Performing Arts

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The Upper Darby Performing Arts Center is owned by the Upper Darby School District and supported by Upper Darby Township and operates as a community arts center that draws more than 60,000 audience members annually from all parts of the Greater Philadelphia region. It presents more than 75 annual performances. The Performing Arts Center hosts many professional ensembles each year including The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Three Irish Tenors, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Golden Dragons Chinese Acrobats, the Fabulous Greaseband, and a popular annual production of the Nutcracker. The Performing Arts Center produces one of the nation’s most successful youth theater programs, Upper Darby Summer Stage, which presents more than 35 performances each summer involving over 700 young people. In addition, thousands of Upper Darby School District students perform each year as members of the UDHS Band, Choirs, Orchestra, Foundation Galas, elementary school concerts and other events. In its 30 years of existence, the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center has been actively used as a community resource that is unique in Delaware County.

The mission of the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center is:

  • to offer meaningful experiences in the performing arts to children and teens, both as audience members and as participants;
  • to present high quality performances in music, theater, and dance to the public;
  • to support local artists, both aspiring and working;
  • to provide a forum through which to showcase the cultural diversity of the community;

Upper Darby Summer Stage has earned state and national recognition as a model youth theater program. Celebrating its 35th season in 2010, Upper Darby summer Stage is one of the most successful youth theater programs in the country. It has produced two CD’s featuring music written for Summer Stage shows, and boasts a 75 member staff that is constantly on hand to teach our participants. Each of the six Children’s theater shows, and the Mainstage Show, has its own production staff that includes a professional director, musical director, and choreographer, set and costume designers and a stage manager. While teaching the backstage aspects of theater, the Technical Program provides indispensable support for all the Summer Stage productions and its staff adds a professional look to every show’s sets and costumes. Experienced teachers staff the Apprentice and Studio Classes programs.

  • There are four divisions within the Summer Stage program: The Apprentice Program, Children’s Theater, Technical Theater, and Mainstage.
  • The Apprentice Program is designed for children ages 11 and 12. Each day Apprentices learn Storytelling, Creative Dramatics, Music, and Creative Movement. Apprentices become the Summer Stage Storytellers and travel to local libraries to tell stories to preschoolers.
  • The Children’s Theater program is open to students between the ages of 13 and 17. Children’s Theater members participate in six fully staged children’s musicals that are attended by more than 3,500 each week.
  • The Technical Theater Program is open to students between the ages of 13 and 17. Participants receive hands-on experience building and painting scenery, setting lights, operating spots and running state of the art lighting and sound consoles, all supervised by a professional staff of designers and technicians.
  • The Mainstage Program attracts a more serious performer and presents Broadway musicals directed by local professionals. It is open to any Summer Stager between the ages of 16 and 25.
  • The News of Delaware County calls Summer Stage, “…Undeniably the area’s largest and finest summer theater program.” Its critic, Michael Caruso, called the 1997 production of My Favorite Year, “virtually perfect”. Upper Darby Summer Stage was voted BEST THEATER PROGRAM in the city of Philadelphia in 1998 and 1999 by the viewers of The Performing Arts center was named as part of the State of Pennsylvania’s BEST ARTS PROGRAM in 1990. Harry Dietzler received the Spirit, Mind, and Body Award from the Community YMCA for this leadership of the UDPAC. Upper Darby Summer Stage was featured twice in the national publication Stage Directions.

The Upper Darby Summer Stage Shooting stars is an outgrowth of the Summer Stage Program and involves up to 45 Summer Stagers in year ‘round performances for the community. The Shooting Stars primary mission is to bring performances to those unable to attend the Performing Arts Center – particularly senior citizens. In addition, the Shooting Stars perform at Rose Tree Park and have been invited to perform at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, on NBC-10’s Live from Longwood Gardens and at other high profile community events. Every two years the Shooting Stars perform in Disney World.

The partnership with Upper Darby Township, Upper Darby School District, the Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation and many corporate and foundation grants programs has enabled the performing arts center to offer state of the art technology to enhance all productions. The box office offers 24 hour online ticketing and the Performing Arts Center designs its own marketing materials using InDesign software. The theater boasts excellent lighting and sound equipment and grants have helped to provide funding for a new Steinway piano and dance rehearsal space.

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