Category Archives: summer camps

Top 10 Best Moments of DreamWrights 2016

As we countdown the days to 2017, our twentieth year, we take a moment to relish our accomplishments and great memories from 2016.

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10. Our transition from a Youth and Family Theatre to a Center for Community Arts

In March we began to transition our identity from a Youth and Family Theatre to a Center Community Arts. Building characters for life became our mantra while putting growth center stage was identified as the inspiration behind our capital campaign. As a Center for Community Arts, a new Innovative Programming Committee was formed and wasted no time sponsoring DreamWrights’ first Open Mic Night. Budding comedians, talented musicians, and a friendly faced magician graced the stage of our relaxed and casual space. We had so much fun we are planning to do it again soon!

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Zombies in the elevator at DreamFrights

9. New camp and event programming

This year, DreamWrights offered a wider array of art and performance based camps as well as a few new events. Our first ever DreamFrights Haunted House was a huge success! With different fright levels, we were able to entertain young ones up through older kids and adults who enjoy the thrill of the scare. We hosted a tea parties during the runs of The Secret Garden and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit and we had cookies, cocoa, and caroling with Santa, Dorothy, and the Wizard in Oz earlier this month. Flippin’ Broadway, a cabaret of Broadway show tunes with a fun twist, was a crowd pleaser in February.

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As for summer camps, this year we offered 24 different exciting and creative camps. These included three Disney performance camps, 101 Dalmatians, Cinderella, and Aladdin. We also held art camps taught by local artists Rita Whitney and Karen Paust, a digital photography camp taught by Randy Flaum of White Rose Community TV, and a poetry class taught by York’s poet laureate, Christine Lincoln. We are planning equally innovative, clever, and exciting camps and classes again this coming summer. Spread the word and tell your friends!

8. Our beautifully designed sets

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The Secret Garden

This year, DreamWrights raised the bar with our set design by employing the talents of some amazing designers and builders. Fifteen year old first time set designer, Jacob Schlenker, gave a beautiful and sassy makeover to the set of Legally Blonde. The first ever DreamWrights raked (sloped) stage was designed by Billy Ferrell for The Adventures of Peter RabbitAllen Brenner brought us a beautiful two story set staged in alley configuration with the audience on two sides for The Secret Garden. Most recently, the illustrious Ray Olewiler designed a magical set that was over the rainbow.

7. The enthusiasm and energy that Guest Directors bring

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Guest Directors Andrea Unger and Chris Quigley

This year, DreamWrights benefited from the expertise of five guest directors: Andrea Unger (Our Miss Brooks and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit), Nic Ecker (Legally Blonde), Michelle Denise Norton (As You Like It), Kirk Wisler (The Beverly Hillbillies), and Jaci Keagy (The Wizard of Oz). In anticipation of the upcoming season, where we will be using six guest directors and three guest assistant directors, a formalized guest director process was introduced. The first introduction and kickoff meeting for guest directors was held in early December. Please join us in welcoming Guest Directors Rodd Robertson (directing Pride and Prejudice), Andrea Unger (Peter Pan and Mary), Michelle Denise Norton (The Taming of the Shrew), Timothy Storey (The Mousetrap), Chris Quigley (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), and Jaci Keagy (It’s a Wonderful Life) as well as Guest Assistant Directors Amanda Nowell, Kevin Alvarnaz, and Andrea Unger. We hope that our improved processes for these guest directors will make for an even better experience for our crews, casts, and audiences!

6. Our community celebration to kick off our capital campaign

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On June 30, to kick off the public phase of our capital campaign, we threw open wide our doors and invited the local community to meet our refreshed Center for Community Arts. Nearly 200 friendly faces joined us in the celebration. This exciting event featured performers and artists that included: YWCA’s Temple Guard Drill Team, Devix, Kingsfoil, Weary Arts Group, First Capital Drumline, Illstyle & Peace presented by Positive Energy Arts Foundation, and DreamWrights’ own Theatre Under the Trees and StAGEs troupes.

