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The aim of the Newport Harbor High School Drama Department and Theatre Program is to provide academic and artistic opportunities for students within its district as a component of their artistic, scholarly and social growth as high school students.

Through the department’s three guiding principles we aim to teach, create and be fiscally sound:

  • Academic alignment and implementation of the International Baccalaureate Theatre (IB Theatre) program, and State’s Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) standards

  • Artistic inclusiveness by embracing ethnic, gender, and lifestyle diversity, and

  • Fiscal responsibility in the pursuit and the development of the NHHS stage productions


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Students gain production, tech, and performance experience by participating in the various theatre production offering at NHHS, some of which include dinner theater, staged readings, musicals and non-musicals on the main stage, cabaret evenings, scenes and short plays performances, and assisting the other Performing Arts disciplines during their season productions.

This class is specifically for students wishing to participate in NHHS Theater and Performing Arts Department productions.


Permission and sometimes audition is necessary prior to enrollment.



Students are taught within the guidelines and principles of the International Baccalaureate program and trained to utilize higher level thinking skills necessary for critically appraising and solving theatrical problems. Students have the opportunity to create and present characterizations from a variety of culturally diverse, published works as well as write, direct and design plays and theatrical pieces that foster an appreciation for the varied cultures of the world.

Students also research and reflect upon the Interdisciplinary connections between theatre and all other areas of education. Students learn to embrace the concept of internationalism as they explore Theatre in the Making, Theatre in Performance, and Theatre in the World.


This course is only for 11th and 12th graders only.

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Intro to Theatre is a theatre studies course provides rigorous theoretical and practical experience in theatre concepts, history, and performance styles for students interested in the performing arts.

Students will be introduced to theatre concepts, play structure, basic techniques for acting, writing, and design, and an appreciation for the various types of culturally diverse theatre over the course of time.


This class is for 9th and 10th graders only.


Creative Writing and Public Speaking are two semester-long English Department courses currently taught through the Theatre Department.

Creative Writing touches upon diary & journal writing and fiction & nonfiction writing, but focus on storytelling through the craft of playwriting.

Public Speaking offers the opportunity for students to work on just that... speaking in front of people. Whether the goal is to master presentations or overcoming a fear of speaking in public, through theatre and writing exercises students will  be provided with the tools to grow as a student and speaker.


These are not a performance-based classes,

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Committed to excellence in theatrical education.

JOSEPH D'AQUINO .......................... Theatre Instructor + Program Director

JANICE SYKES ............ Theatre Instructor

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CHRISTOPHER RAMIREZ ....... Technical Theatre Manager + Guest Director

Mr. Ramirez is currently in his 8th year at Newport Harbor High School, and serves as the Technical Director and Production Coordinator for the Loats Performing Arts Center. Mr. Ramirez is thrilled to have found such a wonderful place to call his theater home and helped coach the first ever Newport Harbor Drama Tech Olympics team at the 2019 Fullerton College High School Theater Festival. Mr. Ramirez also has a long history of performing and directing and in 2019 directed his first musical at NHHS, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Professional highlights include Stage Manager for the Chance Theater (Triassic ParQ) and The Pacific Symphony. Assistant Master Electrician for Moonlight Stage Productions in San Diego Other Credits Include: Musical Theater West, McCoy Rigby Entertainment and 3D Theatricals. He currently maintains a position at Cal State Long Beach’s Carpenter Performing Arts Center. and holds a B.A in American History with a minor in Political Science (that he's never used). He is currently enrolled in the MA Theatre Education program at the University of Northern Colorado.

Dr. Sykes is a National Board-Certified English Language Arts and Drama teacher. She started teaching in 1995 and joined the Newport-Mesa Unified School District family in 2019. She worked as the production coordinator for the Purdue University Black Cultural Center when she was a student at Purdue. Additionally, she wrote, directed, and performed in various theatrical productions while there. She performed spoken word poetry on a radio show called Soul Plus Magazine as well. After graduating from Purdue, Dr. Sykes worked in television production as a researcher and segment producer for The Arsenio Hall Show. She was an actress on the show, too. Dr. Sykes also worked as an associate producer and a casting assistant prior to becoming a teacher. 

Mr. D'Aquino has been a member of the Newport Harbor family since 2016 after teaching theatre and playwriting at the middle school, high school, university and graduate school levels. He has been a member of the Actors Studio's Playwright Development Unit since 2001, and has been working in the performing arts in one form or another since  1981. 

As a playwright Joe has been produced domesticly and abroad, and continues to write as an example to his students for pursuing their passions. 

He is known for mixing his metaphors but trusts that his students get the idea.

HECTOR FIGUEROA ............. Set Design + Construction

Hector has had the honor of set designing and set building across the country. From producing his own shows and designs in Los Angeles to being the technical director for off-broadway stages, Hector enjoys bringing his talents to Newport Harbor High School. Past credits from NHHS include: Shrek, Members of the Family, and Songs for a New World . Past Credits from previous theaters: James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Only Yesterday.

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