To the Editor:

A month or so ago, a friend mentioned that the Blue Masques at Riverhead High School were presenting Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights.” I hadn‘t seen a production since the original on Broadway and I wanted to experience the show again. I had seen good high school productions in the past so I quickly purchased tickets before they sold out.

I feel that I need to mention that I‘m a jaded theater-goer. I couldn‘t count the numbers of shows I have seen if you asked me. I‘ve seen far more bad, lackluster and boring productions than I have seen good ones. My standard rule of thumb is that if the intermission is the best part of the production, I make the rest of the night intermission.

When my theater-going companions and I arrived at the Riverhead High School auditorium, we were surprised that the performance was nowhere near sold out. Perhaps the residents of Riverhead knew something we didn‘t.

Imagine our delight, however, when the show began. The opening number was joyous. The performers hit it out of the park. The musicians didn‘t miss a beat. The direction, choreography and music direction were perfect.

The leads were outstanding. Jason Rios, the actor performing the role of Usnavi that night, was brilliant. Sarah Jordan (Nina) was a natural on stage. Hailey Nitti (Vanessa) had a glorious singing voice. In fact, every actor on that stage was great and deserved a standing room only crowd. This was the first time they were performing the show in front of a paying audience and they would only get one more opportunity, at the Sunday matinee, to perform it again.

I’m so thrilled that I got to see the production but am sad that so many Riverhead residents didn‘t get to experience the awesome talent displayed on that stage by students from Riverhead High. I‘m even sadder that I didn‘t get to see the second cast perform the show (I was told that there is so much talent at Riverhead High School that they had two casts).

I wish there was enough interest in the arts in Riverhead — surely there must be — to financially support giving these kids the opportunity to perform for at least two weekends. Maybe it will happen for their next production.

It probably won‘t be long, though, before you will be able to see some of these young actors on Broadway, or on television or in a movie. They were that good. Wouldn‘t it be great to say you were able to see them before they were stars?

The night was magical. Thanks to everyone involved in the production for helping to give the East End community a spectacular evening of theater. I look forward to seeing Riverhead High School‘s stars continue to shine in their next production in November.

Bob Johnson
Flanders

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.