 

5. Our StAGEs program winning a Nonprofit Innovation Award

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In February, DreamWrights was awarded a Nonprofit Innovation Award in the category of collaboration with StARTSomething by the Central Penn Business Journal for our work with StAGES, our creative improv class for folks 55 and older. StAGEs encourage active participation in the performing arts. Thanks to additional support from the Cultural Alliance Creative Impact Award, this year our StAGEs troupe has made new friends, new memories, and has had tons of laughs while enjoying the benefits of “creative aging.”

4. A successful internal transition

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This year we honored the career of founding member, Diane Crews, and we welcomed Hilary Adams, our new Director of Artistic Programming. Diane’s DreamWrights career was memorialized in the naming of our black box theatre. Hilary has hit the ground running as she is currently finalizing the crews and casts of her first DreamWrights production, Babe, the Sheep-Pig.

3. Being on TV and performing to sold out crowds

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We ended the year with a bang as we enjoyed our 4 minutes of fame on Fox 43‘s morning show on December 1. It was a great way to kick off our run of The Wizard of Oz as nearly every show was sold out. Our hearts, minds, and confidence was renewed as we remember that there’s no place like home – or your second home – as many of you call this place known as DreamWrights.

2. Community support of our capital campaign

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Executive Director, Ann Davis, with Mayor Kim Bracey and York City Solicitor and DW Board Member, Jason Sabol at Hats at the Hound fundraiser event

What began as a dream took a foothold in reality this year with the funds we have raised towards our capital campaign. We brought our message to the broader community through fundraising events like Hats at the Hound. Although we have not met our goal of $2.5 million dollars, we are standing strong at $1.8 million with phased construction plans and approvals from the appropriate local municipalities to begin moving forward with our construction this spring. We are excited for the opportunities the future holds with the new studio space, upgraded building enhancements, and expanded programming. We have received some amazing support from businesses and individuals alike. We thank you for your support. If you have not done so already, we graciously ask you to consider helping us get closer to our goal.

1. You walking through our doors

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Your involvement is what makes DreamWrights the amazing community it is. People of all ages, from all backgrounds and experiences are welcome to safely explore the arts, try new things, and be part of something bigger than themselves. DreamWrights builds characters for life. We look forward to working together with you again in the coming year to create our best, brightest, and biggest year yet!

Happy New Year from DreamWrights!

Summer at DreamWrights

Meredith Singleton is embarking on her senior year at York Suburban High School. She is the President of the Trojan Theatre Club, plays violin with the York Youth Symphony Orchestra, sings with the York County Honors Choir, and represented her school last year at Regional Chorus. Her busy school and activity schedule doesn’t permit her to get involved at DreamWrights during the school year but for the past three summers, Meredith has participated with DreamWrights’ Shakespeare program, Theatre Under the Trees.

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Also this summer, she added something additional to her resume: Teen Camp Counselor.

As a rising senior, Meredith knows that she needs to soon decide what she will do after high school. With her interest in theatre, she decided to volunteer as a teen counselor at four DreamWrights summer camps. She explains, “I’ve been looking at colleges but I had no idea what I wanted to go into. Now I have a better idea.” Never having worked in a classroom before, Meredith confirmed her interest in teaching and theatre and recently has narrowed her college search to schools offering theatre arts and either early education, music education, and/or museum studies.

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Meredith remembers, “I liked working with the kids. It was a lot of fun. I had a good experience doing stuff with them.” DreamWrights’ Summer Camp Coordinator, Hannah Kohler recognizes that she has a knack for working with younger kids in a theater environment, “I was very impressed with her work ethic. She is very proactive and I could always count on her to ask about the next thing. At times I have to tell her to go home.”

Calm and effective, Meredith was exposed to a variety of age ranges of campers. She loved that she could really see a difference in the campers from the time they arrived on the first day to when they performed on the last. “When I was working with the really little kids, there was this one girl who was so shy she didn’t want to talk to anyone. She was crying the first day when her mother dropped her off. But then on the last day she actually got up on stage to do her thing. I was so proud of her. “

DreamWrights is lucky Meredith decided to spend so much of her summer at the theatre. The only regret she has now is having more time during the school year to participate at DreamWrights. “That’s the one thing I regret about my busy schedule. If I had the opportunity to, I definitely would do more.”

