a public hearing on the potential code change for March 21, according to Milligan.

 

Read online: http://www.longislandernews.com/the-long-islander-archives/engeman-owners-plans-main-street-inn/

Long Islander Review: Good And Evil Battle In Engeman’s ‘Jekyll & Hyde’

The Long Islander

Janee Law

March 27, 2017

 

In John W. Engeman Theater’s production of “Jekyll & Hyde” audiences are exposed to an authentic battle between good and evil.

The battle is particularly apparent in “Confrontation,” a mesmerizing performance in which Dr. Henry Jekyll, a gentle, passionate and romantic giant displays his internal battle with the violent beast and petrifying madman, Mr. Edward Hyde.

Based on the 1886 story, “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson, the Northport Village production features a thrilling score of pop rock hits from multi Grammy- and Tony Award-nominated composer Frank Wildhorn and two-time Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer Leslie Bricusse.

As Paul Stancato serves as director and choreographer of the production, the ensemble commands the stage with its operetta synchronization.

For Penelope Voeller, an audience member at last Friday’s show, she said the production delivered an operatic quality, adding that “Broadway is in Long Island and very fortunate.”

In “Transformation,” Nathanial Hackmann (Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde) starts the captivating scene as the well-mannered and soft-spoken doctor, but then, in a physical battle, Hackmann effortlessly transforms into the grunting and indecorous brute.

Not only is Hackmann’s ability to embody polar opposite personalities impressive, but he is also a powerful singer. He bellows beautiful operetta tones in “Take Me As I Am,” and exposes his low, mid-range voice with gritty angst and operetta pitches in “Alive!”

The production’s leading ladies are Caitlyn Caughell, as the beautiful and seductive Lucy Harris, and Liana Hunt, as the beautiful and trusting Emma Carew. In “In His Eyes,” the two stun the audience with a compelling duet.

Chris Mancini, another audience member, said her favorite character was Lucy, adding that Caughell’s portrayal of the character was amazing and “her singing was fantastic.”

When both Hackmann and Caughell hit the stage, their chemistry is undeniable. The passionate and toxic pull between the duo in “Dangerous Game” is thrilling and authentic.

For Voeller, her particularly favorite scene was “Dangerous Game.” She added that “There was a great chemistry between both performers and they were very professional. That moment was very believable.”

Although Hackmann loves all the scenes he performs on stage, his favorite last Friday was “Dangerous Game.” Hackmann said he enjoyed hearing the reaction of the audience at the end of the scene.

“It’s the greatest fruition of any long process, when you see that goal and you can feel the work you’re doing is effective,” he said. “That’s exactly what we do it for.”

Hackmann added that this has been the hardest performance he’s done on stage.

“Trying to be specific and trying to be contrasting between the two characters is an amazing challenge, but it’s also a bucket list part,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been in love with since I was a kid so the opportunity to get to do this is just amazing.”

When he learned that he landed the part, Hackmann said, he did a lot of research on dissociative identity and borderline personality disorders to prepare for the role and find authenticity within the character.

“I was very lucky because of our director and the way he let us go through the process,” he said. “We talked very much about specific choices about what the characteristics of the two characters will be. The body language, the accent choices, and the voice choices were very specific from the very beginning.”

 

Read online: http://www.longislandernews.com/good-and-evil-battle-in-engemans-jekyll-hyde

Long Islander Review: ‘The Full Monty’ Keeps The Laughs Coming

The Long Islander

January 26, 2017

Janee Law

 

Ten-time Tony Award nominee “The Full Monty” is bringing plenty of laughs to Northport village’s John W. Engeman Theater.

The venue was roaring with laughter during Saturday night’s show, causing audience member Rose Santopietro, of Northport, to call it “better than Broadway.”

The witty line delivery of Dave Bukatinsky (played by Ryan G. Dunkin), the introduction of the spunky Jeanette Burmeister (Diane Findlay) and the dance number of Noah “Horse” T. Simmons (Milton Craig Nealy) in “Big Black Man” can’t be missed, Santopietro added.

The production’s creative team, including director Keith Andrews, choreographer Antoinette Dipietropolo and musical director Andrew Haile Austin, meanwhile supplies a mix of harmonious melodies for the cast to perform.

