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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

A lot of people think that our world would be better off without all of the insects in it. Not so, according to Lois Lindberg, volunteer naturalist at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. Lindberg and fellow naturalist Wendy Albin gave a presentation about the importance of butterflies and insects in our ecosystem at the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s former home on Saturday, Aug. 23, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

“Butterflies and other insects are very important in nature,” said Lindberg. “People see bees, wasps and ants and other insects as pests, but they actually contribute to our ecosystem by each doing their own unique job. They pollinate the flowers and fruits and without them we would not be able to eat a lot of the stuff we eat every day.”

Building J at Oyster Bay’s Western Waterfront is again up and running as the Ida May Project builds the 40-passenger oyster boat that will be operated by the WaterFront Center. The Ida May Project of the Christeen Oyster Sloop Preservation Corp. is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to preserve Oyster Bay maritime heritage by involving the community in traditional boat building.

Bill Shephard, Herb Scheirhorst, President Clint Smith and Project Manager Hank Tiska were there on a recent Thursday. Smith had left at around 2 p.m. to get a part he had at home they needed to fix the tractor they use to move the logs they cut to size in their saw mill. Fixing their equipment and cutting logs are some of the many projects that encompass the work.


Sports

Picture-perfect weather was on board for the Mill Neck Family of Organizations’ Third Annual Sail the Sound for Deafness Regatta on Thursday, Aug. 7. The event, featuring an evening race of yachts, followed by a cocktail party, was held to benefit the organization that serves individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have other special needs.

In this year’s race, fifteen sailors took to the waters of Oyster Bay Harbor; three aboard their own boats, others on several boats provided by Oakcliff Sailing Center. The WaterFront Center’s oyster sloop, Christeen and two vessels from Oyster Bay Marine Center, brought a total of 45 spectators out to watch the race.

Kevin Mercier, 39, of Oyster Bay, led a large contingent of local runners in the Lynne, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint 5 Kilometer Run, held on the grounds of Nassau County’s Sands Point Preserve on Saturday morning, Aug. 9. Mercier was the 18th finisher overall and third in the 35-39 age group with a time of  21 minutes, 7 seconds.

Other local runners winning awards at the Sands Point Preserve were Nicholas Cuddy of Oyster Bay, who earned first place honors in the Clydesdale Weight Division with a time of 25:53, Joanne Gallo of Oyster Bay, who  took home the first place award in the women’s 65-69 age group with a time of 28:11, and Anja Hermann of Oyster Bay, third place woman in the 20-24 age group, who finished in 28:47.


Calendar

Movie at the Library

Thursday, August 28

Sagamore Hill Walk

Saturday, August 30

Hooks and Needles

Tuesday, September 2



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