FAIRFIELD—Sacred Heart University’s (SHU) theatre arts program has been recognized by OnStage Blog as a leading college theater program, and one of the fastest-growing programs in the country. In its annual review entitled “Top-10 most underrated college theater programs for 2017,” Founder and Editor in Chief Christopher Peterson highlights U.S. college theater programs that may not be getting a lot of attention outside their region, but are generating a buzz in the theater community. Sacred Heart University’s theater program appears in his top-10 listing for the Northeast.
OnStage features writers and critics from New York to Los Angeles, with contributors from the United Kingdom and Canada, as well. “Here at OnStage, we spend months compiling, researching and comparing college theater programs to come up with what we feel are the very best colleges in the country,” Peterson explained. “While names like Tisch, Juilliard, Emerson and Baldwin Wallace get plenty of attention, there are schools out there with incredible programs that deserve more notice . . . programs that have amazing facilities and curriculum or have a ton of value when it comes to their cost. These are schools that are doing tremendous things in theater that might not be known on a national level.”
In the OnStage Blog, Peterson spoke of TheatreFest, an annual Sacred Heart University event that allows students to explore their creativity within various roles in the theater. He explained that student-written one-act plays or musicals are developed through initial feedback given from program faculty and peers. After rewriting, selected shows choose a student director, stage manager and actors to perform their show. After another round of performances and rewrites, remaining shows are given a chance to be fully produced with a full set, costumes, lights, sound and technical crew. These stages, he wrote, are integral to the creative process and to students’ understanding all of the elements that go into creating a full production.
Jerry Goehring, director of Performing Arts at SHU, and a Tony- and Grammy-nominated Broadway producer, says he’s proud of the OnStage notice, but the best recognition he receives is from students, their families, peers and the local community who know, enjoy and benefit from SHU’s theatre arts program.
“We’ve been fortunate to have great talent, enormous support from the University and an expanding, devoted following among students and the community,” said Goehring. “You can’t teach people passion, but when it comes to energy, creativity and innovation, we’ve been blessed. We’ve also been given carte blanche to choose from a wide variety of excellent material,” he added, “including contemporary, original and well-known works that appeal to many different audiences and allow our students to really stretch and grow.”