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Theatre camps strive for a hit

The theatre season may have been a wash, but youth musical theatre is continuing with a little razzle and a lot of dazzle.

The theatre season may have been a wash, but youth musical theatre is continuing with a little razzle and a lot of dazzle.

The camps were organized by the Souris Valley Theatre in the past, with the help of the actors that were performing during the theatre's summer season. Because the season had to be cancelled due to flooding, three local women have now taken the reins. The show must go on.

This is the first time Arlene Lafrentz and Evanne Wilhelm, a mother-daughter duo of voice and music teachers in the Energy City, have been involved. Rounding out the trio is Sharlene Holiday, a school principal in Estevan for a number of years but is now living in Regina, who focuses on the dance. The trio is now known as the Estevan Triple Threat Theatre.

They got involved with the camps this year through the theatre, but when the season was cancelled, they already had 50 registrants. The decision was made to carry on and the group now has space at the St. John the Baptist community centre. The space is perfect for the camps, as they will have access to the gymnasium and a couple of classrooms.

"We had always decided that no matter what we were going to go ahead with the camps," said Lafrentz.

The camps cater to youth aged eight to 15, and is for everyone from beginners to those with multiple years of experience.

"They're learning the three main areas of musical theatre, which are acting, dancing and singing," said Wilhelm. "They'll have sessions in all three of those each day that they're there. And they're preparing a performance for the end of the week that will be open to the public and to their parents."

The performance is a collection that the kids will have worked on during the week.

"We'll kind of get to know (the kids) based on the forms that they filled out that we receive on the first day, and then we're going to pick a variety of numbers that will suit the kids that are coming," she added.

Wilhelm explained the final performances will be ensemble musical numbers.

"There won't be a lot of solo stuff because we need to make sure we're involving all the kids, so it will be group, ensemble performances."

The participants will be in groups based on their age, as the activities for the older groups may be more advanced than for the younger ones. However, there will be some numbers where the whole group will be together.

"We want the kids who have more experience to have an influence on the kids who have less, and for them to see that, working back and forth," said Wilhelm.

"Sometimes there's safety in numbers," added Lafrentz. "When you're together and singing and acting, everybody's doing the same thing, and so then you open up the freedom to be safe to do all kinds of things. The imagination comes forward with the drama and the singing and the dancing."

Their involvement in the camps came after the theatre wanted to pursue the possibility of involving more local people. Wilhelm said it came down to a chain of acquaintances who connected her, Lafrentz and Holiday with the theatre.

"Because we are teachers, it was a good way for (the theatre) to say, 'Oh would you be interested in handling the kids camp?' because we're used to dealing with kids all the time."

They have been involved with productions at the Estevan Comprehensive School in the past as well.

The Lafrentz family is a musical one through and through.

"We've always had (music) in the house, so then it just seemed that (my children) automatically moved into it. We sing as a family, and the kids are very musical," said Lafrentz.

Wilhelm auditioned for voice performing at the University of Regina before moving over to studying education in her second year at school, finishing with a major in music. She recalls going to Phantom of the Opera in Regina with her mother when she was eight.

"Since then I was pretty much hooked that I wanted to do that," she said.

Musicals dominate the pair's love of theatre and Lafrentz said it's great to bring it to young people and help them perform.

"The younger students, you want to give them a base," Lafrentz added. "Somebody who's been doing it for five years, you hope they've received the basics and you can move them forward with a little more harder material, or something more they can learn about the craft."

The first of two camps runs July 25 to 29 with the second taking place the week of Aug. 8 to 12 and performances coming the afternoon of the final day. They are still accepting registrations up until the first day of the camp, and anyone who is interested is asked to contact Wilhelm at 636-2262.