Peabody High Theater Troupe Wins Big at DramaFest 2012

Peabody High was one of three winners in the final round of the state high school drama festival this weekend.

Peabody High's theater troupe pulled out all the stops this weekend in Boston for the and it paid off.

Peabody, along with Westford Academy and St. John's Prep, were selected by festival judges as the winners of DramaFest 2012. It's just the third state trophy has won since its drama club, Stage One, was founded in 1970.

The judges also recognized the Peabody troupe with awards in stage management, checking and acting for all cast members.

"I am still in total shock. I cannot comprehend the fact that we just won the whole festival." said Rosalie Calder Sunday evening. "Seeing the trophy and holding it in our hands, Even with our name on it, I still cannot believe it. I am so proud and so thrilled to be able to say Stage One is a part of my life."

Calder serves as the president of the drama club and also shared stage manager duties with Rachel Trahan.

For the 81st annual state festival, Stage One performed "Alchemy of Desire/Dead Man's Blues" directed by 2005 PVMHS grad and Stage One alum Stephanie Manning. Peabody was one of 14 finalists to perform this weekend at the Back Bay Events Center.

"It has been a truly amazing experience from the beginning to the end. There has been a lot of laughter, tears and hard work that was put into this show and all of it proved to be worth it," said Shauna Cunningham, who played the role of "Tirasol."

“We have worked almost every day of the week for almost four months. To have gotten this far, and to now be one of the top three shows in Massachusetts, proves more to us than to anyone else that we have succeeded in putting on a great production,” said Leandra Romano, who plays "Caroline" and also acts as Stage One's Secretary.

Romano added that it was an "amazing" experience they all shared and saw each growth in each other over the last few months.

"Alchemy of Desire/Dead Man's Blues" was written by Caridad Svich and is set in the present-day Southern Bayou about a young widow, Simone, who recently lost her husband in a war. The play follows Simone as she deals with the loss of her husband, meanwhile he experiences his own journey in a lost limbo of reality.

Matt Mogavero, Stage One's vice president -- he also played the role of "Jamie" -- said the cast and crew returned home to PMVHS on Sunday, cheered by a large crowd of parents and other supporters.

"This whole process has been a great journey. The friendships and relationships that resulted from such hard work was so amazing," said Mogavero. "Stage One has something special about it, ever since it was founded -- it's genuinely a home away from home for many of us. We are all truly grateful and excited to be state champions."

He said the new trophy also makes a statement for the performing arts.

"Theater and the arts is sometimes overshadowed in Peabody and elsewhere. Now we've proved that we are right up there with the rest of the pack," said Mogavero.

David Hirshon's comedy "La Bete" earned Stage One a trophy in 1997. The company won its first title in 1982.

Today, PVMHS teacher Richard Carey directs the acting company with longtime faculty member June Kessel serving as the club advisor, but it's thanks to Rev. Frank Toste that drama at PVMHS got its start 42 years ago.

Toste, , was a former teacher at PVMHS, instructing students in all aspects of theater, film and television. He founded and headed up the Drama/Communication Arts Department when he arrived in Peabody in 1970. That same year he also founded the student-led club Stage One, which he directed until his departure from Peabody in 1990.

The company puts on three shows a year: a fall show, a winter home show to preview the entry into the state drama festival and then a spring musical.

Cast and Crew

  • Writer: Caridad Svich
  • Director: Stephanie Manning
  • Stage One Advisor: June Kessel
  • Producer: Richard Carey
  • Assistant Director: Justin 'Timmy' Cimon
  • Choreographer: Alyssa Branciforte
  • Musical Director: Danielle Jenkins


  • Simone: Elainy Mata
  • Tirasol: Shauna Cunningham
  • Caroline: Leandra Romano
  • Selah: Erica Risti
  • Miranda: Becky Jo Roland, Jenna Sacromone
  • Jamie: Bernie Baldassaro, Matt Mogavero

Production/Technical Crew

  • Stage Managers: Rosalie Calder, Rachel Trahan
  • Deck Manager: Ross Titelbaum
  • Sound Designer: Dana Sheridan
  • Light Designer: Devon Dunajski
  • Costume Designer: Anna Campbell
  • Props Designer: Miranda Barnes
  • Dramaturg: Alex Romano
  • Sound Board Operator: Jake Lendall
  • Light Board Operator: Dalton Delima
  • Female Understudy: Jenna Sacramone
  • Male Understudy: Matthew Mogavero
  • Costume Assistant: Kayla Brice
  • Hair & Makeup: Paula Ferris, Marisa Gallo, Mileskia Ortiz
  • Logo Design: Rebecca Middleton
  • Set Design: Matt Recine, Ross Titelbaum, Jenna Sacramone, Justin "Timmy" Cimon, Rachel Trahan, Rosalie Calder
  • Set and Construction Crew: Francesca Patania, Delaney Jenkins, Katie MacDonald, Rebecca Reynolds, Amy Langsam, Rebecca Middleton, Tasha Gagnon, Marisa Gallo, Davida Winn, Joel Baldwin, Michael Pires, Jason Margossian, Hayley Blumenkrantz, Kendra Cimon, Jenna Kominski, Ashley Cunningham, Bridget Downey, Jenna Preshong, Andrew Bortone, John Domenico, Brian MacDonald, Amanda Rossignoll, Mileskia Ortiz


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