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Fun, not competitive, summer MT programs??

NotMamaRoseNotMamaRose Registered User Posts: 4,090 Senior Member
edited January 2007 in Musical Theater Major
OK, gang, this is not for me, but for the D of a friend of mine. They are looking for a good, fun, residential summer musical theater camp/program which these qualifications:
* not audition based.
* sleepaway, for at least several weeks
* the campers should put on a full scale musical
* not super competitive or intense
I figured you guys would be the ones to ask, as your kids have had a number of summer experiences. Remember, this girl wants to do a musical, have fun and is NOT training for college.
The parents are thinking about Stage Door Manor. Does anyone think that's a bad idea? As an aside, the girl is a vocal music student at an arts hs, but does not plan to pursue vocal performance or theater in college.
Post edited by NotMamaRose on

Replies to: Fun, not competitive, summer MT programs??

  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,495 Senior Member
    NMR...many kids who attend SDM do not plan to pursue theater in college. Some do, but not all by any means. So, I definitely think SDM fits the bill. If she is passionate about theater even as an interest area but not a career, that's all she needs. But I also really recommend French Woods Festival of the Arts. My older D went there for four years, 8 sessions, and loved it. She was into musical theater and put on many wonderful high calibur productions there but she was never going into this field in college or beyond. But like at SDM, some kids at FWF do go onto theater in college but many do not. I also know some who have enjoyed Long Lake Camp for the Arts. One of the seniors I am working with went there one year and loved it. They also put on full scale musicals. At all these theater camps, everyone who wants to be in a show, will be cast.

  • ChedvaChedva Super Moderator Posts: 29,688 Super Moderator
    Take a look as well at Long Lake Camp for the Arts (www.longlakecamp.com). My d went there for 2 summers for a 3 week session each time, and had a ball. The musicals included "Tommy", "Chess", "Rocky Horror Show", "Kiss Me Kate", "Charlie Brown", "Honk", "Really Rosie" and some others I can't remember. There were at least 3 musicals and 3 straight plays during each session. There is also a dance show, which my d did as well. When not in rehearsals, there are voice classes, instrumental lessons, fine arts, etc. Auditions are only for roles in the shows, and it is absolutely non-competitive. They don't even call them "auditions" - they're "orientations".

    My d had the best time there, and made great friends. I highly recommend it!
  • keepingcalmkeepingcalm Registered User Posts: 520 Member
    My D did Ballibay a few years back, she was in 6th grade I think. She really liked it. They had a wide range of activities in addition to theatre. They did several musicals and dramas, but she also did a radio show and learned to play clarinet. It is non-audition to get in but the kids do have to audition for parts when they get there.
    When she was there it seemed that there were several older kids - high school age- who were there and had been there for many years. We found the owners to be very accomodating as she had to switch sessions because of being cast in a local production. She was also called back for Hairspray while there and they had someone work with her a little (not much time) on the song and let her leave a day early. They had a 4 week, 3, week, or both long sessions when she was there.
    She had a lot of fun. It was a low key, no pressure environment in a beautiful setting on a hill in PA.
  • shellipearlshellipearl Registered User Posts: 152 Junior Member
    French Woods Festival of The Performing Arts Camp in Hancock NY, does have auditions, however, they put on about 9 plays in each 3 week sessions, some are musicals and some are drama, split up by age groups, and although you do audition to get a lead, every camper has the choice to be in a emsemble part and sometimes you can pick the play you'd like to be in the emsemble in, French Woods is great, musicals are performed to a full orchestra, the camp also has a ton of other activities including circus, look it up, its been part of my family for 30 years, I went there and so did my kids, now one is majoring in MT
  • BrownSugar106BrownSugar106 Registered User Posts: 144 Junior Member
    Ah Chedva, I wonder if my D knows yours. My daughter did not go to LLC, but she knows MANY kids who did and do, and two of the most popular directors there are the co-artistic directors of her theater training program during the school year (and directed several of the LLC shows you mentioned). My D has been going to SDM for the last few summers and absolutely loves it, but, as with all programs, there are pros and cons.

    NMR, Long Lake offers a very different experience from SDM, as LLC is much more of a camp experience, with a lake and circus opportunities. SDM I think of as more hardcore for kids who want to do only theater 24/7, and for those kids, it's heaven on earth!
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,495 Senior Member
    When I was discussing SDM before, I was addressing your issue, NMR, concerning how the friend doesn't want to pursue theater in college. And in THAT regard, there are kids at SDM, as with these other theater camps, who are not going to go on in theater, and some who will. So, that will be a nonissue if the friend goes there. But I forgot that you did mention the word "intense". SDM is for someone who ONLY wants to focus on theater (and related things like dance) while at the program as that is all they offer. It is a full immersion in theater. As far as the environment, it is not like a camp and doesn't even look like a camp. It was once a resort hotel.

