STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
Creative kids who like to act, sing, and dance have a unique option as far as summer camps go. Summer Stage, created by Phoenixville’s Facetime Theatre, is in its fourth year. Kids entering fourth grade through college age register then audition to participate in three-week sessions that culminate in a full-length Broadway show performance. College-aged kids work as interns as well and they usually are the main lead roles in the show, though not always.
The production for the latest camp session is “Children of Eden.” The show tells the stories from the Bible’s Book of Genesis in a new way. The music was written by Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the Broadway hit “Wicked.” Kids perform the roles, build the sets, and make props. The show features choreography, lighting, and a full orchestra accompanying the actors.
Kate Nice, co-director, said in a recent telephone interview that kids get a professional theater experience.
“We are trying to teach the kids about putting on a production, about working together, and all aspects of theater,” she said.
One of the goals is to teach them just how collaborative theater truly is.
“It isn’t about getting a role or having a solo,” Nice said. “It’s about being part of the process and making something wonderful happen together.”
Nice enjoys watching the kids help each other.
“They come in with a collaborative viewpoint. Our high school and college students provide wonderful moments of leadership for younger kids,” she said. “As their teacher, it’s neat to watch. They’re all learning from each other.”
The camp is fun, but also “super intense” and “exhausting,” she said.
“By the time we open the curtain and I get to sit and watch the kids put on the show, it’s awesome,” she said. “It’s a combination of being proud and happy for them. They feel so accomplished.”
Gwyneth German, 13, of Collegeville, is a student of “Miss Kate,” who’s participating for the fourth year. She’s having a ball and learning a lot.
“By the end of the show, you can really see how far you’ve come,” she said. “Being in all the shows, I think it’s been a really good camp to go to and I want to come back again.”
In “Children of Eden,” German plays the storyteller and a dancing animal during the part about Noah’s ark.
“I’m a cheetah,” she said.
German likes to go to see plays and musicals so this camp is great for her. She thinks everyone has a good time, even though there’s a lot to learn and it’s work. She thinks live theater is awesome.
“I like to see how the story goes,” she said. “It’s just like a movie, but it’s even better because you get to see the people doing it right there.”
So being in a musical herself is amazing. German likes singing the songs because they help her to tell the stories with her friends.
“It’s really fun to do all that,” she said.
Nice is happy that the kids are learning about how theater works as well as making friends. She knows that kids get confidence from the experience and they’re having so much fun.
“To have anything to do with having a student feel that way is the biggest joy of the whole thing,” she said.
IF YOU GO
What: “Children of Eden” by Facetime Theatre’s Summer Stage
When: 7 p.m. July 16-17; 2 p.m. July 18
Where: Ursinus College’s Lenfest Theater (in Kaleidoscope Building), 601 E. Main Street, Collegeville, PA 19426