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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

With a general discontent about the view-blocking pedestrian railings recently installed along West Shore Road, the discussion at the Oyster Bay Civic Association meeting on Sept. 18 focused on the possibility of having the road designated as a scenic highway.

This concept was suggested by Gregory Druhak of Centre Island, a regular traveler along West Shore Road, who said, “I believe this is the most scenic drive on Long Island west of the Hamptons, perhaps on all of Long Island itself, and it is not being treated as such. I feel we are being given the Lefferts Boulevard [down by JFK airport] expressway extension instead. For all you can see, it might as well be the Belt Parkway below the fence instead of Oyster Bay. This is wrong.”  

This year you can expect to see the Freedom Schooner Amistad, Connecticut’s flagship, tied up on the Western Waterfront Pier at the Oyster Festival on Oct. 18 and 19. The ship is a Baltimore Clipper that is 129 feet in length and weighs 96 tons. Its home port is New Haven, Conn.

The tall ship visits ports worldwide, as an ambassador for friendship. It serves as a floating classroom, icon and monument to many souls that were broken or lost as the result of the transatlantic slave trade.

The original Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, was made famous in 1839 when 53 African captives (men, women and children) transported from Havana revolted against their captors. The captives gained control of the ship under the leadership of Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque, who commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone. Instead, the ship headed north, landing in Long Island, and was taken into custody by the United States Navy.


Sports

Football season is here and the Oyster Bay-Bayville Generals  held their opening day games on Sept. 14. Here are the results:

5 & 6 Peanuts:

The Peanuts opened the season vs. the Seaford Broncos and came out on the losing end of a hard fought game. The Lil Generals opened the game on offense and quarterback Rodney Hill, Jr. marched the offense down the field and completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Francesco Allocca. Yes, the Peanuts have a potent air attack with Hill Jr. going two for two for 26 yards. The defense played strong with Allocca leading the team in tackles with help on the defensive line from first-year players Dean Wolfe and Anthony Pelchuck.  

Former football coach and NFL player Bill Curry recently brought a wealth of experience, knowledge and history to a wide audience of student-athletes and coaches at Hofstra University for a lesson on diversity, tolerance and respect in high school athletics.

 

Director of the NYS PHSAA Sportsmanship Committee and Manhasset High School Athletic Director Jim Amen Jr. established the summit and invited Curry as keynote speaker.

Amen Jr. and Section VIII Executive Director Nina Van Erk introduced Curry to a crowd representing more than 37 local high schools.


Calendar

Plein Art Exhibit

Wednesday, Oct. 1

College Discussion

Monday, Oct. 6

Collecting Manuscripts

Thursday, Oct. 9



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