Menlo Upper School Drama

“If all we had was a bare stage with one light bulb, we could still do theater!” —Lou Volpe, Drama Teacher, Harry S. Truman high school, Levittown, PA

Theater is far more than what’s written on the page or performed on the stage. It’s about joy, balance, harmony, order, design, and composition. Theater is a process, a laboratory where we can experiment with creative expression and storytelling. It builds self-confidence and fosters empathy. Theater gives us permission to have fun and make a difference, even if all we have is a bare stage and a light bulb!



The Upper School Spring Play:

Peter and the Starcatcher

Thursday-Sunday, Apr. 28-30
Spieker Center for the Arts
Buy Tickets!

With some ordinary rope, a couple of ladders, a few household appliances, two toy boats, and, most important, one another, a motley group of seafarers and storytellers take us on a journey you’ll never forget!

Adapted by Palo Alto’s own Rick Elice from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s 2004 children’s novel, this play with music tells the story of how a nameless, angst-ridden orphan became the immortal Peter Pan, how Hook became Hook, how the Lost Boys became lost, how Tinker found her bell, and how Wendy, never gave up hope.

This play is all about storytelling as a lively art, as a comic tale that bounds the tellers and the listeners together like never before. Simultaneously being told and celebrated by a merry band of seafarers and Mermaids, the story is as elaborate, simple, cozy, and scary as the best bedtime stories are. Its elements include an ocean voyage, a shipwreck, a cargo of something called stardust, a blissful Edwardian chorus line of mermaids, and three orphans who have never seen the light of day before.

Find your way to this magical tale of Peter and the Starcatcher, ”For once you have found your way there. You can never, never grow old.”*

* “Never Never Land” from Peter Pan, the musical, lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green.

Participation Form and Show Calendar
Synopsis and Character Breakdowns


Menlo Drama at the Fringe Festival

The American High School Theatre Festival (AHSTF)  selected Menlo Drama to perform four performances at the prestigious Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, July 30, 2022-August 12, 2022!  Take a look at their incredible experience.

Where we’ve been!

Here’s a look back at the 2021-2022 drama season. It was thrilling to have Menlo Drama return to the stage with students performing to in-person audiences in Menlo’s new state-of-the-art Spieker Center. 

Spelling Bee

Spelling Bee features an eclectic group of six middle schoolers vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way to the coveted title of winner. 

Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight—a historical retrospective of Menlo Drama seniors showcasing their talents over their last four years onstage along with newly filmed live performances on the Spieker stage. This video retrospective and recorded-live-performance hybrid celebrates the drama accomplishments of Amay Goel, Kate Richardson, Peter Hanson Tucker Gold, Uma Misha as well as many others.


A heartwarming story based on the beloved novel by Roald Dahl about an extraordinary girl who, armed with a sharp mind and a vivid imagination, dares to take a stand and change her destiny!

Menlo Drama Gives Back

Menlo’s Drama Department strives to “Give Back” both on and off stage. Through donations during our productions, we encourage public support for both national and international programs benefitting people affected by health, wellness, and community issues Menlo Drama Gives Back has raised and distributed almost $50,000 to various charities globally.


Drama Courses

  • Musical Theater (1S)

    This is a semester-long course is and is offered in the FALL only. 

    This class is designed to tell stories through music with the goal of developing an awareness of emotional truth and connection. It is a performance-based course focused on the three essential elements of musical theatre- music, drama, and movement. Material covered will include vast repertoire from musical theatre while also discovering how the history of the genre relates to the present. Students are encouraged to bring their own repertoire while also being open to learning something new. We will perform scenes from musical theatre repertoire from the golden age to the present. Prior experience in vocal music, drama, and/or movement is encouraged. 

  • Drama On-Stage (1S)

    This course is a semester-long course and is offered in the FALL. This class can be taken along with Drama Off-Stage in order to count as a year-long arts class. 

    This one semester course will help you discover your individual voice through this introductory course on the fundamental elements and process of all things ON stage including improvisation, scene study, monologues and small presentations. Through theatre games and daily exercises, we will build confidence and develop an understanding of what your unique perspective and voice can bring to any material, onstage or in a podcast or on film or on podcast.

  • Drama Off-Stage (2S)

    This course is a semester-long course and is offered in the SPRING. This class can be taken along with Drama On-Stage in order to count as a year-long arts class. 

    This one semester course is perfect to take in tandem, with Drama ON-Stage or can be taken as a stand-alone. The focus of this class is to create a deeper appreciation and understanding of everything that happens OFF-Stage - learn about all the different roles required within the artistic, production, and business categories of theatre in order to put on a successful production! Topics and units covered include being a director, a set or costume designer, a general manager and general production support. This class will help you understand the wide of range of opportunities available in the field with the ultimate objective being able to demonstrate and apply the necessary skills and techniques to produce a play by understanding and having a greater appreciation of the different roles required within any given production. By helping to support the Menlo shows (during classtime) in design, management, technical services, dramaturgy, and backstage support, practical application will be in real time with real results. 

  • Production: Page to Spieker Stage (1S and/or 2S)

    This course can be taken as in either SPRING or FALL as a semester-long course or taken both semesters as a year-long course.

    The first hands-on experience exploring and combining design, science, engineering, craftsmanship, art, and presentation inside the new Spieker Center for the Arts, this course is an opportunity to think big. It will cover digital theatrical LED lighting, live sound, production organization and management, set design, tools, construction, scenic painting, costume and prop design. Each student will be encouraged to find his/her own areas of interest. Learn how to safely use the diverse technology and tools of our new theater to take student projects from concept to completion. Students can also learn from working live events, concerts, dance, or theater. We will focus on collaboration, basic skill sets, and creativity. Watch a video overview of this course here.

About Menlo Drama

Menlo’s Upper School drama program includes courses in drama and musical theater in addition to producing full-length plays each fall, winter, and spring. Past productions have included Heathers, Twelfth Night, Cabaret, The Laramie Project, Fiddler on the Roof, The Miracle Worker, Urinetown, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Avenue Q.

Steven Minning

Steven Minning is the Creative Arts and Upper School Drama Director. He has worked as a director and choreographer in New York, and around the world. As an Associate Director he has staged the Broadway, National and International tours of Billy Elliot, The Lion King, Show Boat, The Will Rogers Follies, and Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion. He has directed and choreographed for major events such as State Farm National Agency Convention in Las Vegas, the Coca-Cola Olympic reception in Atlanta and the World Cup opening ceremonies. He teaches drama and musical Theatre.