Every actor, director, designer, stage manager started somewhere. For many of us, it was in high school. Every year we see thousands upon thousands of future theatre professionals start their journeys on various high schools stage across the country.
So here at OnStage, every week, we want to honor high school theatre programs all over the country that are making the performing arts, a priority within their curriculum, not to mention putting on some fantastic productions.
If you know a high school in your area that is doing an incredible job of laying the foundation for future theatre professionals, let us know by emailing, email@example.com
West Potomac High School in Alexandria, VA
Growing up, I was very lucky to go to a high school that valued performing arts. We performed multiple shows per year, enjoyed a plentiful curriculum and wonderful faculty who were true mentors for me and my classmates.
With that said, if I had seen the Beyond the Page Theatre Company of West Potomac High School at that time, I might have forced my parents to move to Alexandria, VA. Because they have one of the best high school programs in the country.
Since 2011, the program has enjoyed a ton of success and growth, largely in part because in 2011, Philip Lee Clark arrived.
In speaking with parents about the program, one said of Mr. Clark,
"Philip Clark is an extraordinary leader and has tremendous vision for where high school theatre needs to be moving. He's not afraid to take on the edgy, difficult subject (matter) and sees the importance of starting discussions in the community...even if they are intimidating and hard to handle."
One such work was "8", a play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.
This past November, they performed American Idiot , as only the second high school in the country to produce this work.
And with the combination of Mr. Clark's sterling leadership and the hard work of his students, it's paying off, because ours is just the latest honor for this incredible program. The "Cappies", is a national high school theatre award and since 2011, West Potomac has won 12 of them.
Last summer, the company traveled to Scotland and performed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And this spring, they will be tackling the rollerskating Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, Starlight Express....yes I said it....Starlight Express. But I have a feeling Mr. Clark is going to be quite the expert on the production given the fact that he has appeared in over 2,000 performances of Starlight Express in Germany.
At the end of the day, one of the true testaments of any high school theatre program is what happens to the talent that's being developed there. Over the past couple of years, West Potomac students have gone onto some fantastic college theatre programs including The Hartt School, Temple University and University Of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
So to Mr. Clark and all the students in the Beyond the Page Theatre Company of West Potomac High School, our deepest congratulations on all of your successes and we wish you nothing but the best on your next production!
Photo: American Idiot, Beyond the Page Theatre Company of West Potomac High School Facebook Page.