Forget Broadway! The next time you want to take in a show, look no further than the North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck. For more than 50 years, the NFCT has been singing, dancing and entertaining the North Fork, and thanks to its many supporters, there’s no curtain call in sight.
“Over the past five years, we’ve been working towards making sure we’re going to be here for the next 50 years,” said Mary Motto Kalich, an NFCT board member. Kalich led phase 1 of the Building on Tradition fundraising campaign, which raised $500,000 over the last five years—enough to purchase the theater building from the church next door. “They actually allowed us to be in it for the entire time we’ve been here, which is incredible,” she said. “They really gave us our start, and now, wonderfully, we own our own building.”
Support from the community has been the secret to the Theatre’s success and longevity, according to NFCT president Robert Beodeker. “We are membership driven. Our members own the building; our members own the organization,” he said. “This organization wouldn’t have made it through the years if there wasn’t really a future for it.”
“When we began this process, I think a lot of people thought it was impossible,” he said. “To raise slightly over half a million dollars in three or four years in this economy shows the heart of this organization and how much people on the North Fork care.”
Now that the NFCT owns the building, it’s time to begin phase 2, which involves improving the interior. “When you are a renter, there are things you don’t do, but now that we own it, we need to address some of those longstanding issues,” Beodeker said. “I’m confident that the energy people had that helped us buy the building will sustain us to do that.”
The NFCT’s season runs from September 1 through August 31, and features two plays and three musicals. “Our musicals are by far the most popular, but they’re harder to put on than the plays,” Kalich said. “Everyone is volunteer, and that really gets quite hard because you’re devoting a lot of your time.” The NFCT has just begun production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which will premiere in March.
One musical each summer is performed by the Youth On Stage Program, which began more than 40 years ago, and is how Kalich got her start at the NFCT. “A lot of our board members and leaders came out of the Youth On Stage Program,” she said. “One of the nice things now is that there are a couple of different families that have many generations involved, because we’ve been around that long.”
The Youth On Stage program is exclusively for 14- to 22-year-olds.
“It’s not just our East End schools,” Beodeker said. “People come from other places, and over the years they go to each other’s shows at each other’s schools and the friendships cross high school boundaries.”
Beodeker became involved with the NFCT 17 years ago, when his son auditioned for a production of Fiddler on the Roof. Since then, all three of his children have performed on the NFCT’s stage. “I can’t speak highly enough of the theatre, especially for me and for my family,” he said. “It’s such a rich and rewarding experience.”
In January, the theater will be hosting the Annual NFCT Variety Show to raise money for their scholarship program, which provides a scholarship for one graduating senior at each of the five North Fork high schools.
“It’s a nice opportunity, whether some kid does magic, or wants to read drama, or plays guitar, or whatever it is,” Kalich said. “My son now thinks it’s normal to perform on stage and it’s wonderful for him to get that kind of exposure.”
Tickets are $15 for plays and $20 for musicals. For the holiday season, the NFCT will be selling a three-musical gift pack for $50 at www.nfct.com, or call 631-298-4500.