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A Smashing Success In Oyster Bay Theater

As stage managers and crew scurried through the wings at 7:50 p.m. on Friday, April 12, hushed calls of “Thank you ten minutes,” and the hum of the pit band could be heard as the cast and crew of Oyster Bay High School’s production of “Anything Goes,” readied themselves for opening night.  

On one side of the curtain stood the 24-student cast, stage crew and dedicated stage managers Freshman Jasmine Williams and Sophomore Ernie Williams on the other side a teeming audience full of family, friends and teachers.  

A little over two hours later, as the final few notes of the iconic phrase, “Anything Goes,” resound through the Oyster Bay East Norwich Preforming Arts Center, a cast of 24 students stand frozen in their final poses, radiant smiles plastered to each and every face. They are about to witness one of the most magical moments of theater. As one lone man stands in the back of the theater, he is followed by another and another until inexplicitly the whole theater stands to applaud the production. For many this is their first standing ovation.  

Oyster Bay High School’s Performing Arts Center presented their production of “Anything Goes,” a Cole Porter classic on Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 14.  

Opening night, Friday’s evening performance, saw the greatest ticket sales with more than 300 tickets sold and a total revenue of approximately $3,750. At the end of the performance weekend more than 750 people attended the musical totaling sales of over $9,000.  

The one drawback of the ephemeral high school production is its shelf life. Months of preparation are culminated into a mere three performances leaving students with a whirlwind of emotion. What they have spent every spare moment preparing for is suddenly gone. In the wake of this year’s musical though, the cast and crew have been left with only happy memories and enduring friendships.  

“For me the most rewarding part of being in this year’s show was building on the friendships I already had with cast members from past years, but also creating new ones,” said Junior Virginia Kemp.  

“It’s kind of like the Breakfast Club,” said Freshman Mia DiMeo referencing the iconic 1980’s film. “The best part was on Monday we all waved to one another in the halls, laughed, talked about the show. Even though the show was over the “family dynamic” was still there,” she added.  

This year the Fine and Performing Arts Department has seen a multitude of changes under the direction of new supervisor Mr. Peter Rufa.  Rufa brought with him extensive knowledge of the inner working of theater as well as a fervid desire to professionalize this year’s show.  

Following the retirement of long time Mixed Chorus, Chamber Singers and Musical Director Linda Gissinger at the end of the 2011-2012 school year, the musical was in need of a new “stage mommy.” Broadway alumni Amy Dolan Fletcher joined the department as Director, Dance Choreographer and most importantly “stage mommy.”

Described by the cast as “tough but perfect,” Fletcher showed complete dedication from day one.  

“She was incredibly caring for each and every one of us and showed her appreciation for our hard work each and every day,” said Junior Olivia Grady.  

All State Choir Director Stephen Pegano served as vocal coach and “made all the difference,” said sophomore Nathalie Mejia.   

 This year’s musical also took on increased professionalism through the addition of live music. The pit band was composed of student musicians and was directed by Oyster Bay High School Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble Director Matthew Sisia.  

“The live music simply took the show to the next level. It makes the show more lively and fun,” said stagehand freshman Matthew Sapienza.  

The Oyster Bay Community as a whole was astounded by the caliber of this year’s musical.  

PTA member and mother of four, Diane Conway, exclaimed following opening night’s performance, “I never knew Broadway was in my own backyard!”

Cindi Stefano, Oyster Bay faculty and mother of an Oyster Bay alumnus of the class of 2011, said that this year’s performance brought her to tears.

“I simply do not have words to describe how stunning this year’s production was.  The live music took it up a notch, I am the biggest of fans,” she added.  

It has been confirmed that next year Fletcher will return to direct. It has also been confirmed that the pit band will return under the direction of Sisia.  

“With the immense success of this year’s show, I only expect us to get even better in the years to come,” said Rufa.

News

Matt Bentz, of Forest Hills, was the winner of the Oyster Festival Raffle that took place as the event ended at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19. He had a choice between winning a 2015 Chrysler 200 three-year lease or $15,000 in cash. He chose the cash. He is the “Perfect Oyster Festival Raffle winner.”

Bentz is a computer systems administrator with Spa Creek Software, a company that writes software for other software developers, and has been to the festival numerous times over the years; in fact, next year he is hoping to sail here on his 24 ft. sailboat. He got it “reasonably” from a friend who was buying up.

Richie Cannata may be best known for his song credits but his name will become a part of history this week. Cannata, a 28-year resident and business owner of Glen Cove, will be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on Thursday, Oct. 23 at The Paramount in Huntington.

As a member of the Billy Joel Band, the saxophone player was propelled to fame in 1975 when he joined the band and played on songs including “New York State of Mind” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”


Sports

The autumn varsity sports season is well on its way in Oyster Bay. Many young athletes have distinguished themselves. Several fine young athletes excelled right out of the gate and were chosen by the Oyster Bay Hight School coaches as Athletes of the Month for October 2014.

Cross Country Coach Kevin Cotter has athletes who consistently qualify for the states. Picking one to honor is a difficult task. Within this impressive group of talented athletes, one stands out: junior Alex Tosi, who recently broke the 17 minute barrier for a 5K course at Bethpage State park with a time of 16:52. This feat has not been accomplished since 2008.

5- and 6-year-old Peanuts

The Little Generals (Peanuts) stepped out into the cold Sunday morning ready to give the home crowd a show as they battled the Bellmore Braves, and that’s just what they did as the Generals beat the Braves 14-7. The teams battled to a first half tie as the Generals’ touchdown came on a 26-yard run by Kody Gehnrich, thanks to great blocks by John (Jack) Grace and Jack Symanski.

In the second half, where the Generals are usually at their best, the defense shut out the Braves as Rodney Hill, Jr. and Brandon Babel stepped in on the defense line to create a great push to allow Francesco Allocca to make eight tackles. The offense got a big boost with Allocca being allowed to play RB after playing QB the past two games, and boy did he respond behind great lead blocking from Luca Granito. Allocca carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and a TD coming on the last play of the game.


Calendar

Boys & Girls Club Gala

Thursday, October 23

Halloween Party

Saturday, October 25

Property Tax Exemptions Workshop

Tuesday, October 28



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com