Music camp takes center stage
At 7 p.m. Friday, about 100 yellow-clad performers marched onto the stage at the MSU Community Music School auditorium and launched into a rendition of “Be Our Guest,” from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
So began the Community Music School, or CMS, Musical Theatre Camp revue, the final performance for participants of the Musical Theatre Camp, a week-long camp where participants learned and developed skills used in musical theater.
The performers ranged in grade level from second grade to seniors in high school and performed a total of 19 songs during the night, changing into different costumes between almost every tune.
Natalie Emptage Downs, the camp’s choreographer and stage director, said the finale of the camp left her feeling conflicted.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “I’m ready to go home and relax, but at the same time, it’s sad because you see how hard the kids work, and it then goes by so fast.”
Downs said she faced additional challenges this year because of the increase in participants.
She said the number of interested participants had just about doubled since last year, the camp’s first.
“Trying to choreograph all those kids onstage was one of my biggest challenges,” she said. “Each day was a new challenge, but we did it.”
Musical director for the camp, Kristin Zaryski, said she doesn’t expect the camp’s growth to slow down any time soon.
“We’ve been testing out ideas how to accommodate larger groups,” she said.
Those ideas included the possibility of expanding the camp to two weeks or splitting the age groups in half and creating two separate camps, she added.
Performer Loren Todd, 13, said he is looking forward to attending the program next year.
“I was very excited to do (the camp) this year, and I’m very glad I did it,” he said.
Todd enjoyed singing in the final performance and the opportunity to make new friends, two things that Zaryski said were important that participants took home from their experience.
Zaryski said it was easy to tell when everything began to click for the campers — the afternoon dress rehearsal before the show.
“It’s hard for kids to picture the end product when we’re putting it all together from the beginning,” she said. “And so today when we started doing our dress rehearsal, their eyes started to get bigger, and their smiles started to become wider. They began to see that they’re part of a bigger whole.”