“Stay home for intermission. See you for the next act.”
Those stirring words are what you’ll see if you drive by the North Fork Community Theater (NFCT) in Mattituck. The NFCT is, perhaps, what people imagine when envisioning a community theater company. Housed in a beautiful building in the heart of Mattituck with a season of crowd-pleasing shows each year, NFCT means a lot to both audiences and locals who want to get involved in theater. Like many nonprofit organizations, especially in the arts, NFCT has had to quickly adapt in the wake of the quarantine. But the resilient group is working to ensure NFCT stays thriving, continues to grow and continues to be a vital part of the Mattituck community. As part of that adaptation, NFCT will host its 12th Annual Building on Tradition Gala virtually on Friday, June 12.
The gala has been a huge part of NFCT’s livelihood for many years and has helped the company expand and grow. Thanks to fundraising, NFCT was able to purchase their home on Main Road and make it permanent, and in 2019 completed work on a rehearsal room and orchestra pit. “We want to keep the quaint, adorable look and feel,” NFCT Treasurer Mary Motto Kalich says, “but we’d really like it to sound better and have as great a theatrical capability and experience as we can.” Motto Kalich notes that making the gala virtual comes with its own positives. “You can bring together people that normally don’t have the time or energy to dress up and go somewhere,” she says. “Some other positives are that some Broadway actors [Rob Bartlett and Jim Borstelmann] are able to participate.”
The gala will, of course, primarily feature performances from NFCT members, including some alumni who performed as kids and teens. “A number of people were in our Youth on Stage program and we’re always sad to see them go,” Motto Kalich says. “Christina Stankowitz and Tom Ashton will perform. These people who are such a big part of our theater’s life, it’s nice to have them back in.” And to get the entire NFCT community involved, there will also be a recorded performance of a showtune mashup featuring anyone who wants to participate. “Normally we have our best people sing, because we want it to be an impressive thing,” Motto Kalich explains. “But community theater is from a variety of folks, so we sent an email out to everyone and said, ‘hey, do you want to be part of a mashup?’ So we gave them ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘My Favorite Things’ and we gave them the track files that they could sing along to and record themselves singing on video.”
There will also be an auction featuring the work of area artists. The art is actually on display on Love Lane prior to the event. Hard Corner Partners, LLC, which owns the former North Fork Bank space, donated the space for the display, and Crystal Clean did a thorough window cleaning. “There’s a beautiful display,” Motto Kalich says. “There’s a whole art show on Love Lane you can see outside. It’s fun and different to do.”
Keeping community theater alive is especially important in a time like this, as Motto Kalich believes NFCT provides more than just quality entertainment. As someone who started with NFCT at 13 years old, Motto Kalich has thought of the company as a home away from home for much of her life. “Obviously the craft and artistic side is important,” she says, ‘but the second half, which might be even more important, is the value of gathering people together and participating. I was directing The Producers this spring. We started doing online [rehearsals] and even as we realized this is maybe not going to happen this year, it really helped having a group to share what we were going through. Every other day we met online, and the value of gathering was so important. That’s what community theater is. Whether you’re rehearsing together or coming together to watch the show or coming to support the theater, it makes you feel attached. This is a little jewel we have here in our community and that makes you feel positive and attached to it. Sometimes that can be a huge help to people.”
The 12 Annual Building on Tradition Virtual Gala will take place on June 12 at 7 p.m. Visit nfct.com for more. Head to 245 Love Lane, Mattituck, to see the art available for auction.