Building Imagination in a Diverse World

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For the past several years, Susan Craver has encouraged her granddaughters to participate in DreamWrights summer camps. Grandmother to 9 year old Ruby and 7 year old Dahlia, Susan knew her girls were creative and imaginative and she wanted to give them an outlet.

She tells a story about a day recently when she heard from her daughter about the girls. “My daughter said that Dahlia was upstairs producing a rock opera with singing parts for all the ponies. She was acting out the whole play singing every part. Meanwhile, Ruby was downstairs with all of her Fisher Price toys set out like they were in a play.” Susan recognizes, “They have wonder and pretend in them. They are great pretenders.”

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Ruby at Sculpture Camp

According to Susan, Ruby chose to do the sculpture class this summer. “She wanted to do something more artistic and hands-on rather than a production this year.” Susan says Ruby is more of a hands-on person where Dahlia is more active. “In the circus camp, she was all over the place.” She says with a chuckle. “That’s the great thing about theater because there’s always a slot for whatever your talent is.”

Susan has enjoyed bringing her granddaughters to productions at DreamWrights and they have loved everything they have come to see. “I see the benefits both from attending the productions as well as getting children to participate.” Both she and the girls have come to appreciate the group effort that it takes to stage a show. “There is a big element of cooperation that’s way beyond just standing up and doing your part.”

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Dahlia at Under the Big Top camp

Throughout the years that her granddaughters have been active at DreamWrights, Susan has seen a change in the mix of children who are participating. “Because we are diverse in the city – and I’m glad DreamWrights is in the city – I’m all for having as many different kids participating as possible. I think theater offers a diversity in and of itself that is just great for kids.” Indeed, DreamWrights welcomes kids of all backgrounds and ethnicities as we continue to “Build Characters for Life.”

Making Dreams Come True

Thirteen year old Dream Scholar, Bianca G., says that the motto at DreamWrights is true. “DreamWrights is a place where dreams do come true. I never thought that I would be in a performing arts program or that I might ever see a live performance.” But this summer, both of these dreams came true for this hard working young lady.

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The first week of summer camps, Bianca helped out as a teen counselor for two mini musicals, Pajama Party and Dinostars. Although very quiet and reserved, Bianca’s passion for theatre soon became very apparent. She was diligent in her counselor duties, she loved working with the younger kids, and she soaked up every bit of theatre experience she was exposed to that week. Bianca says, “I loved contributing and helping the younger kids because I could memorize their choreography and help them.” She took the initiative to work with some of the kids, providing them some extra coaching, when the Teaching Artist was busy with other campers.

During her down time, Bianca loved looking at the photo displays of actors and prior DreamWrights performances. She had never seen a live show before and when she realized that the musical, Legally Blonde was opening at the end of the week, she began to save towards the cost of a ticket. Summer Camp Coordinator, Hannah Kohler, remembers, “She would give me updates every day. ‘Last night I did this for five dollars and today I’m doing this for a dollar so I can earn enough money to buy a ticket to see Legally Blonde.’ She was determined to see the show.”

And she did. She was there in the fifth row on opening night. She loved it. When the show was over she patiently waited for every actor’s signature on her program. She said she would treasure that program forever. Bianca remembers, “I was in my seat and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. I liked all the songs. I sang them when I went home. Literally I was talking about it all week the week after. I pulled up the Broadway version on YouTube and watched it a million times.”

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A few weeks later it was time for Bianca to come back to DreamWrights as a camp participant. She couldn’t wait. It was not a surprise that she chose to attend Broadway week. “I picked Broadway Week because I really like musicals and I think that maybe if I got to learn songs I could practice and that way when I get more successful I might be somewhere probably on Broadway or in a different show somewhere else.” Sure enough, during the week she learned many songs and even worked on a few solos. Bianca said Freak Flag from Shrek was her favorite.

