On Sunday, December 4, check out How the Big Duck Saved Christmas, the “true story,” as told by Santa Claus, of how the East End’s own Big Duck saved Christmas from a group of french-fry loving elves.
Directed by Cindy Clifford and written by Dan Binderman, How the Big Duck Saved Christmas features illustrations by Frosty the Snowman animator Don Duga.
Duga taught animation at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan for over 40 years, and has lived in Riverhead since 1980. “When I lived in Greenwich Village, friends of mine were staying out here on the North Fork,” Duga told Dan’s Papers in 2013. “I went with them and I fell in love.”
The artist has produced educational children’s programs for shows such as Sesame Street and animated films for Nickelodeon, NBC, SONY and AT&T.
How the Big Duck Saved Christmas’s writer Dan Binderman wouldn’t tell us much about how the Big Duck saves Christmas. But Binderman did explain that Flanders’ iconic landmark “swims fast,” and, being that he’s so large, “can carry many presents.”
Musical numbers include “How the Big Duck Saved Christmas” and “Who Needs a Duck This Big?,” both by Binderman, and “The Best French Fries in the World Come from Canada” by Sag Harbor’s Dan Koontz.
“This brand new and totally original holiday story is a charming combination of part play and part live storybook,” says Clifford, the show’s director. “With the charming illustrations by Don Duga as a backdrop, and read by Santa himself, the Bug Duck’s story is as much fun as Christmas morning.”
The actual Big Duck was built in 1931 by duck farmer Martin Maurer in nearby Riverhead, and used as a farmstand to sell ducks and duck eggs. The structure’s locale has changed a few times over the years. In 1988, it was moved from Flanders to Hampton Bays along Route 24 at the entrance of Sears-Bellow County Park. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. In 2007 the Big Duck was moved four miles, back to its original spot, surrounded by Big Duck Ranch, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
After the show’s performance, Duga will be doing sketches of children and leading a Frosty the Snowman-inspired parade. “It’s something I do every holiday season,” he says. “The kids love it.”
Binderman has been the General and Artistic Director of the Suffolk Theater since 2014. This art deco gem reopened in 2013, after a five-year restoration. As he says about bringing the duck to the theater, “It’s been too long that this story has been kept from the East End.” “Everyone will learn the true tale of how our own beloved duck saved the holidays for the entire world.”
General admission to How the Big Duck Saved Christmas is $10 for children and $15 for adults. With the addition of the buffet brunch, admission is $15 for children and $25 for adults. This does not include beverages, tax and gratuity. Suffolk Theater’s doors, bar and restaurant open for buffet and photos with Santa at 11:30 a.m. Show begins at 1 p.m. Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main Street, Riverhead. For more information, call 631-727-4343 or visit suffolktheater.com.