This summer, when you’re at the beach getting your glow on, at the restaurant putting the feed on, or at a club getting your groove on, don’t forget the many live theaters in this area putting a show on. With a mix of the tried-and-true as well as the new, Long Island theaters brim with talent, creativity and ambition, even in the months when air conditioners compete with vocalists and sunshine challenges the wattage of footlights.
Now 62 seasons young, Long Island’s oldest resident professional theater was all set to offer the sexy comedy-drama Venus in Fur, but David Ives’ play ended up getting a second life on Broadway, so Arena lost the rights. Instead, they’ve pushed up the dates for Joe Orton’s dark comedy, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, and added William Mastrosimone’s first play, 1979’s The Woolgatherer, about the budding romance between a shy salesgirl and a coarse truck driver. Mastrosimone’s well-known revenge drama, Extremities, was staged by Arena in summer 2003.
6/1-6/24: Entertaining Mr. Sloane
6/29-7/22: The Woolgatherer
July-August: Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew.
Arena Players performs at the Vanderbilt House, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport. 516-293-0674, arenaplayers.org.
Bay Street Theatre
Mounting one more summer in Sag Harbor while it searches for a new home, Bay Street goes big—with a big-voiced Broadway star (Tony-winner Lillias White) in a world-premiere musical about a big lady: Blues songstress Big Maybelle. A Grammy winner for her 1956 number “Candy,” Maybelle Smith found R&B success for a decade or so before changing musical tastes—and before her struggles with drugs, obesity and diabetes led to her death at age 47. Paul Levine wrote and directs Big Maybelle, a one-woman musical, which shakes the rafters Aug 7-Sept 2.
5/29-6/24: Brilliant Divorce
7/3-7/29: Men’s Lives
8/7-9/2: Big Maybelle
Long Wharf, Sag Harbor.
BroadHollow Theatre Co.
Prolific? Produced? Popular? Neil Simon, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams need to step aside and make way for Canadian Norm Foster, who gets more action on Long Island than a drunken coed on rush week. BroadHollow has staged his comedies Maggie’s Getting Married, Self Help, The Love List, Here on the Flight Path and Looking, which played at the company’s former Studio Theatre three years ago and now reaches the main stages at BayWay and Elmont. Asked why she chose to revive Looking, about four middle-aged singles on a blind date, director Marian Waller said, “It’s very true to life and absolutely hysterical.”
6/30-7/15 (BayWay), 7/21-8/5 (Elmont): Guys and Dolls
7/21-8/5 (BayWay), 8/11-8/26 (Elmont): Legally Blonde
8/18-9/2 (BayWay), 9/15-9/30 (Elmont): Deathtrap
9/8-9/23 (BayWay), 10/13-10/28 (Elmont): Looking
BroadHollow plays at 265 East Main Street in East Islip and 700 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the many theater and cabaret offerings in Guild Hall’s summer season is The Painting Plays. It’s a one-night benefit performance (Sept 1) in which readings of short plays by well-known Long Island dramatists will be paired with paintings that inspired them. Among the playwrights are Jenny Lyn Bader, Joe Pintauro and Pulitzer-winner Marsha Norman.
7/9: The Mikado
9/1: The Painting Plays
Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton.
Since 1950, Bellport’s Gateway Playhouse has wooed Long Island theatergoers with thrillers, comedies and tons of musicals. This summer, look for that other—and often more acclaimed—Phantom of the Opera-based musical, Phantom (Aug 22-Sept 9).
6/6-6/24: My Fair Lady
6/27-7/14: The Rat Pack is Back
Gateway Playhouse performs at 215 South Country Road in Bellport and 71 East Main Street in Patchogue. 631-286-1133, gatewayplayhouse.com.
Jeanne Rimsky Theatre
Broadway actress Liz Callaway and cabaret star Ann Hampton Callaway join sisterly forces for Boom (June 16), a revue of “the soundtrack of their childhood” featuring songs by Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and, yes, Barbra.
8/5: The Amazing Kreskin
232 Main Street, Port Washington. 516-767-6444, landmarkonmainstreet.org.
John W. Engeman Theater
After 12 years and more than 5,000 performances, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change closed off-Broadway in July 2008. Miss it? Catch the revuesical about dating and relationships, composed by Jimmy Roberts, at the Engeman July 5-Aug 19. If librettist/lyricist Joe DiPietro’s name sounds familiar, it may be because his more recent tuner, Memphis, won the 2010 Best Musical Tony Award.
7/5-8/19: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
9/6-10/28: Sweet Charity
250 Main Street, Northport. 631-261-2900, johnwengemantheater.com.
Smithtown Center For The Performing Arts
A sleeper hit on Broadway two seasons ago, Eric Simonson’s Lombardi (Sept 8-30) tells two stories. One is of football coach Vincent Lombardi turning the Packers into a dynasty. The other is of Marie Lombardi, who left the comforts of New York to follow her dyspeptic, yell-a-minute husband to the arctic unknown that is Green Bay, Wisconsin.
4/14-6/24: Avenue Q
2 E. Main Street, Smithtown. 631-724-3700, smithtownpac.org.
A housewife suffers a nervous breakdown while her family implodes. No, it’s not the new season of Mob Wives; it’s the plot of next to normal, the 2010 Pulitzer- and Tony-winning musical by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey. So while other theater companies are putting on musicals with songs like “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Get Me to the Church on Time,” the normal cast will be belting out such pop-rock ditties as “Aftershocks,” “The Break” and “My Psychopharmacologist and I.”
5/19-6/23: next to normal
412 Main Street, Port Jefferson. 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com.
Photos by Lynn Spinnato | Members of Ovations Dance Repertory Company at Boulton Center, Bay Shore.