Curtains Up: Music Theatre Philly Returns for Summer Camp
From Disney to 'Hamilton,' Music Theatre Philly is planning its best summer yet.
Every day at camp, my daughter’s group began with warmups and the “rules” of the studio.
Give respect to get respect.
Everyone plays to the best of their ability.
Tenets like “one microphone,” teamwork, and no bullying reach far beyond the showcase stage, and have lasted with her long after she has forgotten the lyrics and dance steps. They have given her a safe space to return to year after year, and a way to make sense of her emotional world and navigate her relationships. Though she has had the benefit of so many fabulous experiences and classes around the city, none feels more like home than that warm and welcoming studio on 12th Street.
Music Theatre Philly is a professional training ground for young artists that teaches the disciplines of music, drama, and dance while still providing a nurturing environment where kids can safely explore themselves and find their voice. Founders Mindy Dougherty Baida and Dann Dunn both have theatrical backgrounds with impressive resumes containing multiple Broadway appearances—Mindy as a performer, Dann as a choreographer and director. Yet their careers both contain through lines of giving back to younger generations, with involvement in theatre education for children and teens.
MTP rounds out its staff with teaching artists who also share strong professional backgrounds and a passion for igniting that spark within their students. While learning skills to perform, kids are also learning who they are as individuals and as part of an artistic community. “You’re taking risks every day in a theatre class, and you need to feel safe,” says Mindy.
Each weekly camp—with themes ranging from Disney (Frozen, Descendants, and princess favorites, for example) to Broadway (including the popular contemporary week with selections from Hamilton and Mean Girls) to pop music—follows kids from script distribution on Monday morning to a performance showcase on Friday afternoon. Unlike previous years’ showcases which took place in a performance space, this year will have Virtual Watch Parties.
In between, kids spend all week learning lyrics, choreography, and acting. Kids begin each day with a full warmup of mind, body, voice, and imagination. From vocal exercises to improv games, the morning builds the skills that will carry through to the rest of the day’s challenges. To get the kids off their feet and exercising different abilities, crafts related to the week’s theme give them breaks from performing.
Camps are by the week, so if kids want to mix and match their summer dramatics with other interests, they have the flexibility to pick their favorite themes. Each of the 12 weeks runs from Monday through Friday, from 9 am—3 pm. This year, to reduce capacity, the age range of the camp has been limited to ages 5-8. All camps will be fully masked and follow local, state, and CDC Covid-safe guidelines.
As a parent in the audience, seeing the kids’ joy every week of having really pulled something off as a group is always so powerful. After a year of virtual learning and loneliness, returning to in-person class at Music Theatre Philly has been even more of a bright spot in my daughter’s week, and a beacon of hope for the summer. Yet in her absence, the skills and sense of self that MTP has instilled in her since age 2 have helped her through this difficult time. Drama teaches emotional regulation, imagination, adaptability, and confidence—all have proven crucial in surviving through the pandemic with a positive outlook and relentless spirit. It is a priceless gift, and she cannot wait to return to her rightful place on stage.
Learn more about Music Theatre Philly’s summer camps and register online at musictheatrephilly.com/summer-camps.
Music Theatre Philly supports the Philly Family Community.