Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

Tag: North Fork Community Theatre

Review | Thoroughly Modern Millie | Book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan | Music by Jeanine Tesori | Lyrics by Dick Scanlan | North Fork Community Theatre, Mattituck, Long Island

A delightful musical filled with laughs — that’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, presented with youthfully energetic and thoroughly enjoyable performances at the North Fork Community Theatre.

We’re in the flapper age!  Millie Dillmont, the girl from Kansas, arrives in New York City in 1922 with her head filled with a “modern idea” — she’s going to get a job and marry the boss so she’ll be rich.  If you think about it, marrying for money rather than for love isn’t a very modern idea to say the least but marrying the boss — that takes us to the time when women were first entering the work force in force.  And Millie is an independent modern woman — we’re drawn  to her self-confidence, practicality and determination to set her own course – to say nothing of the adorable modern hair bob cut she gets for herself soon after arriving in what today’s called “The Big Apple” – and it was a big bite back then too.

We follow Millie through her exciting experiences – speakeasy bars and high society cocktail parties — and we share in her disappointments – the boss she has her eye on to marry can only think of her as a typist/stenographer.  She skirts danger in the form dreaded “white slavers” ready to prey on young girls and spirit them away to the mysterious orient for horrible reasons.  And everywhere we go with her, we’re enchanted by wonderful singing, dancing, and some of the funniest scenes written for musical comedy.

Specifically, if you’ve never seen the scene in Millie’s office with the bank of tap dancing typists, here’s your chance, and if you have seen it, here’s your chance to laugh again!

The cast is by-and-large excellent.  In particular, Ashley Hilary gives an all-out terrific performance as Millie.  Aria Saltini is enchanting as Miss Dorothy Brown, the sweet, long-curly-haired foil to feisty Millie.  Kiera Prentiss is beyond perfect as the wily, wicked Mrs. Meers – what a character!  And what a character actress the North Fork Community Theatre has in Kiera Prentiss.  And what a makeup job!

And if you’ve never laughed – or laughed before – at the shenanigans of the two Chinese men who – with varied enthusiasm — assist Mrs. Meers in her nefarious white slavery plot, here’s your chance to see Eric Momente as Bun Foo and Alex Bradley as Ching Ho on their knees singing with all their hearts like that early 20th century all-time popular singer A – But no, I won’t mention his name so as not to spoil the – hilarious – joke.

The dancers are a highlight of this production – some among them dancing on an exciting professional level though their names aren’t separated out in the program for me to mention – but Thank You!  The dancers and others provide a feast for the eyes of glamorous flapper dresses and 1920′ style.

And where else but at the outstanding North Fork Community Theatre will you have a fine, live twelve-person orchestra, led by Musical Director and pianist Karen Hochstedler!

Ad for the movie Thoroughly Modern Millie in 1967.

1967 Ad for the movie Thoroughly Modern Millie.

The stage production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which first opened on Broadway in 2002, has an interesting history in that the movie — with quite a cast — came first in 1967 (see the illustration), based on a British musical, Chrysanthemum, of 1956.

The North Fork Community Theatre production of Thoroughly Modern Millie is directed by John Bradley.  It plays Thursday through Sunday in Mattituck, Long Island, through August 6, 2017.  For more information and tickets, click here.


Review | Cabaret | Book by Joe Masteroff | Lyrics by Fred Ebb | Music by Joe Kander | North Fork Community Theatre, Mattituck, Long Island

…  for sure come to Cabaret

If you want to see a top-notch production of  one of the best American musicals, see Cabaret at the North Fork Community Theatre.  The songs, the musical splendor, the theatrical extravaganza and the powerful story are wonderfully realized in this production, and with an orchestra of eight fine players – you don’t always get live music like that on Broadway.

