State finals, here they come: Reigning champs Brockton drama club notches 'blissful' win
BROCKTON — Before entering the stage for their semifinal-round performance of the play "Gossip," the members of Brockton High School's drama club — who had won their preliminary round two weeks earlier to qualify for the semifinals — were wracked with nerves.
"When I was behind the curtain, I just knew I had to bring my A-game," said Brockton senior and "Gossip" cast member Andrea Moreno. "It had to be my best performance."
At the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guilds Competition on March 18 at Westford Academy, Brockton's drama club led by Director Robert Hogan joined 41 other teams in the semifinal who won their previous preliminary round, which began with roughly 100 schools total.
"It's an honor to go to semifinals no matter what because you're winning at the first level," Hogan said. "It's much higher stakes."
The team had five minutes to set up the scenery on stage, then they began the performance.
"I genuinely think that was our best," said Brockton High senior and cast member Victoria Mojica. "There was a sense of proudness in walking off the stage."
The judges rank each team on the students' acting, but also the set and costume design and how well all the elements work together to create a unified performance. When the judges announced that "Gossip" would be moving onto the state finals on April 1 at the John Hancock Center in Boston, the cast erupted.
"It was very blissful," said Noah Goguette, a senior and member of the play's ensemble. "That moment didn't feel real. I literally jumped out of my seat."
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'Gossip' to play in Boston
The play, written by Brian Hampton, follows the main character Gossip as she "infects" the people around her with rumors. The set and stage direction symbolize the idea of "spiraling" out of control, and lights flash when Yanisa Andrade (who plays Gossip) infects another person.
The students will travel to Boston this weekend to perform the play at the state finals, where they'll compete against 13 other schools that received top ranks in their semifinal round. Brockton is the only South Shore team that qualified. Plus, they haven't seen most of the other teams' plays.
"The competition is more tough," Moreno said. "We have to bring an even better show."
Brockton High is the reigning state champions of the competition after winning in 2019. This year will mark the first time since then that the finals are taking place due to pandemic restrictions. None of the championship-winning cast from 2019 remains — it's an entirely new group. For many, this will be their first and final opportunity to perform on the final stage.
So far, the team has received positive feedback from the audience, judges and fellow competitors.
"It has a beautiful message to it that one person can easily affect the lives of so many people through gossip in a negative way," Hogan said.
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Pulling it together
The cast and crew began practices for "Gossip" just three weeks before the preliminary round. Students practiced from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. almost every day of their February break.
"We put it together rather quickly," Hogan said.
Over the course of 11 to 12 rehearsals, the 15 cast members and 30 technical crew members learned lines and built the set. Each team at the competition performs a one-act, 40-minute play in full costume, and must set up and take down the set within 5 minutes or judges will deduct points from their score.
"I was so proud of how far we've come," Goguette said.
The students will spend 3 days in Boston and will perform the play one final time. They'll perform in front of judges, other competitors and the general public, who can buy tickets to the final round for $15.
"As performers we live for that moment of cheering," Mojica said. "This is why I do what I do."
This article originally appeared on The Enterprise: Brockton High School: Drama Club headed to Theatre Guild finals