Dramatic Arts

On the Stage & Behind the Scenes

Our dramatic arts program offers a fully developed and robust range of opportunities to explore and express creativity — at any level — on the stage and behind the scenes. Our program develops the creative potential of every student. We encourage them to take risks, step outside of their comfort zones, and stretch the limits of their imaginations.

Examining the World through Performance

The dramatic arts allow our students to develop and explore their own personalities while learning how to express themselves and communicate with others. They develop a strong sense of empathy as they view the world through each character's perspective. They  build friendships through the shared thrill of staging performances for the world to see. Our enthusiastic faculty, most of whom are active, practicing performers, teach both introductory and advanced classes. There are many opportunities for students to perform throughout the school year.

List of 3 items.

  • Lower School Dramatic Arts

    Through our Renaissance Drama program, our 4th and 5th grade performers produce a full theatre production from start to finish. In addition to life skills such as project management, collaboration, public speaking, and teamwork, students learn theatre terms and history, basic stagecraft, movement, script and character analysis, costume, and set and prop management. 
  • Middle School Dramatic Arts

    Eighth graders thrill audiences each year with an amazing spring semester musical. For sixth and seventh grade students, we have a drama club that produces one play in the fall. 
  • Upper School Dramatic Arts

    Our Upper School drama enthusiasts pursue acting, writing, directing, and production, and may participate in main-stage and black box productions ranging from modern comedies and classical work. The Water Street Players, our Upper School troupe, stage three major productions each year. 
    • Introduction to Theater
    • Acting I
    • Acting II
    • Technical Theater

In this Section

Mayo Mabifa '26

My favorite part is that you get to know everyone. I just started at Severn School this year so I wasn’t as confident at first, I was kind of nervous. But after working on the play, I learned that everyone is really nice and I can be myself here.

Dramatic Arts Faculty

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Kathleen Donovan

    Kathleen Donovan 

    MS Dean of Students; Performing Arts; Head Coach, MS Girls Track
  • Photo of Catherine Carper

    Catherine Carper 

    Chair, MS Arts; MS Geography; MS Dance; MS Performing Arts
  • Photo of Elizabeth Patterson

    Elizabeth Patterson 

    US Theater Director; US English; Improv Club
  • Photo of Kaitlyn Peacock

    Kaitlyn Peacock 

    LS Drama Director; LS Music Teacher (PS-PK)
  • Photo of Mary Gaylord

    Mary Gaylord 

    LS Music Teacher (K-5); Renaissance Musical Director

Past Performances

List of 34 items.

  • 20-21 US: The Little Mermaid

    Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved stories and the classic animated film, Disney's The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. This fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs, including "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl" and "Part of Your World." Ariel, King Triton's youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above, bargaining with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems, and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends, Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle to restore order under the sea. Following COVID guidelines, this was performed outside and featured a cast of 17 actors and full orchestra. Click here for photos
  • 20-21 LS: Piggie and Elephant Skits

    Bravo to our 5th-grade performers for bringing smiles and giggles to our prekindergarten and kindergarten classes with skits based on the Elephant and Piggie stories by Mo Willems this year. What a creative way to bring our older and younger students together through the arts while following COVID guidelines for distance with rotating schedules for classes! Click here for photos.
  • 20-21 MS: Podcasts With Fairy Tale Twists

    With COVID restrictions in place, separate cohorts, and limitations on visitors, our Middle School performing arts crew had to figure out a way to turn our 8th-grade musical tradition on its head. Under the guidance of drama coaches extraordinaire Ms. Cathy Hewitt Carper '81 and Ms. Kathleen Donovan, along with the audio recording expertise of music teacher Mr. Kirk McAuliffe, our 8th graders adapted three hilarious stage plays into one of the fastest growing media formats out there. Drumroll please . . . presenting the first-ever Severn School 8th-grade audio series, Podcasts With Fairy Tale Twists! Bravo to the vocal stylings of the class of 2025! Click here to check out the recordings and see the cast and crew.
  • 20-21 US: Gaslight

    With distancing guidelines and rotating schedules during the 20-21 school year, a typical dramatic performance simply was not possible. But the Water Street Players rose above these obstacles to create a truly impressive dramatic experience with the 1940s radio play, Gaslight. The result? A gripping, chilling performance that reached beyond the limits of traditional theater and kept the audience on the edge of their virtual seats. This version of the play was based on scripts by Patrick Hamilton, Jan Van Druten, Walter Reisch, and John L. Balderston. Click here for photos.
  • 19-20 LS: The Phantom Tollbooth (remote)

