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 eight years Mater Dei Prep has received over 80 Count Basie Theatre Award nominations resulting in 22 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, 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)


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.


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.
Seraph Players in the News

List of 1 news stories.

  • Mater Dei Prep Hosts “Songs from Les Miserables” Masterclass With Bill Whitefield

    On Wednesday, March 28th, the Mater Dei Prep Seraph Players will participate in the “Songs from Les Miserables” Masterclass with Mr. Bill Whitefield. The Masterclass will be held in the Mater Dei Prep chorus room from 12:30 – 2:30 PM. Mr. Whitefield will help the Seraph Players explore their characters and teach them to tell their character’s story through song in preparation for their upcoming performance of Les Miserables on April 13-15 in Memorial Hall.
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List of 1 news stories.

List of 1 news stories.

  • Hip Hop Goes Broadway with the Seraph Players

    On Wednesday, October 18th, the Mater Dei Prep Seraph Players will participate in the “Hip Hop Goes Broadway” Masterclass with Ms. Margot Gough. Students will study how to move better on stage and learn some of the hottest dance moves in Hip Hop and Jazz Funk. The “Hip Hop Goes Broadway” Masterclass is open to all current students.
    Read More
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.
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