Students in the Mount Desert Island High School drama department qualified for the state one act competition by taking first place at the regional drama festival with their performance of “The Insanity of Mary Girard.” Mary Paola, center, was named to the All-Festival cast for her lead role in the play. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MARK GOOD

MDI’s ‘Insanity’ takes top spot at Drama Fest

BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island High School drama program came out on top in Class B rankings at the weekend’s Eastern Regional competition of the Maine Drama Festival, as well as serving as the weekend’s hosts. Students in the drama program earned high marks for work both onstage and behind the scenes.

Their production of “The Insanity of Mary Girard” by Lanie Robertson advances to the state competition in Yarmouth. The play is about a real 18th-century woman, Mary Girard, who was committed to an asylum by her husband essentially for the crime of adultery.

Deer Isle-Stonington was ranked second in Class B among the schools assigned to this regional festival, followed by Washington Academy, Shead High School and Sumner Memorial High School. Four Class A schools also participated in the regional competition at MDI.

Mary Paola as Mary Girard and Desmond Reifsnyder as Fury #4: Mr. Phillips were named to the All-Festival cast for their performances.

Thistle Swann, Reifsnyder, Sammie Park, Ethan Leonard and Sarah Soucek, who played the Furies, earned a judge’s commendation in ensemble acting.

The cast is Paola, Leonard, Park, Swann, Reifsnyder, Soucek and Emerson Jeffery.

Judge Tom Misner, formerly of the Waterville Opera House, said the show prompted a “Wow!” reaction for him. “Mary’s (Mary Paola) anger/acceptance was perfect … her interaction with Stephen (Emerson Jeffrey) was excellent, he said.

Piper Charron, Rosie Avila and Mason Gurtler earned a commendation for video design.

Student designers Max Cornman (set), Christina Closson (lighting), Ben Hagle (sound), Jacob Sanner (sound), Alec Fisichella (sound) and Paola (makeup and hair) were named for “Overall Design Excellence.”

Fisichella composed an original musical work for the play, “Steven’s Theme.”

“All design elements and production choices thoughtfully and gorgeously supported the style, and needs of the play,” judge Dawn McAndrews of the Theater at Monmouth said.

Amy Roeder of the Penobscot Theatre Company agreed: “All tech elements were ingenious and lovely. The visual storytelling was on point.”

Roeder also had praise for how the performers’ technique supported the storytelling. “There was beautiful vocal clarity, variety and emotion expressed throughout,” she said.

Julia Rush was the stage manager, Closson operated the light board, Charron operated the video, Kornman and Hagle were sound operators and Maev Rogers was the scenic dresser.

The lighting crew also included Arthur Dwyer, Katera Shelton, Eric Graves, Atty Brown, Aidan O’Connor, Gurtler and Charron.

The set construction crew was Cornman, Avila, Brianna Kerr, Maev Rogers, Anna Rogers and South Graves.

MDI drama teacher Casey Rush directed the play, Grey Burkart was technical director for lighting and sound, Carlene Hirsch was technical director for scenic design, and Marilee Marchese served as costume designer.


Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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