Summer is high season in Long Island theater, with all three of its Equity companies in high gear. Gateway Playhouse opens its season with a Cole Porter classic starring two 1970s icons — Andrea McArdle, who originated the role of the redheaded orphan in the Broadway musical “Annie,” and Sally Struthers, who played Archie Bunker’s married-to-a-hippie daughter on TV’s “All in the Family.”
In “Anything Goes,” opening Wednesday on the Bellport stage, McArdle plays Reno Sweeney, an evangelist turned nightclub singer aboard a trans-Atlantic ship while Struthers is the haughty Evangeline Harcourt, whose debutante daughter is wooed by a friend of Reno’s and a most-wanted gangster, Moonface Martin.
Struthers’ dog, Bradford T. Kenney, named for the head of Maine’s Ogunquit Playhouse, where “Anything Goes” moves after Gateway, will make his stage debut.Sally Struthers on life, play, topless scene
“I have the keys to the city,” Struthers says of Ogunquit, where she’s played the last 14 years. This is her third time at Gateway.
Of the part that made her famous at age 12, McArdle says, “How lucky can you be even to get a bad Broadway role your first time out? Never mind a great one.”
Bay Street Theater opens its season May 31 with the world premiere of “The Forgotten Woman,” by Jonathan Tolins, author of “Buyer & Cellar.” It’s about a high-strung, high-notes soprano on the brink of diva stardom when her personal life goes high-wire. Or is it haywire?
Finally, the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport opens its 10th anniversary season July 11 with the Long Island premiere of “Mamma Mia!,” the ABBA-inspired musical (“Dancing Queen”), about a mom who can’t tell her daughter who her father is — he’s one of three candidates — when the daughter asks who can give her away at her wedding.
Following the openings, here’s the remaining entrees on three theaters’ summer menu:
It was a dream jam session at Sun Studio in Memphis: Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. A recording of this seminal rock-and-roll event was released in 1990, inspiring “Million Dollar Quartet,” the Broadway musical that makes its Long Island premiere in Bellport, June 8-25. It’s followed by the Fats Waller revue, “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” named for his greatest hit, June 29-July 16. The Gateway season moves to the Patchogue Theater for another Long Island premiere, “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert,” the Tony-nominated musical based on the 1994 movie with a pop score that includes “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” It runs July 20-Aug. 6, followed by “Dance to the Movies,” Aug. 10-14, featuring TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” pros. Summer winds down back in Bellport — or maybe gears up for Halloween — with “The Rocky Horror Show,” Aug. 24-Sept. 10. Soon thereafter, the playhouse will be outfitted for its annual haunted house theatrical experience.
Women characters dominate the summer season on the Sag Harbor stage. After the world premiere of “The Forgotten Woman,” Bay Street presents “The Last Night of Ballyhoo,” June 28-July 24, by Pulitzer winner Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy”), in which a Southern belle finds that her debutante ball is complicated by her being Jewish and dancing with an Eastern European boy from Brooklyn on the opening night of “Gone With the Wind.” The season wraps with a new take on a beloved classic as two pianists accompany director Michael Arden’s re-imagining of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.” But we expect the rain will still fall on the plain in Spain, Aug. 2-28.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie,” the throwback musical that gave Sutton Foster her breakthrough moment, closes out the current season at Engeman Theater, May 26-July 10, leading up to the season 10 opener, “Mamma Mia!” Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a rock-and-roll musical this weekend, try “Footloose,” about a town that bans dancing, performed by the Engeman’s musical theater class. Shows are at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $20.