Steven Calakos is the Director of Education at Gulfshore Playhouse.
There are certain aspects of my life I am 100% sure about: My family, my faith, and my career. I grew up in a middle-class, Greek Orthodox household in southern New Jersey where my father worked as a machine operator and mother a middle school special education teacher. I caught the theatre bug early in my life but didn’t pursue it until my sophomore year of high school where I played Wyatt the tap-dancing cowboy in Crazy For You. It only makes sense that after flap ball changing in chaps for weeks on end that I yearned for more song and dance.
The influence my mother had on my sister’s and my careers is very evident as we chose to work as public school teachers in the same district we attended as students. In my 11 year tenure, I taught 4th grade, 6th-8th grade math and STEM, and high school theater arts. It is rare that a teacher switches grade levels more than once during their career let alone teach all three levels of education: elementary, middle, and high school. Nonetheless, it was important for me to gain as much experience as I could while being a public school teacher. As fate would have it, I would end up finding my dream job as Director of Education for Gulfshore Playhouse over 1,000 miles from home.
Theatre education has and will always be the thing that makes me tick. Before starting with Gulfshore Playhouse, I served as founder and artistic director of my own theatre production where I produced numerous productions as well as the annual South Jersey Student Theatre Festival for high school actors. I also worked directly with students of various ages, having served as a theatre arts teacher and founder of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Vineland High School, director of theatre productions for Vineland All Middle School Productions, and a teacher and drama club director at Petway Elementary School. Each year, I looked forward to bringing my young actors to theatre arts festivals and New York City to see Broadway musicals and participate in workshops led by Broadway actors. I even had the brilliantly crazy idea to bring 40 middle school students to Walt Disney World to perform an abridged version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on stage at Disney Springs.
My philosophy on theatre education is to foster independent thinking in a creative and challenging environment and to offer opportunities that promote confidence and continued passion for the arts. I am thrilled to be planning future programs for Gulfshore Playhouse alongside our brilliant admin team. It is evident that theatre education is a top priority at Gulfshore Playhouse. There are so many enriching programs already established, including STAR Academy, ThinkTheatre, In Flight: The Story of Sabine van Dam, and the collaborative partnership with the Naples Philharmonic. In addition to these programs, my goal is to enhance the educational opportunities at Gulfshore Playhouse by offering more programs for students and adults throughout the year. Furthermore, I will continue to plan and collaborate with my colleagues, as well as administrators and teachers from the local school districts to meet the needs of our students. I am excited to serve the Naples community and continue to make Gulfshore Playhouse a performing arts destination for top-quality artistic and educational experiences.