From Kevin Clyne:
The best part of set building for Playcrafters is working with the legendary Jim Hazard. Jim's creativity and innovative ideas make each set unique. I've also learned that when something doesn't come out quite right, that's known as the "Kevin factor." That's what makes Jim so much fun to work with.
One of my favorite things that we built was a rotating wall for The Rainmaker (2018) that was part of the farmhouse kitchen on one side and a stable on the other side. I worked backstage on that show, and after a lot of practice, Annette Maillard and I were able to consistently convert the set from farmhouse to stable in under a minute. Sitting in the wings and watching the cast tell this touching story every night was a rare pleasure. I could've watched this show a hundred times. I've never seen a better cast in any show. I kinda like the director, too.
From Michele DePalo:
My involvement with Playcrafters dates back to Damn Yankees (1975), after which I was forever hooked on community theatre. I have since performed in over a dozen shows, was involved in almost every phase of production, and held every position on the Board of Directors multiple times.
In 1960, Playcrafters started as a tight-knit group of local theatre people. When I was elected to the board I initiated the idea of reaching outside the organization for directors and talent. After some heated discussions, we started hiring directors and attracting new people from outside the group. We currently enjoy an excellent reputation, great longevity, and have accrued a stable of talented and faithful actors and directors. I would be remiss not to mention the creative and dedicated long-time members of Playcrafters on the production end whose essential contributions do not get applause.
Not having our own theatre space has presented its challenges. In the early years, we bounced between Bellport’s high school and middle school. Then in 1986 our plays and musicals were exclusively in the middle school. In 2011 the middle school auditorium was converted to a classroom and Playcrafters had to find a new home. We utilized the Community Center and Christ Church Hall. Then in 2012 we reached an agreement with the Boys & Girls Club to use their auditorium, which continues to be our theatre space to this day. We no longer produce musicals, but our dramas and comedies (with the magnificent sets and top notch production values) as well as our Readers’ Theatre, continue to provide an enjoyable theatre experience for our audiences.
Playcrafters owes a huge debt of gratitude to the South Country School District, the Village of Bellport, Christ Episcopal Church and The Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Bellport Area for the use of their facilities, as well as the businesses and community as a whole for supporting our theatre group through all of its 61 years. We would not still be in business without them.
As the group’s archivist I continue to collect and store memorabilia from every production and event. In compiling the material for these monthly remembrances, it was a nostalgic trip down memory lane for me. Playcrafters has always been like another “family” to me, and my 46 years with this fantastic group have been some of the best of my life.
From Flo Federman:
When I entertained the possibility of directing a show for the first time, after years only as an actor, I knew no one would give me a chance -- with the exception of Playcrafters. And I could not have asked for a better first experience than Steel Magnolias (2011). Stage Manager Vicki Fleming was my partner and helped assemble a kick ass cast of ladies. George Loizides not only backed me up when I wanted a riser as part of the set, he created a contraption that allowed us to have running water on stage. It was such an energizing experience, it made me want to do it again, which I did for the wonderful Crimes of the Heart (2013) and the madcap Don’t Dress for Dinner (2015).
How the Other Half Loves (2014)
was so much fun. A complicated show with 2 storylines playing out at the same time on stage. I got to be chased around the stage by Bryan McGowan
. And I got to throw a full pot of “soup” in the face of Matt Pernice
– to the shock and delight of the audience. Luckily, Stage Manager Annette Maillard
caught that moment on THIS VIDEO
Rumors (2017) – Cathy Clyne is a great director and this was such a fun experience. MVP was Chrissy Cavagnet, who broke her foot right before we opened and hobbled up and down stairs and in and out of doors – all while on crutches.
During The Rainmaker (2018) I had to cry onstage. Before every show I would sit in my car and watch sad movie scenes to put me in the right mindset. I had varying success. The last night of the show, though, I was so sad that the wonderful experience was ending. And I was a mess. Nose running during a scene with my “Pop,” George Loizides. And make-up running during a big scene with Derek McLaughlin. I could always count on a smile from our “Stage Crew,” Kevin Clyne, who gave me confidence every night.
