Draper Arts Council’s Broadway Kidz theater program celebrates 21st anniversary with tribute to Hollywood
Jul 18, 2019 05:24PM
● By Katherine Weinstein
The young actors in “Broadway Kidz and the Silver Screen” rehearse a scene at Draper Amphitheater. (Photo courtesy Kalista Vordos/Draper Arts Council)
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
The disco version of the “Star Wars” theme echoed through the Draper Amphitheater on a recent Saturday morning as the young actors in Draper Arts Council’s Broadway Kidz production moved and grooved to the 1977 classic. “Star Wars” is just one of the many movies celebrated in this year’s show, “Broadway Kidz and the Silver Screen.” Billed as “a musical revue starring tons and tons of kids,” the show will be presented July 26, 27 and 29 at 8:00 p.m. at Draper Amphitheater.
This summer marks the 21st anniversary of Broadway Kidz, an educational theatrical experience for young people ages 6 through 18. Broadway Kidz is an excellent learning opportunity, producer Tamara Stokes says. “The kids learn dancing, acting, puppetry, singing and acrobatics,” she said. “And they’re also learning about stage cues and what things in theater are called, the language of theater. They get the full stage experience.”
Kevin McClellan has been at the helm of Broadway Kidz since the beginning as director, writer and choreographer. A drama teacher at East High School, McClellan compiles popular music and show tunes into a musical revue that also tells a story. The goal is to put together a show that is entertaining to adults while allowing each young performer to have their moment in the spotlight.
This year’s “Silver Screen” show is about a young boy who uses screens as an escape from the disappointments of everyday life. One day he meets and befriends the former proprietor of an old movie theater. As the two reminisce about their favorite movies, scenes from the films are portrayed on stage in a series of musical numbers. In the end, the boy learns to find a balance between real life and his fantasy life on screens.
Each year approximately 120 kids participate in Broadway Kidz, and this summer is no exception. Many enjoy coming back to the program year after year. Liam Opheikens, age 12, is embarking on his third production, in which he plays a variety of roles — Harry Potter, a soldier from “Mulan” and a performer in “The Greatest Showman.” He has made many friends in Broadway Kidz. “It’s just fun!” he said.
Christalle Zepeda, age 13, is enjoying her second summer in the show. This year she is part of the musical ensemble performing “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from “Grease” and songs from “The Greatest Showman.” She encourages other kids to audition for Broadway Kidz. “If you like to sing and dance and make friends, it’s a great opportunity,” she said. “It also boosts your confidence.”
Confidence building is a key component of participating in Broadway Kidz. Laura Wald, mother of three children in the show — Daria, Evan and Logan — said the theater program has helped her kids “just by building their confidence in getting up in front of people.” Logan, age 8, was inspired to get on stage after watching his brother and sister performing. This summer he is playing a circus performer from “The Greatest Showman” and a park guest in “Jurassic Park.”
Wald feels that other benefits of performing in a show include learning how to work with others and assuming responsibility. “They have to take responsibility for their own part to make it work,” she said.
Over the years, Broadway Kidz participants have gone on to perform on Broadway and in both regional and community theaters around the country
“If you like movies, then this show is for you,” said Liam. “Broadway Kidz and the Silver Screen,” a production of Draper Arts Council, will be presented July 26, 27 and 29 at Draper Amphitheater. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets cost $7 and went on sale July 12. Visit www.draperartscouncil.org for more information and to purchase tickets.