More About Serra's Drama Performances
The drama program at Serra has a rich history dating back to the "old school" in the late 1940's.In those days, it was a tradition for the graduating class to stage a senior play each year despite what must have been meager resources and facilities.
The Gellert Auditorium
When the school moved to its present location, the building included a good-sized, fully equipped theater, complete with orchestra pit and a state of the art (for that time) projection booth that included two 16mm carbon-arc movie projectors. Over the years, the theater has served as the primary performance venue at the school hosting school assemblies, large meetings, concerts, community events, and, of course, all drama productions . . . all without the benefit of a backstage of any kind and nearly no wing or fly space. Still, with 750 seats, the theater was one of the premiere venues on the Peninsula, second in size only to the San Mateo Performing Arts Center. The last ten years have brought major upgrades to the lighting and sound systems allowing for increasingly more ambitious productions. The theater was re-named The Carl Gellert Auditorium in 2005.
Two Shows a Year
Beginning in 1972, with Phil Garay at the helm, Serra began to stage two shows per year, a drama or comedy in the Fall and a full broadway musical each Spring. Girls for the productions came from a variety of schools in those early days, but primarily from Notre Dame, Belmont and Mercy, Burlingame. Also, it was not uncommon during the 1970's to see a faculty member or two on stage, or even a local college student. From 1977 to the present, however, the shows have featured only students from Serra, Notre Dame and Mercy.
Tri-school Productions is Born
In 1988, when Serra entered into the cooperative curriculum endeavor known as "Tri-school" with Notre Dame and Mercy, the spring musical seemed like the perfect extra-curricular activity for this new enterprise. After taking two years to iron out the logistics, 1990's ambitious "West Side Story" became the first Tri-school musical. Fall plays remained Serra Performing Arts productions until 2007, when "Up the Down Staircase" became the first fall play produced under the Tri-School Productions name. The idea of two all-girls schools and one all boys school working in collaboration to produce as professional a product as possible was, and remains, the primary goal. The decade saw many of Broadway's biggest hits come to life on the Serra stage. Tri-school Productions celebrated its first ten years with "Somewhere Together, a Decade in Review" in 2001, a trip down memory lane that featured thirty-three musical numbers from all of the eleven shows staged between "West Side Story" and 2000's "Grease."
The Gypsy Robe
The gypsy robe is a symbol of good luck among Broadway chorus members, who call themselves "gypsies" because of the transient nature of their work. This distinction goes to a member of the chorus - not a lead actor - who represents the positive spirit of the production and is chosen by the production staff. The opening night ceremony of awarding a decorated dressing gown to a selected chorus member began in 1950 with a dancer named Bill Bradley. Tri-school Productions began awarding the gypsy robe in 2001. Click here for more .
The Modern Era
The past few years have seen Tri-School Productions become an innovative force in high school musical theater. Tri-School Productions was the first high school on the Peninsula to take on "Les Miserables," the first in the entire San Francisco Bay Aera to be granted rights to Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," and the first to stage Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida." With record numbers of students auditioning, and an ever increasing number pursuing acting or technical theater as a career, Tri-School Productions has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that cooperation and dedication to high standards can lead to magical results.
Tri-School Productions: Mercy * Notre Dame * Serra
2013 (Spring): The Drowsy Chaperone - Directed by Gennine Harrington