Song & Stage

Pierson IB Students Raise $5,000 for Bay Street’s Literature Live! Production of ‘The Great Gatsby’

Juniors and seniors raised funds by producing "13: The Musical" in September.

Students of the International Baccalaureate program at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor led a helping hand to funding Bay Street Theater’s upcoming Literature Live! stage production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby, which begins next month. To do it, the intrepid students worked together to offer a special presentation of 13: The Musical at their school last month.

In order to give back, the group of high schoolers collectively raised $5,000 for the theater by collecting donations, and selling ads and tickets to a cabaret dinner in support of 13: The Musical. The musical production written by Jason Robert Brown about a 13-year-old boy who, after moving from NYC to Indiana, must escape rumors and blackmail in order to make friends and find happiness at his new school, was performed free for the public at Pierson on September 14 and 15.

Pierson is one of fewer than 5,000 schools around the world to offer the International Baccalaureate Program, or IB, which has a set of requirements to further students both academically and within the community. Prior to graduation, the IB program requires students to complete a CAS project—which stands for, Creativity, Action and Service. Students involved in the theater department as well as those seeking to complete their IB program combined their talents this year to create the production for the both the good of the community and to fulfill their CAS project credit.

Considering all aspects of the 13: The Musical production, including directing, producing, fundraising, marketing and costumes, the students were able to assign a position to each participant. Project roles were divided equally among students depending on their capabilities.

Pierson IB students and teachers with $5,000 check for Bay Street Theater
Pierson IB students and teachers, Photo: Franki Sciacchitano

Senior Anna Schiavoni took on responsibilities as both Production Manager and Music Director, while fellow senior Graham DiLorenzo served as producer. Senior Reilly Schombs was made Student Director, senior Thomas Lawton was named Head of Fundraising and senior Ella Knibb served as Head of Sets, Costumes and Props. Pierson junior Eva Doyle orchestrated the choreography, and junior Yanni Bitis was Head of Promotion. Teachers Melissa Luppi and Keith Holden both supervised and helped with producing the show.

Original director, Paula Brannon, who worked with the same group on 13: The Musical five years ago, when the students were in 6th and 7th grade, flew in from California to support their efforts again this year.

Ultimately, the project was a brilliant success, as Bay Street’s Executive Director Tracy Mitchell raved, “We are so honored that the students not only came up with this ambitious theater project, but also did it as a way of benefitting other students through Bay Street’s Literature Live! program. It’s really a full circle project—by contributing to our production, they have enabled even more students from across Long Island to see free live theater. Bravo to them and all of the Pierson staff and the parents who supported them! We are so very grateful.”

Bay Street’s Literature Live! Production of The Great Gatsby, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s celebrated 1925 novel—still a great beach read today—will run from November 8–25 at the theater (1 Bay Street) in Sag Harbor.

Literature Live! is a BOCES-approved Arts-in-Education program featuring plays based on books chosen from schools’ literature curriculum. The productions are supported with teacher-developed lesson plans and reference materials. All performances are 90 minutes, and weekday shows—presented free to visiting middle- and high school-aged students from schools around Long Island—are followed by a question and answer session.

Visit baystreet.org or call the box office at 631-725-9500 for showtimes and ticket info.

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