The Maine Principals Association over last weekend named Hermon High School and Skowhegan High School as Class B and Class A winners in the state finals of the Maine Drama Festival.
Hermon High School’s winning production, the comedic play “Sure Thing,” was directed by longtime Hermon drama coach Joanne Durkovitch, who also directed Hermon to a statewide Class B win with 2004’s “Pals.” Class B designates schools with 599 students or fewer, and the finals were held at Yarmouth High School.
Durkovitch had her students perform “Sure Thing” before the competition in one of Hermon High School’s performing arts nights. The cast and crew had just one month to prepare their show before heading out to the regional competition, held March 5-6, at Bangor High School. Though the auditorium in which Hermon rehearses and performs recently was downsized to make room for more classrooms, Durkovitch and her students have made it work.
“We work with what we’ve got,” she said. “It’s always a learning experience, especially with comedy, since the kids have to learn timing and pauses and seeing how it’ll play with audiences. We have a really supportive principal, who gets theater, so that helps.”
“Sure Thing,” written by American playwright David Ives, is a fast-paced comedy about a guy, Bill (Jordan Lorenz), who meets a girl, Betty (Chelsea Lear-Ward), in a coffee shop. He’s smitten and starts to flirt with her, but every time his come-ons misfire the Bell (Taylor Gervais, as a kind of mime) restarts the action so Bill can try again.
“This play is kind of a modern-day classic. And all these students had personalities that you could make a character from,” said Durkovitch. “The Bell is like a ghost, silently giving advice to the characters about what they should say. He’s the conscience of the play. Taylor really understands points of humor, which is a really rare quality.”
According to information on the Maine Drama Festival Web site, Hermon received 284 points out of a possible 300, the highest score received by any school in either division. Judges commended the play’s “subtle, understated performances” and “sophistication.” Lorenz, Lear-Ward and Gervais all were named to the All Festival Cast, and Nicolette Hashey and Bryan Bouchard both received commendations for costume and makeup.