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A Hit Play for Two Huntington Alums

Two Huntington High School alums have a hit on their hands. Dan Fingerman's original full-length play, "The Austerity of Hope" recently ran to great reviews in a New York City international summer festival. The work was produced by fellow Class of 2000 member Elyssa Rabinowitz. The pair has been good friends for many years.

Four performances of the play ran at the Barrow Group Theatre in Manhattan during the recent festival. The play follows a group of young gay people in Astoria as they witness the historic presidential campaign and election of Barack Obama in 2008.

The inspiration for the play came from a work Mr. Fingerman had earlier seen. "I had been trying to write a play for many years, but it never worked," he said. "Then one night, I went to see a play about young gay people of my generation. It was great, but the characters were not representative of the people I knew. That night I mapped out a group of struggling young gay people and how they would react to the incredible events happening during that election and it just worked."

Mr. Fingerman called Ms. Rabinowitz, his lifelong friend, who urged him to keep going knowing that he was writing about very real people during a historic time. "Dan's always been more into politics, but it was impossible not to see, even for me a real historic event occurring."

Ms. Rabinowitz's early support for the project was crucial and it kept the playwright moving forward. "This is all very new to me, and to us, but the knowledge that I was navigating it with a close friend gave me the confidence to keep on going when I doubted myself," Mr. Fingerman said.

The Huntington grads took on the project in addition to their regular full time jobs. Ms. Rabinowitz works as an operations manager for Central Parking System, a national leader in professional parking management, running 26 separate Manhattan properties. Mr. Fingerman is an office manager for academic publisher Guilford Publications.

"It's a lot of work doing this in addition to working a full-time job, but it's a piece we're both passionate about so we make it work" Ms. Rabinowitz said.

"We're on such different schedules," Mr. Fingerman said about himself and his fellow Huntington alum. "I'll send an email at 1 a.m. and our director (Dan Dinero) will respond at 4 a.m. and Elyssa will respond at 6 a.m. We're a 24/7 operation."

The former Huntington classmates have been friends "since before we were born" Ms. Rabinowitz said. Following her high school graduation, Ms. Rabinowitz earned a degree from West Chester University while Mr. Fingerman graduated from the University at Albany.

The two alums fondly recall their time at Huntington High School. "We were typical theatre dorks living in a pre-Glee age" Mr. Fingerman. If they ever gave any thought to skipping school it would be to go see a Broadway show rather than do anything "bad."

Ms. Rabinowitz and Mr. Fingerman continue to have strong ties to their alma mater. Ms. Rabinowitz's siblings are both Huntington graduates and her mother Sandy has been a clerical worker in the music department for many years. Mr. Fingerman's mother Gale Miller is also a graduate, as is his brother and various cousins.

"I remember when I graduated, we were taking pictures with my family and someone said 'let's get all the Huntington alums' and three people stepped out of the photo," Mr. Fingerman joked.

The two friends are not sure where exactly their play will lead to. "I almost fell off my chair when I got accepted into this festival, so I'm just taking this day by day," Mr. Fingerman said

"We're having a ton of fun and learning a lot and the play is really terrific, so we'll see what happens," Ms. Rabinowitz said.

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