By Piper Browne
For the first time in Manchester Essex history, the Drama Club advanced to and won State Finals in the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Drama Festival with its performance of “The Complete History of America (Abridged).”
After hosting the preliminary round, the club advanced onto semi-finals. “Although I had already advanced to semi-finals my sophomore year, the fact that we were moving on my senior year made it that much more special,” senior Drama Club president Maura Driscoll said.
Although the group was very confident in their show, according to co director Gloria Tanner, when they announced their show was moving on to the state finals, Tanner and the group did not believe it. Part of their amazement was due to the fact that for the first time in 27 years, the third time in history, St. John’s Preparatory School did not advance to States.
“We always assume that St. John’s is going to do very well, so the fact that we moved on and they did not was an amazing achievement for us,” Driscoll said.
The club traveled to the State Finals on March 31 to April 2. “States was incredible. The whole experience was so amazing from seeing all the different shows, to hanging out with our Hamilton-Wenham friends, to staying at the Copley Marriot Hotel,” junior actress Morgan Kennedy said.
The cast and crew were even more astounded when their name was called first at the award ceremony. “I was stunned. It was magical. I still don’t quite believe it…not that we didn’t deserve to win, but it is an amazing thing,” Tanner said.
“I mean, the decision is up to three judges, and it is all about who brings it. Our set wasn’t as large or amazing as the other schools, but our work showed in our acting and clearly the judges saw that,” she added.
Not only did the club win the state championships, but a few members also won awards. In the preliminary round, Driscoll, Kennedy, and senior Connor Hoff won awards for their outstanding acting performance. During semis, Driscoll, Kennedy, and Hoff won acting awards again; freshman Charlie Hoff won an award for excellence in lighting design, and junior Ian Gillis won for his violin playing and acting. In finals, Driscoll, Kennedy, and juniors Matt Corwin and Katerina Eichenberger won outstanding acting awards.
The Drama Club consists of 31 members, including actors and tech crew. “The actors get all the praise, but the people who aren’t seen are just as important. They are the ones who keep the show moving and who keep it together,” Tanner said.
The next round, which is non-competitive, is New Englands. The event will be held at Andover High School from April 16-18. Finalists from each state competition advance to perform with the finalists from other New England states. It is not necessary to go even if a school wins States, but the cast and crew will be traveling to Andover this year, according to Driscoll.
“Winning the entire competition still doesn’t even feel real. I can’t even describe how ecstatic I am with our performance and how proud of our cast and crew I am,” she said.