The 2016 Maine Drama Festival one-act play competition’s regionals were held Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5, at nine locations around the state. All but two of the participating Midcoast schools competing did so at the Midcoast Regional, hosted by Oceanside High School East in Rockland. Competition was divided into student population-based divisions: Class A is for schools with 525 students or more; Class B is for smaller schools.

At the Midcoast Regional, Oceanside won in Class A, with Belfast Area High School named runner-up. In Class B, Lincoln Academy won, with Boothbay Regional High School named runner-up.

Neither Searsport District High School (B) at Mount Desert Island High School nor Thorndike’s Mount View High School (B) at Lawrence High School placed, but both schools had All Festival cast members. During Saturday's Techie Olympics, SDHS won the Silver Screwdriver award in a challenge that involved such theater skills as screwing a box together, gelling and dropping in a gobo, focusing and shuttering a light; tying knots, and coiling cable that can be thrown without tangling.

Regional winners will advance to the State Finals March 18 and 19, Class A at Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport and Class B hosted by Stearns/Schenck in Millinocket. Finalists in Class A are Oceanside, Falmouth, Bonny Eagle, Waterville, Oxford Hills, South Portland, Lawrence and Westbrook. Finalists in Class B are Ellsworth, Lincoln Academy, Baxter Academy, Lee Academy, MCI, Foxcroft Academy, Mount Desert, Freeport, Winslow and Lisbon.

Midcoast Regional

Judges for the Midcoast Regional were professional actor Amy Roeder; actor, director and ballroom dance instructor John Blanchette; and Ann Ross, artistic director of UMaine Dance and dance instructor and choreographer at Husson College.

Regional Host Director Alison Machaiek and Festival Technical Director David Johanson were assisted by alum Zach Picard and current Oceanside students. Carole Gilley, principal of Waterville Junior High School, served as MPA rep, while Machaiek represented the Maine Drama Council.

Waldoboro’s Medomak Valley High School (A) opened the 2016 Midcoast Regionals Friday night with an original comedy, written and directed by senior Claire Lupien. The funny and loose “Sir George and the Sparkly Dragon, the Good Witch, the Clumsy Prince, the Articulate Steed, and Pretty Much Everything That Could Go Wrong in a Quest” proved a good choice to begin the festival and even poked fun at the process, as one character proposed to another “even though we’ve only known each other for 35 minutes, with a five-minute grace period.” According to one of the MVHS T-shirt-wearing adults in the audience, the show came in at a comfortable 37 minutes.

Next up was (A) Belfast Area High School’s “Booby Trap,” a spare and emotional piece that elicited audible sniffling in the audience, as well as at least one earnest students’ discussion of how they wish the modern warfare tale could have ended. Newcastle’s Lincoln Academy (B) closed the Friday night program with “Beauty,” written and directed by Griff Braley of Heartwood Regional Theater Co. The reworked “Beauty and the Beast” impressed with its multimedia mix, smoothly executed movement and vocal effects.

In between plays, attendees enjoyed a range of concessions in the gym, provided by the OHS boosters. After all the evening’s plays were presented, the performing schools had their sessions with the judges as their districts’ buses lined the loading zone.

The Saturday afternoon session got under way shortly after noon, opening with (A) Camden Hills Regional High School’s “Charlotte’s Web,” which came to the competition not always having achieved the required no-more-than-40-minutes length. It met this goal and others, including a lot of humor — particularly whenever the barnyard animals pulled a “Far Side” just-animals demeanor in the presence of humans. When a key prop landed in an unexpected place, the players worked around it without a hitch.

(B) Boothbay Regional High School’s “Making Nice” provoked a lot of knowing laughter with its play rehearsal story, and said play, Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline,” toyed with a lot of the elements seen in serious use elsewhere. (B) Vinalhaven School’s somber “Exit” had the distinction of having the weekend’s most minimalist set … and understudy Ben Burgess got a raucous hand of applause for clearing it.

Residents of both Fox Islands were in the audience, some splitting the day with the annual Fishermen’s Forum, for the afternoon session as, for the second year, both islands’ schools were competing. North Haven Community School (B) drew on the vibe, and likely some costumes, of last summer’s “Annie Get Your Gun” in its student-written “A Western Triangle.” Running just around 20 minutes, the saloon-set comedy contained a couple of the biggest laugh lines heard to that point in the competition.

Improv games in the gym and supper filled the time to the final session, which started about 10 minutes after 6 p.m. Wiscasset High School (B) offered “Two Sisters,” a darkly comic, and darkly lit, piece. Host Oceanside (A) wrapped the competitive portion of the event with “All in Disguise,” a sharply executed commedia dell'arte-style farce whose Pantalone reflected the expertise of its creative director, professional makeup artist Katie Machaiek … and whose final freeze frame was unexpectedly elongated.

After the visiting troupes cleaned out their assigned rooms, the enthusiastic drama geeks enjoyed hanging out while the judges came to their final decisions.

Complete results, including all local schools' rankings, Judges Commendations and All Festival Cast awards, are posted Sunday, March 6, on the Maine Drama Council website. Local schools' results are as follows.

All Festival Cast

Members of all eight Midcoast schools were named by the judges to the All Festival Cast as follows: Belfast — Cameron Pillitteri, Eilha Charbonnier and Ewelina Oles; Camden Hills — Cora Lindell, Eliza Robinson and Tatum Dowd; Medomak Valley — Richard Kinney, Somerset Ganz and Jacob Siegel; Mount View —Elizabeth Clifford and Jakob Sutton; North Haven — Adam Murphy; Oceanside — Alden Mason, Elliot Spear, Curran Grant and Chanel Courant; Searsport — Paige Ireland and Holden Clapp; and  Vinalhaven — Frank Osgood.

Judges’ Commendations

Special judges’ awards, often with innovated titles, also were named at all of the regionals. Camden Hills received commendations for Special Effects (Web Weavers) and Outstanding Costumes (Savannah Berryman-Moore). Medomak Valley was awarded for Outstanding Original Script (Claire Lupien) and Outstanding Special Effects (Flight Ninja). North Haven was awarded for Outstanding Original Script (Adam Murphy). Oceanside was awarded for Stage Manager (Jennifer Carter); Outstanding Technical Achievement  (sets, lights, costumes and makeup); and Greatest Integration of Music and Sound Effects Into Performance. Searsport was awarded for Prop Construction (Maddy Philbrick and Kenzie Philbrick).

Encore, encore

Oceanside will reprise its award-winning play “All in Disguise” Wednesday, March 16, at 7 p.m. at the Rockland school, followed by a dessert buffet. Ticket prices are $7, $5 for students and senior citizens. Proceeds will benefit the 40 members of the cast and crew as they travel to Camden for the state final.