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Disaster! cast (Photo Credit: Zäni & Duwayne | Wedding Photography Artisans | www.zaniduwayne.com | @zaniduwayne)

The Community Synagogue Theater Company Presents Disaster!

The disaster movies of the 1970s are famously cheesy. But a recent musical spoof of those movies, Disaster!, is not nearly so cringeworthy and at least as enjoyable. This April 11–14 at the Sands Point Preserve’s Club G, Disaster! is presented by The Community Synagogue Theater Company (TCSTC) in their tenth production, sure to continue their tradition of high-quality local theater.

Written by Seth Rudetsky (of Sirius XM’s On Broadway channel) and Jack Plotnik, Disaster! is a loving homage to films like The Poseidon Adventure and Airport 1975, built around pop and disco hits of the 1970s. “Hot Stuff,” “I Am Woman,” “Hooked on a Feeling” and many more are sung by a cast of characters from a struggling disco diva to a gambling-addicted nun, all on a floating casino victimized by a series of increasingly comedic natural disasters. Wacky accurately describes this musical, and that’s exactly what makes it so very good.

Broadway veteran Tom Rocco directs a cast of 17, including Melissa Chernosky, Spencer Cohen, Samantha Craig, Matt DeLuca, Rebecca Drew, Jeff Grossman, Sharyn Glowatz, Michelle Herson, Ronell Hurt, Matt Kaplan, Paul Phillips, Caryn Ronis, Joel Ronis, Michael Schiffer, Holly Simon, Max Welsh, and Lori Zlotoff. The cast hails from all over Long Island and New York City, showing TCSTC’s growing reach after its stellarly received past performances.

Rehearsals with TCSTC are serious business, captained by Rocco and stage manager Jane Ronis (who has stage managed professionally for decades) with assistant stage manager Diane Heiman. But the company still makes intentional time for “camaraderie,” in keeping with its community-oriented nature, and that philosophy is overwhelmingly what keeps members coming back.

Founding member and executive producer Zlotoff, a therapist, says working without colleagues can often be lonely, and it is in TCSTC where she finds support. Chernosky, another longtime member, has called TCSTC her “theater family.” Caryn Ronis, who has been in every TCSTC production to date, declares it “the most amazing group of people. It’s the most fun, the most creative, the most wonderful way to spend creative energy.”

New members—of which there are six this year, more than a third of the cast—seem to agree. Herson “has truly loved the whole experience” of her TCSTC debut. So has Hurt, a New York City-based professional actor born and raised on Long Island. She says “in professional theatre, there’s competition, politics and worrying” that makes performers “forget the pureness and joy of putting a show together,” but TCSTC “has reminded me of why I fell in love with theatre,” and “I leave every rehearsal smiling.”

Rocco believes the supportive community of TCSTC is the most important thing in each of its productions, but that doesn’t mean the onstage aspects are forgotten. As Zlotoff says, Disaster! is “a complex show,” and the “tremendously exciting gags and effects” are the result of intense work by the cast and creative team. While some of the pop music score is already familiar to cast members, complex harmonies and counterpoints have been perfected in months of rehearsal under musical director Zachary Mandernach. Choreography, by Isabella Galán, ranges from 70s-inspired line dances to an eye-popping, and side-splitting, tap spectacular to “A Fifth of Beethoven” (a disco cover of “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5,” which, for those readers too young to know, really was a 1976 #1 hit). And the laughs are constant.

Technical director Ben Hegarty and costume designer Lydia Gladstone (also a Broadway veteran, including in the acclaimed Yiddish-language Fiddler on the Roof) complete Disaster!’s transition from rehearsal to stage.

Performances are April 11 at 7:30 (soldout), April 13 at 7:30 p.m. (soldout), and April 14 at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. at Club G. Tickets are $35, purchasable through the Community Synagogue website (commsyn.org/TCS-Theater-Company). All performances are likely to sell out, so the company advises to get them ahead of time.

Disaster!, which Rocco says “manages to make you laugh hysterically while grooving to some of the greatest songs of all time,” certainly is not to be missed.

—Submitted by The Community Synagogue Theater Company

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