Theater Program Welcomes Andrea Underhill


Andrea (center right) with some of her former students.

This fall, Andrea Underhill will be taking over for Laurie Sales, who is on sabbatical, as Theater Director for the 2018-19 school year.

Andrea began her career in theater as a high schooler. “The theater program at my high school, Merrimack High School, was very strong as we participated in the New England Theatre Guild Festivals,” Andrea recounted. “My favorite part of doing theater as a young person was, and still is, discovery. I really look forward to helping students surprise themselves through their theater work.”

After high school, she continued her studies at The University of Vermont with a concentration in theater performance and a minor in public communications. She received her master’s in theater education from Emerson College. She has worked with many theater companies, performing with Vermont Stage Company and The Skinner Barn as well as teaching and directing at Peacock Players, Flynn Theater,  Charlotte Central School, and New London Barn Playhouse.

Andrea’s most recent work has been at Peacock Players in Nashua, New Hampshire, where she has directed many shows. Her relationship with Peacock began, in fact, in her youth as a performer. “Each production at Peacock Players holds a special place in my heart and career,” said Andrea.

When asked about the transition from Peacock’s afterschool program to working on a campus, Andrea commented, “I think the biggest change is going to be how often I get to see students throughout the school day—which I look forward to!”

While Andrea formally joined the Groton community in the fall, she has been a visiting artist in Groton’s theater program for a few years and worked closely with Laurie to plan this school year’s production lineup and prepare for her new role as director of the program. In the fall, Groton students will perform The Mousetrap, an Agatha Christie murder-mystery play. The selected musical for the winter is Little Women, based on the book by Louisa May Alcott set in the nearby town of Concord. “I was drawn to Little Women because I love the themes within the work—family, adventure, determination, growth, and of course love. The characters are likable with qualities that the human spirit can connect to,” explained Andrea.

The Lower School Play, a concept that debuted at Groton last year under director Nicole Harris, will be continued this year under Andrea’s direction. However, the structure will be slightly different than the 2017-18 play, Just So Stories. “This year the lower school play will be devised from studying the play Cuentos de Josephina in the lower school theater classes. Cuentos de Josephina is a Chicano folk tale that my former UVM professor Gregory Ramos wrote. Each semester’s class will choose one tale within the play to perform in May,” Andrea explained.

Along with her responsibilities teaching the aforementioned second form theater classes, Andrea will also offer acting electives in winter and spring.

The spring term will not produce a full mainstage production, but rather, focus on writing and directing short plays for the annual One Acts Festival and preparing for the Lower School Play. Instead of one act plays being written and selected in a winter playwriting class, those participating in spring term drama will work on putting the show on.

Andrea said, “My favorite part about sharing live theatre with young people is the collaborative experience. I rely on cast members to be present and actively a part of the story we are telling.” Hopefully, this school year the theater program will gain many new “present” members that will learn and grow alongside their new director.