On the eve of her Broadway camp performance, Bianca was full of anticipation. “I can’t wait to perform tomorrow because I’m going to be up there and a lot of people in my group always are cheering me on and we always have a laugh together and it is really fun. It is going to be sad tomorrow because the friends I made this week are really amazing.”

When asked about what she learned at DreamWrights, Bianca says, “The number one lesson I’ve learned is that I don’t have to be scared while singing up on stage because I know that the people I’m singing with really won’t judge me. We don’t judge anybody here because everyone is perfect in their own way.”

Bianca says she enjoys performance arts whether she’s onstage, back stage, or in the audience. She says she loves it “as long as I feel like I’m a part of it. Even in the audience you’re a part of it. Because you’re making people feel good about themselves when you sit there and watch them and when you cheer for them. Either way, when I’m backstage helping with lights or whatever it doesn’t really matter because I know that I’m a part of the solution.” But the most important part is to have fun and to let people know who you are. “Because you never know, maybe that person might star somewhere. Maybe their name might be heard somewhere, even if it is just something little. It is something that could influence other people.”

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We fully expect to see Bianca’s name in lights someday.

About Bianca G.: Bianca is a middle schooler at Helen Thackston Charter School. She wants to be a comic when she grows up. She loves musicals and comedies and likes to make people laugh without hurting their feelings. She says the best part about DreamWrights is the people. Next month, Bianca will be moving with her mother and two younger sisters. She is hoping to continue to develop her talent at a place like DreamWrights in her new town.

DreamWrights Offers a Creative Lineup of Summer Camps

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DreamWrights is in a period of transition and its lineup of summer camps reflects the innovation and change as well. New classes have been added to the mix to include hip hop, digital photography and movie making, wacky summer Olympics, and poetry reading, writing, and reciting with York’s very own Poet Laureate! DreamWrights will continue to offer its most popular camps which include Broadway Week, ballroom dancing, and three Disney musical productions.

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“This year we’re excited to offer Aladdin, Cinderella, and 101 Dalmatians Disney Kids Camps,” says Ann Davis, Executive Director of DreamWrights. “This will be our first year offering three of these camps.” Since the Disney licensed camps have been very popular and successful, DreamWrights has expanded to offering more this year than in the past.

Even though there is a significant cost to license the Disney camps, DreamWrights does not pass this additional cost on to the campers. DreamWrights does, however, honor the high quality of the Disney brand by keeping the student to teacher ratio low, allowing every camper the opportunity to be highly engaged throughout the week. Davis points out, “DreamWrights limits its enrollment for the Disney camps and for all of our camps to ensure lots of hands-on participation and exploration for all participants. This is what keeps many of our campers coming back.” These three Disney camps culminate with a final production that is open to the public. DreamWrights hopes to recoup some of the cost of the licensing through ticket sales of these shows.

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In addition to the beloved Disney musical camps, DreamWrights is offering several other mini musicals for the 3-5 and the 5 – 8 age groups. “Since we limit the minimum age for auditions to 7, we find that many kids who want to get started in theatre earlier really enjoy and thrive at our summer camps,” says Davis. “Many look forward to the first show for which they can audition after turning 7 and they attribute their success to the experiences they had at summer camp.” Not only that but they also learn the ropes at DreamWrights, becoming part of the family and putting them at ease when audition time rolls around.

Another summer favorite is the Create a Play camp. Led by DreamWrights’ Playwright-in-Residence, Diane Crews, during this week long camp, an original script will be inspired and created by the campers.  From auditions to rehearsals to the final production of the original play, campers will learn blocking, lines, as well as create characters, set, and costumes. “No two Create a Play camps are ever the same and the creativity that comes out of the campers is always delightful!” exclaims Crews. “I look forward to what they’ll come up with every year!”

