By Courtney Eliasek, Friends of the Arts board member
As a parent of three children at Country Day, I have witnessed firsthand the value of our fine arts program, specifically our theater departments. Over the years, I have volunteered for productions in all three divisions allowing me a behind-the-scenes glimpse of all the work that goes into the impressive student performances. Country Day is fortunate to have talented faculty who are passionate about theater arts and willing to share their knowledge and excitement with our students.
In Lower School, drama teacher Joe Trifiletti and assistant teacher Katy Johns enthusiastically encourage our youngest student performers and allow every child the opportunity to shine on stage each year. Students grow in confidence as they experience public speaking, singing, and dancing.
In Middle School, fifth- and sixth-grade students take drama class with Aaron Mize, and any students interested in theater can participate in plays and musicals. Mr. Mize directs these productions along with several other faculty members who dedicate their time and talents to the cast and crew. Creating and painting sets, helping with rehearsals, and teaching songs are just a few of the many tasks taken on by teachers to support the shows. For Middle School students, the opportunity to be part of a team and interact with kids from other grades is invaluable as they come into their own.
When students enter Upper School, Jenny Goodfellow is ready to help them realize their full creative potential. As Director of Theatre Arts, Mrs. Goodfellow raises the bar another level with the one-act plays and musicals she directs. Students embrace the challenge to participate in these complex performances and produce successful results. In 2018, The Drowsy Chaperone was nominated for seven Blumey Awards, including Best Musical, and the cast performed at the Belk Theater. The 2018 fall one-act, The Crane Wife, won the state competition and finished in second place at the national level.
Committed to Excellence
Peyton Otis '19 was the stage manager for Catch Me if You Can, and earned Excellence in Production Design for Stage Management for The Crane Wife at the NC Theatre Conference.
Students who participate in theatre make a serious commitment to the production. The cast and crew become more than a team; they are like family to each other as they rehearse daily after school and on weekends. Students recognize they each play an important role in the production, whether they are a lead actor, part of the ensemble, or crew. Learning how to take constructive criticism and improve, as well as providing encouraging words to each other, is part of the process. Mrs. Goodfellow is there every step of the way to guide them.
Each year, Mrs. Goodfellow assembles an amazing team to produce the Broadway-worthy musicals put on by our Upper School. One of the most important members of the talented production crew is Karl Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman’s title at Country Day is technical director and theater manager, but really he is the versatile and invaluable wizard behind the curtain who supports every event in the Gorelick Family Theater. He builds sets, controls sound and lighting, mentors student crew members, and supports the actors and actresses. When Middle School takes its fall play on the road to perform at local elementary schools, or Upper School competes in regionals, states, or nationals, Mr. Hoffman is the one making sure the sets, costumes, and props make it to each location.
Country Day is fortunate to have talented faculty who are passionate about theater arts and willing to share their knowledge and excitement with our students.
I am grateful my children have had extraordinary opportunities at every grade level, and it’s been my pleasure to serve FOTA. Learn more about FOTA.