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The Student News Site of Everett High School, Everett MA

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The Student News Site of Everett High School, Everett MA

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EHS Theater Company advances to state finals for first time in 70 years

Evan DeMarzo
A scene from “Augusta and Noble”

For the first time since 1954, the EHS Theater Company has advanced to the finals of the METG Festival Competition. 

Everett is among the top 14 schools out of 115 in the competition across Massachusetts. Theater Company students have garnered a total of nine All-Star Company Awards across the preliminary and semi-final rounds of the competition. 

Everett will compete in the Grand Finals on Saturday March 23, at 3:00pm on the John Hancock Theater stage in Boston.  

The play that got them there is called “Augusta and Noble.” It is a coming of age story revolving around a young girl named Gabi Castillo. Told in English peppered with Spanish, this play celebrates the rich history and resilience of the many immigrants who call America home.  

Gabi has lived her whole life in a vibrant Latino community located in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago. Starting high school across the city at Northside College Prep, she is quickly exposed to new people and possibilities. As Gabi begins asking questions about her heritage, including the truth about her parents’ harrowing journey across the border to the United States, she struggles to discover exactly where in this world she belongs. 

Another scene from “Augusta and Noble” (Evan DeMarzo)

“It’s a powerful tale about a young girl learning about the struggle which her parents had to go through in order to give their children a better life,” said junior Gianna Rodriguez Sanchez, who plays the role of Dolores Castillo, Gabi’s mother. “This play displays an accurate depiction of the fear, exhaustion, and desperation we inhabit in order to achieve our goals.”

“This role really resonates with me because my parents are Latin immigrants themselves, and I know first hand the struggles many parents have gone through,” Rodriquez Sanchez said. “I feel it is important for people of all communities to see this story and understand the struggles, and successes of these vibrant and passionate people.”

According to the festival judges, the passion Rodriguez Sanchez brings to the role of Dolores is clearly evident on stage. The actress was “captivating from the moment she walked on stage,” one of the METG semi-final judges said.  “Rodriquez Sanchez brought a maternal instinct that anchored her performance and made the backstory of her harrowing journey so believable. I found myself lost in the way she carried her character, forgetting I was watching a high school performance.”

Senior Gabriellie DeGouviea plays the role of Gabi in the play. “I see this powerful piece of theater as my community being represented on stage,” DeGouviea said. “So many of us in Everett share the story of Gabi, and her family. Many of our parents share the sacrifices of Dolores and Reymundo for the betterment of their children’s future. Hearing from other viewers of the play at prelims and semi’s say that they have never seen this type of story represented on stage.” DeGouviea said. “It is a beautiful representation of the immigrant experience, and I hope that others feel the same way.”

Another METG judge described DeGouviea’s portrayal of Gabi as “excellent” and “the beating heart and soul of the play.”

“What I found most impressive,” the judge continued, “was the clear bond and shared relationship she maintained with every other actor. Whether it was the awkwardness of a new friendship, a brother/sister bond, or moments with her parents, all of those relationships felt different and lived in. That’s serious acting work and it’s necessary.”

At the helm of the production is artistic director Evan DeMarzo and his production team, which includes scenic director Briana Pierce, costume director Josephene Dougan, theatrical adviser Britt Mitchell, and scenic construction adviser Eric Pierce. 

Another scene from “Augusta and Noble” (Evan DeMarzo)

Speaking of the intriguing set design by DeMarzo and his team, judges were “immediately intrigued by the vestiges of a chain link fence and some incredible painting and graffiti work. As that fence grew, split apart, and turned around, it became a practical set with a  distinct painting style. This was absolutely outstanding work from the set construction and scenic painting crew to create the world of the play with this practical and emblematic set.”

Artistic director Evan DeMarzo is known for walking around his art class with a pencil on his ear. Considered a nice teacher by many, DeMarzo was very patient when being interviewed and gave detailed descriptions. 

“My first year here there was little to no program,” DeMarzo said. “There were multiple directors the few years prior to me taking the helm and each were only directors for one year and then the next year someone else took over. When I started there were about fifteen students total in the Theater Company. Now we have an average of fifty participants across all roles, acting, tech, stage managing etc.”

As a director, DeMarzo gets to meet students and coworkers from all different backgrounds, seeing everyone work really hard and come together to put on a show. Moments like this are magical for him. He followed his dream of working in theater into college and knew he had the ability to make something incredible.

