Prime Time for LI Theater

After a fall that had Hurricane Sandy sweeping in and the Islanders skating away, and a winter that had us wearily shoveling out from Nemo and disgustedly shelling out for the LIRR, Long Islanders are entitled to a little entertainment this summer. Ready to oblige are the many year-round playhouses in the area, from such venerable stalwarts as Arena Players and Gateway to a changing of the guard at BroadHollow and The Suffolk Theater.

For its 63rd season, Long Island’s oldest resident professional theater opts for the challenging and less familiar (a sacrilege in the summertime!). Those include Lawrence Casler’s comedy, A Night in the Theater, receiving its Long Island premiere through June 9; August Strindberg’s look at marital madness, The Father (June 14-July 7); and The Victim by international playwright Mario Fratti (July 12-Aug. 4). Meanwhile, Shakespeare will be back in the courtyard for Taming of the Shrew in July, and De Feis’ updating of Othello: The Black of Angola in August.

Arena Players performs at the Vanderbilt House: 180 Little Neck Rd, Centerport, (516) 293-0674;

It’s a good news/bad news summer for Bay Street. On the plus side, after months of worry over where to move, the theater decided (temporarily) to shelve its dream of building a new home elsewhere and instead signed a new lease for several more years in Sag Harbor. That stability, though, has been offset by a sad change. Back in March, Sybil Christopher, Bay Street’s co-founder and artistic director for 22 seasons, passed away at age 83. Managing director Gary Hygom, who now runs the theater with executive director Tracy Mitchell, told Pulse the loss of Christopher has pushed the theater toward doing more “family-friendly and recognizable work.” He notes that although Bay Street started as a venue for new plays, the changing demographic of the area is forcing the playhouse to do “more commercial stuff.” To that end, farce is the order of the day in all three of Bay Street’s summer offerings. Ken Ludwig’s popular Lend Me a Tenor leads off, Through June 23, followed by Charles Ludlam’s gothically goofy The Mystery of Irma Vep, July 2-28 and then the Larry Gelbart/Stephen Sondheim musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Aug. 6-Sept. 1.

Bay Street: Long Wharf, Sag Harbor. (631) 725-9500;

Here’s the summer BroadHollow lineup, which includes productions at the Studio Theatre, which has been brought into the BroadHollow fold by executive artistic director Bob O’Neill: Spamalot (6/22-7/7 Bayway; 7/13-7/28 Elmont). RFK (6/8-6/30 Studio).

BroadHollow plays at 265 East Main Street in East Islip, 700 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont and 141 South Wellwood Ave in Lindenhurst. (631) 581-2700;

The 26-year-old Creative Ministries troupe began its spring season with a pageant called The Journey: Cross & Crucifixion, so they should be in pretty good shape for Sondheim/Lapine’s Into the Woods (through June 16), which also features innocent people enduring pain, loss and existential doubt. For a breath of hope, however, there’s 42nd Street (June 29-July 28), wherein the director tells the terrified understudy, “You’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” Which, if you believe in such things, is kinda what happened to Jesus, too.

CM Playhouse: 931 Montauk Highway, Oakdale. (631) 218-2810;

The Cripple of Inishmaan (through June 9) Also on the schedule: Improv from the touring company of Upright Citizens Brigade (June 29) and a concert visit from five-time Tony winner Audra McDonald (July 6).

Guild Hall: 158 Main Street, East Hampton. (631) 324-4050;

Although Mel Brooks was pilloried for not coming up with another Producers, his Young Frankenstein musical certainly has its share of laughs and outrageous moments. See for yourself, June 12-29. If you’re in a more nostalgic mood, there’s Singin’ in the Rain (July 24-Aug. 10), and if you’re nostalgic for 1950s-style rock and roll, here’s an orgy of it: Grease (through June 8), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (8/28-9/14), and Legends in Concert (July 2-20), which features impersonators sharing the music of Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley and Barbra Streisand.

Gateway Playhouse performs both at 215 South Country Road in Bellport and 71 East Main Street in Patchogue. (631) 286-1133;

Based on a 1967 hit film musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie proved a surprise smash of the 2002 Broadway season, even taking home a Tony Award for best musical. The flapper-era tuner arrives in Merrick, June 1-23. For the youngsters, there’s Peanuts (through June 15), The Jungle Book (July 6-27) and 101 Dalmations brightening the dog days of summer, Aug. 3-24.

Merrick Theater Center for the Arts (fka “The Stage”): 2222 Hewlett Ave, Merrick. (516) 868-6400;

Wife beating, robbery, suicide by cop—ah, the good old days of musical theater! David Markel stages Rodgers and Hammerstein’s masterpiece, Carousel, through June 2. The uneven but amusing and sometimes surprisingly inspired recent musical, Legally Blonde, bangs down the gavel, July 25-Aug. 11. Congrats to the theater, by the way, for raising over half a million dollars to buy their longtime home. “The community responded wonderfully,” theater board member Mary Motto Kalich told Pulse. “More than 700 people donated, and as we moved closer and closer to the goal, people donated multiple times.” Now comes phase two—raising enough money to renovate and sustain the venue. “It was built as a church in the 1800s,” says Kalich, “and it’s been outfitted as a theater for the past 50 years. So, as responsible homeowners, there’s love and care you need to put into it.”

NFCT: 12700 Old Sound Avenue, Mattituck. (631) 298-4500;

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (June 1-23). Grease follows (July 6-28), because money for shows like BBAJ has to come from somewhere. And if you’re planning your autumn early, Smithtown has Driving Miss Daisy and Cabaret on the docket.

Smithtown Center: 2 E. Main St., Smithtown. (631) 724-3700;

A sleeper hit of the 2005 Broadway season, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee takes the main stage through June 22. William Finn, the genius behind Falsettos, teamed with book writer Rachel Sheinkin for this zany look at the hopes and frustrations of eccentric, precocious primary schoolers (played by adults) vying to be the best at something, even if it’s merely spelling words correctly. Though about children, Bee is not quite kid-appropriate, but no worries; instead, younguns can catch: Aladdin and the Lamp (through June 8), Rumpelstiltskin (July 5-Aug. 3) and The Frog Prince (Aug. 9-17).

Theatre Three: 412 Main St, Port Jefferson. (631) 928-9100;