History of PHSN’s Theatre Department
Pickerington High School North’s Theatre Department is a nearly-one-hundred year old tradition, having come a long way since its debut. Today it sets the standard for quality student production and is an ever-growing asset to the community. From its humble beginnings, it has grown and has garnered attention from the public and widespread acclaim as a superior performing arts program.
There has been a theatre department in the area since 1927 when the school went by the name of Violet Township High and was held in a six-room building on East Street, now part of Heritage Elementary. Over time, as Pickerington’s population changed, so did the name of its schools, and in 1939 VTHS became Pickerington High School.
Then in 1968, a larger building on Hill Road, which now houses Ridgeview Junior High, was completed to accommodate increasing enrollment. It was 1979 when Margaret Lawson, who would later leave a 32-year legacy of directing in Pickerington, came to a virtually nonexistent theatre department and staged the building’s first fall play: Taming of the Shrew, put on in the gymnasium during students’ lunch periods with a $0.50 entrance fee. The next fall, a production of Curtain Going Up was the first play on the main stage, followed by the first musical, Oklahoma, in the spring of 1981.
Pickerington High School’s Theatre Department called 130 Hill Road South home for 23 years, then in 1991 PHS moved to 300 Opportunity Way, a building which remains home to one of Pickerington’s two fine high school theatre programs. The continually growing population in Pickerington called for more schools in 2003, splitting the district into Central and North. Lawson went to North and director Shannon Cook took over Central. That year, North presented Noises Off and Little Shop of Horrors while Central staged Cover of Life and The Sound of Music.
The performing arts program at North was built with the combined efforts of Scott Skiles and Margaret Lawson. Skiles started stage production as a senior at Pickerington High School in 1985 and worked across the country until he returned to his roots in Pickerington. His professionalism and his detail-oriented work raise the bar high, a big part of the reason PHSN theatre is consistently excellent.
Lawson lent her talents to the school for 9 years until her retirement in the summer of 2011. She introduced a new director, Allen DeCarlo, who directed Barefoot in the Park that fall followed by Legally Blonde in the spring of 2012. DeCarlo has since established a new era in Pickerington theatre, providing a fresh take on a traditional program. Pickerington High School North’s Theatre Department is educated in its field and continually moving forward, becoming more locally and widely respected with each new production.