Despite a final prep period marked by power outages and school closures, more than 3,000 students from 79 high schools will participate at the 79th Maine Drama Festival regional competitions Friday and Saturday, March 5 and 6. With the exception of Mt. View, which will compete at Skowhegan Area High School, all the Midcoast schools will be at Rockland District High School at 400 Broadway. Each school’s troupe will assemble a theatrical set in five minutes; perform a one-act play in 40 minutes or less; and strike the set in another five minutes. If any element goes over by a second, the school is disqualified, which also happens if any non-students participate in anything aside from setup and strike.

The local schools are competing with a wide range of theatrical works, including two original plays: Mt. View student Jason Fine penned “Grounded,” the Thorndike school’s one-act entry; and North Haven Community School alumnus A.G. Alexander’s “For the Love of Zooey” will be staged with the participation of every single high school student in the small island’s school.

Also prepped and ready to go are Camden Hills Regional High School’s “Tom Jones, A Foundling” by Charlotte Brown; Rockland District High School’s “Wiley and the Hairy Man” by Jack Stokes; Belfast Area High School’s “Don’t Say Macbeth” by Burton Bumgarner; Georges Valley High School’s “My Client Curley” by Norman Corwin; and Searsport District High School’s “Slipping Him the Tongue” by Mark Kenneally.

The annual festival is produced by the Maine Principals’ Association’s Drama Committee and the Maine Drama Council, with Camden Hills’ Rick Ash coordinating. Those attending a Maine Drama Festival session need to be aware that the order of presentations can change and, once a play performance begins, no one may enter or leave the auditorium, except in the case of emergency. Admission at the door is $7 for adults or $4 for students for each session, with all proceeds donated to the MPA.

Schools compete in two classes: Class A is for schools with more than 550 students; and Class B is for those with fewer. The scoring system applies standards-based methods used to grade students in public schools to theatrical performance. Judges use a scale of 1 to 6 to rate how well acting, staging, technical and overall impact standards are met, not met or exceeded.

Two winners, one from each class, will be selected from each regional competition to advance to the state finals, set for Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20. Class A finals will be at Camden Hills in Rockport and Class B finals will be at Yarmouth High School.

Following is information about the Midcoast entries, listed in alphabetical order.

Belfast Area High School

The 40-plus actors and tech crew members of Belfast’s “Don’t Say Macbeth” said they have suffered gamely under the dramatic whips of directors Sonja Richardson and Michael Lawson for more than two months. With the gymnatorium used for basketball and wrestling, it has been challenging to practice. Through John Cameron’s generosity, the band room has become a diner where a student, struggling with homework, learns about Shakespeare and some weird theater superstitions, including why one doesn’t say “Macbeth” on stage. Said student’s education in these matters comes at the hands of (among others) actors, witches, rednecks and English majors who frequent the diner.

Cast members include Tyler Johnstone, Cameron Grant, Dominic Williams, Clare Olson, Renna Smith, Tierra Knight, Liddy Clapp, Catherine Richardson, Nathan Howard, Nelson Maldonado, Brooklyn Curry, Kimberly Gatz, Jessie Henderson, Wes Sterrs, Ellen McDonald, Jennifer Marlowe, Mary Kate Bickford, Kaleb Hills, Kelly Walker, Winston Poole, Rose Hyland, James Knight, Hannah Barrett, Tucker Morehouse, Rachael Kunesh, Taylor Peabody, Aubrey Hersom, Kaylee Pickering, Chelsea Plourde-Saucier and Krisy Kelley. Stagehands are Mike Berry, Joe Clark and Tim Parker; and Marley Inkhen is stage manager.

BAHS will present its Class A one act in the final 6 p.m. session Saturday at RDHS.

Camden Hills Regional High School

Strom Auditorium tech director Rick Ash is directing Camden Hills’ “Tom Jones.” As the Henry Fielding novel is 600 pages long, the story needs a big cast even as a one-act incarnation. Big is not a problem for this school; the tech crew alone has more than 25 student members. The cast features Andy Schlebecker, Kyle Laurita-Bonometti, Mackenzie Gassett, Sean Bardon and Alistair Phaup.

The show includes original music by Sarah Palermo. Expect to see some detailed costume, hair and makeup design as the school had a semester-long residency in the same, thanks to a Youth Arts grant.

Camden Hills will present its Class A entry in the final 6 p.m. session Saturday at RDHS.

Georges Valley High School

GVHS Showcase Theatre will present “My Client Curley,” a fantasia on fame written as a radio play in 1939, directed by community volunteer Camilla Gray and assistant-directed by student Emma Vachon. The story begins with an agent discovering a boy playing a harmonica to his pet caterpillar, Curley, who, well, dances. The agent decides Curley is talented and takes the bug and the boy on as his clients. Soon Curley is a household name but just as a big Disney deal is finalized, Curley disappears.

The cast features Shane Lavoie, Ariana Wadsworth, Charles Baker, Daniel Ackerman, Caitlyn Schessor, Rachel Warner, Kyla Prior, Emma Vachon, Dora Thompson, Henry Hunt, Gabrielle Poor, Hang Zheng and Kyle Robinson, who also serves as stage manager. Other student crew members are Gordon Armstrong, lighting, and Zach Marvin, sound; while community and parent volunteers include George Emery and Cory Honkonen.

GVHS will present its Class B one act during the opening 6 p.m. Friday session at RDHS.

Medomak Valley High School

The Medomak Valley Players will compete with a festival favorite, “Cut” by Ed Monk. Set in a community theater, “Cut” takes a group of actors rehearsing a play within a play through a meta maze of confusion. The cast features Annika Metcalf, Brandon Poli, Ike Morin, Ashley Cushman, Ivy Gardner, Brynna Skov, Amber Massicotte, Jon Dailey, Carla White, Alex Murphy, Johnny Trueman, Hannah Vail, Hillia Aho, Laura Beal and Michael Gillman.

