The (student) body electric
Those in search of renewable energy should plug into the Maine Drama Festival. The first weekend of March results in an annual surge of enthusiasm that seems to bounce off the walls of the nine auditoriums around the state hosting the regional one-act competition.
The Midcoast substation is Oceanside High School East, 400 Broadway in Rockland, which will host nine schools, divided between the festival’s two classes. Sponsored by the Maine Principals’ Association, the Maine Drama Festival splits schools into two classes based on population; this year, schools with 525 students or more are in the larger Class A.
More than 2,500 Maine high school students from 79 high schools will compete in the 83rd annual Maine Drama Festival. All but two of the area’s participating high schools will compete at the Midcoast Regional in Rockland. Searsport District High School and Thorndike’s Mount View High School will take their shows to the all-Class B Eastern Regional at Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor.
Programs of several plays each will be presented Friday night, March 7; and Saturday afternoon and night, March 8, at each site. Oceanside’s session start times are 6 p.m. and noon, while MDI’s are 7 p.m. and noon. Admission each session is $8 for adults and $5 for students.
The contest has strict rules around time and other factors, and audience members have a few to mind as well. There is a break between each one-act play, but when the door closes for a performance it stays closed until the play is over, barring an emergency. And the order of plays can change occasionally.
OHS’ “The Neverending Story”
Midcoast Regional host Oceanside has chosen a challenging piece, authorized by Verlag fur Kindertheater Uwe, Weitendorf, Hamburg, Germany, to close the regional. “The Neverending Story (Atreyu and The Great Quest)” is a one-act adaptation by David S. Craig of the novel by Michael Ende.
“We chose this show for its many technical and artistic challenges,” said director Alison Machaiek noting the show involves music, lighting, movement and special makeup, as well as “creature construction.”
The story begins when a young boy, Bastian, played by Kaleb Robinson, is bullied and hides in his school’s attic, where he discovers a curious book of a tale that comes to life. Fantastica, a land of stories, is being destroyed by The Nothing, represented ensemble by Kasey Buretta, Preston Spear, Zachary Roman, Riley Pillsbury, Zachary Dean, Samantha Calamari, Alden Mason and Grace Carias. The childlike Empress (Cortney Simmons) has chosen a Atreyu (Cole Chase), a young hunter to be the hero of the Great Quest. He is joined by his horse and companion Artax (Jebediah Fontaine). Atreyu faces Ygrummul the Many (Payton Billingsley) and her offspring (Molly Tobin and Sadie Bartlett). He is befriended by Falkor, the Luck Dragon (James Nguyen); and rescued by the wacky Engywooks (Nick Mahar, Jacquelyn Thorbjornson, Curran Grant and Anthony Dayboch).
Atreyu must seek the advice of The Southern Oracles, Uyulala (Kaila Harris joined by Jordan Carpenter and Rachel Johnson). Atreyu finally faces Fantastica’s most dangerous villain, Gmork the werewolf (Jason Lund) and the story rushes to a triumphant conclusion. Rounding out the large cast are Ben Young, Ashley Tyler, Sadie Lake, Kali McGuirl, Trenton Jarret, Chanel Courant and Chloe Finger.
Musicians include Nicholas Barrett, Emily Protheroe, Ryan Calamari and Krissandra MchNichol. Lighting is designed and operated by Philip Reinhardt. David Johanson is Technical Director and his crew includes Ross Alex, JT Tobin, Sean Grace, Evan Billington, Abby Hersom, Kelsey Lawry, RJ Hall, Philip Reinhardt, Justin Robinson, Brian Haskell, Jenny Carter, Kalyn Grover, Becca Boggs and Abbey Laccasse.
Medomak Valley serves ‘Dinner’
Waldoboro’s Medomak Valley High School will open the Midcoast Regional with "Dinner With the MacGuffins," a comedy of paranoia by Chris Sheppard and Jeff Grove. A teen brings his girlfriend home after school; finding no one there, they ditch homework for more, well, personal research. But they have company after all … and not just the family.
Student Jeannie Trueman directs a cast that features Kaitlyn Hanson, Kevin Donlin, Antyna Gould, Jacob Siegel, Josh Beckett, Aaron Smeltzer, Chelcie Luce and Christiane Wadsworth. The student production staff is rounded out by Bailey McCaffery, stage management; Tekia Cox and Meredith Laliberte, lights; Duncan MacLeod, sound; and Cayla DeMaria, costumes and makeup. Adults involved in the production are Susan Jones, assistant director; Matthew Kopishke, technical director; and Bethany Fontaine, makeup.
North Haven’s ‘Overtones’
Maine’s smallest K-12 school may not be able to muster the masses but always manages to bring something interesting to the fest. This year’s entry is “Overtones” by Alice Gerstenberg, which director Courtney Naliboff describes as “a parlor piece with a psychological twist.”
The cast stars Adrianna Ames as Harriet, Natalie Carrier as Hetty, Gina MacDonald as Margaret and Maddie Hallowell as Maggie. Tristan Carrier is handling lights and sound. Ashlynn Ames is doing costumes, assisted by Samantha Sparhawk.
The one-act is North Haven Community School music/drama/English teacher Naliboff’s last show for awhile as she is headed towards a maternity break; she has directed almost three dozen productions in the last eight years.
The other Midcoast school shows were previewed last week in the stories linked below. At MDI, Mount View is scheduled for the second afternoon slot Saturday (approximately 1 p.m.) and Searsport for that evening’s second slot (approximately 8 p.m.) For the full Eastern Regional schedule, visit mdidrama.org.
The Midcoast Regional schedule is as follows.
Friday, 6 p.m.: Medomak Valley High School’s “Dinner with the MacGuffins” (Class A); Wiscasset High School’s “Women of Troy” (Class B); and Belfast Area High School’s “The Beggar’s Opera” (Class A).
Saturday, noon: Freeport High School’s "Unhappily Ever After” (Class B); Ellsworth High School’s “The Odyssey” (Class A); and North Haven Community School’s “Overtones” (Class B).
Saturday, 6 p.m.: Camden Hills Regional High School’s “Something’s Rotten in The State of Denmark” (A); Oceanside High School’s “The Neverending Story” (Class A); and Lincoln Academy’s “Macbeth” (Class B).
Winners will be chosen at each regional to go ahead to the finals, which will take place Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22. Camden Hills will host the Class A finals and Yarmouth High School the Class B finals.
Regional winners and judges awards will be posted Sunday, March 9, on the Maine Drama Festival website and on VillageSoup.
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for more than 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.