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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

Driving rain and an early start time did not deter 600 people who arrived at Crest Hollow Country Club recently to celebrate the Women’s Fund of Long Island’s 20th year and to honor four exceptional women.

The breakfast started with a meet and greet and a chance to showcase Women’s Fund contest winner Patti Hogarty, designer of “Women as Bamboo.” Inspired by her neighbor’s bamboo, she entered the contest drawing a design of the bamboo, which Ambalu Jewelers of Roslyn then turned into various pendants of which 40-percent of the profits would go to WFLI. Hogarty wrote a short essay comparing women to bamboo in that they are strong and can weather difficult storms, yet remain graceful and continue to grow sending out new shoots.

Oyster Bay High School Principal Dr. Dennis O’Hara addressed the board of education at Tuesday night’s meeting about offering a summer school program at the high school. It would be the first time the district had a summer school program in more than 12 years.

Dr. O’Hara explained that with the institution of the Common Core state standards, students are faced with a greater level of academic rigor and more challenging coursework. The program would offer remedial and enrichment classes for students both in and out of district.


Sports

In the history of Oyster Bay High School athletics, no one has ever won a Girls’ Tennis New York State Championship. Celeste Matute and Courtney Kowalsky became the first when they won the 2014 New York State Doubles Championship in Latham on Nov. 3. What makes this tremendous achievement even more remarkable is that Matute is a junior and Kowalsky is a sophomore.

The girls, who are usually singles players, teamed up to take on the very best players in Nassau County and New York State. They won all 10 matches in the section XIII and NYSPHSAA tournaments and left Latham as the 2014 New York State doubles champions.

The conditions were as fierce as the competition earlier this month at Oakcliff Sailing’s Halloween Invitational.

Ten teams from the U.S., Canada and Bermuda battled 30-knot-plus winds, heavy rain and biting cold to see who would take top honors at Oakcliff’s final match racing event of the 2014 season.


Calendar

Raingarden Workshop

Wednesday, November 19 & Thursday, November 20

Informative Hospital Talk

November November 20

Opera Night

Sunday, November 23



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