Lou Volpe changed lives. In his forty years as drama teacher at Truman High School in Levittown, Pennsylvania, he taught and coached thousands of students, many of whom were interviewed for this book. He produced musicals as well as serious plays and on several occasions was invited to produce a Broadway theater hit as a pilot for MTI (an organization that licenses the rights to hundreds of shows for performance by professional, amateur and school groups). One such pilot was Les Miserables. After someone else had produced a pilot, which the Broadway producer didn't choose to authorize, Volpe rewrote the script and produced the show. This time the Broadway producer gave his approval and it was licensed as the official high school edition. Drama High tells the story of Lou Volpe's career and the impact he had on his students and Truman High School, which became nationally known for its drama department.
Author Michael Sokolove spent two years following Volpe around, sitting in on rehearsals, performances and competitions. The result is a riveting book which the reader found difficult to put down. Sokolove includes details from various productions put on by the students at Truman High and provides the suspense and drama so important to narrative nonfiction by making the reader care about the success of Volpe's students. He seamlessly interweaves comments about education in general and the impact of losing instruction in the arts with the story of Volpe's career. Drama High underlined for the reader the importance of experiencing a play in a theatrical setting, as it was designed to be done, with real people portraying real emotions.
Reviewed by mc, 10/13. Other reviews by mc.