By Madeline Armstrong
Live theater returns to New York City as Nassau County prepares to host Broadway shows. Located at the Elmont Memorial Library Theater, a new division of Plaza Organization, Plaza AEA Productions, is under contract with the American Equity Association and will be equipped to present quality Broadway shows in Nassau County.
“The curtain is about to rise in Plaza de Broadway on Long Island,” said Kevin Harrington, executive producer of the Plaza Organization, which manages the Plaza Theatrical Productions Performing Arts Academy in Lynbrook, and is the season director. of this year. Harrington started his company, The Plaza Organization, while he was in college and now, almost 40 years later, has managed to reach that milestone by creating the only professional action theater in Nassau County. . The theater will open with the musical “South Pacific” on October 2 to kick off the season.
Harrington said he finds the musical incredibly relevant to the current cultural issues that dominate the world today. “’South Pacific’ is a classic piece of musical theater, but it is also timeless,” he said. “It has to do with the problems of prejudice, the acceptance of all people [and] war.”
Created in 1949, “South Pacific” centers on an American nurse stationed on a South Pacific island during World War II who falls in love with an expatriate French plantation owner, but struggles to accept her mixed-race children. “It was actually pretty revolutionary by the time it came out,” said Tierney Rose Bent, ensemble member and French dialect coach. “He has very strong anti-war and anti-racist sentiments, which were quite shocking at the time.
However, Bent said she believes ideologies are still relevant and important in today’s era. “It shows that racism is not something that you were born with or that is part of humanity,” she said. “It’s not a human thing at all. We are taught to behave this way and I think the flip side is the hope that we can also be taught to erase that behavior. We can be taught to actively work to accept and support people who come from different backgrounds and experiences like us.
After “South Pacific”, the theater will continue the season with the musicals “Man of Lamancha”, “The Color Purple” and “Something Rotten!” “
The cast members and the creative team said they were excited to perform again after a year and a half of hiatus from live theater. “There was so much joy and camaraderie in the rehearsal room,” Harrington said. “[It was] something i have never seen before. There is no other art form like it, with the synergy between the actors, the musicians and the audience.
Harrington said he hopes to create a musical theater community on Long Island and urged citizens to volunteer and participate in the various opportunities offered by the theater. During this season, a “backstage series” will be offered to the community. Marc Courtade, executive director of the Huntington Arts Council, and other members of the creative team will discuss the social context and history of the shows.
Harrington said he also plans to produce an original musical theater festival to support emerging Long Island writers and composers. “I’m really looking to build a musical theater community here,” Harrington said.
Actors and audiences alike are excited about the new caliber of theater that will be brought to Nassau County, according to Harrington. He added that he believes communities have understood why live theater has such a big impact and that Plaza AEA Productions will have a positive impact on Nassau County.
“Come on for the fun dance numbers and the comedy in the show,” Bent said, “stick around for the critical messages on how to be more tolerant in this world today.”