2014 0426 aprons

There’s something about living here in Riverhead. There is a sort of connection between us that somehow maintains the feeling of small town living even as our town grows and grows.

Take the Apron Strings Project, for example. This upcoming original stage production has its roots firmly planted in Riverhead and will have its debut right down the street from where it all started.

It began as a colorful vintage apron exhibit, hung on clothesline in the Suffolk Historical Society Museum on Main Street. They were pink and flowered, striped, satin, simple or fancy. And they all seemed to speak of the women who’d once worn them. From there it was just a spark of imagination and a leap of faith to invite playwrights to share what they heard or felt or imagined.

Who knew that apron strings could have such a far reach?

The stories poured in from all over New York. They came from Greenport, Manhattan, Woodstock and around the block. And they came from farther beyond; Massachusetts, the Carolinas, Arizona, Colorado, California.

So many stories of mothers, wives, of babies being born and loved ones passing, came in from New Zealand, from New Jersey, Los Angeles and from around town. It seems that these aprons made anyone who saw them recall or imagine or feel something.

And then the true heart of our town; our friends, neighbors and local businesses, all jumped in to help make this Apron Strings Project something truly special.

The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, the perfect stage for a show flavored with so much history, opened their doors. The Riverhead Business Improvement District stepped in to sponsor, as did Goodale Productions, in support of our creative efforts as well as our beneficiary; The Retreat. East End Arts opened their Carriage House as a beautiful rehearsal space. Riverhead Farmer’s Market regulars North Fork Chocolates and Rosie’s Country Baking pledged special confections to offer during intermissions. And Riverhead’s newest restaurant and nightspot, Joe’s Garage, agreed to host our Private Opening Night party.

Beyond our Riverhead-local supporters, the ties to our hometown reach far and wide. The cast is peppered with East End talent. Beloved Riverhead school district teachers, talented alumni and some of our favorite local performers will bring these stories to life. We even have a few ‘new to the east end’ but not the stage and one making his stage debut.

And then there are those returning to their Riverhead roots. Joann Kobylenski Vollmer is coming home to perform a narrative she wrote about her grandmother, Jozefa, who emigrated from Poland and started a local vegetable stand in the early 1900’s. Jeffrey Fischer-Smith, now an award-winning playwright on the west coast, is heading back to see his play ‘Reservations’ on stage. Both are RHS graduates who have gone on to creative and productive lives and are now further connected through apron strings.

And then there’s Esther Almazan. Esther’s never shopped our Farmer’s Market, never visited East End Arts, and hasn’t yet been inside the Vail-Leavitt, because Esther lives in Tucson. But the scene she was inspired to write, a loving letter to a sister, is part of Act 2. So Esther’s flying from Arizona to Riverhead to see it performed. She’s going to love seeing in on stage.

And I’m pretty sure that she’s going to love Riverhead.

The Apron Strings Project premieres at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall with three performances: Friday, May 2nd at 8pm. Saturday May 3rd at 8pm and Sunday, May 4th at 3pm. Tickets available at The Apron Strings Project website or at the door before each show.


Cindy Clifford, co-host of the WALK Breakfast Club morning radio show on WALK 97.5 FM, voice-over artist and writer, conceived The Apron Strings Project with Diane Schwindt, Debbie Slevin, Diane Tucci and Megan Heckman. She lives in Riverhead.

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