Active, former HCPS teachers create countywide drama program; Starlight Theatricals debut in Little Shop of Horrors

Matthew Ledford, Reporter

 “Starlight Theatricals is a private enterprise dedicated to providing high quality theater experiences, services and educational opportunities for participants ages 12 – 18. Our studio provides 9-week classes, summer camps and intensive workshops for aspiring performers as well as backstage technicians,” according to Chuck Bowden, one of the Starlight Theatricals founders.

     “Classes offered cover acting, vocal performance, dance and technical theater. In addition, students will have the opportunity to perform in musicals and plays produced throughout each season,” according to Chuck Bowden, one of the Starlight Theatricals founders. 

     The company Starlight Theatricals is owned and operated by a three member team of current and former Harford County Public Schools teachers who taught at Bel Air High School. These three people are Chuck Bowden, Benjamin Smith, and Terri Matthews. 

     Chuck Bowden is a faculty member at Bel Air High School where he has taught both English and Drama for the past 20 years. 

     Benjamin Smith is a faculty member at Bel Air High School where he has taught both Government and Economics for the past 21 years. Before he began teaching at Bel Air High School he taught Social Studies at Chariton High School in Chariton, Iowa. 

     Terri Matthews is a faculty member at Bel Air High School where she has served as the Vocal Music Teacher, Choral Director, and has been the Music Department Chair for the past 20 years. 

  Bowden says, “After 20+ years of working in educational theater with the school system, we decided to start our own Theater Company in order to have a broader reach and be able to teach students from more than one school. We also are excited to be able to offer more programming than we could within the time and budget constraints of the school system.”

     Bowden believes that, “We can provide high quality theatrical experiences for the community while continuing to educate students and help them develop their love of the arts. Our hope is to grow and be able to offer a variety of offerings including plays, musicals, concerts, classes, camps and workshops.”

    Bowden believes that these programs can help the youth involved because,  “Hopefully, any experiences that the students have with us will help them to continue to develop their love and passion for performing or participating in the arts whether it’s at their home schools or in the community, in college or beyond. We will be offering classes and experience in performing on the stage as well as behind the scenes, so whatever aspect of the arts they are interested in, we’ll have something for them.” 

    On the topic of production, Bowden said, “We were going to start with acting/performance classes for this spring, but decided to pivot and do two actual productions. The first one is Little Shop of Horrors. That’ll be for high school students and will be running the last weekend of March and the first weekend of April.”