If your child likes to sing, dance, or act and you’re looking for summertime activities to get them off the couch, check out Theatre Winter Haven’s Summer Musical Camp Theatre, and brand new this year, Summer Dance Camp.
The Theatre Camp is headed up by TWH Education Director, Molly Judy. Judy started with the theatre as a volunteer 26 years ago and came on staff about 20 years ago.
The current format for the Theatre Camp started in 2000, according to Judy. Their first camp had only 19 kids and 2 instructors. Over the years, the program has grown, with this year looking to involve about 150 kids.
Theatre Camp runs from June 4 - June 21 from 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays, plus the performances on June 22, 23, and 24.
“We mount two, pretty much fully realized, children’s productions, in about a three week time,” Judy explained.
This year’s lineup includes The Wizard of Oz for ages 7-11 and Legally Blonde Jr. for ages 11-17.
The first week, the children audition. Each camper will get a role, and because their shows are musicals, they have to determine vocal ranges, speaking voices, and comfort level in front of an audience. After auditions, they start teaching the music and layer in the choreography.
“By the second week, we take the music and the choreography that they’ve learned and we add the staging,” she said.
Towards the end of the 2nd week, the instructors and production team meet to program the lights and work on scenery and sound. Week three, the kids have dress rehearsals of the production to be performed the final weekend.
The group of 150 campers will be divided into 4 groups - 2 younger and 2 older. Each group will have the stage twice to perform for family and friends according to Judy.
Judy spoke on the importance of children being involved in the arts. “When you do theatre, which combines all of the art forms, from visual art to dance to music to acting, and you work in a community theatre environment, you work with people of all ages, all socioeconomic standing, different genders - talk about a melting pot!” she said. “They have to learn to work with a wide variety of personalities, they have to learn to let go of their own wants in order for what is best of the show, that’s quite a learning lesson.”
Judy added, “Any young person that has an interest in performing, this summer camp is a great way for them to try it out.”
The best way to sign your kids up for Theatre Camp is through their website. If you have any questions, call TWH or email Molly Judy at Molly@TheatreWinterHaven.com.
Theatre Winter Haven’s Dance Camp is a new program this year. Courtney Cummings, Director for the camp, remembers how it got started through conversations with Director of Theatre Winter Haven, Dan Chesnicka, about a dance program that would be accessible to kids in the community.
Cummings put a plan together for what that camp might encompass and Chesnicka got the funding for it. The theatre began with adult dance classes last fall and junior classes for ages 8-18 in the spring, rolling out the brand new dance camp this summer.
The camp will be from June 25-June 29 and will have a morning session from 9am-12pm for ages 7-11 and an afternoon session from 1pm-4pm for ages 12-18. During the morning session, they will cover ballet, jazz, and musical theatre. In the afternoon session, they will cover ballet, jazz, modern, and musical theatre. The camp will conclude with a performance for all the parents. All kids will receive a t-shirt and snacks during camp.
As a teacher at McLaughlin Fine Arts Academy, Cummings expressed that the arts are important year round for kids. “If we keep them engaged in certain ways throughout the summer in the arts because they enjoy them, they might find it’s easier for them to learn when they get back to school. It keeps them motivated,” she said.
Whether a child has been dancing for years, or just dipping their toes in, the camp has something for everyone of different experience levels. TWH has also made an effort to make the camp available for families of all income ranges, with the opportunity for a scholarship based on financial need. To find out if you qualify for a scholarship or to sign up for the dance camp, visit their website or email Courtney Cummings at TWHDance@aol.com.
Theatre Winter Haven
210 Cypress Gardens Blvd, Winter Haven, FL 33880