When the state high school drama festival opens Friday night in Rockport and Freeport, Kevin O’Leary and Tiki Fuhro will cheer for each other.
Fuhro will be in Freeport and O’Leary will be in Rockport with their respective schools. O’Leary teaches drama at Morse High School in Bath, while Fuhro teaches drama at Waynflete School in Portland.
The two teachers happen to be married. To each other.
It’s a good thing their schools are in different classes of competition, otherwise husband would do battle against wife.
The finals of the Maine Drama Festival are the highlight of the year for high school drama students. Eighty-one schools across the state competed in regional competitions March 8 and 9, and 18 — nine in each class — made the cut for the finals. Each mounts a 30-minute, one-act play.
Portland-area schools are well represented: Thornton Academy, Westbrook and Falmouth join Morse in Class A, while Greater Portland Christian, Catherine McAuley and Yarmouth join Waynflete in the smaller Class B division.
Falmouth will defend its title in Class A, and Lincoln Academy in Newcastle hopes for a repeat in Class B.
Morse is the only school among the 18 going to the state finals with an original student-written play. “STR8 2 VID30,” or straight to video, by Morse High School senior Sophie Mayo, is a quirky black comedy about a guy who works in a present-day video store that only distributes VHS tapes.
Waynflete will mount a version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” that takes place in California in the 1950s. The one-act play, “Olivia’s Place, aka Twelfth Night,” takes place in a diner owned by the character Olivia.
O’Leary beamed a husband’s pride when judges announced that Waynflete had advanced out of the regional competition. He was happy for his wife and her school. It’s the first time in 15 years that Waynflete made it to the state finals.
And when judges announced that Morse also was going, O’Leary and Fuhro just looked at each other — and laughed.
“We had a nice quiet giggle,” O’Leary said. “And then we shook hands and offered each other congratulations. Very professional.”
“It’s going to be fun,” Fuhro said. “I’m obviously really excited for our kids. It’s the first time they’ve experienced the festival, and they came out of the regionals understanding why we had worked so hard to get there.
“They felt real pride about taking things to the next level, and they were happy to be part of a bigger community of theater kids they would not have known otherwise.”
Freeport High and Camden Hills Regional High in Rockport host the weekend competition beginning Friday night and continuing Saturday.
O’Leary’s students will perform at 8 p.m. Friday in Rockport, while Fuhro’s students perform at 11 a.m. Saturday in Freeport.
The performances are open to the public.
Other than feeling good about the accomplishment of the students, O’Leary said the best part of the weekend will be having a spouse who finally understands his emotional roller coaster.
“I’ve been doing one-acts since 2002,” he said. “This is my 12th year. My dear wife has had to listen to all my post-one-act stories every time I come home. Now I’ll get to listen to her.”
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: