Theatre camps at the Academy are so much more than preparing for a final performance, but we are thrilled that our Encore Tarzan camp wrapped up this past weekend with three sold-out shows. We cannot think of a better ending to these four long weeks of rehearsals.
Academy Executive Director Geoffrey Kershner shared, “These high schoolers learn to self express, collaborate, and form bonds with teens from all over the Greater Lynchburg area, many of whom come from different places and backgrounds.” In light of recent events, he added, “They are being equipped with compassion, understanding, and empathy and will become adults who will move beyond our often divided, toxic, and sometimes violent discourse.”
The cast had the opportunity to interact with the community through public performances at the mall, impromptu singing at local grocery stores and passing out flyers to area businesses. They were able to share the show with a group of campers from the Jubilee Family Development Center who saw the final dress rehearsal free of charge.
“When the Jubilee kids came out of the theatre and saw everyone still in costume their faces lit up and they couldn’t wait to take pictures with the cast.” Director of Marketing Kate Scullen added, “It was great to see how the cast and the kids got to connect.”
After interviewing campers about their experience it was clear how much they loved getting to know people from other schools. Much like Tarzan, they were able to form a family-like bond and create friendships that will last for years to come. Throughout the four weeks each camper anonymously wrote notes of encouragement to a secret pal. By the end everyone was left feeling inspired and ready to take on whatever comes next.
“It’s fun to see all the different people from different schools and to see the program evolve over the years. I’ve learned that it’s really important and good to make connections with people in the camp, especially when they come from different backgrounds.”
“Everyone chooses to be here so everyone wants to do their best and learn. It’s cool to be in an environment where everyone wants to be here. My favorite part about shows at the Academy is that all roles feel big.”
“My favorite part is the amount of friends you make, which allows you to visit each other and see different shows at their schools in the community.”
“The best thing I have learned is to take advantage of all opportunities, at the Academy and around the area. My favorite part of being in a show is not only the bond on stage, but we become a family off stage and grow close.”
“The best thing I have learned is that it’s always fun to be active. My favorite part about being in a show is the originality of each show, none is the same. It is a lot of fun; everyone should come join!”
“Everyone is accepting, I love the friends I’ve made and how Encore mixes theatres from the area. I feel like a leader here, so the best thing I’ve learned is how to lead kids and friends in the right direction.”
“My favorite part is being associated with a great, friendly group of people. When I started I was very shy, and I learned how to be more social and communicate with a group.”
The choreography by Ronald Brady was high energy and even had Tarzan zip lining through the air. Arnulfo Jacinto’s set design was a jungle playground where our apes were jumping on trampolines and sliding down set pieces. Michelle Velastegui, who has directed and costumed the Encore program for the past five years, rejoined the Academy for this full-length musical.
In her director’s note Velastegui said, “From day one, I knew these kids would face a physical challenge more than they might have expected, but as these students always do, they rose to the challenge and surpassed even my wildest imaginations.”
In addition to rehearsals, campers were able to take morning classes to learn about costuming, makeup, improvisation, dance and music. Encore is just one of the five theatre camps that the Academy is offering this summer.
The Academy would like to thank our summer program sponsors Innovative Wireless Technologies and Campbell Insurance for helping to make this production possible.
Learn more about our theatre camps this summer academycenter.org/youth-theatre
Professional Photos By: Jason Schonfelder