    A stage version of the beloved children's book, discover Milo’s adventures in the Land of Wisdom, where he’s forced to think about many new things. Although Severn's campuses closed during the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, our Renaissance Drama crew put together a remote version of the play to share with our community. With Ms. Holly Florian leading the charge, they recorded sections of the play on Zoom, using the dramatic improv techniques they had worked on all year and a lot of creativity!
  • 19-20 US: Sunday in the Park With George

    Sunday in the Park With George is a well-known Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. It tells the story of a fictionalized version of the painter Georges Seurat in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” It's an exploration of the artist’s obsession with creating meaningful, innovative art paralleled with a struggle to maintain personal relationships and love. The play travels through the neo-impressionist era of 1880s Paris to the postmodern era of 1980s New York, opening the door for an imaginative performance, transformative musical score, and iconic costuming and set design. Our players embraced the challenging and entrancing play with elegant style and the confidence of a troupe that has spent years on the stage. Click here for photos.
  • 19-20 LS: We Are Monsters

    This year the Renaissance drama crew staged "We Are Monsters," a hilarious musical that follows human kids into a monster cabaret filled with quirky monster characters. The adventurous humans uncover vegetarian vampires and rock n’ roll werewolves, gradually realizing there may be more to these monsters than meets the eye! Most importantly they discover the importance of friendship and celebrating in the attributes that make each of us different and unique. Click here for photos.
  • 19-20 US: The Tempest

    Exiled, Prospero lives on a desolate island with his daughter, Miranda. When Prospero's usurping brother sails by the island, Prospero conjures a storm that wrecks the ship and changes all of their lives. The Water Street Players performed William Shakespeare's classic, The Tempest, in the Stine Environmental Center Outdoor classroom.
  • 19-20 MS: Show and Spell

    Five middle schoolers take on overzealous parents, crazy coaches, and nostalgic relatives as they prepare for the annual spelling bee in this insightful comedy for young actors. With contestants that range from an unflappable cheerleader who cheers all her words to the anxiety-prone daughter of a movie star, spelling the words correctly may be the least of these kids' worries. Our 6th and 7th grade Drama Club did a fantastic job with this play that illustrates the pressure kids feel to compete, and the family support that makes it all bearable. 
  • 18-19 US: Once Upon a Mattress

    Once Upon a Mattress is a musical comedy with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. The play was written as an adaptation of the 1835 Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea". Our Upper School Water Street Players' side-splitting shenanigans lit up the stage in Price Auditorium with this rollicking spin on the familiar classic of royal courtship and comeuppance. Click here for photos.
  • 18-19 LS: Mulan Jr.

    Based on Disney’s Oscar-nominated film, Disney’s Mulan Jr. is a heartwarming celebration of culture, honor and the fighting spirit. With hit songs and a story packed with action, humor and heart, The show brings ancient China to life with a modern sensibility. Our Lower School Renaissance drama crew did an amazing job with this challenging play — the choreography and vocals were dazzling, highlighted by stunning costumes, set design and lighting. Click here for photos.
  • 18-19 LS: Dear Edwina Jr.

    Dear Edwina Jr., follows the adventures of plucky advice-giver extraordinaire, Edwina Spoonapple, as she directs the neighborhood kids in a series of buoyant numbers for the latest edition of her weekly show, “Advice-a-palooza.” Colorful costumes and vibrant stage design were perfect complements to the heartwarming and energetic performances by all. The audience tapped their toes and hummed along with song after song during this joyful and hilarious production. Click here for photos.
  • 18-19 US: The Crocodile

    Based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's short story.
    Ivan Matevich, a working actor in his thirties, is visiting the zoo one afternoon with his best friend Zack. As a response to Zack's desperate attempt to persuade him to abandon the stage for more worthwhile pursuits, Ivan climbs into the crocodile cage and is swallowed whole. At first, Ivan cries out for someone to slice the beast open and rescue him...but, when he discovers that his new situation brings him instant celebrity, he comes to see it as a smart career move, and sets out to exploit it to the fullest. Playwright Tom Basden turns Dostoyevsky's classic allegory into a satirical play about capitalist inhumanity and political celebrity in the Twitter age. Click here for photos.
  • 18-19 MS: Murder in the Knife Room

    Our 6th and 7th grade Drama Club staged this hilarious "whodunnit" story and parody of classic murder mysteries with well-practiced comedic timing and energy that had the crowd laughing in their seats. Click here for photos.
  • 17-18 LS: Madagascar, A Musical Adventure Jr.

