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Connecticut Drama Association Awards E.O. Smith Drama Program

The cast of Shakespeare in Hollywood travels to the New England Drama Festival to perform its awarded show.

The  Drama Program is performing in Andover, Massachusetts this weekend after being recognized for Theater Excellence by the Connecticut Drama Association. The cast of Shakespeare in Hollywood will attend the 83rd annual New England Drama Festival, which features student performances and a wide variety of workshops for the young participants.

Twenty-four students, consisting largely of cast members from the October performance, will be attending to bring the raucous show back to life.

Senior Adam Forman, who plays lead Max Reinhardt, credits the show’s lively humor for its success. “The play is really lighthearted. It’s impossible to have a rehearsal and not have fun with it,” Forman said.

Written by playwright Ken Ludwig, the 45-minute show focuses on a 1934 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic work. Chaos ensues when the “real” Oberon and Puck are transported to the set and are cast in the film as themselves.

Director Lenore Grunko credits not only the show for the program’s success, but the actors, as well. The Connecticut Drama Association seems to be in agreement. E.O. Smith students Allan Martin and Lauren Chadwick were both recognized and named to the All Connecticut Cast. Fellow student Bibi Mama was also given an Honorable Mention.

“I think we have a lot of talented actors,” Grunko said. “They can speak the speech. They can do comedy. And we work on comedy a lot.”

The students’ hard work is certainly paying off. Besides this year’s honors, E.O. Smith was recognized for its performances of Animal Farm in 2009 and Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse in 2010.

Grunko and the cast are also putting in extra hours this week to prepare the show, last performed in the fall, for its Massachusetts debut. The production is especially hectic since two of the leads are currently abroad in France and had to be replaced.

Although rehearsals have been squeezed into two nights to accommodate the program’s upcoming show, freshman Liam McLean is confident that the cast is ready for this weekend.

“I thought the rehearsal went very smoothly,” he said, adding, “It’s just fun to perform.”

While the students are looking forward to watching all of the performances, Grunko is keeping her eyes open for inspiration for upcoming shows.

“For me, it’s like going into a candy store,” she said. “I like seeing what people are doing.”

And while McLean is excited about the festival, he says the drama program has already bettered his freshman year.

“It’s just been a great experience,” he said.

In addition to its other awards, the program was also recognized for the show’s lighting, designed by Christian Shirmer and Erin Bowman.

The E.O. Smith production of Shakespeare in Hollywood will begin at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday, April 16 at The Collins Center, Andover, Massachusetts.

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