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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

On Saturday, July 5, Building J on the Western Waterfront was opened to the public for a free concert of classical music played by talented youth in the Oyster Bay Music Festival. The acoustics in the large metal shed were lively as the backdrop of the Ida May, a wooden oyster dredge under construction, lent artisanal flavor to the rich stew of mostly sea-related musical selections. People sat on stacks and benches of freshly milled wood or stood in the cavernous space. They soaked in beautiful solos, duets and trios that combined voice, piano, flute, cello and violin. Frank M Flower & Sons provided fresh oysters that engaged the palate, and representatives from Steinway & Sons gave a quick overview of how their pianos are made, relating several aspects of their meticulous process to the construction of the Ida May.

Last week was one of Oyster Bay’s biggest, most anticipated summer events, the Italian American Society’s St. Rocco’s Festival. Returning to its usually spot in Fireman’s Field on Shore Avenue, the festival was filled with amusement rides, live music, and great food and company.

“We come every year to St. Rocco’s with friends,” said Laura Regan of East Norwich. “The rides and awesome food make it a lot of fun.”


Sports

Oakcliff’s intensive training program provided a high level of competition last weekend at the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship in Oyster Bay.

This year, the teams selected for the event were highly ranked through the United States, and several of the competitors are past and current Oakcliff trainees, including Elizabeth Shaw, Kathryn Shiber, Madeline Gill, and Danielle Gallo.

A total of 11 members of St. Dominic Track Team (grades 1-8) recently medaled at the Nassau-Suffolk CYO Championship Finals at Mitchel Field. In the finals, the athletes competed against the finalists from all three regions, representing more than 2,500 athletes from 23 other parishes.

In addition to the student athletes’ success, the track coaches were honored as well. St. Dominic CYO Track coaches Phil Schade (grades 1-3), Julie and Mike Keffer (grades 4-6) and Rich Cameron (grades 7-8) were selected by peer coaches in their region for the NSCYO Team Sportsmanship Award. The Saint Dominic CYO track program, in its second year, has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with and the young runners are among the best on Long Island.


Calendar

OB Band Concerts

Wednesday, July 23

Music Under The Stars

Friday, July 25

Annual Chicken BBQ

Saturday, July 26



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