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Summer on Stage 

Budding young actors build confidence and have fun at the Civic's summer drama camps

click to enlarge Children perform in the Civic's "Play in a Week" Chronicles of Narnia camp.
  • Children perform in the Civic's "Play in a Week" Chronicles of Narnia camp.

Starting in June, the Spokane Civic Theatre Academy is offering children and teens the chance to journey to Hogwarts, Sherwood Forest, ancient Greece or even through the looking glass, courtesy of its popular summer camp program.

The structure of the program is similar to years past, with a variety of Play in a Week Camps for participants entering grades 1-7, two different two-week Teen Summer Camps for those entering grades 7-12, plus a three-week Main Stage Performance Camp for high-schoolers who must first qualify by audition.

Chris Taylor, the Civic's director of education, says that the different tiers, performances and sessions cater to a whole range of ages, skill levels and availability.

"For the Play in a Week camps, they come in on Monday, and on Friday we do a show for friends and family. They memorize their lines and go through all their blocking in five days."

"We've written a few new scripts that we're going to be trying out this summer," he says, "so we can expect to see some really fun plays every Friday afternoon." Some of those plays include Hermione Granger and the Hogwarts Home (June 23-27), Alice in Wonderland (July 7-11), The Saggy, Baggy Elephant (July 28-Aug. 1), Perseus and the Titans (Aug. 4-8) and Robin Hood (Aug. 11-15).

"The two-week camps for high-school students are a little bit more intensive, more educational, more focused on skill-building, script analysis and character development." Those camps are split into Musical Theater (June 16-27) and Drama (July 7-18) with morning and afternoon sessions for each. Teens who take part will get to practice everything from proper diction and solo/group singing to audition techniques and improvisation.

"Our three-week performance camp, which actually kicks off our following main stage season, is going to finish with Legally Blonde," says Taylor. "It's just going to be a great, get-up-on-your-feet, check-your-brains-at-the-door, have-a-good-time type of musical."

Given its audition requirements, the Main Stage Performance camp (July 21-Aug. 7, Aug. 8-17) is ideally suited for budding actors who have risen through the ranks of the Civic Academy's one- and two-week camps and might like to land a cast or crew spot in a regular-season main stage production.

And yet fun, says Taylor, isn't necessarily the biggest reward of these camps.

"It's going to help the students' overall educational development. When they watch the final performance, I have a lot of parents come up to me and say, 'I've never seen my child do that before. They're always so shy.' But then watching them up on stage, watching their confidence grow, watching them feel good about themselves — that's the thing the parents love, to see their children being guided in a way that's helping them express themselves naturally and in a safe, comfortable environment." ♦

Spokane Civic Theatre Summer Camps • Sessions offered June 16-Aug. 22 • $115-$400 • spokanecivictheatre.com • 325-2507

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