Thanks to the strength of our program, MKA’s fine and performing artists are consistently recognized. Our students achieve success in competitions. Our productions garner professional honors. And many graduates pursue art in college, with several going on to thriving professional careers. It all begins with a solid arts education that enables our students to become fine young artists and creative thinkers—every one of them.
A major, distinguishing strength of the Primary School is the class play for students in grades K-3. Every year, children collaborate to create an original class production, assisted by both their classroom and encore teachers. In a truly interdisciplinary process, students explore key stories and themes as they work together to create a play that shares an important message, frequently focusing on the MKA Character Standards or issues such as service to others or bullying. Beyond learning lines and performing in front of peers and parents, these young thespians are responsible for the scenery and staging, and frequently choose to incorporate music and dance into their productions.
For more than 18 years, staging a full-scale Shakespeare production has been the annual highlight of the 7th-grade experience at MKA. Students spend eight weeks immersed in the language, literature, culture and history of Elizabethan England, as well as in the staging of the play itself. Every member of the grade contributes to the production both on and off stage, whether as an actor, set builder, seamstress or lighting or sound technician. The project results in two public performances as well as an in-house performance for the Middle School community (to which local schools may also be invited). Plays rotate between Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet , with production styles ranging from the traditional to the contemporary and from minimal staging to the use of highly complex and changing scenery, increasingly enhanced by sophisticated technologies to evoke time, space and atmosphere.
The tradition of the MKA winter musical goes back more than 40 years, pre-dating the merger of Montclair Academy and The Kimberley School, when students from both schools would come together to perform a play or musical on the Montclair Academy stage. The winter musical has grown into MKA's largest annual theatrical production with spectacular scenery and costumes, a large pit band and a dedicated cast and crew of students from all Upper School grades taught, directed and supported by professionals from the world of musical theater. Such is the draw of the winter musical that some of the school’s most dedicated athletes turn to the stage to experience the camaraderie, dedication and sense of achievement that come from putting on such professional-quality performance. In recent years, productions have ranged from the decadence of Cabaret to the innocence of Once Upon a Mattress, and from the exuberance of Grease to the humor of Hairspray, ensuring that over their four-year career at the Upper School, students are introduced to a variety of musical genres and afforded a wide-range of opportunities to suit their personal strengths.