We’re in 1931 and the waning years of the Weimar Republic in Germany, a time of great creativity,  cultural daring and the freedom to fulfill it – as at the Kit Kat Klub in cosmopolitan Berlin.  There, it seems anything goes – an attitude, a spirit, a world view embodied in the insinuating, fascinating, sexually ambiguous Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub who oversees the events and holds the show together.

A young American would-be writer from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Cliff Bradshaw, gets a quick immersion in let-loose eroticism thanks to the British expatriate singer-dancer Sally Bowles. She’s thrown out of her job at the Kit Kat Klub – but thank heavens not before starring in the show’s dazzling, irresistible opening number, “Wilkommen”!

Needing a place to stay, she moves right in on the astonished Bradshaw, providing a quick introduction to the relatively naïve American on:  unmarried people living together, sex as a way to make a living, abortion, and … romance.

Their elderly, wise-to the-world landlady, Fräulein Schneider, a survivor in an eternally tough world, sings the tough-minded song, “So What?”  Sheer Brecht. So what anything.  So while she seems proper, it’s in character that she, too, is having an affair, with Herr Schulz, a successful fruit-seller widower who plies her not with roses but – even better — with Italian oranges.  Romance, it turns out, is for older people, too.  A theme of this show is that romance is for everybody – mix and match, boys and girls, boys and boys, girls and girls, threesomes, not to mention me and my gorilla.  I wonder if Woody Allen had Cabaret in mind when he wrote Whatever Works.

With all that, it’s not a big surprise that buxom Fräulein Kost in her Japanese silk dressing gown has a series of sailors visiting her at Fräulein Schneider’s rooming house. It’s all a bit over the top for the American from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania but not for long — he adapts quickly.

Why then does he leave Berlin?  Because he can’t adapt to the Nazis.

As the Weimar Republic fades, the Nazis rise to power.  The signs are there.  Swastikas appear on arm bands.  The song “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” is sung in a sweet soprano by a Young Boy, wearing a brown shirt, on his way to being a Hitler Youth.  Thugs break the window of Her Schultz’s store.  We only learn toward the end that Herr Schultz is Jewish because it hadn’t mattered before but now it does. Backing out of their marriage engagement– and before you get a chance to judge her — Fräulein Schneider sings, “What Would You Do?”  Well, what would you do?

Brianna Kinnier as Sally Bowles takes over the stage with her dancing and singing in the first rousing number, “Wilkommen.”  She sings that marvelous music while kicking up her flexible legs, from the floor the chair tops!  She’s joined by an excellent chorus, of singer-dancers, professionally trained, and wittily individualized:  Chelsea Chizever, the show’s talented choreographer, dances gorgeously in the role of Texas, Tamara Flanell, David Lopez, Katrina Lovett, Julia Pulick, Lisa Rasmussen, Haley Unger and Ryan Slatniski.   Chizever’s  choreography throughout is original, varied, creative, and captures the spirit of the times.

Justin Harris is astonishing as Emcee.  He seems always there – as the cabaret of life is always there, and he delivers his alluring songs, alone or ensemble,  “Wildommen,” “Two Ladies,” “It Couldn’t Please Me More,” “I Don’t Care Much,” with a worldly-wise irony that makes you want more.  “If You Could See Her” is a number that has to be seen to be believed – what a creative moment that was for the writers of this show.  Harris’s rendition of “Money,” with the ensemble, designed aptly and wittily circular by choreographer Chizever, is a show stopper.

Linda Aydinian puts across the songs of Fräulein Schneider with a warm intelligence and  a rough but tender pathos.  While no one sings the role with the sardonic catch in the voice Lotte Lenya brought to it in the original 1966 production (heard on YouTube), Linda Aydinian is terrific in her own way.

Michael P. Horn is touching as Fräulein Schneider’s lover, Herr Schultz, a man you can depend on to solve problems, but now we have to worry about him.  He’s got the Nazis to deal with — like Ernst Ludwig, whom Colin Palmer plays as a rapacious wolf in the clothing of urbane civility.  It looks like those are problems even Herr Schultz won’t solve.

