By: Jen Russon
After going dark because of COVID, Next Stop Broadway returned in February with a plethora of offerings for kids who caught the acting bug, plus the chance to channel their inner actor this summer.
Three sessions of Broadway favorites and a 100 percent student-led production of ‘Rent’ are filling up fast, with theatergoers eager to buy tickets for ‘Scenes,’ a live teen showcase.
Artistic Director Cynthia O’Brien said she thinks the May 27 collection of one-act monologues and poetry bring to light how grateful everyone is to get back to normal finally.
“The focus of the work in ‘Scenes’ is to get the young actors to hone in on their acting technique, not so much focus on a full-fledged performance,” she said.
O’Brien’s communications director, Randy Koral, agreed, reminding parents Next Stop Broadway is about two things: how to be comfortable on stage and how to love it, too.
“We recently interviewed campers about what they love about Next Stop Broadway,” said Koral, adding how tickled pink he and O’Brien were to hear the many reasons.
The kids have effused over the same things in the YouTube video: exploring their creativity as they learn the performing arts is so much fun when you can be with new friends and old.
As former campers return along with a fresh new crop, they’ll find a few changes to the usual program.
Campers are now split into age-appropriate ‘pods,’ keeping safely to their classrooms while instructors rotate around — bringing fun activities through every door.
Koral said there are just a few spots left in each of the three sessions, so if you have dreams of being a mermaid, talking cat, or member of the Peanut Gang, you better act fast.
“We are casting ‘Rent’ before the summer session even starts, allowing students to pre-record and upload their auditions,” he said of NSB’s teen project.
Koral added ‘Rent’ may be full; however, 14 and ups can still join the waiting list by registering here.
While summer camp is a huge draw for kids who caught the acting bug, it’s only one tiny facet of Next Stop Broadway; acting, voice, and dance classes in the Fall are all about creating the next star.
Private lessons are also a defining feature, offering valuable one-on-one time with talented instructors who can help students train for upcoming auditions, competitions, and more.
These ‘NSB Now’ classes may be coming to a close, but Koral thinks the summer camp to follow will be the fantastic encore everyone’s expecting since a return to everyday life is so universally felt and motivating.
He said he and O’Brien both noticed an excitement in the kids they’d never quite seen before.
“At first, the students were almost timid since it was so weird to finally be back. But once they warmed up, there has been incredible and undeniable energy that leads to better focus and learning,” said Koral.
O’Brien laughed, adding to this a surprising discovery: the pandemic made the instructors’ job a bit easier, in that the kids returned hyper-focused, ready, and willing to take their direction.
“I don’t know that the pandemic made us any better at what we do, but we are definitely grateful and trying to make the most out of every minute,” said O’Brien.
Those minutes she and Koral are talking about will delve into Dr. Seuss, Charlie Brown, and the Little Mermaid.
Next Stop Broadway confirmed that there’d been no Peanut Gang there since 2004, so they are looking forward to bringing back the beloved blockhead after all these years.
When you think about it, doing Charlie Brown again makes sense. COVID restrictions last summer made campers feel like they were about to kick the football Sally suddenly snatched away.
Summer 2021, however, is a different story. Safety protocols are in place, Next Stop Broadway staffers vaccinated, with the rest of the public health boxes checked for the safest summer camp yet.
So, what are you waiting for? Campers age 7 to 13 who love to dance, sing, and entertain a huge crowd are highly encouraged to check out Next Stop Broadway’s youth camp, while kids in high school can start learning to pay the ‘Rent‘ early!
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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