Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is beginning the second week of their two-week summer drama camp. This is the third year that Central has hosted a singing, dancing and acting theater workshop for kids who have been bitten by the show-biz bug.
Campers in the past years have delighted family and friends performing numbers from “The Jungle Book” and “Honk! Jr.” This year the performance will feature scenes and songs from “Hairspray,” “Hamilton,” “The Sound of Music” and more.
After giving the kids ample time to enjoy Campizi’s pizza, their Friday lunch treat for a week of work well done, I asked the kids what makes the drama camp so special.
Some of the young campers have already developed a history with the stage.
McNaron Grey said that she has been studying drama since Kindergarten. She portrayed the ugly ducking in last year’s production of “Honk! Jr.”
“It’s fun to explore new characters and express yourself,” McNaron said.
Thirteen year old Carissa Burns is currently taking 6th grade theater classes at school.
Carissa says, “It’s fun being someone else for a time. Plus, if the character you are playing is ‘not so nice’ you are not judged, because it is playacting.”
This summer marks 11 year-old Payton Archer’s third year at Central’s Drama Camp.
To come three summers in a row, you must really like it I said to Payton.
“I do. I like the singing and acting and getting to know the new kids,” Payton said.
She added that what she has learned from the camp has made her more confident and less insecure in front of other people.
The two guys pictured are Tinashe McGown and Thomas Jordan. Both boys come by theater naturally. Tinashe’s dad Eran sings in Central’s Chancel Choir, often performing solos. Tinashe is an accomplished pianist having taken lessons since he was six years old and said that he is enjoying the variety of singing, dancing and acting at the camp.
Thomas also plays the piano and boasts a show-biz heritage. His grandmother is the late Jowanda Jordan who directed award-winning choirs at SouthOakCliffHigh School and was musical director of the South Dallas Concert Choir, dedicated to the preservation and performance of the Negro spiritual as an American art form.
Obviously these kids are enthusiastic about the theater, but the camp has coached kids who have never waked upon a stage before. It is amazing to watch their progress from day one to performance day in such a short period of time.
Directing the camp this year is Lois Left Leftwich who has a long and varied career in performing and teaching and has lead a variety of Musical Theatre and Acting Camps for ages 5 through 17. Leftwich has taught for The Junior Players, Dallas Children's Theatre and Park Cities Dance. She has also been busy on stage in “A Civil War Christmas” and “The Wedding Singer” both at Theatre Three.
Choreographing the production is Michael D’Andre Childs who is an accomplished director, music director, composer, playwright, choreographer, and actor. Originally from San Antonio, Michael made his Dallas debut in 2015 and has excelled displaying his talents in the Dallas Arts industry.
Central Christian Church has long been a supporter of the theater. It is home to the Westside Players, a theater company founded by the late Ed DeLatte, who also founded the Dallas Repertory Theater at North Park Mall in Dallas.
The church fellowship hall features a fully operable stage making it a perfect venue for theatrical productions.
The kids will perform “Summer Showtunes” Saturday afternoon, July 22 at 3 p.m. at the church located at 4711 Westside Dr. It is free, open to the public and a concession will be provided.