“I was introduced to theater when I was in middle school,” DeMarzo said. “My parents took me to an outdoor performance in the round of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ set in the future on an undiscovered planet.”

“I was wowed by the costumes, and how incredible the actors were at memorizing Shakespeare,” DeMarzo said. “I always thought that Shakespeare was this dry, crusty set of plays that was set in old school England. Thinking back about that, maybe that was part of the influence for me to do some ‘out there’ plays in bizarre settings.”

“After that I was hooked, and landed my first role as Kenickie in a local performance of ‘Grease,’” DeMarzo said, “From there I can’t remember all of the roles I’ve had in the past. Some of the highlights have been in the principal cast of ‘Rent,’ ‘Evil Dead: the Musical,’ and ‘Macbeth.’”

“I first started directing in college, and my fondness for it grew over the two plays that I directed. The first was ‘Titus Andronicus,’ a wild Shakespeare play that was a huge undertaking,” DeMarzo said.

“Never had I directed a play let alone Shakespeare, but I knew it was a challenge I was ready to take on,” DeMarzo said, “I knew I would need help, so I brought on my roommate to help because the scale of the play was immense. There were multiple choreographed fight scenes with over 40 characters.”

“I knew after that play was one of the more successful runs the program created that I had a skill to create some epic theater, which helped carry that into directing the plays at EHS,” DeMarzo said.

According to DeMarzo, prior to Augusta & Noble, the best performance done by the Theater Company was in 2019 when the members of the club beautifully performed the musical “Once on This Island.” 

Last year’s festival entry, “Loom,” advanced to the semifinals of the METG competition. “’Loom’ was an important production, because it marked the 5th year in a row moving on in the METG competition. Before advancing to semifinals in 2016 it had been over a decade since Everett had advanced in the competition. ‘With Two Wings’ was the first production EHS advanced under my direction. Which coincidentally or not was another inventive retelling of an ancient Greek myth.”

The Theater Company has a strict schedule, rehearsing three to four times a week practicing lines and moves to present an amazing performance, showing off their talent and their hard work. 

“Students audition for specific roles and performances or if they are interested in doing the creative backstage stuff like costume set, design, and lighting design, we usually have a trial period where they show us some designs and some sketches to be part of that,” DeMarzo said.“Someone who has faith in themselves, someone who can trust others, someone who can see the picture bigger than themselves–that’s the type of person that can really shine in our productions.”

“For theater to be successful, everyone has a part to play,” DeMarzo said. “Not just on stage but behind the scenes. Without the costume designers, the actors would be in plain clothes. The same is true for lighting and set design. Each member of the team is responsible for bringing the world of the play to life.”

“It doesn’t matter how you identify, or what you might be labeled as,” DeMarzo added. “Wiithout everyone being part of the unit, the vision would never be brought to life.”

“I have met, and guided some of the most brilliant and compassionate humans in my 10 years at the helm of the EHS Theater Company,” DeMarzo said. “When you are creating theater you truly are part of something greater than just yourself. A true testament of how society should be. One person being part of the bigger whole. Without the support of each other, something is bound to fall short.“

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Sophomore Kawanne Marins grew up in a Brazilian family. She has a cat that absolutely warms her heart when she gets home from school. She loves to listen to music and jam out on her bass guitar, playing video games in her spare time and reading. She started to love reading in fourth grade and would make up entire stories in her head, but could never write it out. She was curious about journalism so she decided to give it a go. She's interested in writing about music and how much it changed over the years, as well as fashion trends and animals.
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Mohamed is a really chill, quiet and respectful person. His pronouns are he/him/his. He really likes history because he likes learning about the past. He likes to play video games and just chills when he gets the time to do so. Mohamed is in his senior year in high school. He sees himself as a software engineer in the future.
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Alice Andrade, Reporter, Editor
Alice Andrade is a senior who is in her third year of journalism. She is involved in the Newspaper Club and the art department, taking three art classes. Andrade has always shown an interest in art but her art teacher Ms. Pierce further fueled Andrade’s interest in art in junior year. Although interested, Andrade would like to keep journalism and art as a hobby, primarily focusing on forensic science as a career in the near future. “Usually they think of the person that cleans the body up when they die,” Andrade said about people’s perceptions of forensic scientists, “but I definitely don’t want to deal with the dead bodies, just the chill stuff.”

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