    Because I have had a child attend SDM for 8 summers and another attend French Woods for 4 summers, I can tell you the differences. You could put ALL of SDM into FWF but not vice versa. A kid who wants to do just theater could go to either one. At FWF, a kid could opt to focus only on theater. However, she could do much more than theater there, which is not the case at SDM, and was the primary difference that caused one of my kids to pick FWF and one to pick SDM initially and each camp fit each of my kids perfectly. Had I insisted that they attend the same one (which we did not), then they'd have both gone to FWF, not SDM because what can be done at SDM can be done at FWF but not vice versa.

    FWF looks like a camp....cabins, lake, etc. It is a much much bigger camp/program with approx. 800 campers per session, whereas SDM has about 250 campers per session. Each offers three 3-week sessions and campers can attend for 3, 6, or 9 weeks. Both camps offer about 13 full scale productions (dramas and musicals) every three week session, which are staffed by professionals. At SDM, every camper is in a show. At FWF, only those who wish to be in a theater production audition (though all are cast who wish to do theater). There are campers who attend FWF who do NO theater. FWF offers a huge array of every other activity under the sun. They have all the theater classes, dance classes, etc. that SDM tends to offer. But there is an entire music program there for instrumental music as well and some attend for that. My D plays 2 instruments but didn't participate at FWF in that area as she did it the rest of the year at home and went to FWF to do some things she did not have time for the rest of the year. But FWF has orchestras, bands, rock bands, private lessons, etc. FWF also has a full scale circus program with excellent facilities. They have all the waterfront, sports, horseback riding and fine arts too. Each camper can choose three things to "major" in and they do those same three things daily. For instance, my D majored in musical theater (her production), dance (whichever discipline she took), waterskiing (one reason she chose FWF was that she wanted to learn to waterski being an avid alpine skier), and actually she had a fourth major, tennis lessons. Then the campers have three minors per day which they can choose daily (all this is individualized, not like a traditional camp that does activities by cabin like when I went to camp). They can do more of the same areas, or other things. My D also was on travel soccer and tennis teams playing other camps. She liked FWF because she is very well rounded and she liked being able to combine her love of sports with her love of performing arts - musical theater and dance. My younger D also was in many areas of Performing Arts growing up and in several sports but was happy to give her sports up to just do theater at SDM. That is a major difference between the two, even though someone could just do theater stuff at FWF. Not everyone at FWF is focused entirely on theater, as is the case at SDM.

    The shows at both camps are pretty comparable. There are some differences. I'd say the leads are often of a similar level of talent. The casts at FWF are MUCH larger than at SDM. SDM tends to cap the cast size at about 23, with some even smaller casts, particularly in the plays. I have seen some FWF shows that are so large that it is hard to see your kid. FWF's musicals are accompanied by full scale orchestras since there are many kids who are studying music at the camp. SDM shows are accompanied by a professional Musical Director on piano. I know that the top talent at each camp, the ones who do opt to go on to study theater, do end up at many of the top theater college programs. And there are many who will never go to college for theater but just love it.

    I hope this helps.

  • ChedvaChedva Super Moderator Posts: 29,688 Super Moderator
    Sounds like Long Lake is very similar to FWF - it also looks like a camp, with bunks, a lake (of course), fine arts, dance, horseback riding, and sports available. It also has the full instrumental, orchestral, jazz band, theater production, filmmaking programs and as at FWF, some kids don't do any theater at all. It started in the '60's, and still has some of that "crunchy granola" do your own thing feeling. (Actually, my H went there for its piano & instrumental program many moons ago.) The major difference, I think, is that Long Lake is very laid back. Other than the required rehearsals for whatever you're cast in, and the very popular private voice & instrument lessons, you're not required to sign up for anything on any particular day. You wake up in the morning and decide which classes you want to go to, or what activities you want to do. No majors, no minors, lots of drop in and testing things out. My d tried the drums, made a ring and bracelet, did some pottery, and even tried a painting that she wouldn't show us.
  • HatHat Registered User Posts: 708 Member
    You might have them look at Perry-Mansfield. It's in Steamboat Springs, Colorado (but the auditions are in NYC or by tape/DVD). I wouldn't worry about the audition too much, my son has had numerous friends that have applied and so far none have been turned down.

    It is a relatively small camp with cabins and bunk beds and the session for high school lasts about six weeks. They do perform a musical and a play each summer and last year did a musical revue (the summer before they did an extra play).

