BAR HARBOR — The Ellsworth High School Theatre of the Mad Jesters and Deer Isle-Stonington High School took first and second place in the 2019 Maine Drama Festival’s Class B regional competition held last weekend at Mount Desert Island High School. EHS will go on to compete in and host the finals Friday and Saturday, March 22 and 23.
EHS’s one-act adaption of “The Little Prince” was without question the most visually beautiful of all the entries at the event, featuring swirling planets, star-filled night skies and a pantheon of wonderfully costumed interstellar characters.
A peculiar little boy from another planet, hauntingly played by Mark Fuller (an All Festival Cast winner), visits Earth in the hope of finding the meaning of existence. He meets the Aviator (nicely realized by Mark Berry), who also is a seeker. They tell each other their stories with the help of an artist — a terrific Emma Henry, also an AFC winner, who actually illustrates their tales on stage.
The Little Prince recounts his encounters with the odd inhabitants of the other planets he has visited, each of whom represents various human foibles — avarice, vanity, ignorance, drunkenness, narrow-mindedness and such. Eventually he meets a wise fox (a sagacious Kayla Hardison, another AFC honoree), who helps him understand that it is love he is seeking and that he already had it, back on his own little planet.
Other AFC winners were Noe Burmeister as the Geographer who never goes anywhere, and Aurora Haslam as the Little Prince’s beloved, if somewhat vain, Rose.
The judges also recognized Ian Brenner-Simpson and Alec Leathers for some enchanting musical interludes and spot-on sound effects as well as Ian’s original score. Grace High and Makayla Seavey were honored for their excellent makeup and hair styling; Makayla Fishburn and Amelia Hayden for stage management and the entire cast for their ensemble work.
“While I have not read or watched other interpretations of ‘The Little Prince,’ I found myself pulled into this performance,” One judge commented. “Everything came together to form a piece where I cannot truly say there was anything I disliked.”
Jasmine Ireland, who created the adaption and directed the one-act, says she was pleased with the number of commendations acknowledging individual students and the quality of their work that contributes to the whole.
“From stage management, to music, to student design, to acting,” Ireland said, “I think this is a testament to the diversity of interests and talent that our program here fosters.”
One of the big crowd pleasers of the competition was Deer Isle-Stonington High’s “Attached,” an original play by director John Lincoln.
In “Attached,” for the first 15 minutes or so, we didn’t know what the play was about. A family comedy/drama perhaps? And then a girl gets swallowed by a sofa and a boy disappears through the floor and the audience goes nuts, realizing it’s a horror story!
Cleverly written in a manner that would make Jordan Peele proud and wonderfully acted with truly impressive special effects it earned AFC honors for Jill McDonald, Ian Cust and Drew Wendell, who was recognized for his gasp-worthy fight choreography. The entire cast also was lauded for its excellent ensemble work.
Comments from the judges included such high praise as:
“Unified presentation by cast and crew — a perfect score of 5 is rare, but truly deserved for this work.”
“Very strong ensemble work brought this out-of-left-field surprise piece to life. A success! Cast and crew should be proud!”
“It’s not often we see an original macabre play,” they continued. “Well executed, solid ensemble work made this piece exciting to watch.”
Playwright and director John Lincoln is rightfully proud of his school’s second-place finish in a stiff field of competition.
“This group of students has been working tirelessly these last several weeks to put on an amazing show,” he said. “They are a group of young adults who problem-solved, listened to each other’s feedback, adapted, and thrived. I’m so fortunate to get to work with this crew year in and year out.”