Much drama has graced the historic Theatre Three stage over the past half century, but the venue was the scene of an unexpected feat when a flash flood inundated its lower level.

The community theatre in downtown Port Jefferson was swamped with four feet of water during a freak storm Sept. 25, destroying its second stage, cafe, costume shop, workshop, and dressing rooms. But the nonprofit group decided that the show must go on — even before the storm was over.

“We just kept auditioning because it was the safest place for the kids to be, upstairs,” Jeffrey Sanzel, executive artistic director at Theatre Three, told Port Jeff Pulse. “We got cleaned up and we opened that Friday night with The Addams Family.

The theatre typically presents a wide range of performances through its Mainstage, Second Stage, Cabaret and Children’s Theatre productions. It also hosts Friday Night Face Off, Long Island’s longest-running improv troupe, as well as its Dramatic Academy, offering three instructional semesters each year, plus a diverse summer concert series.

Established in the 1960s, Theatre Three is among LI’s longest-running community theatres. It’s housed in Athena Hall, a 144-year-old former vaudeville house.

Despite the flood, the theatre is continuing on with its holiday tradition, performing A Christmas Carol for the 35th straight season, Barnaby Saves Christmas for the kids, and its comedy series.

And the outpouring of support including dozens of volunteers who turned up to rebuild and a GoFundMe page that raised nearly $2,000 helped them get back to the business of show biz.

“Theatre Three is a landmark venue here on Long Island,” said comedian Paul Anthony, whose production company, Long Island Comedy, produced a stand-up fundraiser series to help the theatre. “It provides so much cultural value to the community.”

Theatre Three is located at 412 Main St. in  Port Jefferson. It can be reached at 631-928-9100 or

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.