Finding Connection and Community in the Music of the Night
Riverhead’s Blue Masques Theater Group Explores Bonds Between Audience and Performers
RIVERHEAD, NEW YORK (AUGUST 2022) — At a recent Jamesport Farm Brewery show, the Riverhead community was dazzled by a performance of the Riverhead High School Blue Masques. Along with alumni and friends, the Blue Masques staged a revolutionary show called Between You & Me, a night of musical performance that pierced theater’s fourth wall by exploring the connections we make, break and learn to live with. Between You & Me used the lack of a stage which offered close proximity to the audience to give performers the opportunity to tell stories and converse intimately with the audience about what makes us who we are, all using music as the medium.
The show kicked off with a spectacular rendition of “What’s Inside/Opening Up” from the Tony- and Grammy-nominated Waitress. Additional crowd favorites included “Ex-Wives” from SIX: The Musical, “Welcome to the Rock” from Come from Away, and “Two by Two” from The Book of Mormon. The night ended with a rousing delivery of “Relativity” from Theory of Relativity.
One highlight of the show was how the performance produced bonds among cast members, other local organizations and artists. Between You & Me was conceived as a way to maintain the connection between students interested in theater year-round and nurture this interest into a performance that speaks to the community as well.
“After losing a year for COVID—then having a wonderful year with Tenny Award-winning performances, like A Bronx Tale and The SpongeBob Musical—the kids just weren’t done yet,” said director Laura Nitti. “They wanted to keep going. We thought it would be fun to do a summer show and invite alumni and friends to perform.”
Incoming Riverhead High School sophomore Ayla Fideli was eager to participate, saying that the show “brings me close to my friends.” Rose Green, a rising Riverhead High School junior, agreed that it was a wonderful way to engage with her love for performance and spend time with friends. The show even brought family together. “I wanted to be a part of the show because I love being able to perform with such a talented group of people,” said Ashleigh Rubino, a 2017 Riverhead High School graduate. “Being a part of this show is special because I get to perform with my little sister, Avery!”
Performers invited others in the community to join the memorable experience. The North Fork Country Kids Animal Rescue and the Rescue Vixens, nonprofit animal advocacy organizations, were invited to engage with the audience as well. Attendees were able to meet and greet adoptable pets and fill out applications at the event. Several kittens have already been adopted!
Both nights of Between You & Me were followed by local artists utilizing music to further the theme of connection. On August 2, the Jay Shepard Band performed, and August 3 featured a performance by Riverhead High School alum Chloe Halpin with Crystal Crespo, who is the teacher of the Riverhead Middle School Band and Riverhead High School Jazz Band, as well as the Blue Masques pit director.
Between You & Me used a night of music and community to demonstrate the continued importance and power of connection, especially during times that seem determined to block it. The full cast list can be found below, and additional photos are on the Riverhead CSD Facebook.
Ethan Caskie, Riverhead High School (RHS) Grade 11
Annabelle Cressy, Center Moriches Class of 2022
Gabriella Davis, Center Moriches Class of 2022
Ayla Fideli, RHS Grade 10
Rose Green, RHS Grade 11
Erin Hubbard, RHS Grade 10
Kathleen Kelly, Center Moriches Class of 2022
Georgia Kuzmech, Center Moriches Grade 11
Jesse Meehan, RHS Class of 2022
Cruz Mendez, RHS Class of 2022
Cheyanne Metzger, RHS Grade 10
Hailey Nitti, RHS Class of 2020
Matthew Nitti, RHS Class of 2022
Kyle Oak, RHS Class of 2016
Jocelyn Podlas, RHS Class of 2020
Joseph Podlas, RHS Class of 2022
Lesley Rivas, RHS Grade 11
Alex Rivas, RHS Class of 2022
Avery Rubino, RHS Grade 12
Ashleigh Rubino, RHS Class of 2016
Kelsey Saladino, RHS Grade 11
Jacob Schiavone, RHS Class of 2022
Ava Sidik, RHS Grade 12
Brianna Tapia, RHS Class of 2022
Kathryn Thompson, RHS Grade 12
Sydney Thorp, RHS Class of 2022
Dana Treadwell, RHS Class of 2021
Philip Tucci, RHS Grade 12