Building a Musical Theatre Toolbox at Curtain Up

Curtain Up Camp 2021 has wrapped, and it was certainly one for the books! We were excited to welcome the kids and teens involved in our upcoming production of The Music Man for a two-week, in-person camp at St. Louis University High School.

This year’s theme was “Musical Theatre Toolbox,” and it gave camp participants, which included those in our inclusive Children’s Ensemble as well as Variety Theatre Interns, a chance to build their own toolboxes. Through various classes, projects and presentations from a multitude of special guests, campers developed their skills in acting, dancing, singing and technical theatre.

Activities included a resume project, during which kids learned how to make a theatre resume by creating their own. They also participated in a lyric and song study, which gave them a chance to learn how to approach a song as a character, how to study the lyrics and, finally, how to connect with a song as their character.

Other activities included those specific to 42nd Street, the show the campers studied throughout their experience. They developed skits around words from the time period of the show and even learned and created their own choreography inspired by Busby Berkley, the original choreographer of 42nd Street.

In addition to the above projects, Variety Theatre Interns learned skills specific to working behind the scenes as part of a musical theatre crew. They learned how to pick out the technical elements required to tell the story in a script, researched what it is like to do a show set in another time period, and more.

Each intern also had specific roles to play. For example, the Wardrobe Intern helped the Children’s Ensemble put together their costumes and the Prop/Scenery Intern designed and created scenery for the showcase. The Music Interns learned how to lead warmups and conduct the show, and the Lighting Intern picked out lighting effects and cues and even ran the light board during the final presentation.

At the end of the two weeks of camp, all of the campers came together to present an abridged version of 42nd Street for their families. The show was perfect for this year as it is a show about a group of actors whose show is cancelled, and they have to band together as a company to save their show. With the pandemic, the campers have had to experience this themselves, but this show gave them the chance to focus on the positive message of working together to still get to do what they love – theatre.

Curtain Up 2021 was directed by the fantastic Co-Directors Drew Humphrey and Dena DiGiacinto. Our fabulous Dance Director was Dawn Gilbertson and wonderful Music Director was Dr. Marc Schapman. Thanks to you all, the campers had a fantastic two weeks!

We’d also like to thank our special guests who taught our campers so much with their presentations and classes. These guests included Variety Theatre Director Lara Teeter, who talked about his career and being on Broadway, professional actor Alan Knoll, professional dancer Katherine Kennedy, Executive Director of Big Muddy Dance Company Erin Prange, Variety Theatre Wardrobe Head Janice Kemper, and Variety Theatre Sound Designer Rusty Wandall. Gad Guterman also led our dramaturgy project, Jason Evans talked about being an actor on national tour, Kelley Jordan shared about being a wig designer, and Andrew Kuhlman spoke to being a Broadway producer. Finally, Jeanna Schweppe, a Broadway actress from St. Louis who was part of the first national tour of 42nd Street, joined us virtually as an inspiration to the campers.

Finally, thank you to all those who made it possible for us to host Curtain Up Camp 2021! Our campers had a great time performing together and on stage for the first time in so, so long.

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