Students rehearse choreography in the Dance Studio
Regardless of all the awards, accolades and publicity the Western Connecticut State University Department of Theatre Arts and its state-of-the-art Visual and Performing Arts Center have received, apparently there are still some out there who have not fully appreciated the level of the program’s accomplishments, which has led to WestConn being named number one on the list of “The Top Ten Most Underrated College Theatre Programs for 2017 – Northeast Region” by OnStage blog.
The exterior of the WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center
According to OnStage, “We spend months compiling, researching and comparing college theatre programs to come up with what we feel are the very best colleges in the country. While [some schools] get plenty of attention, there are a ton of schools out there with incredible programs that deserve more. … Whether they are 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 theatre that might not be known on a national level.”
A scene from WCSU’s KCACTF award-winning production
How does one measure a theatre program’s success? Is it based on winning performance awards? This is something the WCSU theatre arts program has done consistently at the highest level, including back-to-back years taking regional and national awards at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in 2016 and 2017.
The MainStage Theatre in the Visual and Performing Arts Center
Or is it based on assessment of the theatre arts facility, as evidenced by awards from Connecticut Magazine – Best of Connecticut: “Best Performing Arts Venue: College;” Collegedegreesearch.net – “The 25 Most Amazing Campus Arts Centers;” and AIA New England – Peoples’ Choice Awards: “The space where I’d most like to study” – Finalist.
WCSU production of “Twelfth Night”
WCSU School of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Brian Vernon responded to the OnStage ranking. “We do some of the finest work that I’ve ever seen on any stage,” he said. “It’s an honor to receive this validation and recognition.”
The WCSU scene shop
Theatre Arts Department Chair Pamela McDaniel added, “The numbers speak for themselves: 110 theatre majors when we moved into our new facility in 2014 compared to 170 this fall. Acknowledgements like these continue to shine a light on our department’s commitment to excellence in training, performance and theatrical production.”
Theatre Arts Professor Sal Trapani echoed these sentiments. “We are a demanding and challenging program that accepts nothing but the best from our students,” he said. “We are dedicated to professionalism and a commitment to excellence. That is why students flock here. Plus, we have one of the best and most beautiful performing arts facilities in the country. Our teaching artists are all working professionals from New York. And we are affordable.”
Underrated? If you say so. Award-winning? Absolutely!