Arbishop Stepinac High School’s Drama Club Earned 15 Metropolitan High School Theater Awards Nominations in 2012

Students are their own financial supporters with fundraisers scheduled throughout the year, which teaches young actors to be promoters as well.

Archbishop Stepinac’s Drama Club has maintained a tradition of excellence, from its founding in 1949 to its 15 Metropolitan High School Theater Awards nominations for the 2012 production of The Phantom of the Opera. The school took home trophies for leading actor, supporting actor, scenic design, and overall production.

With a mantra of “Fun is excellence, and excellence is fun,” Drama Club Director Frank Portanova teaches that good theater requires passion, hard work, and high standards. The program helps students become comfortable with public speaking and presenting themselves. And they learn sportsmanship: “It’s a good experience to deal with being humble in victory and gracious in defeat,” says Portanova.

Drama Club members—the crew alone can number 40 to 50—get life lessons in economics. All productions are paid for through student initiatives such as selling chocolates, Avon, and advertising. “If you want the magic, we have to pay for it,” Portanova says. He breaks down the budget so the students understand where the money goes: orchestra, costumes, lighting, sound, even special effects like Phantom’s famous chandelier.

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With Stepinac training under their belts, Jon Voight and Alan Alda are among the many Actors’ Equity card-carrying alumni. NYU is a favored destination for some graduates. Involvement in theater “creates a family. It creates a bond that lasts a lifetime. Students want to come back to see the program thrive,” Portanova says.

Also Distinguished: Local theater pros, fans, and aficionados also give thumbs up to programs at Harrison, Mamaroneck, Pleasantville, and Ossining High Schools.

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