With all the theatrical activity going on around the area it’s sometimes easy to forget that actors have to come from somewhere. And while many talented performers come from conservatory training programs, even those lucky ones most likely started in their star-struck youth in elementary or middle school. Here in Farmington the summer hols are the perfect time for kids to get a first taste of the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd, or to continue to feed a passion they’ve already developed.

The exciting news is that there are two theater camps in our area, and one of them is certain to be a perfect fit for any budding young Thespian.

One camp is run under the aegis of the Sandy River Players, Farmington’s redoubtable community theater, while the other is produced by the Mt. Blue Music Boosters, the generous organization that gives scholarships for local students to study music.

The Sandy River Players Summer Youth Music Camp’s production this year is the beloved tale of the boy who won’t grow up, in Peter Pan, Jr.

For the Music Boosters, the choice is Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, a story as popular with kids now as it was during the glory days of Queen Victoria.

At the helm of both these productions is my old friend Kat Zachary, who has been doing theater for as long as I’ve known her, has been directing summer theater for about six years, and last year took on the ambitious challenge of directing both of the local theater camps. (Fortunately for her there’s a week between them!)

Based on the Disney animated film and J.M. Barrie’s enchanting play, the Music Theatre International Broadway Junior production of Disney’s Peter Pan, Jr. is a modern version of the timeless tale that re-thinks some of the original movie’s outdated lyrics. The score includes new arrangements of classic Disney songs, such as “Following the Leader,” “You Can Fly,” “Second Star to the Right” and “Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me.”

SRP’s Summer Youth Music Camp is a three-week theater camp for children ages 8 – 14. The camp runs Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon beginning Monday, June 22 through Friday, July 10 with performances on July 10, 11, and 12.

Cost of the camp is $165 for the three weeks. Camp size is limited to 28 children and applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applications are available at Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers at 193 Broadway in downtown Farmington. They can be received via email upon request. Completed applications should be mailed to: Sandy River Players, PO Box 709, Farmington, ME 04938.

Only mailed, hard copy applications will be accepted – electronic applications will not be considered. For more information or to request an application please contact [email protected] Also, check out Sandy River Players’ Summer Youth Music Camp on Facebook— https://www.facebook.com/SRPtheatrecamp.

The Music Boosters camp runs for two weeks, and the cost is $85; dates are July 20 to July 31, with performances on July 31 and Aug. 1 The camp runs from 9 a.m. to noon every weekday, and they provide snacks.

This version of The Jungle Book is an extraordinary musical adventure with Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in the jungle. With the help of his friends — the bear Baloo, the panther Bagheera and the python Kaa — Mowgli is learning to survive as they teach him about “Jungle Law.” Does anyone know what will happen when Mowgli encounters the hooded cobra who guards the treasure vault?

It’s always difficult to judge hilarious coconut-tossing monkeys, especially when they take our hero prisoner. But the jungle is also the home of Shere Khan, the dangerous man-eating tiger who has vowed to destroy Mowgli. This faithful adaptation with five delightful musical treats is extremely attractive to kids and entertaining for adults. Ages for the camp are 7 to 15.

“They are such different camps, I just love it,” said Kat recently over a soda. “The Boosters camp has traditionally had a lot of younger kids who are new to theater, but they are so excited and capable, and they love the fast pace. The SRP camp is a week longer, so it has more focus. The parents are so great,” Kat continued. “They help their own kid with costuming, and the kids themselves bring their own stuff in for their characters. There is no fear – they love being on stage!”

Applications for the Boosters camp are available now by contacting Deb Seely at 207-778-9053 or 207-491-8503. Leave a message, voice mail, or text her phone with the information to mail an application: name, address, and age of camper. Deb will return the call and mail an application next day. Camp size is 35 campers and it fills up fast; the deadline is when camp is full. They need the application and fee (still only $85) to confirm a spot.

Developed by renowned educators and designed for the energies of younger performers, these re-workings feature condensed author-approved versions of classic musicals and modern works, custom-tailored to the needs of young people and schools. The music is written in keys appropriate for developing voices, and all shows can be expanded to accommodate as many performers as can fit on the stage. Which is grand, since our young actors frequently turn out in droves for these exuberantly exciting experiences.

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