Family theater productions return this summer
Long Island theater directors see the reopening of shows for families as a celebration and rebirth of creativity. They start the season with some of their most dynamic productions.
Here’s what it takes behind the scenes to recreate the magic and ways families can be a part of the experience this summer.
“Sponge Bob SquarePants”
During the pandemic, there were no restrictions on seabed travel, so SpongeBob will return this summer to perform “SpongeBob SquarePants – A Broadway Musical for Everyone” at the Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset.
Show director Tony Frangipane said, “The show is the same as the Broadway production, but it is performed with local and professional actors.” Frangipane is delighted to open the season with this production. âAfter being closed for COVID-19, it’s a big party. Happy,â he says. “From the start of the show to the end, things are happening around the audience.”
Instead of behind the scenes, most of the theater magic will be created right before your eyes. The cast will interact with the audience. There will be puppets, tap dancing and costumes made of everything from pool noodles to balloons.
The decor and props will also be unusual, “because everything on the stage could have fallen from the bottom of the sea,” says Frangipane. âA percussion artist will sit on stage and create all of the sounds of the live show as they happen, and I’ll create projection lighting. It’s a very silly and fun show to come back to. theater.”
INFO The show opens on August 13 and will run until September 5. The shows will take place on Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Call the box office at 516-694-3330 for prices and tickets; Culturalartsplayhouse.com; 170 Dr Michael, Syosset.
“The Little Mermaid, Jr.”
Since mermaids are half human and half fish, it is likely that they weren’t required to self-quarantine. Fortunately, that means Ariel is back to star in Disney’s âThe Little Mermaid, Jrâ. Artistic Director and production co-owner Richard Dolce explains, âThe music is a compilation of well-known songs from the Disney movie track, so the audience can sing along.
Much goes on behind the scenes to bring this magical spectacle to life at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport. Jennifer Collester, Production Manager, says: âThere is a moment when Ariel transforms from a mermaid to a person, and it happens on stage. There’s stuff with lights, costumes, and staging happening right in front of the audience so they won’t notice Ariel’s tail turning into paws. “
Quick behind-the-scenes costume changes are another aspect of the production that members of the audience can watch out for. Collester explains, âSomeone playing Ariel’s sister in a scene could be a seagull two minutes later. So we have to change the wig and costume quickly, and that’s an art in itself. It has to be done. with precise timing and rhythm. “
âWhen that doesn’t work, the actors come back on stage as they are,â Dolce added with a smile. âSo an actor might miss a wig or part of the arm on a costume. But nine and a half times out of 10 they do it without a problem.â
Want to come to the show dressed as your favorite character? Collesting gives a warning. âAny youngster who wants to pay homage to Ariel the Mermaid can put on a red wig. Personally, I always prefer Ursula the Sea Witch. If you come to the show to honor her, wear purple and black and a shell necklace. . “
INFO The show opens July 24 and continues until August 29; no performance on July 31. Shows are Saturdays at 11 am and Sundays at 10:30 am Tickets are $ 20 per person and can be purchased at the box office at 631-261-2900; engemantheater.com; 250 Main Street, Northport.
“The Adventures of Peter Rabbit”
Peter Rabbit and his friends are back to perform their story on stage at Theater Three in Port Jefferson with a twist of originality. Jeffrey Sanzel, executive artistic director of the series, said: “We have decided to come back with ‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit’ because it is one of our most popular productions.”
Although the show is based on the story of Peter Rabbit, explains Sanzel, the script is slightly modified from the original tale. âWe always take a non-violent approach and make sure that there is some kind of lesson the kids can learn from every story we present. Peter Rabbit’s original tale is about stealing vegetables from Mr. MacGregor, and that’s wrong. So we’ve changed the ending. Instead, they’re working together and sharing the harvest. “
INFO Show from July 10 to August. 14; Saturdays at 11 am Tickets are $ 10 per person; 631-928-9100; theatrethree.com; 412 Main Street, Port Jefferson.
“The Wizard of Oz”
The Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy, Toto and everyone else on the Yellow Brick Road are back for a family music production of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Gateway Playhouse. A simplified version of the story, using lines and songs from the original film, was adapted for the scene. The theater students at the Gateway School for the Performing Arts are the performers.
âAll of the characters, including the animals, are played by humans. But that wasn’t always the case,â says Paul Allan, executive artistic director of the series. A few years ago Toto was played by a stuffed animal. Another year he was a professional dog who ran out of the theater.
INFO The show runs from August 6 to 6. 21. Call the box office at 631-286-1133 for tickets and schedules. Tickets start at $ 15; thegateway.org; 5 country lane, Bellport.
GOAT ON A PUPPET THEATER BOAT
Last year must have been tough on puppets stuffed in a closet for a year. Finally, they can start playing again. Long-time puppeteer Liz Joyce presents her original puppet show, “The Masspain Bunny” this summer. As Joyce describes it, “In this production, the puppeteers are bakers and also make puppet characters. Together, during the show, they make a marzipan bunny.” Joyce’s shows often have an underlying theme. She explains, “The Marzipan Bunny is about unlikely partnerships and disagreeable friends. Becoming friends with others you might not necessarily be with.”
The show can appeal to a diverse audience as it is written with very few words. Joyce says, “It’s more of a pantomime.”
There is so much going on behind the scenes to create the magic of puppet theater. For example, Joyce imagines his own scripts. âI get my inspiration from the things in life that I love to do,â she says. âWhile doing what I love, I make up stories. I’m a gardener, so I have a lot of shows about living in a garden. I also love to cook and bake. I chose to do a baking show because it’s messy and funny, and it’s tasty. ” If you want to get a feel for what it takes to sculpt your own marzipan bunny before or after the show, try it out at home with clay or Play-Doh.
INFO Performances this summer at the Southampton Arts Center will be July 15 at 4 p.m. and August 19 at 4 p.m. Free entry; 631-725-4193; 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton. Email [email protected] for more information. In August, Goat on a Boat plans to launch a new puppet truck at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett.
Everything from sponges to scarecrows to rabbits has been covered at this point, so why leave out the pirates, jugglers and clowns? They are back and will be performing in the Guild Hall Outdoor Garden Theater this summer. The garden area has just reopened to accommodate a large audience and new surround sound equipment has been installed. A family program called “KidFEST” is offered before each family show. This is the ultimate “behind the scenes” experience.
Anthony Madonna of Guild Hall describes it this way: âWe believe in families creating together, and we love doing a pre-show project that puts their mind, hands and body in the context of the production that ‘they’re about to see. That way they can relate to each show when it starts. So, for example, before the Jester Jim juggling show, families create bowling pins that they can learn to juggle with. It also gives families an idea of ââwhat the artist will experience on stage.
INFO Show dates vary; starts July 7; 158 Main Street, East Hampton; 631-324-0806; Guildhall.org.