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DreamWrights’ summer camps are offered in full and half day options. They kick off the week of June 20 and run for eight weeks.  For a full summer camp schedule or to register, please contact DreamWrights Center for Community Arts at 717-848-8623 or online at www.dreamwrights.org.

She Came with her Grandkids but Stayed for Herself

Connie Shorb’s first introduction to DreamWrights was when her granddaughter enrolled in one of the summer camps. Connie remembers, “She just had a wonderful time. Of course, we came to see the performance. I was very impressed with how happy the kids were, what they were learning, how the staff handled them, and how they came back excited about what they were doing.” Connie says that it became very obvious early on that her granddaughter, Megan, was enjoying herself and that more summer camps and acting opportunities were going to be in her future.

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Megan participated in a Broadway camp. Her brother, JR, enrolled too, and was cast as a spoon. Connie says for Megan being on stage came naturally, “Megan likes to perform. This gives her an opportunity to blossom.”  Connie laughs, “But JR wasn’t quite sure if a spoon was something he wanted to be doing. But, Megan explained it was a pivotal role.” JR ultimately grew into his role as a spoon and liked it so much he returned to a Dinosaur Creativity Camp.

As Connie has come to several performances to see and support Megan and JR, she’s gotten to know DreamWrights and its values. “I’m impressed with the vision about what they’re trying to accomplish. I like the outreach to the community. I would hope that in the future that DW would be able to do things with some of the other arts groups in town.” Having an art background herself, Connie recognizes the opportunity that DreamWrights can offer the community both on and off the stage. “Bring the kids in, teach them set design. Hopefully these kids will take this back to their high schools and middle schools.”

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Her grandkids on stage might be what brought Connie in, but it is the art that keeps her coming back. Formally educated with a degree in fine arts from Rollins College, Connie has had a love for art since she was a little kid. Even when the responsibilities of raising a family set in, Connie always kept herself engaged in art by building the Art Goes to School program at Indian Rock Elementary and providing what would now be considered rudimentary (only 4 colors at a time – hey – it was the 80s!) computer graphics for a local software house. But now, as Connie has more free time, she’s trying to get back to her artwork. As a step towards this goal, she’s decided to give set painting a try. “This is another venue. It is a different kind of art work.  I’m hoping to learn a little about this as well. It’s fun to see how they put it all together. Trying to work in a totally different area is a challenge.” She’s not working 12 inches away like she’s used to. She’s working on a much grander scale with set design. To speak with Connie, you can tell that she’s enjoying the challenge to her art skill to work in this setting.

Connie has also been impressed by all of the volunteers’ time and dedication. “When I was working yesterday, there were a lot of young people that came in and they were doing all sorts of things, and not necessarily in front in the spotlights. I was impressed with how Bob [McCleary] worked with them.  Everybody had something to do. Bob was guiding them, letting them do their own thing, but also keeping an eye on what was being done. Everybody was being part of the whole. I was impressed with everybody’s attitude and level of cooperation.” Connie believes the secret to this success is the competent supervision. “In just the little time I’ve been here, people know what they’re doing. They do a good job with it. Frankly, if they weren’t you wouldn’t see the success in productions that they have.”

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From Connie’s unique perspective, she is especially excited about DreamWrights’ capital campaign. “I think having a better setting for all of this is definitely a positive. You know, it’s an old building and things need to be brought up to code. That’s going to be a benefit.” As far as what the DreamWrights experience brings to budding actors and actresses like her granddaughter, “What Megan learns here gives her confidence to participate in talent shows and perform at school. Just the basic life skill of being confident and speaking in front of a group is something that’s going to carry on for a life time.”

Being on stage is great, but it isn’t for everyone. It might be for Megan but it wouldn’t have been for Connie. “My dad introduced me to golf. It is something you can do on your own. As is art. You don’t have to have a crowd. I guess it goes with what I was comfortable doing. Not everybody can be captain of the football team. As time goes on you kind of figure out what you are good at and what you want to do.” DreamWrights gives people of all ages the opportunity to do this.

