T.Co’s “The Illusion” takes the stage at semi-finals


The cast and crew of “The Illusion” pose for a picture with all of their awards. PHOTO/Anne Isaacs

Sienna Nino, Staff writer

Last month, the WHS theater company (T.Co) returned to participation in the competitive version of the Massachusetts High School Theater Festival for the first time since 2013.

   This year, T.Co brought a show called “The Illusion” to the festival. “The Illusion” is a small cast production about a father looking for his son. The father finds a sorcerer, who presents three scenes from the son’s life to the father. As the father watches on, he is astonished by the nature of each scene. Later, he finds out that his son is an actor and each scene was basically an illusion, hence the name of the show. 

   One cast member, Sam Muzila particularly enjoyed the play’s unusual focus and the more physical aspects of their role.   “It was a pretty weird play and there were a lot of fun scenes and roles. The fight scenes were difficult to put together, but once they had been figured out, it was really cool,” Muzila said.

   Typically, the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG) hosts a state drama festival every year, but due to complications involving Covid-19, the festival has not been able to run without modifications since 2019. The normal structure of the festival is supposed to have three rounds with eliminations, whereas last year there were only two.

   The first round of the competition, called the preliminary round, occurred on March 4 at 11 sites in schools across the state.  WHS competed  at Franklin High School. At the preliminary round, T.Co competed against six other schools with the top four schools advancing. Across all 11 sites, about 88 schools were involved. 

   The WHS cast and crew did well, as they advanced to the second round of the competition, WHS was one of approximately 44 schools who competed in the semi-finals at one of seven sites, specifically at Andover High School.

   Although the atmosphere of the festival is quite different from the usual setting at WHS, director and theater teacher Anne Isaacs worked with the students to approach the stress of competition the same way they approach any performance. 

   “We think of it as any other show we do here. Our focus is on our home performances, and we have a traditional tech week. Everything is just like it would be for our fall play or spring plays,” Isaacs said.

   Issacs also tries to ensure that everyone enjoys  not only the festival experience, but also the performances of the play at WHS in the days leading up to the festival.   “We try to keep the focus on not just the drama festival but also the experience of doing a show for our community. The only big difference for the festival show is, sometime during tech week, we will also have a rehearsal offsite at our festival location,” said Isaacs.

   The winning performances from the semi-final round attend a two-day competition in Boston as part of the State Finals. Weston has advanced to and even won at this level in the past, but this year, the semi-finals were the last destination for T.Co. 

   Even though “The Illusion” did not advance to the final round, many cast members still look back on the experience quite fondly. Junior and stage manager Finn Oberg found the experience to be both challenging and rewarding.

   “My last school did festival, but not at all like the level in which Weston does. The whole experience was amazing, overwhelming, but amazing,” Oberg said.

    Oberg also enjoyed the experience of watching the performances from other schools..

   “I loved watching all of the different shows, as they all showed something different and exciting, all of the casts had a story to tell.” Oberg said.

   Newer members of the theater company, such as freshman and cast member Sofie Forsythe, really enjoyed the communal experience of the festival.

   “I would describe the festival as a great place to meet other theater kids who have the same appreciation of theater as you do. It’s really great to share that community feeling,” Forsythe said. 

    Although “The Illusion” has come to a conclusion, T.Co plans for two more shows to take the stage before the school year comes to an end.