WESTFORD — The towns of Westford and Sterling are all of 25 miles apart, but Nashoba Valley Technical High School’s Drama Club is doing its best to shrink that distance.
Three former members of Nashoba Tech’s Drama Club are playing lead roles in bringing “Beauty and the Beast” to life at Sterling Community Theatre for the next two weekends.
In fact, two Nashoba Tech graduates have been cast in starring parts — 2015 alumnus Marc Macedo of Chelmsford as the nefarious Gaston, and 2017 graduate Maggie Mescall of Chelmsford as Belle, the “Beauty” of the title. If that’s not enough, 2017 alum Ben Richard of Ayer is the stage manager for the musical, which has six performances over four days.
The glue that brings Nashoba Tech and Sterling Community Theatre together is Emily Smith, the Theatre Arts instructor and Drama Club adviser at Nashoba Tech. Smith is a familiar face in Central Massachusetts theater circles, having worked with Sterling Community Theatre and Mt. Wachusett Community College’s Theatre at the Mount.
“These are such talented kids, and I like to see what they can do outside these walls,” Smith said.
Macedo is no stranger to the stage. He played lead roles in all four major productions during his time at Nashoba Tech — and won a TAMY award from the Theatre at the Mount for Best Actor in “Shrek.”
Gaston marks his first time as a real bad apple, though. And — spoiler alert! — he gets to play “a pretty intense death scene.” (Technically, Macedo notes, it’s not his first death scene as he played the plant, Audrey 2, in “Little Shop of Horrors” his senior year.)
Mescall only joined the Nashoba Tech Drama Club as a junior, playing Margo in “Legally Blonde,” and then grabbing the lead in “All Shook Up” as a senior.
She said that while performing at Nashoba Tech was fun, community theater is “a little more intense, a little more serious and down to business.”
“It’s definitely a huge commitment but it’s also such an honor,” she said.
As Belle, Mescall is acutely aware that she is in nearly all of the scenes and that all eyes will be on her. But she has been in tense performances before, having been the first (and still only) Nashoba Tech student ever chosen to sing in the highly selective Massachusetts Music Educators Association’s Eastern District Senior Festival as a junior in 2015.
Mescall is a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Lowell majoring in sound recording technology.
Richard stage-managed “James and the Giant Peach” at Nashoba Tech. He is a freshman at MWCC and hopes to major in theater, then transfer to another college to earn his bachelor’s degree and begin a career behind the scenes.
As stage manager, Richard is in charge of all scene changes and where actors should be standing. Smith said Richard picked up what Nashoba Tech actors call “the Smith stare” from her.
Smith is in the ensemble for “Beauty and the Beast,” and is therefore under the thumb of Richard for a change.
“He’s in charge of me, which is kind of fun,” she said. “And I see him giving ‘the Smith stare.’ It’s great because I get to watch them for a change.”
Performances of “Beauty and the Beast” are scheduled for Friday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 23, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. All performances areat First Church in Sterlin, 6 Meetinghouse Hill Road. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for those over 65 and under 13.