Putting the camp in camp
Young thespians can choose from a wide range of summer drama camps
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
Drama camp around here might not mean the quintessential cabin in the woods near a lake. However, there are plenty of choices for stage-crazy kids or serious teens.
The Acting Loft educational theater in Manchester is friendly to families who need all-day kid care. They offer discounts for siblings and for those who sign up for all three two-week musical theater sessions: “The Ugly Duckling,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Adventures of Peter Pan.” Days run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the building is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Plus, the camps can be deducted as child care expenses. Financial aid is available for Manchester residents. Acting Loft accepts campers from age 5 through twelfth grade, with space for 30 per session. Alex Basbas, Caitlin Ducharm and Caitlin Cole teach.
Majestic Theatre’s summer camps have unique topics because campers from the previous year help choose them. Hence, kids can participate in “Electric Youth: a retro ’80s musical journey,” “Movie Mania: the music of the movies comes to life,” “Mysteriously Majestic: two weeks of mystery, music and magic” or “Rock Star: be the next idol rock star.” Last year, kids helped pick Disney, Shakespeare and twisted fairy tale themes, Karen Bessette, development director of the Manchester community theater, said. Kids ages 8 through 17 can apply for the mostly two-week sessions which run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They break into age groups to work on improv, music and drama. Parents and campers meet at an orientation the Sunday before camp. Faculty includes Michael Phillips, Amanda Pawlik, Candace Glickman and Jeff Caron.
The professional Palace Theatre offers age-specific camps, explained Rebecca Peterson, marketing director. Campers rehearse and perform on the Palace stage and have professional actors as camp counselors. The counselors are also the repertory performers for Palace Professional Productions for Children summer series, which campers watch. Teen assistants help with the camp and perform in teen summer Palace productions.
Peacock Players and Derryfield School use high school or college students as counselors and performers. In Derryfield’s second summer of drama camp, kids age 8 to 15 will study acting, dance, singing, improv and audition techniques at the Manchester private day school’s campus from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Laurel Devino is the camp director.
Peacock has already auditioned for their Young Company of students between 13 and 18 years old who act, direct, produce and otherwise help stage shows. Campers age 7 and up are split into age groups to learn about performance and production at St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church in Nashua in this youth educational theater program. They perform at 14 Court St. Theatre.
Teens who are still looking for a challenging theater program might try the new Spotlight Project at Acting Loft. The series of one-week workshops for eighth- through twelfth-graders grew out of Storytime Theater. Last summer, teens put on plays each week, for which nonprofits and daycares were offered discount tickets. Spotlight Project starts with a week of Storytime, but the next five “focus on other areas of theater so their learning base is expanded,” said Leah Belanger, education director. Artistic director John Sefel runs the program; topics include clowning, silent theater, Commedia Dell’Arte, Shakespeare’s comedies and Shakespeare’s tragedies. There will still be shows at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on those Fridays, but not all will be appropriate for three-year-olds, Belanger said. Spotlight groups are limited to 10.
Another option is to sign up for a workshop at Andy’s Summer Playhouse. The 35-year-old summer children’s theater in Wilton auditioned in March for its main shows, but there are still spaces for kids age 8 through 18 in their Conservatory, which covers fundamentals of performing and “Young Directors and John C. Russell Playwrights Labs” in which young writers and directors produce short plays. Their apprentice program is available for ages 12 and up.
In general, these camps all end with a performance, still have space available, do not offer transportation and campers must bring lunch.