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My 9 year old daughter has done 2 to 4 weeks of camp at Berkeley Playhouse for the past 4 years, and loves it. It runs from 9-3 every day. In each camp the kids learn, and on the last day perform, a mini-version (how mini depends upon the grade level) of whatever show is on the mainstage at the time -- so this past summer it was The Wiz. Many times the counselors are also actors in that mainstage production; the older kids even get to use the mainstage set. The theater chooses pieces that the kids can run as an ensemble -- that is, shows where everybody's on stage almost the whole time, vs. shows with a few lucky leads then various supporting figures -- more fun for every camper. It's great for boys and girls, as besides the acting and singing and dancing the kids learn how to stage falling down, fights of various sorts as required by the script, sound effects, and so forth. They also spend some time work-shopping the back-stories of the characters (from a fun, Berkeleyian perspective). My daughter comes home delighted and exhausted -- they're moving around most of the day it seems -- with stories about all her new friends, and brimming with new-found self-confidence and skills. OAK mom
I'm interested in hearing about your child's experience at Berkeley Playhouse Summer Camp for 3rd-5th graders. Did you find the 3 or 4 week session engaging for that length of time? Was that long enough to put on a successful performance? How are relationships between the campers managed? (Drama camp can bring on drama....) My daughter has attended (and enjoyed!) Stage Door's camp for younger kids - Kids on Stage. But now that it's time for her to move up to the older group, I am reluctant to commit to six weeks of one camp, not to mention wary of some of the group dynamics. - Mom who wants a funs and varied summer for her kids...
Last year, our 1st grader attended Berkeley Playhouse's summer camp. The theme was Peter Pan. Our son LOVED it. It was only one week which, for his age was probably perfect although I wished it had gone longer. We can't wait to sign up for the 2-wk Aladdin camp this year.
If you have ever seen any of the theater's performances you will know that they are professional at what they do. Even their youth productions have high production value and the kids have an amazing time.
Just for the record, my son is very quiet and shy and can have a hard time adapting to camp. From day one, this camp was a fit, each day our son came home with art projects or stories and songs, and they performed at the end of the week.
The only catch with the camp for us is that we live in Oakland and getting there by the 3pm end time is difficult as I am a working parent. This year I will attempt to find a carpool buddy. margs
My daughter (8 years old) also did the Peter Pan summer camp last year and loved it. It was a 3-week session with a wonderful performance at the end. She had a really great time and loved the two instructors, the small size (16 children) and the varied activities. I liked how the kids ''tried on'' the different parts and had a role in deciding what part they would ultimately have. It was a fun and ''professional'' environment. All the kids were so proud and excited with the performance. She has since taken a class during the year and is signed up for the summer again. I would highly recommend the summer camp. yb
Re: Musical Theatre for 9-year-old son
I would recommend Berkeley Playhouse for a kid with the acting bug. http://www.berkeleyplayhouse.org Their summer program is apparently full, but the fall music theatre session will begin registering in late July/early August. They staged Roald Dahl's ''The BFG,'' and ''Peter Pan'' will be running July 17 through August 23 at the Ashby Stage. They have a number of other classes... I took their most recent Adult Musical Theatre class, and had a great time... it was a perfect intro to musical theatre for the parent who's realized that the kids shouldn't be the only ones getting up on stage! They've also held one ''open-mic'' night for singing (both as a group and performances by students, etc... three of the performers from ''Once on This Island'' sang pieces from other shows) at the Julia Morgan and plan to hold those every 3-4 months. A fine organization. Ross ross
Re: Young Drama Queen looking for Venue
I want to recommend the Berkeley Playhouse http://www.berkeleyplayhouse.org/ They put on kid-friendly plays and also run theater classes and other programs. We went to see the BFG (based on Roald Dahl's book) with two jaded 7-year-old boys last month and it was fabulous - funny, wildly inventive, lots of great kid and teen acting. Our kids were totally transfixed the entire time, and that's saying a lot. Check out their website. I think it's a wonderful thing for kids to be able to see live theater that is fun for the parents too -- we are lucky to have this group in Berkeley! Ginger