Upper Darby Summer Stage’s 42nd season is underway

Clockwise from left: Anthony Flamminio of Drexel Hill as Marty, John Fioravanti of Conshohocken as Alex, Alex Oullaf of Clifton Heights as Melman and Annajean Gionta of Ardmore as Gloria.
Clockwise from left: Anthony Flamminio of Drexel Hill as Marty, John Fioravanti of Conshohocken as Alex, Alex Oullaf of Clifton Heights as Melman and Annajean Gionta of Ardmore as Gloria. SUBMITTED PHOTOS
Clockwise from left front: Tom Geiger of Clifton Heights as Lord Farquaad, Joe Matthews of Havertown as Shrek, Kenneth Turner of Upper Darby as Donkey and Michaela Henry of Springfield as Princess Fiona.
Clockwise from left front: Tom Geiger of Clifton Heights as Lord Farquaad, Joe Matthews of Havertown as Shrek, Kenneth Turner of Upper Darby as Donkey and Michaela Henry of Springfield as Princess Fiona.

More theater arts highlights for children

By Brian Bingaman

bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com @brianbingaman on Twitter

Here’s a sampling of what’s happening in the region:

At the Media Theatre, 104 E. State St., Media, “Vocalist Junior” is a showcase for singers ages 7-13.

Come hear them perform Broadway, pop and kid’s song favorites Sunday nights through Aug. 13. Go to www.mediatheatre.org.

Also, upcoming two-week 2017 Camp Media Theatre weeks for actors of any level of experience:

July 17-28 “Matilda” Camp including songs from “Matilda,” “Annie” and more.

July 31-Aug. 11 “Oz” Camp featuring songs from “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Wiz” and “Wicked.”

Aug. 14-25 “Hamilton” Camp with songs from “Hamilton” and “Hair.”

Summer Teen Camp offers the chance to participate in a production of “Godspell,” with rehearsals beginning July 10. Visit http://mediatheatre.org/theatre-school-and-classes/teen-camp-registration.

Meanwhile, at Steel City Playhouse, 245 E. High St., Pottstown, Vagabond Performing Arts Academy is registering for three two-week day camps for ages 6-18, with full-day and half-day options:

July 24-Aug. 4 Musical Theater Camp “Around the World!”

Aug. 7-18 Dramatic Theater Camp/One Act Festival.

Email education@steelriver.org or visit www.steelriver-playhouse.org/summer-camp.

People’s Light, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, has SummerBLAST programs that runs weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A Youth program for ages 10-13 runs July 17-28. For teens 14-18 there are programs dedicated to devising July 17-21, stage combat from July 24-28 and rehearsal and performance July 31-Aug. 4. Get more details at http://peopleslight.org/SummerBLAST2017.

Also coming soon is Montgomery Theater’s Young Actors Workshop 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 17-28. Students in grades 3-5 can explore “Shakespeare & Me.” Discover how some of Shakespeare’s famous works have inspired and been re-imagined as “The Lion King,” “West Side Story” and more. The session will culminate in an “original” play written by the students to incorporate Shakespearean plot elements and characters in a modern setting. Scholarships and financial aid are available. The theater is at 124 Main St., Souderton. Email camp director Adam Danoff at education@montgomerytheater.org or see www.montgomerytheater.org/content/young-actors-workshop.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Theatre Horizon’s “Hero School,” an interactive children’s theater performance that puts kids 4-8 years old into the action of a superhero-infused world. It runs 5, 6:15 and 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 10 and 11:15 a.m. and 1:30, 2:45 and 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 2, 3:15, 5:30 and 6:45 p.m. Sundays Aug. 4-27 at 401 DeKalb St., Norristown. There will also be two “relaxed” performances of “Hero School” that are specially adjusted sensory-friendly shows. Tickets range from $20-25. Visit www.theatrehorizon.org.

Since 1976 Upper Darby Summer Stage has been a standard-bearer of sorts for live musicals performed by young people.

Today the youth theater program draws more than 700 participants from around the region — everywhere from Havertown to Kennett Square to New Jersey — and their Children’s Theater and Mainstage groups are in the process of producing and staging a combined seven musicals in a staggering span of six weeks at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center, 601 N. Lansdowne Ave., Drexel Hill.

“People have asked us if it’s a summer camp. But it’s not, it’s a significant program,” said Upper Darby Summer Stage’s marketing director, Lauren Stevenson Yacina. “They’re learning life skills; they’re learning how to collaborate, how to really talk to one another in a respectful way.”

“Annie, Jr.” opened the family series, and now playing is “Madagascar, A Musical Adventure, Jr.” at 10:30 a.m. July 14. Tickets range from $8-$12 and members of the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center save $1. Just picture the first animated “Madagascar” movie with added songs, including the ‘90s dance hit by Reel 2 Real, “I Like to Move It.”

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Still to come are “Shrek, The Musical, Jr.” July 19-21, “How I Became a Pirate” July 26-28, “Curious George and the Golden Meatball” Aug. 2-4 and “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” Aug. 9-11. All Children’s Theater shows are cast with youths 12-18, suitable for children 4 and up and are about an hour long. Performances are every Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 10:30 and on Thursday nights at 7:30.

“We have a distinct schedule that we go by,” said Marie McVeigh, a Summer Stage alumnus, the program’s public relations and content manager, who is choreographing “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” “We have a really big tech program. We have a big carpentry shop. We pull out all the technical stops. We have a lot of costumes and props.”

The Mainstage production, the highlight of the season, is the Philadelphia regional premiere of the new musical “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” featuring young adult participants ranging in age from 18-28; the Summer Stage staff of professional directors, choreographers, costumers, and technicians; and Summer Stage alumni. Unlike the Children’s Theater shows, “Hunchback” is for ages 12 and older. The music will be performed by a full, professional orchestra, and an on-stage adult choir. The epic musical will be closer in tone to the Victor Hugo story than the Disney animated film. “It’s never been done on Broadway before. We’re kind of getting to do it as a tester for Broadway,” McVeigh said.

Performances are July 28-29 and Aug. 4-5.

For tickets and more information, go to www.udpac.org or call (610) 622-1189.