Today’s news:

The Play’s The Thing

Although Laura Wallace-Rhodes, artistic director of the BroadHollow Theatre at Elmont, has been directing one play after another for some time, it's probably fair to say that she's gotten the most pleasure from working with children. Her two most recent efforts at Elmont with the youth of America were "Madeline's Christmas" in December and "The Velveteen Rabbit" in March, and she had a lot of fun.

Broadhollow, a nonprofit corporation, has been teaching and providing theater programs for young people since 1972. Now Laura is launching a summer theater program for young performers who live in Elmont and the surrounding communities, including Queens. This new venture will run from July 28 through Aug. 22, three days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Elmont Memorial Library Theatre. Laura, who can be very convincing, got the library to donate the space.

There's room for 20 kids and a professional staff is all set to go — the only catch is meeting the budget of $16,750. Nassau state Sen. Craig Johnson has already agreed to sponsor a child's tuition of $700, but a lot more help is needed.

So if you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution, have a child you want to get into the program or just would like to learn more about it, give Laura a call at 917-881-6108. She'll be glad to convince you, too.

Speaking of the youth of America, I recently showed up at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Long Island City to see Victoria Pittl perform with her high school class. Victoria stage-managed The Outrageous Fortune Company's recent production of "Regrets Only," after assisting with the previous play, "The Moonlight Room." Her level of maturity, skill and dedication is outstanding, giving me some hope in this season of hope, and encouraging those of us willing to give young people a chance to show what they can do.

The Frank Sinatra School was founded in 2001 by the singer Tony Bennett to honor Frank Sinatra, gone these 10 years. Now located in Long Island City, the school will move in September to a new building in Astoria, near the American Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios. It offers courses in music, fine art, dance and drama, and soon, film — three periods of studio and six of academic work each day.

This column now marks its first year anniversary and I'm still looking for more input from the local theater community. My goal remains to support and promote the often overlooked activities of this vibrant and hardworking group that contributes so much pleasure to the theater-going public. So let me hear from you.

I have avoided reviewing plays that I've attended, but since rules are made to be broken, as I can attest to as an Army veteran and a practicing attorney — well maybe not broken, just bent — let me give a big shout-out, as you kids say, to the Phoenix Players and their most recent production of "Enchanted April."

An ensemble of eight actors was one of the best I've seen, doing complete justice to a lovely romantic comedy. If you missed it, don't let it happen again, 'cause Phoenix continues to demonstrate its superior class. They're in College Point, and best of all in these times of ever-rising gas prices, they're only a bicycle ride away.

Contact Ron Hellman at

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