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‘Prospect of Summer’ makes a splash as the  community musical showcases Shelter Island talent

The sound of an approaching train heralds the opening of “The Prospect of Summer,” and shortly thereafter, a 1930’s vintage Model A automobile appears on the scene. For the rest of the play, the transport takes place in the imagination of the audience back to 1932, guided by Lisa Shaw’s words and music.

As part of the centennial of the Shelter Island Historical Society, the musical celebrates the storied reign of the Prospect Hotel in the Heights, during the heyday of the Island’s bootleg liquor trade.

A large swath of the Island population responded to a casting call this spring, and over the next two months, Ms. Shaw transformed them into a song-dance-comedy troupe to put on her original musical. Islanders enjoyed a three-night run of the show at the Historical Society’s Barn, from Friday, July 22 through Sunday, July 24.

With the help of Tom Hashagen, Paul Mobius and Fokine Construction, along with Peter Waldner’s set design and painting, the barn was transformed into the Prospect Hotel, where a cast of characters pursue their fortunes — and each other — with plenty of plot twists and laughter.

The arrival of the latest group of guests prompts the hotel staff to get ready to offer hospitality and refreshments, some of which are brewed in local bathtubs or purveyed by the busy bootleg industry. Manager C.G. Myers, (Bruce Leggett-Flynn) carries the plot forward as he massages the egos of important guests; keeps an irascible cook from filleting the hotel’s accountant; and serves up a smorgasbord of entertainment. Housekeeper Mrs. Raynor, (Janet D’Amato) tries to keep a tight rein on Marie Bishko and Lenore DiLio-Berner, who play a pair of maids dreaming of a better life.

The fun of recognizing neighbors in costume was heightened by the discovery of their little-known talents. Jenifer Eklund Maxson and Donna Emma are a mother-daughter pair of scheming “socialites.”

What are these two up to? Nothing good. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

Tim Purtell, as President of the Long Island Rail Road, seems a promising target for their attention, as Tom Hashagen as Chef Oscar battles Christopher Herman playing the hotel’s accountant counting costs and curbing his culinary ambitions.

Trouble, turmoil, sweet confusion and laughter were on full display. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

The temperance movement has impassioned advocates in James Dawson and Wendy Turgeon, singing of the evils of “Rum, by gum!”

Former Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty has a cameo as Everett C. Tuthill, a predecessor of his in office, seeking to ensure a supply of libations for the dedication of Town Hall. Rev. Dr. Stephen D. Adkison and Christina Herman play the Brackendorfs, a couple visiting from Brooklyn with their children, looking forward to enjoying the Heights Beach Club and tennis court. Catherine Brigham sings to the children to join in the fun offered by the Dr. Petit Camp for Girls, from archery to canoe races.

Dan Berner appears as the mysterious Salvatore Marscapone who, like most of the guests, turns out not to be who he seems. Moira Moderelli invites the audience to enjoy the Silhouettes Variety Show, to raise funds for the local churches and Fresh Air Camp.

The show includes songs, dances and a magic show, with a full-cast production number of the Rumba danced to the Cuban song of “The Peanut Vendor.”  These vintage melodies from the 30’s and Ms. Shaw’s original songs were played by musicians Nelson Bogart, Doug Broder, Henry Goode Jr., Rosie Hanley and Carolyn Topp along with Ms. Shaw.

Players of all ages made the play a success. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

Stage Manager Charity Robey, and the crew of Liz Hanley, Linda DiOrio, Joanne Sherman and Sharon Wicks kept the production moving smoothly each night.

Rum runners Chris Carey and Jim Gereghty provide comic relief, making their first appearance aboard that Model A and ultimately learning the hard way that a life of crime  will get you in the end. Charles Stark and Nathan Cronin play waiters and double as musical performers.

Nathan, like Lili Kuher, who plays the Brackendorfs’ daughter, is a Shelter Island School student. Both appeared in this year’s school play, “Matilda.” Will Halloran made his debut as young Lester Brackendorf, a golf enthusiast who wields a club strategically at the play’s climax. The presence of these young performers, added to the experienced adults in the cast, means that the prospect for future community musicals is very good.

The cast of ‘The Prospect of Summer’ in full voice. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

Gratitude was expressed to Christian Johnson Tree & Turfworks, D. Jean Dickerson, the estate of Betty Jacobs, Long Island Arts Alliance, Marika’s Eclectic Boutique, Fred Ogar, the Shelter Island Union Free School District, Gene Shepherd, Suffolk County Parks, Recreation and Conservation and Shelter Island Historical Society Staff for their help in making the 2022 musical possible.