PARKERSBURG - About 76 boys and girls from throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley will conclude a seven-day live theater program with a performance Tuesday at the Smoot Theatre.
The 23rd annual Camp Vaudeville youth program began July 16, and the boys and girls - who have completed first through seventh grades - worked for four hours each morning to learn about singing, dancing, acting, art and the local history of Parkersburg's theaters.
"Vaudeville Visions," the live performance that concludes the camp program, will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children. For more information, contact the Smoot at 304-422-PLAY (7529) or online at www.smoottheatre.com.
Photo by Wayne Towner
More than 70 boys and girls are participating in the Smoot Theatre’s Camp Broadway youth theater program, learning about dancing, singing, acting and other performance skills.
The campers worked all last week, and, following a weekend break, will continue rehearsing and learning Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Tuesday night's performance, said Smoot director Felice Jorgeson.
Madison Roe, 12, of Waterford, is in her second year at Camp Vaudeville. She is interested in acting, having appeared in school plays first, and signed up for her first year of Camp Vaudeville in 2011.
"I really loved it and just wanted to keep doing it," she said of performing.
Roe said her favorite part of the camp experience is singing and she wants to remain involved until she is old enough to participate in the Smoot's teen program, Camp Broadway.
"I'm hoping I can some place where I can act all of the time," she said.
After more than two decades, Jorgeson said interest remains strong in the program, as illustrated by 8-year-old Zoe Morgan Daugherty who joined Camp Vaudeville this year. Jorgeson said she is the first child of a former Camp Vaudeville student to participate in the theater camp.
Daugherty, who lives in Waverly, said she participated in the Missoula Children's Theater program at the Smoot this spring and also wanted to sign up for Camp Vaudeville.
"I just thought it would be a good experience for me," she said, adding her favorite part is the drama classes.
Camp Vaudeville is a summertime apprenticeship in theater arts, as the theatre was seen in the days of vaudeville during the late 19th and early 20th century. No auditions are required to participate. The camp is designed for children who will have completed first through seventh grades.
Classes are divided by experience - for returning campers - or by ages. This year's classes include dance, music, history, acting and technical theatre. Jorgeson said the students also learned about the history of Parkersburg's theaters, from the 1890s to the 1930s. That included a visit from longtime Parkersburg photo historian Paul Borrelli, who talked about visiting some of the former theaters while growing up in Parkersburg and the work his father did in recording local history through photographs.
The camp students also attended a performance of the musical "Ragtime" in Athens on Friday, which is set in the period they have been learning about, Jorgeson said.
While it spent much of its life in downtown Parkersburg as a movie theatre, Jorgeson said the Smoot was originally built in 1926 as a vaudeville house. For many years after that period, the historic theatre showed movies before returning to its roots as a venue for live entertainment.
When Jorgeson began the theatre camp program 23 years ago, the Smoot's vaudeville history was a natural theme and since that time, the program has focused on the vaudevillian art forms, including dancing, comedic skits, jokes, clowns, jugglers, animals, musicians, escape artists and mimes, she said.
The staff is made up of local educators who have both classroom and stage experience. There are also field trips and guest artists who come in to teach and perform for the students.
"We try to tell ourselves that we're not teaching a show, but that we are teaching. If we do a good job with our teacher, then we put it all together and have a show," she said.