Westmont Drama Department

Built in 1963, Westmont High School resides in the quiet community of Campbell, California. As far as we can tell, only a few plays were produced during those first few years.
Yearbooks tell us that Kathleen Hulbard directed You Can't Take It With You in 1965 and Joann Hamm directed Auntie Mame in 1966. But the woman who really established Westmont Drama as a force to be reckoned with was Sue Hale. Alumni tell us that her productions were amazing and she ran a very successful Drama program for 18 years. In addition to her stunning shows, her drama classes and her students were regularly recognized throughout the county. As an example, one of Sue Hale's students directed Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ one year and was then asked to provide a repeat of the play! They did 7 shows back to back, for all the English classes in one day. That production even recruited some neighborhood young people to play the children.

From 1984-1991, plays were occasionally directed by a Westmont teacher but primarily jobbed-out to community theatre directors.

In 1991, Jeff Bengford was brought in as the after-school drama coach. When he arrived, there was not much stock left. A few canvas flats had survived, about 200 metal & wood seat folding chairs, four fresnels, two really old ellipsoidals, 3 scoops, a ragged set of blue drapes, a stained set of mustard yellow drapes, and a lot of trash.

Since then, and with tremendous help from students, teachers, volunteers, parents and staff, the Drama Department has flourished. Thanks to the dedication of amazing adults like Carol Fischer, Randi Heinrichsen, Steve Sinclair, Ron Martinez, Barrett Moore, Cynthia Matthews, Dennis Merrill, Tim Brengle, Barbara Kay, Marty Bengford, Kellye Dodd, Renee Scofield, Chris Nielsen, Rick Costanza, and Bob Serpa Westmont Drama blossomed.

There were hundreds of terrific actors during those "phoenix years" but only a few fabulous student technicians who helped forge Westmont Drama into what it is today; those pioneers included: David Blanar (1st Technical Director), Sara Escamilla (1st Stage Manager), Darren Heinrichsen (1st to write cues on a computerized light board), Gina Leon (another great Stage Manager), Connie Sechrist (1st Tech/Actor), Elizabeth Golden (a great Tech), Justin Corpron (1st Construction Manager), Bryan Klofas (he could do it all), and John & Christine Pingel (1st Lighting Designers).

During those early drama years, we used to spend over $3,000 every show just to rent the 12 basic lights, cable & control equipment we needed to see the stage.

From 1991-2010, Westmont Drama regularly purchased and wrote grants to build an inventory of over 70 new lighting instruments and special effect generators, 12 portable lighting dimmers, sound equipment items including wireless microphones, EON speakers, a wireless headset system, and comfortable cushioned chairs for their audiences. None of these items would have been bought without the tireless hard-work of many students and parents. Because we now own most of the technical equipment to produce shows, our students have designed all of our productions since the fall of 2004.

We currently produce an annual Haunted House, three main-stage shows a year, a few single-night events, and a one-act play festival.

We also offer eleven Theatre Arts courses: Drama 1, 2, 3, Drama 4 Honors, Musical Theatre 1 & 2, Technical Theatre 1, 2, 3 & 4 + a Performing Arts Survey Course for non-majors.

The Department prides itself on its welcome policy which has helped the Drama Department blossom into a diverse group of students from a wide variety of academic and social backgrounds. Over the years the curriculum seems to have had a particular appeal to students with special needs.

Each class (including Advanced Drama) has always had at least two special education students or students with severe health impairments. Outside of the classroom, our advanced students bring scenes from Shakespeare's plays into English classrooms; Technical Theatre students design our main-stage shows; and during the 2005/2006 season, a class production of The Laramie Project was presented to all Westmont freshmen and sophomores in an effort to promote school-wide respect and acceptance. In conjunction with our production of The Laramie Project, our Thespians raised money for Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS.

In 2006, Westmont Drama applied and was selected to represent the United States as part of the American High School Theatre festival at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. 34 Westmont students and six chaperones left July 31 for London, England where they saw several West End shows including Elton John's Billy Elliotand then traveled to Edinburgh were they lived for the rest of their two week over-seas adventure. During their stay, they saw over 25 more plays and performed their original musical, Circle of Chalk four times for an international audience.

Our Thespians thrive on sharing their passion for theatre. We annually travel over 365 miles to join other California high school actors and technicians at an All-State Thespian Theatre Conference. At this conference, all of our student delegates participate in individual events and audition for the festival productions. Over the years, our thespians have performed hundreds of theatrical pieces and participated in play marathon, scenefest, playworks, and received many honors including sole recipient of Honor Troupe for 2005/2006. Our Troupe inducts many new Thespians every year and we have often proudly hosted the Northern California Thespian Leadership Conference at our school.

Perhaps our biggest news happened when our new theater opened its doors for the first time.

Continue on to Westmont Performing Arts Department to continue to follow our history.

Most of our recent Westmont show photos are now available through the PHOTOS link on the home page. If you have any photos from any shows - please email them to me at: bengford@sbcglobal.net

Productions: Year By Year

1992/1993: Sherlock Holmes, Leader of the Pack (the original!)
1993/1994: Heaven Can Wait, Godspell
1994/1995: Stage Door, Smile
2000/2001: Cuckoo's Nest, Scrooge Extreme, Faculty Play: The Odd Couple, My Favorite Year, San Francisco Trip 2001
2001/2002: Noises Off, Stefanie Hero, Faculty Play: The Moustrap, Working
2002/2003: Dracula, Alice in Wonderland, Leader of the Pack
2003/2004: Comedy of Errors, Faculty Play: Santaland Diaries, Museum, Once on this Island
2004/2005: Rimers, Faculty Play: Lily, Lifetime, & Seussical!
2005/2006: Grease, Earnest, Laramie, Some Like it HOT!, Chalk Circle @ the Rep & @ the Fringe in Scotland!
2006: Scotland!
2006/2007: Rhinoceros, Love’s Fire, Proof, Pippin, A Midsummer Night's Deam + An Afternoon with Carol Channing
2007/2008: Vacancy, Heaven Can Wait, Glass Menagerie, Smile, High School Musical, One Acts, Grapes of Wrath
2008/2009: Haunted House II, The Odyssey, DramaFest 09, A Chorus Line, The Love of Three Oranges, 10th Annual One Act Festival
2009 / 2010: Moon Over Buffalo, Haunted House 3, Faculty Family Feud, Songs for a New World, Into the Woods, Alice Rocks in Wonderland, Spitfire Grill
2010 and Beyond!

More Links

Alumni Page
Promo Videos