    There’s something contagious about the energy of our 4th and 5th grade Renaissance Drama students. After months of rehearsal — singing, dancing, learning stage directions, and practicing light and sound — our Lower School performers’ rendition of Madagascar: A Musical Adventure Jr. left the crowd smiling and jumping out of their seats. Led by Musical Director Ms. Mary Gaylord and Drama Director Ms. Chelsea Padro, our Lower School troupe took us on a hilarious journey of friendship with madcap hijinks around every corner. Click here for photos.
  • 17-18 MS: Shrek Jr.

    Beauty is in the eye of the ogre in Shrek The Musical JR., based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film and fantastic Broadway musical.  It's a "big bright beautiful world" as everyone's favorite ogre, Shrek, leads a cast of fairytale misfits on an adventure to rescue a princess and find true acceptance.  Part romance and part twisted fairy tale, Shrek JR. is an irreverently fun show with a powerful message for the whole family. Click here for photos.
  • 17-18 LS: Snow White

    The Witch was the fairest one of all first, and she will not be silenced any longer! This updated version of the classic story unveils the villain's perspective, from her tragic childhood to her quest for revenge. Our Lower School performers brought this classic tale to life...with a twist. Click here for photos.
  • 17-18 US: Chaplin

    From the slums of London to the heights of Hollywood, Chaplin is the recent Broadway musical about the silent film legend the world couldn't stop talking about: Charlie Chaplin. The brilliant show reveals the man behind the legend, the undeniable genius that forever changed the way America went to the movies. A glistening show with a classic feel and a heart of gold, Chaplin explores one of the original Hollywood celebrities and how the public's desire for more, more, more leads to his downfall from the author of the hit Broadway shows, Annie, Hairspray, and The Producers. Click here for photos.
  • 17-18 US: One Man, Two Guvnors

    Brighton, England. 1963. Change is in the air, and Francis Henshall is looking to make his mark. Fired from a skiffle band and in search of work, he finds himself employed by small-time gangster Roscoe Crabbe, in town to collect a fee from his fiancee's gangster father. But Roscoe is really Rachel, posing as her own dead brother, herself in love with Stanley Stubbers (her brother's killer) who, in turn, becomes our hero's other 'guvnor'. Fighting a mounting sense of confusion, Francis goes out of his way to serve both bosses. But with the distractions of a pneumatic bookkeeper, a self-important actor and select members of the criminal fraternity (not to mention his own mammoth appetite) to contend with, how long can he keep them apart? Richard Bean's hilarious comedy received 5-star reviews from every London newspaper and was the hit of the 2012 Broadway season. Click here for photos.
  • 16-17 US: A Farce in the Dark

    “Let there be light!” In a feat of theatrical genius, the action supposedly in the dark is illuminated; when the lights are to be on, the stage is in the dark. Lovesick and desperate, sculptor Brindsley Miller has embellished his apartment with furniture and objets d'arte "borrowed" from the absent antique collector next door hoping to impress his fiancee's pompous father and a wealthy art dealer, Schuppanzigh. The fussy neighbor returns just as a blown fuse plunges the apartment into darkness. Unexpected guests, aging spinsters, errant phone cords and other snares impede his frantic attempts to return the purloined items before light is restored in this hilarious comedy of errors. Click here for photos.
  • 16-17 LS: Elf Jr.

    Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa's permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Book by Thomas Meehan, Bob Martin. Music by Matthew Sklar. Lyrics by Chad Beguelin. Based on the New Line Cinema film written by David Berenbaum. Click here for photos.
  • 16-17 LS: James and the Giant Peach

  • 16-17 MS: The Lion King Jr.

  • 16-17 US: Pirates of Penzance

    Book and Lyrics by Sir William Gilbert, Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan.

