Theatre is an integral part of an educational institution. It offers students a fun and safe place to take risks, think critically, and actively engage in the creative process. Using these skills, students are encouraged to take time to focus on who they are, how they communicate, and how they interact with others. Skills that prove useful in any field they choose to pursue. Theatre helps students find their voice, and Portledge strongly supports the performing arts and is always striving to help students find their voice.
Drama at Portledge begins in the Lower School, exposing students to the fundamentals of the performing arts. Weekly assemblies give students in each grade the opportunity to demonstrate their individual talents, providing invaluable lessons in public speaking and teamwork. Spring Spectacular, a performance celebrating Fifth Graders, is a culmination of our students' hard work and dedication through the lower school drama program and is a beautiful way to usher them into middle school. The Spectacular brings the entire Portledge community together and is a wonderful event.
Throughout the Middle and Upper School years, the theatre program takes a more comprehensive look at the world of theatre. This includes the opportunity to perform various works ranging from Shakespeare to Sondheim. Our Middle School students participated in a Shakespeare festival, based on the Shakespeare & Co. model as performed in the New England Shakespeare Festival; using the texts from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, or Romeo and Juliet. MS students can also hone their skills in the newly offered theatre elective and participate in various other performances and theatrical activities. The Middle School typically produces one main stage production per year, alternating between a play and musical. Recent shows have included The Wizard of Oz, You’re a Goodman Charlie Brown, and The Sound of Music.
The Upper School Theatre program is based on the philosophy that theatre is a tool to get to know yourself and build empathy, confidence, and awareness. Through this, the US theatre department is extremely helpful in preparing students for college. US theatre department selects material that not only entertains but also challenges students to go a little deeper. Two main stage shows per year are presented in our unique Black Box theatre, and students may audition to perform or volunteer for the stage crew. Recent shows have included Circle Mirror Transformation, Godspell, Boeing Boeing, The Drowsy Chaperone, 39 Steps, and Into the Woods. Students also participate in Theatre classes (including our brand new Musical Theatre class starting in 2022/2023 year), Drama club, and the Arts Scholar program.
Portledge US school theatre is staffed by two professional actors with connections to the current state of the profession. New faculty member Courtney Balan is a veteran of six Broadway shows and is coming off of a year starring in the National tour of Broadway musical THE PROM. For those students interested in pursuing a career in theatre, this knowledge and these connections are invaluable. Additionally, through our direct connection to the Broadway community, we are lucky enough to offer masterclasses through our Footlights program. Past guest artists have included Tony nominee Jonathan Groff, and Tony winners Celia Kenan-Bolger and Gavin Creel.