You would think not being able to meet in person would spell trouble with a capital “T” for Variety Theatre’s Curtain Up Camp, but this year’s camp was one of the best yet! By going virtual, and with a lot of help from our fantastic cast and crew, we were able to hold Curtain Up for three weeks this summer.
Curtain Up was open to all of the kids and teens who will make up the inclusive Children’s Ensemble for this year’s Variety Theatre production, The Music Man. The four kids and teens taking on principal roles in the show as well as six of our Variety Theatre interns were also in attendance.
As always, the campers learned songs and choreography from the show, built their own crafts and props, made their own costumes and worked on a specific role. They also learned more about 1912 America, when the story of The Music Man takes place, participated in fun Trivia Nights with their families and more.
Main projects for the cast included “Meet the Town,” for which each camper created his or her own character for the show. They developed the character’s backstory and costume, and then made a video to introduce their character. Another project was the “Dramaturgy Project” – all campers were assigned a word from The Music Man we no longer use today and were instructed to research the word and then create a video about it. Other projects included making dioramas depicting various scenes from the production and crafting trombone props to use during the song “76 Trombones.”
The six interns, a group comprised of local teens with and without disabilities, also participated in all of the above, but they created many of their projects in advance as examples for the other campers. In addition, they helped teach the rest of camp a little about history by creating a video presentation about 1912 America.
The final product for Curtain Up 2020, however, is still in the works. On the last day of in-person Curtain Up, the cast and interns typically put on a mini production for their friends and family to showcase all that they learned and created throughout Camp. Although this couldn’t happen this year, the campers instead submitted videos of themselves singing, dancing and acting in various roles, which will now be combined into a final video that they will get to watch soon.
The campers absolutely loved their time at Virtual Curtain Up Camp, with many expressing wishes that they didn’t want it to end on the last day. Luckily, they will see each other again once rehearsals begin!
We want to give a big shout-out to the many Variety Theatre cast, crew, friends and alumni who came together to help make Curtain Up 2020 possible for our campers. Drew Humphrey, current Choreographer and former cast member, and Dena DiGiacinto, cast member, once again served as our amazing Co-Directors of camp. Former cast members Dawn Gilbertson, Whit Reichert, Kay Love and Jamie Eros all led our small groups in addition to other projects. Director Lara Teeter presented a history of musical theatre, cast member Erica Stephan led a craft, and former crew member Marty Strohmeyer gave a special presentation about the importance of inclusion. And a couple of special guests – Broadway’s Ali Stroker and Terrence Mann (who played King Triton in our 2018 production) – each shared an inspirational message with the kids.
We’d also like to thank our supporters for making this camp possible. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to provide these amazing campers with this experience.
Save the date now so you can see the talented Variety Theatre kids and teens take the stage in The Music Man, coming to the Touhill Performing Arts Center October 16 – 18 and 23 – 25, 2020.