Year 8, Book 104

104. Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater by Michael Sokolove

One of my friends saw this book reviewed somewhere and told me about it because she thought it seemed like something I would enjoy. She was right. I loved this book. Michael Sokolove takes a look at the 40 year career of his high school drama teacher, Lou Volpe. Volpe has elevated the drama program at Harry S. Truman High School in hard-scrabble Levittown, Pennsylvania to its highest heights. Their productions consistently win national awards, and it is Volpe’s program to whom Music Theatre International turns when it wants to adapt a successful but challenging Broadway show into a production for the high school stage. Volpe has adapted productions of such shows as Les Miserables, Rent, and Spring Awakening for the high school stage.

The book covers the entirety of his 40 year career while concentrating specifically on his last two years and the students he teaches during that time while putting on productions of Good Boys and True and the aforementioned Spring Awakening. It is an absolute joy to be a part of the process as Volpe works with his students to tackle two very difficult shows. I admit that I cried towards the end when his final class of students presented him with the retirement gift they had arranged for him. I won’t tell you what it was, but it made my heart melt.

If you have any interest in the theatre at all or maybe even if you don’t you should read this book. I give it a 9 out of 10.

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