Nick Mozlenski as Cliff Bradshaw sings well in the duet with Sally, “”Perfectly Marvelous.”  Jennifer Eager is a humorous and practical Fräulein Kost.

John Hudson as Max, the Kit Kat Klub’s owner, is a convincing brute who uses politics as an excuse to dole out the beatings.  Tom Del Prete brings intriguing delicacy to the Dancing Gorilla.  As the Young Boy, Joseph Podlas’s pure voice heralds an ugly future in “Tomorrow Belongs To Me.”  Matt Eager is a persuasive bureaucrat as the Customs Officer/Official.

John Kander’s witty, powerful music for Cabaret, with lyrics by Fred Ebb, is rendered by the strong orchestra directed by George Moravek, who plays the piano, and with Bob Blank on the guitar, banjo and ukulele, Crystal Crespo on the trombone, Ben Eager on the violin, Will Green on the drums, Ryan Nowak on the tenor and alto saxophone, Colin Van Tuyl on the trumpet, and Marie Varela on the alto and soprano saxophone and flute.

Cabaret is inspired by and derives much of its magic from The Threepenny Opera, with book and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill.  It’s based on the play I Am A Camera by John Van Druten that draws upon stories by Christopher Isherwood.  Thank you, North Fork Community Theatre, for this outstanding production of an important American musical.

Cabaret, so well directed by Manning Dandridge, plays at the North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck, Long Island, through  June 4, 2017.  For more information and tickets, click here.


An artist’s view of the big city and its nightlife during the Weimar Republic.  Otto Dix, German, Metropolis, 1928, wood, distemper, 181 x 404 cm., Kunstmuseum, Stuttgart.


Review | Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific | Directed by Robert Boedeker | North Fork Community Theatre, Mattituck, Long Island

… a complete world …

Looking for an enchanted evening?  You couldn’t find a better one than an evening spent at South Pacific — beautifully produced and played by the North Fork Community Theatre.

To hear right off the bat those wonderful show stoppers — Some Enchanted EveningA Cockeyed OptimistBloody Mary… and … well, it’s tremendously moving.   Of course what makes it powerful are the strong performances.   It’s almost shockingly beautiful when — you’ve barely taken your seat — Ryan Beodeker, as the mysterious French expatriate Emile De Becque, opens his expressive voice to Some Enchanted Evening and, before you’ve had a chance to recover from the power, Tess Leavay as Ensign Nellie Forbush surprises with A Cockeyed Optimist with her marvelous full range, totally professional voice and delivery.   We’re in great hands!

Set during World War II in and around a U.S. naval base, South Pacific focuses on two love stories, one between Nurse Nellie Forbush, the self-described “little hick” from Arkansas and Emile De Becque, the wealthy French planter with an equivocal past, who meet at a dance on the base on an evening whose enchantment, thanks to music, has risen to the realm of the great communal mythology.

The other love story is that of Lt. Joseph Cable who comes to the base on a secret mission of great import and the native girl, Liat, the daughter of the lusty, vulgar, commercial-minded and oh so smart Bloody Mary, played with energizing vitality by Christina Stankewicz — she’s just what you want in the part.  The adversities in the first story lead to growth and the deepest possible love and understanding;  those in the other lead to tragedy.   Through their stories we hear Rodgers’, Hammerstein’s and Logan’s** sense of the tragedy of prejudice and vision of common humanity.

For a wonderful South Pacific, Emile and Nellie have to be outstanding performers and passionate lovers and that’s what we have here.  Tess Leavay is an all-round perfect Nellie!  She sings, dances and acts and completely captures the character of the bouncy, adorable nurse who grows to full womanhood through her experience and love of Emile.  Kelli O’Hara was a delight in the part at Lincoln Center Theatre in Manhattan a couple of years ago — Tess Leavay seems to me her equal, and brings a kind of naturalism to the part that adds to its fullness.

