Isaac Dubey, 11, is back for the fourth straight year.
So is 12-year-old Sabryn Rudinoff.
Both enjoy the stage — and even the spotlight — that comes with signing and acting with the Hawaii Children’s Theatre.
“I love it,” Dubey said. “It gives me a very good opportunity to shine in any way possible.”
Same goes for Rudinoff.
“I love all the people and how you get to be yourself,” she said. “If you feel like a fool, that’s how you know you’re doing it right. Get out there, sing, dance, give it your all.”
Nearly 100 youth ages 8-13 are involved in morning and afternoon sessions at HCT’s long-running and wildly popular Summer Stars five-week program at the Puhi Theatrical Warehouse.
The morning sessions focus on workshops and developing specific skills such as singing, acting and dancing, and includes a new workshop each week.
“It’s a well-rounded taste of all things theater,” said Debra Blachowiak, HCT secretary.
The afternoon program is a crash-course preparing for a live production. This year, it’s “Alice in Wonderland JR.,” directed by Rebecca Hanson, slated for July 17, 18 and 19 at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center.
For some, it’s their introduction to the world of theater. For others, like Dubey and Rudinoff, it’s another summer on stage. Either way, those training for Alice will get their chance to sing, act and dance, and even learn about costumes, makeup and props.
“They get the whole nine yards when it comes to putting on a theater production,” Blachowiak said.
And they do it in a short window, which can be challenging, Hanson said, so that’s where HCT’s strong staff and supportive board plays key roles.
“Without this structure, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” she said.
There’s nearly 50 kids in each of the morning session, which costs $375, and nearly 50 more in the afternoon program, which costs $395. About 50 are registered for both.
Summer Stars, which began in the 1990s, has a strong following because of its impact on youth, Blachowiak said.
She said there are numerous stories about a reserved, shy child blooming with HCT.
“It’s amazing what happens to kids when they perform on stage,” she said.
“You give them that encouragement and that support and watch them just fly,” she said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Kids, Blachowiak said, are naturally hams. They just need the chance to bring out what’s inside.
“They love to dress up in costumes,” she said. “It’s fun for them.”
“The keiki on this island are truly magical,” Hanson said. “Here at Summer Stars each student gets their chance to shine, and working on Alice in Wonderland, JR. is a dream come true for me, watching the keiki grow and learn.”
Bailey Hutton, morning program director, said the weekly workshops this summer are covering video and camera, puppetry, makeup special effects, and vocal technique.
It’s been “fantastic,” he said. Theater gives youth confidence to be themselves. Imagination and creativity flourish.
“I love it,” Hutton said. “You’re cultivating the next generation of artists.”
Alice in Wonderland, JR. shows are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Choreographer is Patric Knight and musical director is Nina Saraos.
Leading the cast of characters is Neva Burkhart playing Alice, Sabryn Rudinoff as the Mad Hatter, Jaya Griesemer as Mathilda, Jaden April who plays the White Rabbit, and Savannah and Maddison Hubbard as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
The cast also includes Kehaulani Roberts-Duque, Tanner Hubbard, Bailey H.K. Ponce, Sarea Panit, Noah Denbeau, Jacob David Lester, Zeke Gamby, Callie Yavinsky, Barak Aviguetero, Julia Barzilai, Sophia Riley, Parker Reed, Kaile McKeown, Ava Easterly, Zsa Zsa DuBose, Jenny Nezbeda, Katy Hoesel, Daniela Earl, Isaac Dubey, Margaret McLeod, Richelle Agor, Kala’e Abrams, Kolea Rautmann, Caleb Plowman, Jazzy Hanft, Christian Core, Melina Ventura, Conner Green, Jackson Gamby, Kaitlyn Chappelle, Mia Thompson, Jonah Cabello, Kalani Leibow, Elisha Cabello, and Carmen Swanson.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
The Summer Stars silent auction and gala performances by those in the morning program is scheduled 7 p.m. Thursday, July 16 at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center.
Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
Info: 246-8985 and www.hawaiichildrenstheatre.org