Elaborate "Aida" Wows Audiences

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For this year’s spring musical, the high school’s Musical Club presented an elaborate production of "Aida,” wowing audiences over three nights in March at the school's Rydzeski Hall. An intimate, epic and timeless tale of love in ancient Egypt, “Aida” was based on the based on the opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The score by Elton John and Tim Rice won both the Grammy and Tony Award.

Aida was played by Alex Bertolini. Michael Robert Krebs played the conflicted Egyptian captain Radames. The role of the heartbreaking princess Amneris was performed by Victoria Tiernan. Roy Anderson portrayed the evil minister Zoser, father of Radames, who employs sinister techniques to gain the Pharaoh’s throne for his son. Kyle Westgate-Addessi played the wily Nubian slave Mereb, who befriends Aida and assists her captured father, Nubian King Amonasro, portrayed by Alexander O’Neill. Michael Kelly made his East Islip stage debuts as the Pharaoh, while Karina Gallagher portrayed the Nubian slave Nehebka.

The talented ensemble cast also included Jenna Anderson, Fiona Ashe, Emily DaSilva, Karina Gallagher, Mikayla Henderson, Mikaela Naccarato and Sarah Powell as the Palace Women; Jake Acocella, Connor Barnes, Marc Espinosa, Richie Hughes, Michael Kelly, Vincenzo Mediate, Alexander O’Neill, Evan Ostrowski and Kyle Ostrowski as the Ministers and Soldiers; and Shequira Ashley, Kayla Cappe, Emily DaSilva, Beth Hillman, Sarah Hillman, Rachel Kuhlman, Emma Mendolia, Jen Nolet, Judy Orellana, Angelina Parisi, Jenni Profera and Sara Rapuzzi as the Nubian Slaves.

Director and club adviser Brad Frey headed the creative team which included choreography by Samantha Berkowitz and imaginative costumes by Jeanine Ecklund; both joined the Music Club this year along with William Lackner, who handled set design and construction direction. Megan Lombardi served as stage manager, assisted by Michael Dondero, who also headed set design. Joanne Pafundi served as assistant stage crew director, backed by Rebecca Kraemer as costume chief. The master carpenters were Tommaso Rotella and Tim Trapanese. Photography was by Sarah Hillman and make-up by Sabrina Frenino. The dance captains were Mikaela Naccarato and Sarah Powell, and on stage wings were managed by Hunter Engrassia and Allison Epstein. The scenic designer and EIMU organizational chief is Jacqueline Motsiff served as scenic designer and top Music Club organizer, while Dr. Robert J. Wottawa II, the district’s art and music director, handled program design.

The pit orchestra, conducted by Frey and assisted by associate conductor and keyboardist Michael Stevens, included drummer Eric Ayala; percussionist Joe Pinz; guitarist Kurt Eide; bassist Joshua Koretz; keyboardist Zachary Schurman; reed players Vincent Harty, Anthony Jinete, Sarah Quinn and Cassidy Triolo; horn player Liam Greene; trumpeter Max Calarco; violinists Sophia Bates, Joe Bauco, Julia DeMaggio, Marcela Gallardo, Victoria Keenan, Kerri Kolensky, Connor Lennon, Caroline Meehan and Katrina Shea; viola players Victoria Goldfader, Elisa Mingo and Isabel O’Neill; and cellists Anthony Cialdella, Emma Elliott, Nicole Humpf and Skylar Pipitone.

“I have been involved with so many fine high school productions, but this one was truly special,” said Frey. “Tim Rice and Elton John teaming up with one of the most passionate love stories ever written is a director’s dream, and I am so proud of the cast and crew for venturing to stage such a popular and difficult musical. They have given me such pride and joy witnessing what they were able to create both on and off the stage, surpassing my wildest expectations. Their talents, resourcefulness, genuineness and spirit are a model for all to follow.”