Curtain rising on musical day camp

Leslieville soprano Jennie Such hosts arts camp for Broadway-bound youth

If your child loves belting out “The hills are alive” in the shower, he or she may have the chance to bring that verve to stage this summer.

A new intensive program in the Beach, running July 26-30 at the Kingston Road United Church, aims to expand kids’ musical and dramatic horizons.

Leslieville area resident Jennie Such, a singer and soprano who has worked with Mirvish Productions and the Canadian Opera Company, says she got the idea for Broadway in the Beach (broadwayinthebeach.com) from parents of her students.

A private voice teacher at Toronto’s Branksome Hall for seven years, Such says she was often asked about arts related summer camps.

There are plenty out there, she says, but not many with their focus.

“There aren’t a lot (of programs) that are highly specific,” Such says. “We were more interested in developing skills for people in a workshop setting.”

The five-day camp will include morning workshops on voice training and acting techniques, while the afternoons will be dedicated to practising scenes and songs from various musicals for the final show.

“It’s useful for kids to have a monologue and songs on the ready to pull out of their back pocket for auditions,” she says. But it’s not like students have to be aspiring actors or singers to participate.

“Anyone can be involved,” she says, so long as the person has passion and enthusiasm.

Even with the show, the focus of the program is on process, she says, not so much outcome.

“It’s not going to be a glitzy event,” she says of the final performance.

It’s apt that the setting for the camp is in a church. Such recently played Sister Sophia in the Mirvish Productions staging of The Sound of Music.

After sharing a dressing room with fellow performer and actor Brigitte Robinson for the duration of the 18-month show, Such says she and her roomie hatched a plan to mount Broadway in the Beach.

“We became really good friends,” Such says of Robinson. They have compatible specialties, she says, and both share a love of teaching 9-15 year-olds, the age group the camp is targeting.

The Kingston Road United Church was a perfect fit for the program, she adds, as it houses a refurbished grand piano in a room with good acoustics, and it has plenty of rehearsal space.

“You get a nice community feeling from the space,” she says.

“The Beach is a great neighbourhood and seemed like a good place to start.”

The camp is maxing out at 15 — a nice number for ensemble pieces, Such says. They hope to expand the program to several weeks in the future.


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By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: May 19 2010 10:48 am
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto
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