As a parent it can sometimes be challenging to find something to keep your kids busy and out of your hair during the summer – especially if they aren’t into sports. It was this dilemma that inspired Susie Keating to start up a musical theatre school – Upstage Studios.
“My second son wasn’t athletic or academic,” said Keating who has been involved in theatre her whole life. “There was nothing out there to fit him, so I thought I’d try this.”
Clearly there was a need for something different because eight years later, with word-of-mouth being its only form of advertising, Upstage Studios is seeing more students and campers than ever.
Maya Read, 14, has been attending Upstage Studios camps since she was 7.
“I love that you get to learn and have fun at the same time,” she said. “I love the energy and the passion the teachers have and how they bring it out in us.”
Summer camps are available for youth age 8 – 16. Campers will train in singing, dancing and drama. The camp experience ends with a full performance on the Dartmouth Players stage.
This year students were given the opportunity to audition for the Youth Performing Touring Company. Those cast will continue to train and write their own show to take on tour to local schools in HRM. These special performances will deal with issues like bullying, suicide, and eating disorders.
Eleven-year-old Daria Wotasiak is in the advanced camp.
“I just love the whole aspect of musical theatre,” she said. "It brings everything I love - song, dance and acting together.”
Before attending a theatre camp parents and students should be warned that the acting bug is catchy and can lead to other things. Both Wotasiak and Read have decided to pursue careers in the arts.
“This is what I want to do,” said Wotasiak who recently played good witch gone bad in the Upstage Studios production of The Wicked Wizard of OZ. “I also like TV and have done some background work.”
Upstage Studios offers classes, performances and workshops for people from age eight to 80.
It’s never too late to be a star. At press time there were still spaces available for the last camp of the year – CHICAGO. Dates run Aug. 20 to Aug. 31. Check out: www.upstagehalifax.ca.