theater arts - Mrs. Susan Van Buskirk


FALL PLAY:                

Beginning in September, students and faculty collaborate on a piece from standard theatrical repertoire. Students can work behind the scenes as well as on stage. Casts vary in size from small (10) to very large (20 or more). Students practice skills learned in theater and stagecraft classes. in prior years students have served as set and costume designers, composed and arranged music to accompany the show, and served as assistant directors and stage managers. Recent works have included Our Town, Don’t Drink the Water, and Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses. Each year, we submit our production for adjudication by the faculty of the Department of Theatre at Montclair State University. In the past three years, we have been honored with nominations for best actor, actress, stage combat, and best overall production.


The All-School Musical has developed a proud tradition of excellence for more than 50 years. This annual production is a large-cast, fully staged musical allowing students to participate in all areas of production. Over a four year period, students will be exposed to works from the classical era of musical theatre (Loesser, Loewe, Herman, etc.), contemporary works (Sondheim, Schwartz, Miranda, etc), as well as popular family-friendly shows (Disney) and works from the newest voices of Broadway. Recent productions have included How to Succeed in Businesss…, Tarzan, Bring it On, Chicago, and Into the Woods. Students work on the stage as actors and behind the scenes as set designers, lighting and sound technicians and stagehands in order to create a full scale theatrical production. The program has a rich tradition of social activities including our annual Crew Clue mystery/induction ceremony, Color Wars, and the annual company light saber battle! We have hosted guest artists from the original Broadway companies of Pippin, Chicago, Rock of Ages, and The Lion King.


Our work has been recognized with awards from Paper Mill Playhouse and the Metropolitan Theater Awards (“The Metros”), where we have been nominated for Best Overall Production for each of the last five years. We have won awards for acting, choreography, costume design, and vocal excellence. 


Students in the theater classes compete at state-level competitions hosted by the Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey. Students prepare and perform in categories including monologues, paired scenes, improvisation, Shakespeare, pantomime, and musical ensemble. Through this competition, students are eligible for scholarships and NJ Governor’s Award in Arts Education. NVOT has had two recent wins at the Governor’s Awards - Zachary Arencibia and Jacob DiMartini for Pairs and Allison McGowan for Comedic Monologue.


Throughout our three seasons (Fall Play, All School Musical, and Student-Directed Projects) students work behind the scenes in a variety of technical and production departments. Everything is run by students - set design, build, painting, props, costumes, lighting, sound - under the supervision of industry professionals. Students learn 21st Century theatrical skills and leave our program completely prepared to work at the collegiate theatrical level.


Want to get involved but have a limited amount of time? Join us as a staff photographer. Or usher. Or design a poster or flyer. Or apply makeup the weekend of the show. We have over 250 students involved in our program in ways large and small. Just volunteer a skill and we'll find a place to use it.