‘Summer Stars’ offers dramatic education

Every summer, beginning in June, the Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre Summer Stars program offers more than 60 Kaua‘i kids an intense, four to five week musical theatre education program with the help and instruction of professional theatre educators. Students are accepted into the workshops on a first-come, first-serve basis, and daily classes, workshops and rehearsals include training in voice, dance, acting, and movement.

“Students come away with enhanced know-how in theatre skills and with a healthy boost to their self-esteem,” said long-time parent Sheree Latif.

The HCT Summer Stars program is theatre for kids by kids, and is now in its 11th year (2007 American Idol contestant Sanjaya Malakar was a HCT student from 1996-2000). The theatre workshops at HCT are some of the most unique and successful on Kaua‘i as they are always themed with a known theatrical production. They offer a wholesome learning environment with a wonderful performing opportunity. Performances teach what it means to be a part of a trained theater production, yet no theatrical background is necessary — only enthusiasm.

Students who will be starting the second-grade through those who will be entering sixth-grade will rehearse and perform Disney’s stage version of the classic story, “The Jungle Book,” which is specially adapted from the beloved film. This vibrant workshop will have the jungle jumpin’ with jazz as “Mowgli,” “Baloo,” “King Louie” and the gang swing their way through madcap adventures and thwart the ferocious tiger, “Shere Khan.” The performances for “The Jungle Book” will be held July 6n8.

Also up from Disney is “High School Musical,” the tuneful sensation that swept up the charts and created a buzz in schools across the country. Youth entering grades seven through 12th will perform at KCC July 13 through July 15. This show follows “Gabriella,” a shy, brainy new student and “Troy,” the captain of the basketball team, as they discover a shared love for singing when they meet at a karaoke contest and decide to audition for the leads in their high school’s musical. As usual, their musical path to love is not without challenges. Disney’s “High School Musical,” is based on the Disney Channel Original Movie which had the No. 1 best-selling CD of 2006.

The creative team is headed by Kaua‘i native Jen Downs, returning for her third summer as artistic director. Some 11 years ago, Downs was a Hawai‘i Children’s Theatre performer when HCT performed at The Edinburgh Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Since its debut in 1996, HCT has toured worldwide, representing the United States in children’s theatre at two World’s Fairs: 1998 in Lisbon, Portugal, and in 2000 in Hanover, Germany. They were also the first- place winners of the Big Youth Theatre Festival in London. On Kaua‘i, HCT has presented 35 full-length theatrical productions for over 50,000 audience members.

Preferred enrollment for returning HCT students begins April 23 to April 30. After that date, open enrollment begins, and continues until classes are filled. The program will start off with an orientation class for all enrollees at the Puhi Studio, on Saturday, June 2, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The class is a prerequisite to identify levels for dance and voice classes. There is also a required parent orientation that afternoon from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. to finalize all forms, and where programming questions will be answered and parents can meet program staff.

Call 246-8985 for further information.

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