It includes singer-songwriter Roseanne Cash for indie-rock lovers, Rita Wilson for cabaret fans, rock vocalist Lou Gramm of Foreigner, and a whole lot more.
There’s a reason the star-power at Landmark grows increasingly brighter each season. And that’s Landmark’s talented staff, led by Executive Director Sharon Maier-Kennelly.
Maier-Kennelly joined Landmark in 2004 as an interim managing director, filling in after arts-maven Debbi Honorof left for another position.
Maier-Kennelly, a Port Washington mother of three, learned about the spot from her husband who saw a sign at the local Alpers Hardware. Initially hired for her expertise in human resources, Maier-Kennelly became executive director that same year.
“I had to learn a lot really fast,” said Maier-Kennelly, who always loved the arts.
That learning curve came quickly, with a little help from established experts including John Platt, a North Shore resident who serves as communications director and "Sunday Breakfast" host for WFUV Radio.
“She raises the bar every year,” Platt said of Maier-Kennelly, adding that it is her persistence that helps draw returning big acts – Darlene Love, The Smithereens and Raul Malo, to name just a few.
Part of Maier-Kennelly’s role includes introducing artists at the beginning of each show. Initially, “she was very nervous on stage” and read off of a long sheet in her remarks, Platt recalled.
“Now she’s confident – it mirrors her confidence as executive director and programmer,” Platt said.
Landmark’s accommodating staff and fine acoustics are a big draw for performers, Platt said.
“The artists talk to each other – there’s a buzz about the Landmark,” he said.
To book talent, Maier-Kennelly works closely with RJ Production’s agent Rich Aronstein. She collaborates too with like-minded theaters in Mamaroneck and Albany to attract them to the region, making an offer for separate nights over the same weekend to accommodate artists’ schedules. She also discovers talent at APAP/NYC conferences each January.
Major donations enable the Landmark to bring in big names. Case in point: Tony-winner Mandy Patankin (“Homeland” fans know him as Saul Berenson) will bring a night of song with Paul Ford on piano in May.
Landmark evolved from presenting eight shows annually to 37 lined up for the upcoming season to date. Now, its extensive offerings include such categories as Acoustics on Main, World Beat, Fabulous Folk, Roots Rock, comedy – this year includes Paula Poundstone, and Paul Reiser – as well as children’s theater, and more.
New this year is Platt’s “On Your Radar,” introducing some of his favorites artists.
“Landmark shows continue to delight us with quality and variety,” said Landmark board member Kathy Coley. “I know that I will not be disappointed when I attend a Landmark show,”
At the theater’s heart, however, is a sense of community – fitting for a building that also houses a children's center, a parents resource center, affordable senior housing and more. It also served as a home-away-from-home after Hurricane Sandy, where people could recharge.
In November, the Landmark's gala honors Peter Forman, commissioner of Port Washington-Manhasset Office of Emergency Management, who was the voice of comfort to so many post-Sandy. Also honored this year is Kirby Veevers, healthcare program consultant and Eric Rubenstein of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek; and Tai Wang, of Port Washington-based WAC Lighting. The event stars Rita Wilson.
Building on the community theme, when it comes to performances, the staff wants to know what audiences want to see.
Maier-Kennelly “solicits suggestions from the audience at the beginning of our shows,” Coley noted. “She wants to know what will bring them back.”