Like all moms, I try to find ways to keep my son thinking and having fun over the summer that do not involve video games or a computer. Last year, I was researching day camps and found one called Camp Broadway, which, coming from a fine arts and theater background myself, looked interesting to me. I asked if he’d like to do it and he said he would. He had so much fun last year that he asked me to sign him up again this year.
I should start out with I wish there was a Camp Broadway for adults. I would be the first to sign up! Anyway, a little about Camp Broadway. It was started 20 years ago and began doing programs outside of New York City 16 years ago. For the one in Tempe, Arizona where my son attends, a small group of Broadway professionals and veterans work with different groups of kids throughout the week teaching dancing, acting, and singing culminating in performances on Friday afternoon. Yes, they start Monday morning, work all week, and manage to have something put together in time for Friday afternoon. Amazing!
In fact, it’s more than just a performance on Friday. It’s multiple performances. Each child is in two segments and the finale. For one segment, a group of campers writes their own skit, creating all lines and blocking, and performs it. Last year, these were incredible. The campers did great and quite often added an element of humor to the skit. The other segment is the prewritten one. Last year, the younger campers performed a shortened version of Seussical, Jr. while the older campers performed a shortened version of Once on This Island, Jr. This year, the campers are performing All Shook Up and Hairspray, Jr. I simply can’t wait to see these performances this afternoon!
In addition, the campers are treated to a ticket for a performance of the show that is playing during the week. Last year, they saw Porgy and Bess. This year, it was Phantom of the Opera. Even more special, the day after the performance, the campers have lunch and a meet-and-greet with the actors from the show.
This camp is not just for aspiring actors or those with lots of theater or fine arts experience. My son has never been in a show other than the simple ones with his class at school. He won’t even audition for the musicals at his school. Yes, some of the campers are very serious and some campers have even gone on in careers in theater, but the camp is not about that. On the first day of camp, I told Director/Choreographer Holly Raye that I hope the camp helped build my son’s confidence as he is very shy. Her response, “We just want him to have fun.” As a parent, sometimes I forget that not everything has to be a learning experience. I’m sure he’s learning things at Camp Broadway, but having fun is important, too!
If there’s a Camp Broadway near you and you have a child age 10 – 17, I highly recommend that you check it out. If nothing else, your child will have a great experience over the week, make new friends, and develop an appreciation for the theater and the work that goes into creating the shows.
This summer’s Camp Broadway schedule:
Atlanta, GA June 8 – 12
Buffalo, NY July 27 – 31
Greenville, SC July 20 – 24
Jacksonville, FL June 15 – 19
Las Vegas, NV June 15 – 19 (plus other programs and dates)
Miami, FL August 3 – 7
New York, NY July 13 – 17 (plus other programs and dates)
Providence, RI August 10 – 14
San Antonio, TX August 3 – 7
Westhampton Beach, NY August 3 – 7
For more information, visit the Camp Broadway website.
Many thanks to Melissa Vuletich and the ASU Gammage team bringing Camp Broadway to Arizona and Holly Raye and the Camp Broadway staff who made the week so great!