There is perhaps no better venue than theatre for teaching communication, collaboration, and self-expression - requisite skills that will serve our students well as they grow into global citizens. VMS is home to a world class theatre that, each summer, hosts internationally known artists and musicians to share their talents with our local community. During the school year, our theatre serves as the classroom where our students learn the art and craft of acting. VMS produces one production each year in Lower and Middle School, as well as a standard and a musical in Upper School. Some recent productions include Puffs and High School Musical, as well as original shows written specifically for Lower and Middle School.
The VMS theatre program provides a developmentally appropriate introduction to external acting. Beginning in Kindergarten with the Kindergarten play, they also learn the etiquette and language of theatre and stage direction, as well as the function of physical elements like props, sets, lighting, and microphones. By the end of grade five, our young actors and actresses have developed a solid foundation and are well-prepared to embrace the rigor of Middle School theatre program.
Students in grades six through eight have significant opportunities to develop and showcase their talent as actors, singers, and dancers. Theatre class spans the entire year and is primarily focused on the annual middle school spring production with additional projects that involve both scripted and improvisational performance. Where Lower School students may have played simple, one-dimensional characters to which they could easily relate, Middle School students are challenged to take on roles that are a significant stretch, such as a 40 year old widow or someone of a culture or gender different than their own. On the outside, the focus is on developing nuanced, authentic patterns of speech and body language. Simultaneously, on the inside, students are pressed to embrace the internal motivations and feelings experienced by their character. Middle School students also have the opportunity to work behind the scenes on lights and sound, stage direction, or set design.
Our goal as a school is to provide a rigorous, liberal arts experience that will prepare students to excel in college and thrive in life. By the time students reach grade nine, our hope is that they are increasingly self-directed and beginning to understand where their passions and talents lie. Upper School students may elect to participate in the theatre or musical theatre major. Upper School productions push students to grapple with issues such as religion, race, and political correctness, engaging them not only as actors, but also young adults developing opinions and exploring the world. In this way, the arts become a venue for students to explore higher moral, ethical, and societal issues. Upper School students interested in the technical aspects of theatre have the opportunity to work behind the scenes on lights and sound, stage direction, or set design.
UPPER SCHOOL THEATRE PRODUCTION
The Theatre Production Major culminates in a standard performance at the end of first semester, which was “Puffs” for 2020-2021. The second semester course, Theatre Musical Production, builds to the end of year musical performance, which was "A Chorus Line” for 2020 - 2021. Previous productions have included "Chicago" and "The Laramie Project". One semester is a musical and one semester is a standard play to provide students the opportunity to further specialize in musical vs standard productions, and delve deeply into the nuances of each through a rigorous, advanced program on par with many college level productions.