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Manhasset Artists Take Center Stage

A stage comedy, The Duchess of The Dakota, written by Manhasset playwright Denis McKeown and featuring Manhasset actors, was performed Sunday, Dec. 6 at the Manhasset Arts and Cultural Center, housed in the Parish House of Christ Church—an architectural treasure.

Enthusiastically received by the audience, the performance, with a reception afterward, was a fundraiser for the center.

“We are trying to invent a community atmosphere in which the arts can flourish for young and old in Manhasset,” said McKeown, who is working to establish himself as a playwright to watch, both on and off-Broadway.

The comedy, set in the landmark Manhattan apartment building The Dakota, tells the humorous tale of a Manhasset family moving into the city. The one-act play was first performed in 2005 at Manhattan’s Theatre Studio, Inc., as part of a process to prepare it for commercial presentation. “Inspired by the support of Manhasset and the arts center, I’m now writing the second act,” said McKeown.

“The Manhasset Arts and Cultural Center has been a dream for a long time—and it is wonderful to watch it develop,” said Ida Corvino Miletich, who, along with David Paterson, an established playwright and screenwriter, founded the Manhasset Arts and Cultural Center, Inc.

The not-for-profit MACC, which organizes programs and classes at the Parish House, follows a long tradition of using the auditorium for the arts. Over the years, the “Collegiate Gothic” style building has hosted a dance studio, amateur theatrical productions, and several movie shoots. Today, it also is the home of the Children’s Orchestra Society. The preservation of this historic property is a priority of MACC.

Town Clerk of North Hempstead Leslie Gross attended the performance and emphasized that the further development of the center is important to Manhasset and the surrounding communities.

“This terrific performance shows the talent in the Manhasset area and what we can do together,” Ms. Corvino Miletich said at the reception following the performance. “We have so much potential, and the arts are vital. So we ask our neighbors to find out more about us, visit our website, and get involved.” The website is www.mymacc.org.

Helen Halpin McCarney, Ms. Senior America 2005, played the Duchess and underscored the need for community involvement. “This is a great project, a great community asset,” she said. “We are looking for more people to come forward and help make this wonderful dream a reality.” Other cast members were: Nina Carlin, as the maid; Eugenia Kelly-Viner, director, also played the mother; Brian Viner, as the father; and Bethany McNamara, as the daughter. A slide show with images of The Dakota, created by Norman Nemec, North Shore Architecture and Interiors, preceded the performance.