This month’s blog is going to be a bit on the short and sweet side. I am directing the summer camp at the Delray Beach Playhouse, and our musical, Elf Jr. The Musical, is moving along full steam ahead! We are only in our second full week of camp, but these kiddos have already stolen a big piece of my heart.
My acting headshot
The months of brainstorming, researching, meeting, and planning all culminated on June 21st – the start of camp. Although I felt prepared (we have an absolutely wonderful team of talented professionals and volunteers), I was still anxious for that first day to begin.
I wanted the kids to hone their performance skills, build their teamwork abilities, and mostly, just have fun after a year like 2020. Well, my nervous butterflies quickly dissipated that Monday morning as the campers arrived. Their smiles may have been covered by masks, but their eyes still showed the excitement and eagerness to begin a new adventure.
Some of the Broadway campers during arts & crafts
I could go on to explain the details of the camp – our schedule, the musical we are rehearsing, our daily arts and crafts, etc., but the part of camp that stays with me and has really dug its way to my core is the little moments in between the rehearsals and activities. For instance, on several occasions, I have heard campers practicing a song outside of rehearsal not because they were told to but because they simply wanted to continue singing together. Other times, I have found them running lines or teaching choreography to a student who maybe missed a day or needed the extra practice. During our downtime, they share and get along with one another. They are inclusive of everyone despite ranging in ages six to sixteen years old.
Some of the Broadway campers learning choreography from Instructor, Tucker DeGregory
Of course, there are times in which we must intervene, but these times are few and far between. Also, I am amazed at the kids’ ability to balance both a mature focus during rehearsals with a youthful playfulness during breaks and downtime. As adults, we tend to forget the importance of this balance. They show up everyday ready to learn with zero preconceived ideas of how the day should go. They are present and in the moment – trusting us to give them the guidance necessary to stitch together this show. Their trust is something I do not take lightly. In fact, it has quickly become my biggest motivation to make this show, camp, and overall experience something they will be able to take with them moving forward into the future.
Broadway campers with their handmade snowflakes – which will be used as props in ELF Jr. The Musical
Speaking of the future, I would like to conclude this brief blog with a bit of advice I received right before camp began. I was told that our job is to cultivate the theatre lovers of tomorrow. This simple, yet thought-provoking statement resonated with me on a profound level. Admittedly, I am a perfectionist by nature. Before hearing this, I would have most likely focused on the details of the show and pushing each camper to his/her fullest potential on stage. However, I was left with a renewed sense of responsibility. Some of these campers will continue to perform. They could go on to study it in college or perform professionally in regional theatres or heck…even Broadway! Others will choose different paths and go on to accomplish feats in medicine, law, education, science, business, technology, research, etc. Regardless of whether they continue to pursue the performing arts or not, I hope that they are left with a love and appreciation for theatre. We must foster the next generation of theatre performers and goers in order to sustain the arts – for one cannot exist without the other. If this group of kids is any indication, I am proud to say that the future of theatre is looking very bright indeed.
Elf Jr. The Musical will be performed by the Broadway campers on July 17th at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. If you are interested in coming to see ELF Jr. The Musical at the Delray Beach Playhouse, you can purchase tickets online at delraybeachplayhouse.com or call the Box Office at 561-272-1281.