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Newton, Rockdale offer musical theater camps

Students attending the Art Association's Musical Theatre Camp from last year experience the bright lights of Broadway right here at home. -- Special Photo: Deanna Graham

Students attending the Art Association's Musical Theatre Camp from last year experience the bright lights of Broadway right here at home. -- Special Photo: Deanna Graham

For the talented boys and girls who will dance and sing their way across Newton and Rockdale counties this summer, it will be a time to shine as they hone their theater skills under the direction of experts leading camps in both communities.

The Arts Association of Newton County presents its Musical Theater Camp July 9 to 20, and the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts will hold its Musical Drama Camp July 9 to 21.

The Rockdale camp is open to students from third grade through college and the Newton camp is open to rising fourth through 12th graders. Students do not have to have prior theater experience to attend the camps.

"This is our second year and the first year was extremely successful, in fact so successful we have expanded it this year," said Ric Chiapetta, artistic director for the Newton County Arts Association.

"We've divided it in such a way that there's a camp that runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for rising fourth- through seventh-graders and the other camp is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for rising eighth-graders to kids who have graduated from high school. Two of the hours overlap and that's where the two groups rehearse the two big ensemble numbers."

The Newton camp has added two dance teachers which will greatly increase the professional dance instruction offered this summer, Chiapetta said.

"Last year, we had some dance, but this year the kids will get two hours of solid dance training and there'll be a two-hour overlap where all four instructors will be with the kids," he said.

"They'll also teach them different techniques and how to audition. There will be different workshops, with the last two hours being nothing but solid dance."

The Newton camp will be run by Mary Lynn Luke and Jay Tryall. Both have vast experience in theatre and are the directors of the Oxford Singing Children and Oxford Youth Singers, which perform theatrical productions and concerts. The additional dance instructors this year are Peter Swan and Ashley Lazenby, artistic directors for the Covington Regional Ballet.

Chiapetta anticipates having about 60 students take part in this year's summer musical theater camp where the students will learn song and dance routines from Broadway shows "through the ages," he said, adding that they will touch on everything from the early shows of Cole Porter to today's Broadway hit, "Wicked."

"Some kids are just looking to see what theater is all about. Other kids are die hards and looking to do this for a living and looking to get as much training as they can before college," said Chiapetta.

Chiapetta said a number of students who attended camp last summer landed lead roles in community and high school plays. A couple of last year's participants have gone on to college with plans to major in theater.

"My biggest thing is I want kids not to feel like they have to be a polished performer to come out and enjoy this," he said. "This is for kids of all experiences and backgrounds. I hope the kids will come out and have fun. It will be a learning experience and they'll grow from it."

The Newton County Musical Theater Camp will be held in the Porter Auditorium on the campus of Newton High School. Campers will audition on the first day of camp and be cast in musical numbers. They will rehearse for the next two weeks, adding staging and choreography, with the camp culminating in a performance on Friday, July 20, at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 for the show.

The fee for the Newton Musical Theater Camp is $250 per student. Sibling discounts and scholarship information is also available. For more information or to register, visit www.NewtonCountyArts.org.

The Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts will present its Musical Drama Camp for students who "love singing, movement and acting," said Jackie Sprague, executive director for the CRCA.

Sprague said the camp, which was revamped three years ago, has enjoyed a great response from the community. She anticipates around 50 students this summer.

"We've got different music, different songs, different choreography and dance movements," she said. "It has a positive impact on the children."

Sprague said students do not have to have prior experience before attending the musical drama camp.

"They just need to be willing to come in and work hard," she said. "This is going to be a fun-filled 10-day camp. It's amazing how much a child will learn in a short period of time when given the proper instruction."

Sprague said she is excited about the camp directors.

"They run the show," she said of Joey Fargar and Brittney Jaynes, "They are very impressive and the level they do is amazing."

Fargar is back for a second year as artistic director and choreographer for the camp. He is the former artistic director of Class Act and is now artistic director for Conyers Kids. Jaynes is also back for a second year and is music director for the camp. She has an extensive background in music, music education and musical theater.

The Rockdale Musical Drama Camp will be held at the Rockdale Auditorium at 903 Main Street in Conyers. Camp will take place each day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. leading up to the end-of-camp performance the last day of camp at 6 p.m. at the Rockdale Auditorium. Tickets are $5 for adults and $1 for students.

Camp participants will be in a variety of musical numbers based on their singing and dancing abilities and everyone participating will receive training in singing, movement and acting.

The cost for the Rockdale Musical Drama Camp is $125 per student. For more information or to register visit www.conyersarts.org.