The Educational Theatre Foundation is not done with 2019 galas just yet...on November 18, ETF will hold a Thespians Go Hollywood benefit. They’re launching a new honor named for producer Craig Zadan: the Craig Zadan Theatre for Life Award. Bernadette Peters will be the first recipient. The award is for “those who have dedicated their lives to promoting and preserving the joy of theatre, inspiring young artists, and leaving a lasting impact on generations to come.”  There’s quite an impressive list of stars on the host committee.

The International Thespian Society is celebrating 90 years of school theatre, revamping the Individual Events at state and international levels, and adding a professional development portal (Theatre Educator Pro) to the Educational Theatre Association’s website    

The Texas Educational Theatre Association held its Theatrefest in Dallas last weekend. 

The Florida state chapter of the International Thespian Society has dissolved one of its districts after some malfeasance by leadership. My experience with state-level ITS is in Pennsylvania, all the schools with Thespian troupes can go to “States,” or the State Thespian Conference. It looks like there’s a different level of competition in Florida, with each of 15 districts holding conferences, then sending the “superior” performances to the state conference. Now the high schools that were in District 6 have to go to other districts if they want to compete.  


Hillcrest High School pilots a NEW Marvel Spotlight Series play; Peter Parker and the Boy Who Flew as well as Mirror of Most Value: A Ms. Marvel Play. Marvel’s Spotlight Series from Samuel French also has Hammered: A Thor and Loki Play and Squirrel Girl Goes to College: A Squirrel Girl (and Tippy-toe!) Play.

Aspiring playwrights in your classes might find inspiration in Kristine Thatcher’s The Safe House, a new play based on her family heritage and history. Not everyone has a tavern handed down in their families, but most people have heard great stories from older relatives. 

Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous is becoming a musical at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Chris Willman of Variety interviews the director and screenwriter about turning his semi-autobiographical film into a Broadway-bound show. It’s a jukebox/original songs hybrid, and yes, “Tiny Dancer” is one of the numbers. And Crowe is looking forward to having it become a high school musical:

I would want a kid to want to direct Almost Famous as the musical for his high school. I want it to be something that’s tight enough that somebody would do it as a high school production. That’s the dream. It can’t always be Grease.” 

Star Wars is turning into a musical as well…sort of. Andrew Barth Feldman and Adrian Dickson have created SW: A New(sical) Hope. They began working on the piece in EIGHTH GRADE, just in case your middle school students could use some creative inspiration! 

From October 4-13, Festival Unbound in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania will feature some educational theatre, including a devised theatre piece from high school students titled “Starry-Eyed.” 

In the UK, has a comprehensive list of shows (50!) opening in the next few months. Shows for teacher-directors to watch out for: 

  • &Juliet – a “what-if” for Shakespeare’s tragic heroine
  • Prince of Egypt – musical based on the DreamWorks film 
  • Back to the Future – a musical version of the Robert Zemeckis film from the 1980s 
  • Cinderella – a new musical version from Michael Fentiman and Barnaby Race
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane – an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel 
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – an adaptation of the beloved C.S. Lewis novel (here’s a promo video!)
  • 101 Dalmatians – but NOT the Disney KIDS! Version!


A sensory-friendly Performance of Little Shop of Horrors is FREE at ACT (A Contmeporary Theatre) of Connecticut in Ridgefield. 

NOTE: It’s helpful to parents if theaters can give some age guidelines or subject-matter information when announcing sensory-friendly shows. There are aspects of Little Shop that might be upsetting for sensitive kids.

Lethbridge Musical Theatre partners with Chinook High School for Newsies – Lethbridge Musical Theatre halted full musical productions for a few years; combining their pool of auditionees with students  from Chinook High School’s Musical Theatre program seems to have been beneficial for both parties.

 An unusual concept for Romeo and Juliet at Horizon Youth Theatre in Bowling Green, Ohio has Ms. Capulet’s class and Mr. Montague’s class feuding at Verona Elementary School…I’ll be on the lookout for the reviews. (I have a lot of questions. A LOT.)

Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale presents Bright Star. Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s musical had a comparatively fast trip to high school stages. It closed on Broadway in June of 2016, and was piloted at West Orange High School in Winter Garden, Florida in the fall of 2017. Over four dozen productions are being mounted this fall alone, with a good mix of professional, community, college, and high school theatres. 

I included Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of Blood at the Root by Dominque Morriseau in last week’s roundup; here’s a review of the premiere from Nicole Ackman of Broadway World.

Another play by Morriseau, Pipeline, is at Ujima Theatre in Buffalo. The piece addresses the issue of the school-to-prison pipeline that inner-city youth face. The local NPR station has been featuring a series on the same topic. 

Speaking of history, a walk-and-talk with characters from local legends (or reality, of course) would make a great fundraiser for thespians. Here’s an example of a foundation doing this from Salem, Ohio.   

Jim Hanna’s Soda Pop in North Platte: “It’s a fun show where you really don’t have to have any singing talent, you just have to have rhythm.” A lip-sync musical? I admit that I’d never heard of one, although I have witnessed high school thespians lip-synching when they should have been singing with the rest of the cast. (Note to directors: if a kid has to lip-synch, don’t send that kid out into the aisles for the big closing number; someone in the audience might notice.) 

Anyway, I wanted to learn more about the show. I had a title and the playwright’s name, and the director said it was written in 1994, so I googled. I found plenty of reviews and articles about the productions of the show, but I couldn’t find a listing of the show anywhere. If anyone has more information for me about how this lip sync musical works, let me know! 


San Diego Junior Theatre wins Friends of Balboa Park Milennium Award: Did you know that San Diego Junior Theatre is the oldest youth theatre in the country? It’s only 71 years old; I would have thought there would be several older youth theatres.    

The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts offers grants for high school theatre programs. NYCDA is accepting submissions for their “Your Start in the Arts” program. Students or alumni nominate their high school programs for $1,000 awards. Ten schools will be selected and submissions close on October 31st 

Britain’s National Theatre now has 19 titles available in a streaming service with Bloomsbury Publishing and ProQuest. This looks like it will be awesome for theatre history units!  DVDs of plays were outrageously expensive for a long time; a teacher could spend her entire annual course budget on a single video.