The John W. Engeman Theater in East Northport has a long history – Northport’s first theater was located next door and showed silent films and live shows. After it burned down in 1932, the present location was built and started as a 25 cent movie theater. It opened to great fanfare, and even after years of renovations, parts of the original building still remain and the atmosphere is reminiscent of an old-time movie theater.
In the main lobby, one will find a space unlike any other theater on Long Island. For an hour before showtime when it is only open to ticketholders and after shows when it is open to the public, the Engeman Theater hosts a piano bar. The piano bar is not open for children’s shows, but for an evening out without the kids, time at the piano bar would definitely be a great delight. There is also seating in the lobby for patrons to relax and enjoy a snack before the show.
The theater itself looks like the movie theater it once was with both a main floor and balcony seating. The seats offer plenty of leg room, and because of the angle of the theater there are no bad seats. Although the theater was probably not built with kids in mind, the steps inside are perfect for small legs to go up and down as they are not too steep. Servers come around the theater offering drink service and snacks before the show and during intermission as well.
The theater’s children’s series, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, is currently featuring Rapunzel. This version is performed with only four cast members, each playing multiple parts, and showing excellent versatility. They ensure that there is enough silliness to make the story accessible to younger viewers and there is enough going on to keep almost any child’s interest. They also have cute jokes that will be easily understood by younger children. The musical performance showcases the wonderful singing voices of the cast, and the songs are entertaining. There are no slow moments; the actors and the script move quickly and keep the audience hooked awaiting the next twist in the tale. The actors interacted a little with the audience during the show, and after the show the cast members were available for autographs and to meet the children while staying in their primary roles.
By Mikaela Walker