By Marina Renton         

On Saturday, March 10, the Andover High School Drama Guild competed in and won the semi-final round of Drama Festival, a thespian competition affectionately termed “Fest.” They move on to finals this weekend.

At Fest, participating high school drama guilds perform a short or edited play; the performance lasts at most 40 minutes and must comply with other restrictions as well. There are four levels of competition: preliminaries, semifinals, finals, and New Englands. After the preliminary round, three out of eight competing schools move to semi-finals, where two out of six groups move on to the final round in Boston. At finals, the top three groups in the state move on to New Englands. At New Englands, the winning plays from New England meet and spend a weekend performing their plays noncompetitively.

Andover High School’s play this year is a comedy called Epic Proportions.  “Epic Proportions is a play about the production of the epic movie titled Exeunt Omnes. But, it follows the story of two brothers who are extras in the movie who both fall in love with the woman in charge of all the extras! There are many added story lines and mayhem as the story unfolds,” said senior Erika Spinale, who was a member of the Mob in the production. The Mob was a group of actors who took on the roles of all the extras in the movie within the play.

“It was a blast to help bring the audience into the world of the play,” Erika added.

However, the production faced a significant obstacle just before the preliminary round. One of the cast members broke his ankle. Luckily, senior Nick Solimini, who had been involved with the show as an assistant director, was able to step in.

“We all freaked out,” said Solimini. “I mentioned that, if we really need to, I’ve seen the show a thousand times – I know the lines pretty well…I can learn his part if I need to. And so [Ms. Choquette told] me: ‘Start learning those lines!’ It became exhilarating after that.”

Despite the last-minute cast change, the Andover Drama Guild moved on from the preliminary round to semi-finals, and is now awaiting finals, which will take place this weekend.

When she found out that the Drama Guild was moving to finals, Spinale was “overjoyed.”  “I’ve been a part of festival since before I was even at the high school,” she said. “I watched my sister go through the sadness of not moving on to finals and then felt it myself for the last four years. This is the first time since 2006 that Andover has made it to [finals].”

“This is a great show with a great cast and I’m so happy to be a part of it,” Spinale added.

“Festival is the most amazing high school experience ever,” said Solimini. “It has boosted my confidence, and now I’m not afraid to go up to meet people anytime. I wish they had Festival in college because I really don’t want to leave it behind.”

The schools that AHS will be competing against at finals are as follows: Framingham High School, Shrewsbury High School, The Bromfield School, Westford Academy, Danvers High School, St. John’s Preparatory School, Holliston High School, Peabody Veterans’ Memorial High School, Acton Boxboro Regional High School, Chelmsford High School, Joseph Case High School, Hamilton Wenham Regional High School, and St. Mary’s High School.