Courtesy Island Park Theatre Group
Cast members of Island Park Theatre Group's "Smokey Joe's Cafe" are happy to be back in rehearsals.
The show’s assistant director Marti DiPaola said that she had relatively minimal damage to her home in Long Beach (she lost her roof) but recently got a notice that she’s been dropped by her insurance company for living in a high-risk area. “Doing the show … it’s like getting family back together,” she said, adding that the cast rallied with costumes and even everyday clothes for each other after the hurricane. “Now, there is more of a sense of taking care of one another.”
Andrew Upbin, of Island Park, in the show with his 10-year-old son, Ben, is seasoned community theater actor. “The night of the storm, my landlord, Charlie Borsellino, came and got me and my kids (his wife, Susan, is a nurse and was working at South Nassau Communities Hospital at the time). “By 2 p.m. the day of the storm, the water was not receding, and I didn’t know where it would go once the storm hit full force. “Charlie met me on a road that was still passable, while I carried my 75-pound dog on my shoulders, and brought me to his house in Baldwin. When he went back [to Island Park] he said that everything was devastated. “We lost clothes, furniture, toys … there was nothing left except for some of my daughter’s clothes (Upbin’s daughter, Sydney, is 14). “We had what we were wearing — my wife had on her hospital scrubs.” The Upbins ended up staying in an upstairs apartment at Borsellino’s until mid-February. Father and son are in “Neighborhood,” “Saved,” “and “Stand by Me” together, as well as appearing in other numbers together and individually.
‘Stand by Me’
During their forced hiatus, the cast gathered together for two fundraisers at Volcano’s Burgers & Salads in Oceanside and M’s Family Restaurant in Island Park to raise money and, Rubin-Perry said, “to help keep our spirits up. Needless to say, we were all very disappointed and depressed, and those did a lot to keep our morale up.”