    Gilbert and Sullivan's hilarious, hopeful musical follows young Frederic, an orphan who has mistakenly been apprenticed to an ineffectual but raucous band of pirates. He disavows the pirates' way of life and falls for the beautiful Mabel. Frederic's melodious tones win over the heart of Major General Stanley's songbird daughter, Mabel, but when the Pirate King discovers General Stanley has lied about being an orphan to keep the pirates from stealing all of his belongings and carrying off his bevy of beautiful daughters, an "ingenious paradox" may prevent the budding romance and lead to the death of "the very model of a modern Major-General."

    See photos of our Upper School performance here.
  • 16-17 US: A Tale of Two Cities

    By Charles Dickens, adapted by Mike Poulton

    Framed by a traveling troupe of actors creating this classic tale before the audience’s eyes, this new adaptation of Dickens’ greatest work portrays a world divided…the aristocracy fighting to stay on top, while the poverty-stricken lower class slowly simmers, planning an uprising. An epic story of love, sacrifice, destiny, and redemption, interweaving one family’s intensely personal drama with the terror and chaos of the French Revolution. Featuring some of Dickens’ most memorable characters, this story has never been more relevant or impactful.

    See photos of our Upper School performance here.
  • 15-16 LS: The Little Mermaid

    Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved stories and the classic animated film, Disney's The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. With music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and a compelling book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs including "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl," and "Part of Your World." Ariel, King Triton's youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above and bargains with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull, and Sebastian the crab to restore order under the sea. Disney's The Little Mermaid offers a fantastic creative opportunity for rich costumes and sets, and the chance to perform some of the best-known songs from the past 30 years.

    See photos of our Lower School performance here.
  • 15-16 MS: Annie Jr.

    Based on the popular comic strip and adapted from the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Annie Jr. features everyone’s favorite little redhead in her very first adventure. With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone's hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. Annie is determined to find her parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan. Annie eventually foils Miss Hannigan's evil machinations, finding a new home and family in billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.

    See photos of our Middle School performance here.
  • 15-16 US: Nice Work If You Can Get It

    It’s the Roaring Twenties and a cast of outrageous characters gather in New York to celebrate the wedding of wealthy playboy Jimmy Winter. Nominated for 10 Tony Awards, this musical features a treasure trove of George and Ira Gershwin’s most beloved, instantly recognizable tunes set in a fresh and funny song-and-dance spectacular.

    The show is filled to the brim with classic songs, including But Not For Me, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, I’ve Got a Crush on You and Someone to Watch Over Me. This sparkling, madcap tale combines laughter, romance and high-stepping Broadway magic for an evening bursting with girls, glamour and the glorious songs of Gershwin!

    See photos of our Upper School Performance here.
  • 15-16 US: Midsummer Night's Dream

  • 14-15 LS: Aesop Come Back

  • 14-15 LS: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

  • 14-15 MS: Suessical Jr.

  • 14-15 US: The Illusion

    What are the real powers of theatre? To alter? To define? To transport? Tony Kushner and Pierre Corneille before him go for all three, which is only part of the magic in Kushner's fanciful adaptation of Corneille's The Illusion. Kushner salvaged the ageless and universal idea: the tale of a rigid father, Pridamant (played by Zach Rosen '16), who, stricken with remorse for having provoked his son to flee the family home, searches out the magician Alcandre (Lizzie Purnell '15) in the hope that she will help him find out what happened to the wayward boy.

    Alcandre does help, and the ironic twist of the piece is that after several false starts, passionate re-enactments, comic delusions, and confusions, the truth is revealed and Papa finds he doesn't like it. The lighthearted ending is a cynical but honest lesson in selective affection. All the fun, however, is in getting there, complete with sword fighting, moon gazing, and a zany cast of characters who for some reason keep changing names.

    See photos of the Upper School performance here.
  • 14-15 US: Big Fish the Musical

    Based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed Columbia Pictures film directed by Tim Burton, BIG FISH centers on Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who lives life to its fullest… and then some! Edward's incredible, larger-than-life stories thrill everyone around him – most of all, his devoted wife Sandra. But their son Will, about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales.

    With nearly 50 students in the cast, this show is overflowing with heart, humor and spectacular stagecraft — an extraordinary musical that reminds us why we love going to the theatre — for an experience that's richer, funnier and BIGGER than life!

    See photos of our Upper School performance here. 

Lower School

Upper School