Fine and Performing Arts

Expanding on its rich 50-year history of outstanding performances, Mater Dei Prep’s art program gives students the opportunity to progress in various courses to nurture their artistic talent. They have the chance to participate in performing arts through musical and dramatic theater, chorus, instrumental ensemble, piano, and guitar, as well as individual instruction on various instruments. Dance will be offered to all interested as Master Classes throughout the year.
Program Highlights:
  • In the past nine years Mater Dei Prep has received 113 Count Basie Theatre Award nominations resulting in 36 wins. 
  • Mater Dei Prep alumni have been featured in numerous Broadway shows, and have recorded music available on iTunes and are touring with bands.
  • Students have access to over a dozen full-size, touch-sensitive Yamaha DGX in the piano studio.
  • Mater Dei Prep houses a performance-level dance studio on campus.
  • Students who participate in the performing arts also have the opportunity to participate in other activities and athletics due to the flexible rehearsal schedule.
  • Alumni have gone on to theater and music programs at schools like Berkley College of Music, Monmouth University, Rider University, James Madison University, DeSales University, Point Park University and Yale School of Drama.
Fine Arts
  • 2D DESIGN 101
  • 2D DESIGN 202
  • 3D DESIGN 101
  • FINE ART 303

Arts in Action is a club for those students who have a deep interest in art and wish to make connections with the world through artistic endeavors. Students meet during flex period or after school and must sign up for specific projects. Club activities may revolve around media or genres which are not covered in class, such as Mokume-gane (Japanese “metalworking” using polymer clay). Students are encouraged to use their new skills to raise money to finance community projects and an end-of-year trip to a museum. Previous Arts in Action students created and sold hand-painted ornaments and clay-bead bracelets.

Several community projects are also planned, including painting murals for different departments in the school and constructing set design pieces for the Mater Dei Prep Seraph Players theatrical performances. Students also share art on a global scale through organizations like Peace Crane Project and the Memory Project. In the last year, students have exchanged artwork with a class in Russia and created portraits of both Syrian refugee children and Haitian children displaced by hurricanes, artwork which was then shared with the children in those countries.

In addition to displaying student work in the Mater Dei Prep arts hallway during the school year, there are opportunities for students to showcase their art through contests, shows and festivals, like the annual Monmouth County Teen Arts Festival, and present their talent to a wider audience. During Mater Dei Prep’s Spring Arts Festival, students participate in a live “round robin” exhibition, painting for 20-30 minutes on a canvas and then passing the incomplete artwork on to the next student. By the end of the show, several paintings are completed, each one incorporating the talents of the participating students. The subjects of the paintings are chosen from the work of Mater Dei Prep photography students.

Performing Arts

  • Music Theater Workshop 101 – 404
  • Drama Workshop 101 – 404
  • Instrumental Ensemble 101 – 404
  • Dance 101 – 404
  • Choral 101 – 404
  • Piano 101 – 404
  • Music Theory
  • Advanced Placement Music Theory

Seraph Players: The award-winning Seraph Players perform two full-scale productions each year and participate in various field trips and competitions, including The Basie Awards and the Montclair State University Theatre Night Awards.

Chorus: The Mater Dei Prep chorus performs two concerts a year, sings at school liturgies and special events and participates in choral field trips to events such as the Monmouth Teen Arts Festival and the Trills and Thrills Chorus Festival.

Cabarets: Twice a month, students perform in front of their peers during flex period. Musicians and singers take to the stage in the third-floor lobby to flex their artistic muscles in an accepting and encouraging environment. All students are welcome to perform.

Masterclass Series: Professional actors, dancers, and singers work with the Seraph community and provide professional and creative feedback that will bring students’ performance skills to the next level.  All students are welcome to attend with registration.

Mrs. Cindy J. Dwyer

Mrs. Dwyer, an award-winning director and musical director, leads the Performing Arts Institute. Mrs. Dwyer studied at Butler University, Montclair State College, and Georgian Court University. She is certified to teach Music K-12, English, and Elementary Education. Mrs. Dwyer has been teaching music and drama at Mater Dei Prep and directing shows for 25 years. Among the thirty-nine musicals she directed are many multiple award winning shows including, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “All Shook Up” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”.  Mrs. Dwyer is an organist and the youth choir director at St. Aloysius Church in Jackson.
Mr. Tom Bender

Tom Bender is a trumpeter/arranger/composer whose professional experience includes all grade levels and performing venues. His students have successfully competed in All-Shore, Region II and All-State bands (including one student who received an Emmy for writing the music to Mad, Mad, Mad TV). Mr. Bender maintains an active instrumental teaching studio with his wife, Janet, also a music teacher. Both teach and perform widely in the Tri-State area. They are the parents of four boys, two of whom have attended Mater Dei Prep.
If you have any additional questions, please contact:

Sherrie Cole at