Performing Arts Institute

Expanding on its rich 50-year history of outstanding performing arts, Mater Dei Prep launches the Performing Arts Institute beginning with the 2018-19 school year. Students will have the opportunity to progress in various courses to nurture their artistic talent and participate in performing arts through musical and dramatic theater, chorus, instrumental ensemble, piano, music theory and dance.

Program Highlights
  • In the past nine years Mater Dei Prep has received 96 Count Basie Theatre Award nominations resulting in 29 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, The Hartt School of Music, Point Park University, Yale School of Drama.


Music Theater Workshop 101 – 404: This study and performance course is designed to give the student singer/actor the skills and confidence necessary for musical theater auditions. Students will study acting, singing and movement techniques for various styles of musical theater, culminating in a live performance.  Students enrolled in this class will also enroll in dance two days a week.
Drama Workshop 101 – 404: This study and performance course is designed to cover all aspects of dramatic theater with the focus on refining acting skills to provide confidence necessary for auditions and performance.
Instrumental Ensemble 101 – 404: This course gives students hands-on experience as a performing musician as part of the Mater Dei Prep Band. The aim is to create a strong and supportive atmosphere for creativity and musical growth. Students will be expected to work as a team as they rehearse, interpret and perform live music, focusing on jazz and other contemporary styles, for audiences at selected school and community events. This class is designed for students who are serious about participating in instrumental music and who are potentially interested in studying music at the college level. Students in this class will perform with the Mater Dei Prep Band. Audition required.
Dance 101 – 404: This course focuses on dance techniques such as ballet, jazz, theater dance and other contemporary dance styles. The emphasis will be on history, dance appreciation, the choreographic process, proper technique, rhythmical movement patterns and coordination.
Dance courses will fulfill the physical education requirement.
Choral 101 – 404: This course is designed for students of all vocal abilities. Students will study and perform a wide range of musical styles. Basic vocal techniques, including posture, breathing, phrasing, intonation and diction will be addressed. Participation at school activities, such as liturgies and concerts, is a requirement for this course.

Piano 101 – 404: This course provides students with an opportunity to develop musical skills through piano performances, to develop good piano technique, to learn basic theory and sight reading, and to enjoy self-expression through piano playing. Utilizing keyboards, students will learn the basics of music notation, rhythm, melody and harmony. A recital will be held at the completion of the course.
Music Theory: This course introduces students to the theory of music, providing them with the skills needed to read and write Western music notation, as well as to understand, analyze and listen informally. It will cover material such as pitches and scales, intervals, clefs, rhythm, form, meter, phrases and cadences and harmony. This course is designed for students who require it for career study, as a precursor to AP Music Theory, as well as for those who desire it for enrichment. (proposed for the 2020-21 school year)
Advanced Placement Music Theory: This course will prepare students planning to continue music study in college and cover topics included on the AP Music Theory exam. Topics include: chord constructions, chord analysis, musical forms, ear training and dictation. (proposed for the 2021-22 school year)


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.
If you have any additional questions, please contact:

Sherrie Cole at
Seraph Players in the News

List of 1 news stories.

  • Mater Dei Prep Receives Six Nominations at Monmouth Teen Arts Festival

    Students from Mater Dei Prep’s performing and visual arts departments received six nominations at the 2019 Monmouth Teen Arts Festival at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ on March 21-22. The festival, a two-day event held every March, provides fun and interactive workshops and professional critiques of student performances and exhibitions.
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List of 1 news stories.

  • Two Mater Dei Prep Seraph Players Named Finalists for Algonquin Arts Theater Rising Stars

    On Friday, November 2, 2018, Yancheng “Cash” Zhang ‘MDP20 and Jacob Callas ‘MDP19, were named finalists for the Algonquin Arts Theater Rising Stars. Yancheng “Cash” Zhang was named a finalist for his opera performance of “Caro Mio Ben” in Italian while Jacob Callas was selected for his piano performance of "Scriabin Prelude Opus 13 Number 1." Yancheng “Cash” Zhang and Jacob Callas are both valued members of the Mater Dei Prep Performing Arts Institute and Seraph Players.
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List of 1 news stories.

  • Mater Dei Prep Launches Performing Arts Institute

    Mater Dei Prep has recently launched four new academic institutes – the Global Leaders Institute, Information Technology Institute, the Emergency Medical Services and Nursing Institute, and the Performing Arts Institute to kick off the 2018-2019 school year. Each Institute is designed to teach students the skills needed to excel in today’s diverse, technology-based fields through hands-on learning.
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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.

Seraph Players Photo Gallery

Mater Dei Prep

Mater Dei Prep

538 Church Street, Middletown, NJ 07748
Phone 732-671-9100  Fax 732-671-9214

Mater Dei Prep admits students of any race, color, religion, and national or ethnic origin.
© 2018-19 Mater Dei Prep