Last Year’s Northern Essex Production ‘Hurricane Diane’ Returns for Festival Competition

Mirrorajah Metcalfe of Haverhill stars as Diane in “Hurricane Diane.” (Courtesy photograph.)

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Northern Essex Community College’s production of “Hurricane Diane” is making an encore.

Last spring’s production by theater students and Professor Brianne Beatrice was selected for the Region 1 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, taking place today through Feb. 3. Beatrice learned of the selection just before the holiday break.

“We have to remount the entire production to perform at festival,” says Beatrice.

“Festival,” as it’s called, brings together hundreds of college theater students, professors and professionals from New England and New York to showcase their work and share their expertise. “Hurricane Diane” was one of just six finalists chosen out of 60 productions, including shows from many prestigious, four-year schools.

This is the second show Beatrice has produced at Northern Essex to be chosen for festival. The first was Stupid F*cking Bird in 2019.

The title role in Mirrorajah Metcalfe of Haverhill. describes the character as “a permaculture gardener dripping with butch charm.” In reality, Diane is the Greek god Dionysus. She’s returned to the modern world to gather mortal followers and restore the Earth to its natural state. Where better to begin than with four housewives in a suburban New Jersey cul-de-sac? The comedy serves as a commentary on the blind eye we all turn to climate change and “the bacchanalian catharsis that awaits us, even in our own backyards.”

Four more Northern Essex students round out the cast: Olivia Barberian, Gwynnethe Glickman, Jessica Newey and Ana Barrera. Metcalfe and Barberian were also selected to compete for Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships. Each will perform two monologues and a scene. Newey, meanwhile, is nominated for the Student Dramaturgy Award.

Winners in each award category, including the production, will move on to the national festival later this spring in Washington, D.C. Regardless of the outcome, it won’t be the final curtain call for Diane. It returns Feb. 23-25 to the Haverhill campus.

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