Peabody High’s award winning drama club, Stage One, has been competing in the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild (METG) Drama Festival against other high schools in Massachusetts. After winning the past two rounds of this competition, they are- once again- moving on to the final round (that takes over the course of three days) in Boston at the John Hancock Hall along with 13 other high schools.
The cast of The Long Christmas Ride Home, including Sara Hayward, Steve Leblanc, Anakin Fleming, Angelica Botticelli, Isaac Dasilva, Megan Muldoon, Marissa Morton, Kyra Bresnahan, and Emily Sylvanowicz, put in their hardest work in order to make it to this point. While rehearsing with the director, Stephanie Recine, the students managed to construct a play written by Paula Vogel inclusive of their own concept of the story.
This play includes the handling of Bunraku puppetry, something that is known to be mastered after about 20 years of training. The three puppeteers- Marissa, Kyra, and Emily- managed to learn how to operate the puppets within three months with the help of puppeteer instructor (master puppeteer), Michelle Finston. The girls have a huge mark in the play and were awarded for their skills in the usage of this puppetry and allowing the puppets to come to life.
Paula Vogel suggests live music in the script, and Austin Sullivan, Spencer Barnes, and Josh Foisy take this place in the play. The music, directed by Austin, has a Japanese modulation to it and often sets a mood or tone for the audience. The live music also adds life-like sound effects such as doors slamming and a car skidding. Along with the puppeteers, they were awarded for their ability to enhance the story by the use of live instrumentals.
Steve Leblanc, who plays Man, feels as if “it’s a time to really perfect everything we’ve worked for.” Being one of the final competitors in festival, he is excited to “look back on all the amazing theatre and the hard work and dedication everyone has put into our [play].” Leading up to finals, Megan Muldoon, playing Rebecca, feels “nostalgic” as this is her last time performing for DramaFest. When she walks on stage, Muldoon describes that she dismisses the pressure that she feels around her.
With these two arrangements added with the rest of the heart-wrenching play, Peabody moved along the competition. The cast and crew has been putting in hard work by rehearsing for hours on end every week and has not managed to lose motivation. With only days leading up to the final round, Stage One will be preparing for the pressure against 13 other schools in Massachusetts a second year in a row.
The Long Christmas Ride Home will be performed on Saturday, April 2nd at 1:30pm at the John Hancock Hall, and awards will be given out later that day.