By James Niedzinski
---- — Tonight, 19 student actors and technicians from Manchester Essex Regional High School will travel to Boston to compete in the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival finals.
Their entry is the one-act play “WASP,” a comedic look at 1950s Protestant suburban life written by comedian Steve Martin.
The production and the participants are going up against the same from 13 other schools in the statewide competition, hosted by the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild.
English teacher and Drama Club director Elizabeth Edgerton said the four months of practice have been strenuous, but rewarding.
The production can only last 50 minutes in total, which includes the 40-minute run time of the play and unpacking and making sure everything on the set is in place.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” Edgerton said. “The play itself is the easy part.”
The production was chosen for two reasons; the Drama Club likes to do comedies and seeing Steve Martin’s name next to a play title was a clear choice of a good comedy, Edgerton said.
While there was no rehearsal yesterday, the Drama Club put on a dress rehearsal for other students Wednesday. Edgerton instructed students on where they should talk, what a reaction should be during some final notes during a rehearsal later that day.
“I think we’re all a bit nervous, but there has been a lot of positive energy,” senior Chloe Schwartz said. Schwartz, who helps in the technical striking or placement of the set, and also sings in the chorus toward the end of the play.
Molly McCoy, a junior, is playing the mother living in her husband’s shadow. She said she drew mannerisms from the “Stepford wife” image of the 1950s to study her character and practiced her lines as often as she could. Molly has been involved with theater since her freshman year.
Nicole D’ambrosio said besides being a teenage girl, she does not have much in common with her character, the sister, who gives a monologue about the giving birth to baby Jesus.
Julie MacLeod, a senior, said the most challenging part of set design was finding what pieces and colors match the right set, from the brother’s bedroom to the kitchen.
She added that her time with the Manchester Essex Drama Club has inspired her to study theater and set design when she attends college next fall.
Gloucester and Rockport students made it to the preliminary rounds this year.
The last time Manchester Essex Regional High students qualified for the state final festival was in 2011 for their production of “The Complete History of America (abridged).”
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000 x 3455 or email@example.com.
If you go Who and what: Manchester Essex Regional High School's Drama Club presents "WASP" at the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival finals. When: Evening starts at 7 p.m.; "WASP" starts at 9 p.m. Where: Back Bay Events Center, 180 Berkeley Street, Boston. How much: $10 to $15 for single show; $20 to $30 for evening's three shows. Tickets available at the door or Metg.com/festival.