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‘Miracles’ never cease: Shelter Island School’s spring musical coming next week

An hour into a rehearsal one night last week of “Miracle in the Park,” the Shelter Island Drama Club’s spring production, several key members of the cast were missing.

With only a handful of rehearsals left, director John Kaasik seemed calm about it. But then the entire cast and crew was overjoyed when the guys — members of the school baseball team — arrived in their baseball caps, glowing from a shutout victory over Wyandanch.

Assuming their places on stage, the players went right into a song and dance number without missing a beat. The show must go on.

“Miracle in the Park” is set to open Thursday, April 11, for a four-day run. It’s a musical drama that is sweet, funny, and moving. In other words, a departure from the light-hearted, irreverent comic musicals the Shelter Island School Drama Club has produced in recent years.

Written and directed by Mr. Kaasik, and choreographed by Laura Dickerson, “Miracle in the Park” is the story of a big-hearted homeless man who is plagued and ultimately redeemed by visions of innocents pleading for his help.

The heartfelt and wry dialogue is paired with classical and popular music and dance in a two-act show that explores perceptions of reality, and our responsibility to care and be kind to each other.

Twenty years ago, Mr. Kaasik wrote a prototype for “Miracle in the Park” called “The Hobo and the Miracle,” a one-act play that was performed here in 2003.

Now the Drama Club is producing another Miracle. Kaasik has written “The Servant’s Last Serve,” “Murder by Mistake,” and “The Assassin’s Last Friend,” which are regularly produced at community theaters and schools across the country. Twenty years later, it’s our turn at last.

In addition to a cast of students, many of whom were not born the last time a Kaasik show was staged on Shelter Island, there are several cast and crew members from the Island’s 2003 performance of “The Hobo and the Miracle” currently working on the show. 

Laura Dickerson instructs the ballet dancers on the choreography. (Credit: Charity Robey)

Music Director Sara Mundy, Drama Coach Susan Cincotta, and Choreographer Laura Dickerson all participated in the 2003 production and are back in new roles backstage in support of the student cast.

Another returning alumnus is Nicholas Labrozzi, who was set to star as Miss Trunchbull in the 2020 school production of “Matilda,” which was canceled by the pandemic lockdown a few days before it opened. In “Miracle,” Nicholas feelingly plays Max Wendel, a homeless person who helps an entire community see the mighty power of kindness.

Based on random visits to two rehearsals, Nicholas’ is not the only superb performance. Nathan Cronin as Dr. Mitchell brings empathy and heart to his role. Lily Potter’s singing and acting performance in rehearsals was haunting, and Henry Springer as Robert has real energy.

Eli Green’s role may be small, but he’s got star power. Dancers Alexis Bartilucci, Sadie Green-Clark, Rosie Hanley, Mackenzie Speece, Mae Brigham, Quinn Sobejana, Lily Brigham, Juliana Medina and Kylie Kuhr Leonard move like the ladies of Henri Matisse’s “La Danse,” thanks to Laura Dickerson’s skill as a dance instructor. Brookelyn Gulluscio is the lone 3rd grader in the show, and you can’t take your eyes off her.

“Miracle in the Park” is community theater at its finest, a show written, directed, choreographed and produced as an act of love for the children of the Shelter Island School to learn and blossom, with simple messages that resonate deeply here; that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not real, and that simple acts of kindness can have a big impact.

Don’t miss it.

The dates for the performances of the play are Thursday, April 11, at 7 p.m.; Friday, April 12, 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 13, 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 14, 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in the school lobby from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on school days. Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for children.