    They have horseback riding, but not much else that's sports related. I believe that you take six classes a day. It seems like everyone took at least one dance class and the rest tend to be acting/singing (or more dance). I would say that many of the kids are theater majors in training, but it did seem fairly laid back.
  • believersmombelieversmom Registered User Posts: 1,109 Senior Member
    As the resident Perry-Mansfield promotor I'll elaborate.
    D attended for two summers during HS, so far. Last year she opted for Europe with a teacher who is retiring. She hopes to return to P-M, possibly during college as it does go through college.
    As a student, she cannot say enough wonderful things about it.
    As a parent, neither can I.
    While there is an audition (tape or live) and they claim it is for entrance, the truth seems to be that they are just making sure that you won't be miserable because it IS after all, performing arts camp and by the time you are in HS they want you to know something about either dance, drama or singing. One summer D was in the Ballet Production, one summer she was in the musical (they did an incredible production of Cabaret and it was directed by an instructor from NYU's Stella Adler Studio).
    The first two days of the six-week HS session is auditions for class placement and auditions for productions. You can choose to audition for dance(Jazz, modern, ballet & trapeze numbers) or drama (a musical, a musical review, or one of two straight dramas), but you cannot specify WHICH dance or WHICH drama. The dance year, my D did NOT want the ballet as it is her weakest dance, but ended up being great as she learned a lot about herself and grew as a dancer. The next year she was determined to make the musical and she did.

    I don't know if dramatica posts here any more, but her D went one summer with mine and she liked it quite a bit too. I'll try to resurrect some old threads of ours.

    The best thing to do is visit the webpage (although I keep telling them it doesn't do it justice) and call the director, June Lindemeyer, and she can tell you EVERYTHING.

    A full HS session is about 75 HS & College students, there are also day-students too. I want to say it is about 80-100 acres and the location is drop-dead gorgeous!!! The sun shines pretty much every day the climate is dry (no summer humidity or mosquitos!!!)

    They also take day trips to raft, hike, go to the natural hot springs in the mountains, rodeo, swimming and Saturdays everyone goes to town(laundry, shopping, movies). The school is the star of the town's annual fourth of July parade where they usually do several numbers from the musical (everyone is welcome to participate in that).

    Feel free to PM message me.
  • believersmombelieversmom Registered User Posts: 1,109 Senior Member
    Okay page 23, posts 337 & 338 of Summer programs discussion thread are more stuf about P-M...
  • NotMamaRoseNotMamaRose Registered User Posts: 4,090 Senior Member
    You guys are the best! Thanks. Any program that requires a kid to audition to get in is OUT, they tell me. Just don't want the intensity of having to do that, I guess. (Auditioning for a show once she gets there is OK, however.) I know this kid and think she would be happiest at a place where there are things to do other than theater and kids who are interested in other things. Too much intense focus on who is in what show, who got what part, who does what shows at home, etc. would be a turn off to this girl. The idea is a fun, more relaxed summer where she can do a show. I appreciate all the input.
  • believersmombelieversmom Registered User Posts: 1,109 Senior Member

    The year my D got a role in Cabaret, her audition tape was horrible!!!
    There is no way they based the entrance to P-M on that tape.

    As for the competition question once there. No prima donas, it is a lovefest like crazy. P-M just grew her love of the peforming arts. On the last night the whole HS college group has a big slumber party in the dance pavillion (this is a post & beam building with two story tall windows, a loft and stunning views of the mountains-it is featured actually in a Anderson Window print ad in numerous home magazines). They stay up all night talking, partying and CRYING because they cannot bear to part - if there is any cut-throat competition issues there it sure isn't evident.
  • NotMamaRoseNotMamaRose Registered User Posts: 4,090 Senior Member
    P-M sounds amazing, and I realized when you posted that name and recommendation that my D's middle school drama teacher recommended we send her there at one point! I will pass what you said along to my friend, so she can recommend the program to her D.
  • believersmombelieversmom Registered User Posts: 1,109 Senior Member
    Obviously everyone in our house thinks it is "all that!"
    Even my husband who couldn't care less...

    I wish I had known about it when I was in HS & College. It never ceases to amaze me that more people do not know about it.

    PM me any time with more questions.
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,495 Senior Member
    SDM is not a competitive atmosphere but one where there is a common bond of the passion for theater. Kids support one another and cheer one another on in their shows. However, it sounds like this girl doesn't want a total immersion in theater. SDM is only appropriate for someone who wants to focus solely on theater, at least for while she is there. For that reason, if your friend's D wants to be engaged in musical theater but have opportunities to do other things in a less intense or focused atmosphere....she might really like French Woods Festival, Long Lake Camp for the Arts, or Perry Mansfield, more than Stagedoor Manor. She can get as intense or as immersed as she wants in theater at those places, but she doesn't HAVE to make it her only focus.
This discussion has been closed.