The entertainment does not stop when the John W. Engeman Theater of Northport, Long Island is in between shows. For their ongoing concert series this past weekend, the diverse cast included Matthew Hydzik (West Side Story), Anastacia McCleskey (Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert), Clifton Oliver (The Lion King, In The Heights), Catherine Porter (Next To Normal), and Melissa van Der Schyff (Bonnie and Clyde).
Matthew Hydzik starred in the recent revivals of Grease and West Side Story on Broadway and chose some familiar numbers to perform including "Maria" and "Something's Coming". “Maria” received one of the loudest applause of the evening. He also sung the majority of “Sandy” to one of the women in the audience and chose to sing “Almost Like Being In Love” for the rest of his selections.
Playing hooky from Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert to perform at the Engeman, Anastacia McCleskey was fantastic. For her first number, she did a medley from Priscilla where she is currently playing one of the Divas. And diva she was as she commanded the stage and belted “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, “Hot Stuff”, and “I Love The Nightlife”. Anastacia also sang “Try A Little Tenderness” originally done by Otis Redding which got a rousing round of applause. To top off her performances, her selections also included “I Got Love” and “Home”.
Clifton Oliver was sensational with his rendition of "Feeling Good". For his other selections, he chose to sing “Endless Night” from The Lion King, “A Song For You”, and “King Of The World”. For "King Of The World", Clifton explained he and Eugene Gwozdz (Musical Director and pianist) had little practice time with this selection, but they pulled it off like they’ve done it many times before.
The cast performed some little known gems as well. Melissa van Der Schyff beautifully sang “That’s What You Call A Dream” and “You Ought To Be Here With Me”. She also assisted Catherine Porter with a beautiful rendition of "I Know Him So Well”. Additionally, Melissa sang“Walking After Midnight” originally done by Patsy Cline continuing her country theme for the evening.
Catherine Porter also did an excellent job, of course. One of her selections was “I Miss The Mountains” and joked with someone in the audience that they saw Next To Normal 29 times. She also selected “It’s Too Late” originally done by Carole King and “The Winner Takes It All” from Mamma Mia! which was definitely one of the crowd favorites.
In its 20-something incarnations, a concert at the Engeman would not be complete without the team of Eugene and host/producer Stephen DeAngelis. For every show, Stephen hands Eugene an overture to perform, but doesn't tell Eugene what it is beforehand. This time, Stephen's selection was from “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat.” A timely choice as Eugene will be leaving New York for several months to work on that particular show in his native Dallas.
As always, diversity, top notch Broadway talent, and the stunning John W. Engeman Theater make for a wonderful evening in Northport, Long Island.