DreamWrights’ New Bardolator

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To those who know me well, it is no secret that I am a bardolator. What is a bardolator, you may ask? A bardolator is a lover of all things Shakespeare! When I noticed Shakespearean Stages was being offered as a summer camp at DreamWrights, I was so excited to help out in any way I could. Getting kids and teens excited about Shakespeare is something that I think is so important, and I was happy to step in and assist this week of Shakespearean Stages camp. (Kelsey Markey is the actual instructor of this camp and is also a fan of the Bard!)

I am not sure how this love began, but my British heritage has certainly played a role (no pun intended) in my fascination with this legendary British playwright. Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to travel and visit family in the UK, and on my last go-around, I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday in no place but Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Shakespeare was born in this little town along the Avon River in April 1564. He lived with his parents, Mary and John, and seven other siblings in a large home on Henley Street. When he was 18, he married Anne Hathaway and remained in the family home (middle right) even after they had their three children: Susanna, Judith, and Hamnet. Shakespeare died in 1616 and is buried under the altar of the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford (bottom right). Above the inscription, a placard promises a curse on any who disturbs his grave.

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To me, Shakespeare’s hometown is not just a tourist-trap. It is the place where a man was inspired to put pen to paper and translate the most essential pieces of the human condition into writing. His language may be convoluted, outdated, or downright superfluous to some, but the ideas that he expresses in his 38 plays and 154 sonnets speak to the flaws in all of us– in any time– as human beings. At times, we are all consumed by the destructive ambition of Macbeth or the hesitation of Hamlet. We are as impulsive as Romeo in first love, and we channel Cordelia’s unconditional devotion in our own families. We all know those two “enemies” who, like Beatrice and Benedick, mask their true feelings for one another behind insults and banter.

I suppose I ask — in defense of William Shakespeare– that in theatre and beyond, we get past the differences in vocabulary, sentence structure, and culture of his plays. Instead, focus on the fascinating thread of humanity that weaves centuries of people together. If you allow this to happen, you need not travel very far: you will feel a connection with Shakespeare as profound as crossing the threshold of his home.

Hannah Kohler, Summer Camp Intern

 

Singing in the Rain…Forest

 

Would you … like to spend two weeks in a Rainforest this summer?

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Would you … like to be a singing three toed Sloth named Sylvia or Simian?

Would you … like to be Tilly or Terrence the dancing Tree Frogs?

Would you … like to be Emily or Ernie the Emerald Boa Constrictor?

Would you … like to be Bernice or Barney Butterfly,  Tara or Tyler Toucan, Camilla or Carlton Cock of the Rock, Mazy or Max Monkey?DSC_0933-1

Would you … like to have enough money to buy anything you want?DSC_0944-1

Would you … like to work for the above very wealthy person?

Would you … like to be the child of the above very wealthy person?

If you have answered yes to any of the above DreamWrights has an opportunity for you!  Our Playwright in Residence has researched and written a brand new Musical for this summers Production Camp.   It is called SINGING IN THE RAIN … FOREST.DSC_0941-1

This exciting story takes us deep into the Rainforest of Central America.  We meet some of the native animal population who live in total harmony with each other and their surroundings … until the humans arrive.  The active chatter, singing, rustling, that is the norm, falls immediately silent.  People have been here before.  The animals have learned to be afraid.

Mrs. Doloarz, a wealthy destination resort investor, her entourage and her small child arrive and she says/sings … “I can see It!”  We can’t tell you anymore without ruining the story.

So you have two choices.  ONE – If you are between the ages of 7 and 17 you can register for DreamWrights’ Musical Production Camp #11, which runs from June 29 thru July 11.  If you have never been part of a premiere production before it is very exciting to bring a show to life for the very first time.   TWO – You can come and see this Brand New Show!  There will be two public performances July 10 at 6:30, and July 11 at 2:30.

For information, registration, or tickets call 848-8623 ex.1 or go to our www.DreamWrights.org.  DreamWrights also has 21 other, equally exciting, Summer Theatre Camp opportunities available on our website.  Camps run from June 22 – August 14.