Friends of the Arts saved school's musicals

The cast rehearses for ?Bye Bye Birdie,? presented The cast rehearses for “Bye Bye Birdie,” presented in April this year with volunteer support. (March 29, 2013) Photo Credit: Cathy Meinhold

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The goal of the nonprofit Community Library Friends of the Arts is to make the arts accessible, affordable and fun, and to provide high-quality cultural activities for the Moriches-Mastic-Shirley communities. It "offers something for every taste," the website says.

So the Friends -- an affiliate of the Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library -- awarded the $4,000 grant that helped continue the tradition of presenting Broadway musicals in the William Floyd School District.

"Seussical the Musical" and "Bye Bye Birdie," the two musicals coproduced by Shirley residents April Franzino and Cathy Meinhold, were the latest among dozens of popular Broadway musicals performed by district students at the high school since around the 1960s. Others include "Fiddler on the Roof," "The Wiz," "42nd Street" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

Tara D'Amato, the Friends' executive director and a William Floyd alumna, saw the shows Meinhold and Franzino coproduced.

"I was just happy to see how professional the productions were," she said. "We plan on giving them another grant as needed in the future or other assistance, and we hope to get other community groups involved in different ways."

D'Amato added that she would like to see that help come in the form of "more adult involvement with building sets or costumes or just working in the production."

The Friends group, based in Shirley, offers tax-deductible memberships. Its website is friends-arts.org, or call: 631-399-1511.

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