The story focuses on friends Jerry Lukowski (Brent Michael Diroma) and Dave, who witness their wives’ enthusiasm for the popular touring company, Chippendales. They decide to gather a group of six men to put on a strip act after losing their jobs as buffalo steelworkers. Leading up to the big night, the group of six work through their fears, anxieties and find strength in their camaraderie.

The closing number of the show was one of audience members Santopietro and Rose Pascale, both of Merrick, favorite scenes.

“It was done elegantly with great taste,” Pascale said. “I absolutely loved it. If you need to be lifted, this will lift you right up.”

Both Santopietro and Pascale said their favorite characters were Jerry, “Horse” and Jeanette.

“They were so natural,” Pascale said. “You’ve got to go see it. Matter of fact, I’m going home and calling a few of my friends.”

Playing the lead role of Jerry, Brent Michael Diroma said his favorite scene is the hysterical bathroom scene, in which Jerry and Dave hide in a stall and overhear a conversation between Georgie Bukatinsky (Nicole Hale), Dave’s wife, and Jerry’s ex-wife, Pam Lukowski. The scene serves as a means to “set up all the relationships right out of the gate, and it’s a blast,” Diroma said.

Considering what his role entails, Diroma said the role isn’t nerve-racking.

“To a certain point, the six of us build this sort of camaraderie to where we’re doing it as a band of brothers, and we’re doing it together so it doesn’t feel weird,” he said. “If they put one of us on the stage, we probably couldn’t do it.”

Show times for “The Full Monty” at John W. Engeman Theater (250 Main St., Northport) are 8 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturdays; and 2 p.m., Sundays. Some Wednesday and Sunday evening shows are also available. Tickets range $71-$76 and can be purchased at the box office or online at Engemantheater.com. The show runs through March 5.

 

Read online at: http://www.longislandernews.com/life-and-style/the-full-monty-keeps-the-laughs-coming

Long Islander Review: ‘Mary Poppins’ Rings In Holiday Season

The Long Islander

December 1, 2016

Janee Law

 

The stage of the John W. Engeman Theater is bringing an energetic performance to Northport Village this holiday season with the timeless and magical tale of “Mary Poppins.”

“I thought it was fantastic,” audience member Marianne Esolen, of Huntington, said after Saturday’s performance. “It was wonderfully uplifting and positive. It was a lovely night for families and a perfect pick for the holidays.”

Based on the classic children’s book series and Disney film, Engeman’s production of “Mary Poppins” is directed and choreographed by Drew Humphrey and musically directed by Michael Hopewell.

The cast features Analisa Leaming as Mary Poppins; Luke Hawkins as Bert; Liz Pearce as Winifred Banks; David Schmittou as George Banks; Katherine LaFountain as Jane Banks and Chris McKenna as Michael Banks.

There are unforgettable dance numbers and fan favorite songs like Academy Award-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Feed the Birds,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” but the most entertaining number of the night was “Step in Time,” which demonstrated synchronized tap dancing and high energy performances that had the audience clapping along with the beat.

The cast delivered perfect European accents and demonstrated mannerisms of that of their characters from the film. For instance, Hawkins reflected Dick Van Dyke with his carefree performance of Bert, while Leaming reflected Julie Andrews with her operetta voice and feet pointing outward in her performance as Mary Poppins.

LaFountain and McKenna, who play the curious and sometimes mischievous children, both said their favorite scene to perform was “Step in Time.”

“I love the tap dancing and the energy is so great in it,” LaFountain said. “Kids our age usually don’t get to do stuff like this so it was really an honor to do it. I loved it.”

McKenna said he loved the opportunity to play Michael Banks, a “fun role.”

Esolen and Anne Paley, both of East Meadow, said “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Step in Time,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” and “Anything Can happen” were their favorite performances of the night.

“I always prefer seeing things live,” Esolen said. “The film is amazing, but to see it performed in our own local community and to hear all the enthusiasm and all the laughter in the audience is better than any film could be.”

Show times for “Mary Poppins” at John W. Engeman Theater (250 Main St., Northport) are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. The last performance is Dec. 31, with some Wednesday and Sunday evening tickets available. Tickets are $71-$76, and can be purchased at the box office, or at Engemantheater.com.

 

Read online: www.longislandernews.com/life-and-style/mary-poppins-rings-in-holiday-season

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