By Jeb Ladouceur
Once again this year, theater on Long Island was dominated by Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, and the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, each organization having received multiple ‘Encore’ Awards for musicals. The Engeman took home four ‘Encores’ … two for an impressive ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ (Best Actor and top Costume Design), won for Best Child Actor, in ‘Gypsy,’ and a well-deserved Supporting Actor salute.
Best Child Actor
There is nothing more adorable than a child actor … unless it’s a child actor who can sing and dance. Kyla Carter is a professional singer, actress, dancer, model and voice-over artist … and now she can lay claim to the title ‘Encore’ Award winner for excellence in Long Island theater. The 11-year-old’s bouncy rendition of ‘May We Entertain You’got The Engeman’s ‘Gypsy’ off to a toe-tapping start this fall, and the appreciative audience couldn’t wait for more.
Kyla Carter (center) – ‘Gypsy’
By Laura DeMarco, The Plain Dealer
It stars a smooth David Elder as Bob Wallace, the straight man of the duo; Jeremy Benton as zany Phil Davis; stunning Kerry Conte as a sultry, smoky voiced Betty and bubbly Kelly Sheehan as her sister, a knock-out tapper. Lorna Luft adds broad humor as concierge Martha, and TV vet Conrad John Shuck is an appropriately stoic general. Young Kyla Carter as Susan Waverly was a revelation to the audience, and Bob and Phil, with her pipes and footwork.
By Mira Temkin
Kudos to Lorna Luft as Martha Watson and Kyla Carter as granddaughter Susan, the little girl with the big voice for their over-the-top performances.
By Katina Beniaris
Among other characters worth noting is housekeeper Martha Watson played by Lorna Luft (a.k.a Judy Garland's daughter) who doesn't fail to make the audience laugh with her antics as she tries to protect the General, making them a great pair, and she relives her musical days with a her solo “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy."
The General's granddaughter, Susan (played by Kyla Carter on opening night), steals the show with a reprise of “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy" as she uses a powerhouse voice to wow the audience.
Ms. Carter was impressive when she reprised "Let Me Sing and I’m Happy". It must have been a bit intimidating to be performing the number in front of Lorna Luft just minutes after Ms. Luft had sung it, but Ms. Carter was poised and powerful.