April 26, 2019

Hurricane Sandy hits high school in Wellesley High School Drama Society’s performance of “By the Water”

Andrew Matejka '19, Features Editor

Sharyn Rothstein’s "By the Water" gives an inside look at a Staten Island family struggling to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Although we are less than a month into 2019, the Wellesley High School Drama Society’s first show, “By the Water” by Sharyn Rothstein, will take the stage in the little theater tonight, January 24, with shows being performed on January 25 and 26 as well. Drama enthusiasts might notice that this is the first time the high school will put on a performance in January, but the cast is excited to try something new.

“The play is in January because we wanted to try to rearrange the schedules for the shows, having this show now instead of in the late spring,” said AJ Masiello ’19, who plays Sal Murphy in “By the Water”. “In its place in the late spring there will be three or four productions of a few student directed plays.”

Sharyn Rothstein wrote “By the Water” in 2014 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastating impact along the East Coast of the United States. The play is set on Staten Island, New York and tells the story of not only rebuilding a home, but rebuilding the Murphy family in the wake of the destructive storm that threatens to drive the family apart. Although the play is not a true story, it is based on real events which is a rarity for the high school’s productions.

“This is the one of very few times WHS has chosen to do a serious piece based off real events, with the most recent similar show being Laramie Project roughly six years ago,” said Keith Robinson ’20 who plays father Marty Murphy. “This show is extremely powerful and accurately portrays a group of people who all live real lives and make mistakes and have flaws.”

Although the play has a noticeably small cast compared to many larger theatre productions, Masiello believes this helps make the relationships portrayed on stage much more realistic.

“Having a smaller cast to work with is a great opportunity, and allows the cast to have a really tight bond with each other,” said Masiello. “Having a bigger cast is usually more difficult just because there are so many people to keep track of, so the smaller cast works better [for this play].”

Sofia Ko ’19, who plays mother Mary Murphy, agrees wholeheartedly with Masiello that a smaller cast is actually easier to work with.

“It makes the challenges we have to tackle a lot easier with such a small cast. It’s an intimate process with only seven of us and it makes it easier for the process to go on a lot faster and more efficiently,” Ko said. “I think it puts people on the spot more which may put some stress on a person when they mess up, but it motivates you to fix it quicker.”

Ko thinks that it’s important for people to come see the play because the high school has not performed a contemporary drama in so long, and because the play has the power to change a viewer’s perspective on a natural disaster that hit close to home.

“I would tell someone to come see this play because it puts you in the shoes of those struck by Hurricane Sandy. It’s different seeing natural disasters like this on the news or TV, and then being able to forget about it because it’s not you who’s affected,” Ko said. “This could happen to anyone, and I think this show reminds people to be grateful of what they have because it could disappear in a second like it did for so many during the storm.”

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