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OBHS Musical Rises Above Challenges

 

Faced with new challenges due to the pandemic, Oyster Bay High School’s Fine and Performing Arts Department replaced the live stage with livestreamed performances when they presented the musical Songs for a New World, March 12-14.

The musical, composed by Jason Robert Brown, consists of a diverse group of storytellers who take hold of a moment in their lives when they have to make a choice or take a stand. Scenes range from a young Bronx man dreaming of becoming a baseball player to an angry Mrs. Claus expressing her frustration of being neglected at Christmastime.

“All of the songs are connected by the theme of finding support and hope in uncertain times, which seems to be fitting at this time for our students, staff, and audience,” said Ms. Teriann Chiappardi, Director and Choreographer of the show.

“I’m so proud of how our students were able to adapt and really take on the experience of this year,” she said, noting the obstacles involved in producing a show during a pandemic. “Never before have students had to perform with a mask or tell a story 12 feet apart and yet these students have risen to the occasion and were solution makers and problem solvers throughout the process.”

”Our students were very clever about altering scenes to adhere to health and safety protocols,” explained Mr. Anthony Femino, Fine and Performing Arts Supervisor and Producer of the show. “In one scene two characters were supposed to hug, but instead, students suggested that they gesture towards each other while still apart and then have the lights fade to black, leaving the hug to the audience’s imagination. In addition to altering scenes we extended the stage so the cast could spread out; the pit orchestra was spread out in the aisles of the auditorium; we were very mindful of all health and safety protocols every step of the way.”

Many thanks go out to Ms. Maria Randazzo, Assistant Producer and Stage Crew Director, Mr. Michael Lamendola, Vocal Director, Ms. Brenda Murphy, Conductor, Glen Scott Designs, sound/lighting design, and Varsity Media, livestreaming service for their contributions to the success of the show.

Congratulations go out to the entire cast, orchestra, and crew.  Cast members included Franchesca Alejo, Ava Aschettino, Riley Baehr, Simran Chhabra, Jaiya Chetram, Grace Curry, Omar Figueroa, Scarlett Fredrickson, Muskan Kumar, Michaela Lester, Samuel Lingen, Brooklyn Matt, Ella Reardon-Rizzo, Paige Sweeney, Lauren Swezey, Finn Trotman, and Nicole Walsh.

Orchestra members included Jillian Haguisan on flute, Maia DiFiglia on clarinet, Neal Mehta on baritone saxophone, Kevin Biggiani on trombone, Mr. Tom Rizzuto on guitar, Mr. Anthony Femino on keyboard, Sophie Grady on percussion, Jack DiFiglia on drums, and Mr. Alex Gallina on bass.

Set design and stage crew consisted of Stage Managers Rebecca Keller and Maria McKevitt, and set artists and stage crew members Skye Kjono, Omek Kumar, Ella Lingen, Dakota Matt, Jillian (Milo) Pascucci, and John Purcell.  

Special thanks to Paige Sweeney for designing the publicity poster and playbook cover.

 “I am so proud of the talent, the teamwork and the ingenuity of our students and staff who rose above extraordinary challenges to bring this amazing show to audiences,” added Mr. Femino. “Through this experience, our students have learned skills that they will apply not only to the theater but to their daily lives well beyond their years here at Oyster Bay High School.”