Students on the tech crew are Suzanne Rourke (lights), Keely Walsh (sound), Emily Sirianni (stage manager) and Wyatt Porter, Molly Parent, Haley Turner, Greta Brown, Michael Gillman, Kevin Mackie, Gwen Moiles, Ben Paxson, Sophie Berger, Haley Turner and Roxanne Jelenfy.

Faculty member Steve Gleason directs, assisted by community member Lynn Lackoff; faculty member Ken Martin is technical director and community volunteer Deborah Smith handles the costumes.

MVHS will present its Class A entry in the noon Saturday session at RDHS.

Mt. View High School

Mt. View is competing with an original one-act play written by senior Jason Fine, who also is directing. “Grounded,” Fine’s first attempt at play writing, is about a group of passengers on a plane waiting for takeoff. As they are waiting, there are problems with the plane; they end up having to disembark to change to a new one. Meanwhile there are conflicts between the passengers: a business man is afraid to fly; a couple tries to hook up in the back of the plane; a mother and her daughter are flying for the first time; and more. The cast includes Lydia Leclerc, Zach Shedyak, Anna Piotti, Delainey Kein, Rachel Heard, Wendy Gibbs, Colby Hinson, Amanda Larrabee, Megan Morton, Sara Morton, Maggie Clark, Mert Danna and Fine, who provides the voice of the air bus pilot.

Student crew members include Emma McWilliams, Bailie Nason, Zoli Kertesz, Katee Schultz, Brandon Curry, Tim Bennett, John Fox and Elise Nason. Adult volunteers include adviser Angela Nason, Ralph Nason and Jack Kertesz.

Mt. View will present its Class B one-act in the opening 6 p.m. Friday session at Skowhegan Area High School at 61 Academy Circle.

North Haven Community School

The state’s smallest kindergarten to 12th-grade school has the state’s highest percentage of Maine Drama Festival participation as every member of the high school is part of “For the Love of Zooey,” written by alumnus A.G. Alexander and directed by faculty members Courtney Naliboff and movement director Ken Jones.

The cast features Craig Waterman, Stephanie Brown, Charlie Jones, Anthony “Rico” Rattina, Erin Cooper, Leta Hallowell, Ann-Marie Beverage, Riley Venger and Jeremy Page. Students behind the scenes include Abigail Campbell, stage manager; Andrew Murphy, lighting design and board operator; Jack Walker, sound design and board operator; Amanda Merritt, scenic designer; scenic construction and painting techs Amanda Merritt, Mallory Brown and Charlie Jones; costume designers and construction crew Cody Joyce, Jasmine Santee and eighth-grader Olivia Brown; and photographer Dorthe Westgaard. Community volunteers include production manager Lisa Shields, technical supervisor Louis Carrier, scenery supervisor Terry Goodhue and costume supervisor Barbara Lane.

NHCS will present its Class B one act in the noon Saturday session at RDHS.

Rockland District High School

Rockland’s Just Off Broadway Players take a break from Shakespearean comedy this year with folk tale “Wiley and the Hairy Man.” Faculty director Alison Machaiek has expanded the small-cast story by adding swamp, forest and music ensembles. The acting cast features Ian Ellis, TJ Dodge, Hannah Woodman, Alex Young, Brigde Curtin, Naomi Holzhauer, Emma Peabody, Maxine Buretta, Lincoln Spear, Nathaniel Boggs, Tina Payson, Mackenzie Tucker, Allison Ward, Madison Sturks, Patrick Johnson, Ian Foss and Dominic Cuccinello. Kotaro Taniguchi arranged music for the show (something that has strict parameters in the festival rules) and plays keyboard in the music ensemble, which also features Cole Barbour, Connor Pfister, Gentry Burch, Emily Bragg, Connor Mills and Kyle Sareyani.

The technical director is faculty member David Johanson and the student festival coordinator is Cameron Paddock McCrea. Students Alex Young and Aaron Dennison did lighting design and Dennison does light board operation. Other student production team members are John Gerry, Lincoln Spear, Caleb Emerson, Keegan Ross, Melissa Rahkonen, Leah Ellis, Stephanie Felt, Danica Gustin, Amy Proulx, Mackenzie Tucker, Allison Ward, Lindsey Davenport, Amy Proulx, Brighde Curtin, Hannah Hersom, Casey Hall, Mitch Tucker, Jarod Mecklin, Josh Harjula, Zack Picard, Joe Nelson, Sam Johnson, David Harrison, Charles Carver, Kyle McLaughlin and cast members. Community volunteers include Deb Ames and Katie Machaiek.

RDHS will present its Class B entry in the final 6 p.m. Saturday session on its home stage.

Searsport District High School

Searsport District High School will have a little fun at Shakespeare’s expense with Mark Aloysius Kenneally’s “Slipping Him the Tongue,” directed by faculty member Chris Goosman.

A good ol’ boy refuses to go to a Shakespeare play with his girlfriend and angrily eats the play poster. The next morning, he wakes up speaking like one of the Bard’s characters. The couple and a sidekick bring their former teacher to their mobile home to try to solve the problem. The unexpected ensues, but all’s well that ends well.

The cast features Tyler Greenlaw, Marion Nickerson, Nik Frazee and Angelina Nichols.

Searsport will present its Class B entry in the noon Saturday session at RDHS.

And there’s more

The out-of-area troupes performing this weekend in Rockland are from George Stevens Academy (Class B) and Mount Desert Island High School (Class A), both set to perform in the opening Friday night session. For more information about the festival, visit

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to