When Nellie washes that man right out of her hair in a shower on stage* — in the midst of all the fun, you really feel how hard it is to wash him out of her heart (though I wish she’d gotten a little wetter).  Frolicking in her over-sized sailor suit at the Thanksgiving Celebration (what a touch of genius that scene is!) with the irrepressible seabee Luther Billis (William Finn), she is some Honey Bun!  So’s Finn as Billis – in his grass skirt and coconuts, singing, dancing, and swarming all over the stage with irresistible charisma.

Ryan Beodeker’s Emile is a seductive European with a wonderful French accent (so consistent I was really surprised to hear his American accent in at the end of the show when he spoke to the audience about the important project North Fork Community Theatre is engaged in to fully purchase its theatre).  As well as having a beautiful voice, he’s a fine actor and whether he’s gazing intently at Nelly, wooing her with words or singing to her, one feels what one has to feel — his ardor.   These are all complex, fully woven characters and yet they come across with the direct hit of sheer romance.

Abby Tyler and Peter Gwiazda play Emile’s children “of mixed blood” with poise and grace, singing their song, Dites Moi, with uncloying, lovable simplicity.

This is a full South Pacific — 31 terrific performers in the cast and 11 in the orchestra that plays behind the lush, seductive tropical scenery, all put together seamlessly, with vitality and deep understanding by Director Robert Boedeker, Musical Director Jacob Boergessen, and the performing and production cast.

South Pacific is all the Bali Ha’i anyone could ever want.  If you try, you will find it — at North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck.

South Pacific plays at the North Fork Community in Mattituck, Long Island through Sunday, August 12th.

*Quiz:  In what current film does a character sing on stage in the shower?  (And is that where Woody Allen got the idea?)  Click here for answer — to the first question.

*South Pacific‘s music was written by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan, and was adapted from James A. Michener’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Tales of the South Pacific of 1947.  It premiered on Broadway in 1949 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950.

Review | Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl | North Fork Community Theatre, Mattituck, Long Island

The North Fork Community Theatre, Mattituck, Long Island, is presenting Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl three weekends in November.  “… An incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet cafe, a stranger at the next table who’s had enough, a man slumped over his lentil soup send a woman out into the world to discover the paradoxes and mysteries of human individuality — and existence…”  So begins Sarah Ruhl’s at times shocking and other times hilarious comedy-drama about our modern technological obsessions.  Directed by Shawn Snyder, it features a cast of well known East End players Schmoupy Juntunen, Yvonne Korshak, Deborah Marshall, Jim Navarre, Laura Pace and Alan Stewart.

Sarah Ruhl, author of In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), is a recent recipient of the MacArthur Award.  Dead Man’s Cell Phone opens Thursday September 9th and plays throughout that weekend and the following weekends, including Sunday matinees, through September 26th. The theatre is located at 127000 Old Sound Avenue in Mattituck, easy to get to off Route 25.  Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling 631-298-NFCT or visiting nfct.com. You can check out also the Facebook page of North Fork Community Theatre.

The play is reviewed at:  http://www.suffolktimes.com/news-articles/1899/1899-NFCT-shines-light-on-a-dark-comedy.html

Full listing of Dead Man’s Cell Phone performances:

Thurs 9/9*,  Fri 9/10, and Sat 9/11 at 8 PM;  Sun 9/12 at 2:30 PM’

Fri 9/16, Sat 9/17 at 8 PM;  Sun 9/19 at 2:30 PM

Fri 9/24 and Sat 9/25 at 8 PM;  Sun 9/26 at 2:30 PM

*Thurs 9/9 there will be an Opening Night Reception at 7 PM, free with ticket.

Dead Man's Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl | North Fork Community Theatre | Sound Avenue, Rte 25, Mattituck, Long Island

Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl | North Fork Community Theatre | Sound Avenue, Rte 25, Mattituck, Long Island

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén