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 across the country.
So here at OnStage, every week, we want to honor and highlight 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, firstname.lastname@example.org!
Chase Collegiate School - Waterbury, CT
Waterbury, CT is widely known as "Brass City", for once being the leading manufacturer of brassware. While that industry has died down a good degree, what is going strong in the city is high school theatre. There are a number of schools that have excellent programs and are putting on phenomenal productions but one in particular is Chase Collegiate School.
Chase Collegiate was founded in 1865 as the Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies, which later changed its name to St. Margaret's School for Girls. The McTernan School for Boys was founded in 1912. In 1972, these two distinguished institutions merged, becoming St. Margaret's-McTernan, a non-religious, coeducational day school with a shared tradition of nurturing academic achievement and personal growth.
In 2005, St. Margaret's-McTernan changed its name to Chase Collegiate School. The new name honors the Chase family, which helped to found both St. Margaret's and McTernan, and preserves the original name by which the school was known.
The Highlander Theater Company is Chase's resident Upper School company made up of students that produce two main stage productions each year. This group is led by Mr. Cutrofello through all aspects both on and offstage. From acting to stage managing to assistant directing, to lights, sound, design, and house managing, this group creates a style of theater and subject matter usually found in colleges rather than high schools. Mr. Ferrari is the company's musical director, and he leads the pit bands for the musicals. The players are a combination of students and professionals. Musical performers also work with Mr. Ferrari on vocal parts. The results from this company have been recognized by winning several Halo Awards (including Best Play from the area's professional theater, Seven Angels Theater). They won awards this past year for their productions of The Addams Family and Flowers for Algernon.
The S.W.A.D. One Act Festival student written and directed is unique to Chase. Students in the Playwriting class produce works suitable for production several of these plays have been recognized statewide). These scripts are then sent to the Directing class which combines with the Acting class to begin a rehearsal period leading up to the festival, where audiences and press alike see the shows. It's all student created, and the results are impressive as well as inspiring.
Even better, they're not performing your typical high school shows either. In the past couple of years, they've done productions of Almost Maine, The Foreigner, A Less Before Dying, Harvey, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
Their students have also gone on to colleges with incredible theatre programs such as Wesleyan University, Ithaca College, Emerson College and The Boston Conservatory.
From their productions, facilities and programs, Chase Collegiate School is giving their students extraordinary opportunities in performing arts which is why they're definitely one of the brightest high school theatre programs in the country.