The beach isn't the only thing that heats up during a Long Island summer. Theater tickets are also a hot commodity as summer seasons approach for the Island's three fully professional companies. Gateway Playhouse, Bay Street Theatre and the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport have announced their new seasons, all performed with cast and crew drawn largely from the ranks of Actors Equity union members.
Gateway and Bay Street are mostly summer companies, though Gateway also has a holiday season, while the Engeman, Long Island's only year-round Equity company, winds up its current season of classic musicals with the 1950 American theater masterpiece, Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls." The Engeman revives this unlikely conversion of gamblers ("I got the horse right here/His name is Paul Revere") by prosthelytizers ("Tear up your poker deck and play no more").
Saturday marks the official opening night for Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown and their respective sinners and saints. Here's what's coming up in the new seasons on each stage.
Gateway's all-musical season begins with one of the greats: "West Side Story," with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents. It lost the best musical Tony to "The Music Man," but won a Tony for Jerome Robbins' choreography. "West Side Story" runs May 11 to 28. It's followed by the new Gershwin show making its New York premiere. " 'S Wonderful," June 1 to 18, including such national treasures as "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Rhapsody in Blue." "Legally Blonde," the 2007 musical based on the 2001 romantic comedy makes its Long Island premiere June 22 to July 9.
"Spamalot," Eric Idle's 2006-'07 best musical Tony winner inspired by the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," is the only Gateway show to play the 1,200-seat Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts this summer (July 13 to 30). Meanwhile, a student production of "The Who's Tommy" plays the Bellport stage July 20 to 30. Gateway's season continues Aug. 3 to 20 with 1994's "Sunset Blvd.," which caused a ruckus when Andrew Lloyd Webber fired Northport's Patti LuPone in favor of Glenn Close in the role of Norma Desmond. The finale is Sondheim's bloody 1979 sensation "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street," Aug. 24 to Sept. 11.
BAY STREET THEATRE
Darrell Hammond, the longest-running cast member of "Saturday Night Live," brings star power to the Sag Harbor stage in the Long Island premiere of "Tru." Based on the colorful life of novelist Truman Capote, Jay Presson Allen's play is directed by Judith Ivey and runs May 31 to June 26. It's followed by Christopher Durang's comedy "Betty's Summer Vacation," about a summerhouse share gone outrageously awry, July 5 to 31. "Enter Laughing: The Musical," based on Carl Reiner's semi-autobiographical novel, closes the season Aug. 9 to Sept. 4 with the madcap story of a Bronx errand boy who dreams of making it big on Broadway.
ENGEMAN THEATER AT NORTHPORT
The 2011-12 season opens July 7 with "Hairspray," the feel-good ode to Baltimore based on the 1988 John Waters film. It won eight Tonys in 2003, including best musical. The 2007 movie musical starred Great Neck's Nikki Blonsky. "Hairspray" runs until Aug. 28. Then it's back to classics with Lerner and Loewe's "Camelot" (1960) Sept. 15 to Nov. 6 and Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" (1957) Nov. 25 to Jan 15. Neil Simon's 1972 geezer comedy "The Sunshine Boys" takes the Northport stage Feb. 2 to March 25. The Engeman season concludes with the 1980 musical based on the Depression-era movie "42nd Street," April 12 to June 17, 2012.
WHAT "Guys and Dolls"
WHEN | WHERE Thursday and Friday nights at 8, Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., through June 19, at the Engeman Theater in Northport, 250 Main St.
INFO $60; engemantheater.com, 631-261-2900. Tickets also on sale for 2011-12 season.
WHAT "West Side Story"
INFO $51 to $57; gatewayplay house.com, 631-286-1133. Tickets also on sale for full summer season, including "Spamalot" at Patchogue Theatre July 13 to 30.
WHEN | WHERE May 31 to June 26 at Bay Street Theatre, Long Wharf, Sag Harbor
INFO $55 to $65; baystreet.org, 631-725-9500. Also for full summer season