A warm show of support for cast members of the Engeman Theater in Northport, three days after a cast member was called a racial slur while walking on Main Street following a matinee performance. Steve Langford reports.  Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman/Raychel Brightman

The bouncy rhythms of a long-running Broadway musical revue returned to the stage in Northport on Wednesday night with actors and audience in a joyful but defiant mood.

The performance of "Smokey Joe's Cafe" at the John W. Engeman Theater was the first since Sunday night's show was canceled after a person described only as a white male called a Black cast member walking on Main Street the N-word.

That Sunday night incident stunned the cast and the community but also served as an opportunity for a village that is about 92% white and 2% Black to make a statement against racism.

Based on the crowd lined up outside the Main Street theater before the curtain call, the community used the opportunity.

A local advocacy group urged Northport's community to sell out the performance as a show of solidarity with the performers, and all proceeds from Wednesday night's show will go to a charitable cause chosen by the cast.

"It's a much better reflection of what the Northport community really is compared to the statement that was being made Sunday," said theater co-owner Kevin O'Neill before the performance, referring to efforts aimed at rallying Northport after the Sunday slur.

"I've been saying now day after day, that comment, I'd bet good money did not come from a Northport resident," O'Neill said. "It's not in any way reflective of the character and mentality of the people that live in Northport. From Day One back in 2007 to now, we have never had anything remotely close to a comment like that. We've had every ethnicity possible on our stage."

Outside the theater Wednesday night, signs of unity with the cast and crew, including "We Support You," greeted the customers. Several people waiting in line for tickets wore T-shirts with "We Stand Together" written across the front.

The slur that led to the outpouring remained under investigation, Northport police said but they provided no updates.

In a statement Sunday on Facebook, the police department said the cast member, who was not identified, informed the theater staff "they were subjected to racist comments." However, the cast member did not wish to file a police report, the statement said, adding that the department will "conduct its own investigation."

While not commonplace in Northport, with its quaint cluster of restaurants, bars and gift shops downtown, there have been other recent incidents of hatred and bigotry.

In August, a swastika was found etched onto a playground slide at Ocean Avenue Elementary School. The graffiti was discovered by a school district parent. The school district filed a police report on the vandalism, which appeared to be an isolated incident, authorities said.

Recently, a swastika was visible during a protest outside the Northport home of Northwell Health's CEO.

The swastika at the elementary school spurred advocates into action. The Northport chapter of Not In Our Town (NOIT), a national organization working to stop bigotry and hate crimes, has organized book drives, fundraisers, lectures and more events since then.

"We were not happy with the response from the town," Meghan Saporita, an attorney and a founding member of the Northport chapter, said Tuesday when she announced an effort to urge the community to sell out Wednesday night's performance.

By about 6 p.m., 271 seats for the 8 p.m. performance had been sold in a theater that seats 400, O’Neill said.

Saporita, who planned to attend the show, said her group met with village Mayor Damon McMullen on Tuesday to "light a fire under local leaders, officials in this town to take steps to create a culture that says ‘these acts are not welcomed here.’ "

McMullen was not immediately available for comment Wednesday night.

On Monday, McMullen and trustees Tom Kehoe, Ian Milligan and Dave Weber issued a joint statement condemning use of the racist slur as well as the other recent hate-fueled incidents.

"We as a community have recently experienced several acts of bigotry and hate that must be confronted and condemned in the strongest terms," the statement said.

Lauren Kearon, of East Northport, brought her 7-year-old daughter to the show and said she came out to support the cast and condemn racism.

"In our town we hope that everyone is treated fairly," said Kearon, who wore one of the T-shirts with the "We Stand Together" logo.

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