Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bitten by acting bug at theater camp

E-mail this article \ Print this article

Brian Lewis⁄The Gazette
Anastasia Goldberg, 8, of Gaithersburg studies her lines for her part in a production of ‘‘Snow White” at the Shining Stars School of Performing Arts theater camp in Damascus.
Hi, ho, hi, ho, off to work they go, and in the Shining Stars School of Performing Arts camp production of ‘‘Snow White,” six dwarves try in vain to protect Snow White from the curse of the evil witch.

One day, Bright, Sassy, Giggly, Dramatic, Picky and Lazy — names chosen to fit the actors’ personalities — return from their day digging for precious gems to find that their beloved Snow White has not heeded their admonitions to not talk to strangers.

Air, food, water — nothing seems to revive Snow White once she has bitten the poison apple.

But, even in this version of the classic tale, which has some different characters and plot twists, it’s happily ever after in the end.

Director Amethyst Tymoch of Mount Airy, an experienced director of children’s productions, was excited last week about the progress her 14 campers had made just days into the production.

‘‘We’re way ahead of schedule. This group is very strong,” she said Thursday afternoon.

During the first few days of the two-week camp, she used theater games and creative storytelling to uncover the potential in each of the children.

‘‘We cast them based on how they attempt and approach the games,” she said. ‘‘I show them how to apply their natural personality to the process.”

The characters helped pick their own adjectives and develop a story line for their characters based on what makes sense, she said.

This was the first acting experience for nearly all of the children in the camp.

‘‘I always wanted to try it. I thought it would be fun,” said Daniel Eisig, 9, of Gaithersburg, who plays a skunk.

Picky dwarf McKenzie Compton, 11, of Mount Airy was also a first-time actor.

‘‘I really like this. It’s really great,” she said.

The all-day camp was structured with music, under the guidance of Shannon Hamilton, in the morning and acting, with Tymoch, in the afternoon. When not in a scene, the actors had craft time, where they made props and costumes for the show.

‘‘I love this camp,” said Sarah Vandegrift, 11, of Gaithersburg, who plays the evil queen. ‘‘It’s a place where everybody is friends. Nobody is mean. No judging. You can sing and dance — those are my two favorite things to do.”

First-time actor Jordan Gregory, 11, of Mount Airy was cast as Snow White.

‘‘She was beside herself excited when she found that out,” said Kim Gregory, her mother. ‘‘She’s loving it. She keeps telling me everyday she will be sad when it’s over. Maybe she’s found her calling.”

During brief breaks in the rehearsal, Tymoch talked to the children individually about their characters.

‘‘Tomorrow we’ll have more characterization in how we say things ... enunciation ... how fast we say things,” Tymoch said to the cast.

Anastasia Goldberg, 8, of Gaithersburg was already working on her stork character, reading her lines so well with an exaggerated Southern accent, Tymoch and the others had trouble holding back their laughs.

Anastasia came to camp with her sister, Kathryn, 10, who plays the old man that gives Snow White the poison apple.

‘‘It is really, really, really fun — I’m going to go again next year [and every year] until I’m too old to come,” said Mandy Quarantillo, 11, of Gaithersburg, who plays Snow White’s father. ‘‘I don’t want to leave. I wish it was longer.”

On the last day of camp Friday, the actors will give two performances of ‘‘Snow White” at the Shining Stars School of Performing Arts, 9870 Main St. in Damascus, (the old post office). Show times are 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tickets are not necessary, and everyone is welcome to attend.

This is the second year the fledgling nonprofit arts school connected to the Damascus Performing Arts Center has offered a summer camp program. Next week, the final session of the summer will offer a three-week musical theater camp for 5- to 15-year-olds. Camp will end with a production of ‘‘Once Upon a Mattress Jr.”

The Shining Stars school offers musical theater, acting and show choir classes during the school year.