Thank you, friends, for such rewarding, collaborative experiences through the years.
From John Hannon:
I could not let this opportunity pass without sharing a remarkable time in my Playcrafters “career path.” As a member of Playcrafters since 1992, I have been given the opportunity to learn various skills related to theatre leading up to directing a show. My initial endeavors were Love Letters (1996), Inherit the Wind (2006), and The Guys (2009) -- all “Readers Theatre” style performances with little to no blocking, minimal staging, and a focus on dialog and character development.
In 2012 I had the pleasure of seeing Other Desert Cities on Broadway and thought this would be a phenomenal show to produce. I took a chance and submitted the play for consideration. Not only was it well received, they wanted me to direct it. Wow! George Loizides became my mentor, advising me how to break down the show, explore the dynamics between the characters, and most importantly, how many rehearsals to schedule and how to structure each.
I was so awed and humbled with the support I received. The production crew allowed me to indulge my vision, including the curved set. I was also blessed with a “dream team” cast (Amelia Chiaramonte, Laurie Atlas, Kelly Schmidt, Kevin Clyne, and Matthew Boose). I wasn’t sure how to approach the process of blocking the actors. I let the cast determine where and how they would move, making minor changes and continually asking them how it felt. This worked so well because they were all well acquainted with moving on stage. It was an experience I will always treasure. I looked forward to coming to rehearsals to watch this “story” come to life. Most of all, the cast respected my vision of the characters and their interaction with each other on stage.
What an awesome experience. I see how directing can be so rewarding. Watching how each of the components of a show -- including set, lighting, sound, props, costumes, and performers -- come together to become a unified form of storytelling. What a plus watching the audience become engrossed in the experience. A great journey from an actor in the chorus to the director of a play!
From Christine Mohanty:
I had a ball performing in Prelude to a Kiss (1998) directed by Bob Maletta, where George Loizides unhappily takes on a VERY female persona by some fluke of magic. George was our masterful theater director at Ward Melville HS, and I was privileged to work with him at Playcrafters on a number of occasions.
Over the decades, I must have seen 50 of the organization's productions. All the performers onstage AND backstage work professionally & thank goodness have found a home at the Boys & Girls Club. Looking forward to FUTURE endeavors.
From Jim Parise:
How the Other Half Loves (2014) was my swan song with Playcrafters. This was probably the most difficult show to direct because of its complicated set and blocking and casting. Exact timing in this show was essential and it had to be spot on — especially with the dining room scene, 37 blocking moves in 2 pages of dialogue. Thanks to the stellar cast we pulled it off. Amelia Chiaramonte was essential in getting the scenes to run like clockwork with Peter Morrison. Chrisa Burke painted a sofa to match the color scheme of the set — seriously who paints a sofa? And Matt Palace built a thrust so we had enough acting space on the stage to make the show work. Without all your expertise and talent this would not have worked.
From Jean Rico:
I’d gone on a few auditions for Playcrafters already, but felt a real connection to Suzette in Don’t Dress for Dinner (2015). I got the part, which is always a joyous relief. I figured this would be just another production with people who would become colleagues. What I got instead was a group of like minded good friends who I look forward to seeing and working with again and again. I am grateful to the cast and crew for welcoming me right away and making all the hard work enjoyable: Flo Federman, Bob Kaplan, Jill Linden, James Carey, Vicki Fleming, and Annette Maillard.
One funny thing I remember is Kathy Loizides trying to figure out how to keep my strapless dress from falling and causing me great embarrassment. All it took, after a close call or two…one piece of elastic! Simple but brilliant.
I’ve participated in many Playcrafters productions since, particularly the radio shows and staged readings. For me, Playcrafters isn’t just about creating great theatre for Long Island, it’s about friendship, connection, support and family.