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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Westfield High School - Westfield, NJ
High Schools in close proximity to New York City are almost expected to have strong performing arts programs. But teacher Dan Devlin and the students at Westfield High School in Westfield, NJ are taking it to a whole other level.
Just 40 minutes from Broadway, Mr. Devlin and his students aren't just producing some of best high school theatre in the country.
What makes this program so special? First is the approach they have towards education their students. They instill the philosophy that the performing arts develops numerous skills for the individual, including self confidence, creativity, analytical thinking, empathy, discipline, and an appreciation for our culture and our history. Their mission is to help every student reach their highest potential as an artist and as an individual.
Recent productions of Urinetown (2015) and Pippin (2012) were nominated for best musical in the state by the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards and Sweeney Todd (2011) won that coveted honor from a field of 100 high schools all across the Garden State. Many, other awards were won by students actors, the members of the design team (both student and faculty), and the creative heads of direction, choreography, and music direction.
"The Sondheim Review – a quarterly magazine dedicated to the work of the musical theatre and Broadway composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, has included in its Fall 2014 publication a stunning commentary on Westfield High School’s production of Anyone Can Whistle. The Sondheim Review praised the “obvious collaboration taking place, the connection of each performer to her or his role, and the remarkable product of this work that ultimately showed up onstage.”
Thanks to the amazing introduction to theatre these students are receiving at Westfield, many of them are going on to the best college programs in the country such as CCM, Boston Conservatory, Ithaca College and Syracuse University.
Even a further testament to this special program are comments from its students. One said,
"Mr. Devlin is a very humble man and won’t take much credit for what has happened at this NJ high school, but as you can see, in such a short time he has changed the lives of many students and taught creativity, individual responsibility, tolerance, and in short—great, great art."
Our deepest congratulations to Westfield High School's theatre department and we wish them nothing but the best with their upcoming production of The Cherry Orchard....A high school taking on Chekov....love it!