Bursts of cheers and applause punctuated the final performance in the current Stratford High School theater last weekend. In less than two years a shiny, new 1,000-seat auditorium will reopen in this same space. Everyone’s excited!
On Saturday afternoon, parents, dozens of Stratford Playhouse alumni, and busloads of senior citizens from the area enthusiastically enjoyed a matinee performance of The Drowsy Chaperone by theater and orchestra students.
The matinee performance, under the direction of CeCe Prudhomme, was billed as the Playhouse’s “Final Curtain” event as the auditorium space is closed in advance of construction later this year.
It will be replaced with a more advanced performance hall, meeting higher artistic human performance and technology needs – a physical space to match the young talent that shines on stage.
Several former theater directors attended the “Final Curtain” performance. They included Carolyn Boone, who launched the student theater program in 1973 and held the first stage show a year later.
Trish Driscoll, a former Stratford teacher and the wife of Tim Driscoll, theater arts director from 1980 to 1995, was in attendance at the Feb. 8 event. “It is so good to see the kids, parents and directors are continuing quality productions,” she said.
“There are so many memories in this room. Memories are just rushing back,” said Rob Seible, who was choir director from 1981-1985. He was pleased to experience the ongoing tradition of excellence by Stratford Playhouse student performers.
Since its first show, the Stratford Playhouse has built a reputation and incredible history of award-winning productions. Based on award counts, it is believed that Stratford’s students and staff have won more regional-level Tommy Tune awards than any other public high school in greater Houston.
The auditorium is one of several addition and renovation projects authorized at the high school under the voter approved, $898.4 million 2017 Bond program.
Stratford High will also get a new roof, and renovations will be made to its main entry, cafeteria and dining areas, and athletics areas, among other projects and improvements.
The new auditorium will feature a glass-fronted front façade visible from Dairy Ashford, sweeping lobby space, ticketing booth, and performance hall with seating for 750 theatergoers on its first floor, and another 250 guests in the balcony seating.
Construction work is scheduled to begin this June, with completion slated for December 2021.
A father and daughter duo enjoyed the “Final Curtain” show from the alumni section of the theater on Saturday afternoon. It was the same section where father and daughter sat years ago.
Robert Bissonnet started attending shows here when the school first opened. His daughter, Tammie Bissonnet Chambers, a 1979 SHS graduate, has enjoyed many performances with her dad over the years in the same section.
“I love coming to shows with my dad,” said alumna Chambers. “We look forward to coming to more shows once the new theater is built.”
Concluding a Legacy - Read story in Stratford High School's The Oracle
BOND 2017: Stratford High animation (proposed) - Watch the video