Teen and Teeny Thespian Camps at Bay Street This Month
In the wake of Broadway's mega successes like “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” young people’s interest in musicals — and theater in general — has never been so piqued.
For aspiring actors on the East End, uninterested in lazing on the beach during their summer break, Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor offers a variety of summer-long workshops and camps for tots, tweens, and teens — that is, anyone between the ages of 4 and 18 — all taught by seasoned teachers and theater professionals. While the workshops began in July, there are still plenty of classes for the remainder of August.
For the youngest thespians, 4 to 7 years old, Bay Street has Play Makers beginning on Aug. 14 for five days. According to the theater’s website, it’s all about putting the “play” into making a play, with campers exploring singing and dancing onstage as well as participating in theater-based arts and crafts. The week culminates in the youngsters putting on a show for family and friends.
Things get more serious for the next age group, tweens, and for good reason, as these 9 to 12-year-olds form the core of the mania behind popular Broadway musicals. A camp running from Monday to Friday is called My Life: The Musical. Retelling a life story through show tunes seems to be a necessary formula for many successful musicals.
According to Meg Sexton, the theater’s education manager, students will learn to create and perform their own musical, focusing on developing ideas for scripts but also working on singing and choreography. “The goal is to really stretch their imagination,” she said.
A Shakespeare Mini-Mainstage camp will begin on Aug. 21 for the same age group. Tying into Bay Street’s current Mainstage production, “As You Like It,” which runs through Sept. 3, this weeklong camp offers instruction in acting, classical language, and the comedy and characters of the Bard’s work. In addition, campers receive two free tickets to see the theater’s production of “As You Like It” with a parent or guardian.
For 13 to 18-year-olds, workshops are offered in a range of disciplines, including improv and audition techniques, as well as the art of speaking Shakespeare and costume design. This age group, Ms. Sexton said, is quite serious about pursuing acting either professionally or at college.
“They use these classes as real prep to help them get into that world. We often get to be their first impression,” she said, adding that several students had signed up for the audition technique class to help them prepare for actual upcoming auditions.
A series of master classes designed for teens are offered on three consecutive Mondays in three disciplines: acting, singing, and dancing. According to Scott Schwartz, Bay Street’s artistic director, for anyone looking to get into stage acting, “You are expected to be proficient in all three.”
The first Triple Threat class, on July 31, focused on singing and was taught by Liz Caplan, who happens to be the vocal consultant on “Dear Evan Hansen,” Disney’s “Aladdin,” and “The Book of Mormon.” Students were required to come prepared with 16 to 32 bars of any song to work on with her.
On Aug. 7, Mr. Schwartz taught acting. Nine teenagers who ranged from shy to stage-savvy came prepared with sheet music and lyrics from their favorite musicals. With piano accompaniment, each sang and then received feedback and advice from Mr. Schwartz.
“The biggest trick I can teach you today is always start with the words in your song. Write them out and read them out aloud before singing them. Musical theater is all about the words,” he told them.
The next Triple Threat workshop, on Aug. 14, will focus on dance. Avital Asuleen, an accomplished director and choreographer from New York City, is the teacher.
More information and rates for this month’s camps and workshops for children and teens can be found at baystreet.org.