ROCKPORT — The Rockport High School Drama Llamas took their show “Beverly Billingsly Takes a Bow” to Andover High School on Saturday and came out on top of the semifinal round of the 2023 Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild Drama Festival.

Rockport, which was one of six schools presenting work for consideration in the competitive festival, now advances with Andover High to the final round to held Thursday, March 30, through Saturday, April 1, at the Back Bay Events Center (John Hancock Hall), 180 Berkeley St. in Boston. To qualify for advancement in the festival, shows must be set up and struck in five minutes and performed in forty minutes or less.

The Drama Llamas advanced to the semifinal on the strength of their performance in a preliminary round on March 5. The troupe’s play, “Beverly Billingsly Takes a Bow,” is an original adaptation of the 2003 children’s book of the same name by Alexander Stadler.

The story centers on Beverly, an elementary school student, who auditions for her very first play, “Stormy Weather.” Hoping to earn the lead, Beverly asks lots of questions of her director, solicits advice from family, and even writes her own original audition song. Despite all her preparations, things don’t go as planned, and Beverly has to learn some very important lessons about what it means to be a part of an acting ensemble.

Several members of the cast and crew were recognized at March 5 performance, according to Rockport High English and drama teacher Denise Ferazzi.

Lila Garrett (as Beverly Billingsly), Morgan Reilly (Shauna), and Jake Timmons (Roland) all won acting awards. Abby Marshall, Izzy Fortunato, and Julia Sekercan won for their properties and costume design and execution. Additionally, Benji Koeplin and Lila Garrett won for original music composition and execution.

Students met with the author of “Beverly Billingsly Takes a Bow,” Alexander Stadler via Zoom last Monday, March 13, Ferazzi said in an email. He shared his process for creating the Beverly Billingsly series, answered students’ questions, led them through a drawing exercise, and listened as students sang the original song they crafted for the piece, “The Banana Song.”

Students were delighted to hear that many of their choices for the adaptation aligned with the author’s sense of his own characters, Ferazzi said, while Stadler was equally delighted to hear how students had pulled elements from the three other books in the Beverly Billingsly series to flesh out the world of the play.


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