A musical for Mattituck

Mattituck High School seniors Marissa Russo, Colin Keil and Becca Mincieli have been pushing the school to stage a musical. They may get their wish this winter.

Conrad Birdie never sang his way out of the Army on Mattituck High School’s stage. Eliza Doolittle never learned to speak proper English in an after-school production there. And Rodgers and Hammerstein’s epic productions haven’t been staged in the school auditorium in generations.

Many members of this year’s senior class at Mattituck have been aching to stage a musical since they were in junior high — and this year, they may finally get their wish.

Student Marissa Russo, who is about to begin her last year at Mattituck High School, has been petitioning the school board since January to include a musical in the school’s programming this year.

Last spring, the school board added money for a musical to this year’s budget. Her dream got another big boost at the board’s meeting on Aug. 18, when it approved new positions for a musical director and a production technical coordinator. Once the right people are found to fill those jobs, the district will be on its way to seeing musicals on its high school stage.

Ms. Russo was so thrilled by the board’s decision that she went home and immediately created a Facebook page for supporters of a high school musical in Mattituck. By the next morning, the page had more than 100 fans. Within a week, it had more than 200.

“I couldn’t believe how fast it grew,” she said. “It’s so cool to see that people care.”

“There’s never been a full-scale musical in the 21 years I’ve been there,” said district Superintendent Jim McKenna. “There’s always been a play and a junior high play. Scott Verity, the former chorus teacher, did the variety show. Now that we have a bigger pool of teachers and staff willing to get involved, one way or another there will be a musical this year. We’re trying to provide activities for everybody’s taste.”

Currently, the junior high mounts a non-musical production in the fall and the high school does one in the winter, but the high school students have worked with director and English teacher Tom Brennan to move that production to the spring, leaving the winter open for a musical.

Ms. Russo said that she’s waiting for the school to pick a director before the students turn their thoughts to what show they’d like to do. She holds out hope that chorus teacher Jacob Fowle will be chosen for the position.

“So many people have been waiting for so long that I think something with a big cast would be the way to go,” she said of whatever show is eventually selected. “A big ensemble, something like “Grease” or “Bye, Bye Birdie.”

Ms. Russo, who sings in the chorus, dances and has directed the junior high school play since her freshman year at MHS, has inspired a core group of about half a dozen students, mostly seniors, to join her in pushing for the musical.

Seniors Colin Keil and Becca Mincieli are both itching to participate. Ms. Mincieli has been in every play since her freshman year and also acts in North Fork Community Theatre productions. Mr. Keil has performed in one play and worked on all of them as an artist and set designer.

Both said they’d be interested in producing “Grease,” but weren’t sure if they should do it so soon after Greenport’s recent production of the show. Both felt their lack of exposure to musicals in Mattituck made it hard to determine what show they want to do.

“Our class is a musically talented class,” said Ms. Russo, adding that there’s enough interest in musical theater in Mattituck to rival Southold’s acclaimed drama program. “As much as I would love a musical for our class, as long as one class in the future will have the advantage of it, it’s worth it.”

She said that auditions will begin in November. The musical production is tentatively scheduled for the week before the February winter break.

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