The Brightest High School Theatres in the Country - Newtown High School

Chris Peterson

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,


Newtown High School - Sandy Hook, CT

There are certain high schools theaters, where the buzz surrounding productions is so loud, they become a must see event. Newtown High School in Newtown, CT, is one of the hose schools. 

Under the masterful direction of Jane Matson, NHS's productions are some of the most talked about and most award winning in the entire state. This is a school I've visited several times and each time, I'm more and more impressed by the level of talent and production by this school. And the level of support and enthusiasm from the students and their families is palpable. 

One parent told me, "I am so thrilled that my daughter had the chance to experience such a high level of theater preparation in our public, non-performing arts high school. It is a great testament to Ms. Matson and the program she has developed that students see the performing arts as a viable career option and that she has prepared them to be competitive on a national level."

I saw their fantastic production of City of Angels last year and it was no surprise to me to see that it went on to win 4 CT High School Theatre Awards. In fact, recognition is nothing new for this program. 

In addition to City of Angels, productions of Peter Pan, How to Succeed..., and Sweeney Todd have received numerous nominations at the CT HS Musical Theater Awards and in 2013, Taylor Varga, went on to win the National HS Musical Theater (Jimmy)Award competition in New York for his work in How to Succeed....

Newtown students benefit from having an outstanding staff to teach and train them. Music director Brett Boles is an award-winning musical theater composer, lyricist, and librettist. Janice Grabriel is a local performer who has produced every show for NHS. Jane Matson is a performer herself, having been in national tours and cruise ship productions. 

Even more, NHS is proving itself as a strong foundation for future performers. Recent alumni have majored in theatre in both performance and technical at Ithaca College, Rutgers, UCONN (both theater and vocal performance), Western Connecticut among others. The graduating class of 2015 alone has students attending Syracuse (BFA in MT), Muhlenburg (2 students in BA of Theater program), Shenandoah Conservatory (BFA in MT), Emerson (BFA in MT) and the Hartt School (BFA MT). 

From all of us here at OnStage, we want to congratulate Newtown High School for all of their successes and wish them nothing but the best on their upcoming production of Beauty & the Beast!

Photo by Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images