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Performing Arts

All the world's a stage

Thornton Academy's performing arts program is among the most robust in New England. We offer full programs in dance, theater, vocal music, and instrumental music. Our performing artists go on to become professional musicians, actors, dancers, movie directors, and stage crew.  

Garland Auditorium hosts most of the performing arts productions performed at Thornton Academy. This 500-seat theater is outfitted with modern technical equipment, a marley dance floor, and space to house the elaborate sets that define our theater productions. 

Annual performances include choral shows, band and orchestra concerts, the fall play, the one-act play, a Broadway-style musical, Jazz à la mode concert, dance shows, and more. 

featured class: dance company

Gain performance and choreographic experience. Students refine kinesthetic and spatial awareness working toward greater musicality and expressiveness with a variety of choreographers. The company performs at Thornton Academy as well as other schools and venues. Students learn about approaches to building a repertory as well as the many technical aspects of performance and company management. 

a student plays the violin during a concert

I am thankful for the wonderful arts programs here at TA. I love that I am able to express myself in my own way every day, whether that’s through Dance Company, Chamber Singers or TA Players, I’m never bored or stagnant.  The arts teachers push me to be the best I can be and to use my peers as inspiration. 

aislinn travis '19

Discover our Performing Arts Programs


The Thornton Academy Dance Program enriches students' experience through the art of dance and creates lifelong fans of the arts. Classes are structured to include technique, choreography, art criticism, and history. Students perform several times annually as well as collaborating with other performing arts disciplines. Emma Arenstam Campbell '04 directs the program, which produces three shows annually and travels regionally to perform. The dance program is housed in the Johnson Dance Studio, which was renovated in 2015 to provide a modern practice space for this program. Performances are held on the stage of Garland Auditorium. 


Thornton Academy's theater program is highly regarded by the local community as well as by regional theater aficionados. Annually, the TA Players present a fall play, a competitive one-act play for the Maine Drama Festival, and a Broadway Musical each spring. Most years, the Thornton Academy Players host eight other high schools for the regional drama festival. Course offerings include Acting 1 and Acting 2. Student actors may repeat Acting 2 for credit. Many theater students also choose to be involved in the technical crew that supports extracurricular productions. Theater director Mr. David Hanright has been with Thornton Academy for over 20 years, he serves on the board for the Maine Drama Council and the New England Drama Council. He brings his extensive experience and good humor to each production. 

Vocal Music

Thornton's award winning vocal music program includes many different styles of music and a variety of ensembles that everyone can participate in and enjoy! Vocal musicians learn various vocal techniques, musicianship skills and sight-reading at all different levels. Chamber Singers and Treble Choir are audition-only ensembles, while Concert Choir is open to all Thornton Academy students. TA students are regularly selected through a rigorous audition process for The District Choir and the All-State Choir. Thornton Academy choral music is directed by Catherine Murray, who brings over 25 years of experience to her students. 

Instrumental Music

The instrumental music program is comprised of concert band, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, string orchestra, and symphony orchestra. The curriculum incorporates the national standards of creating, performing, responding, and connecting with music through performances and opportunities presented to students. 

The performances are held in high regard in the community. Performances which quite often sell out the house are the annual Holiday concert in December featuring the entire music department and the Pops concert in February featuring the String and Symphony orchestras. 

The Thornton Jazz Band takes place in district and state competitive festivals in Maine and the Berklee College of Music High School Jazz Band Festival every year. Many music students are accepted into district and state level honors festivals after participating in a rigorous audition process. 

Performing Arts Courses