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“Sleeping Beauty”: a summer camp production

American Academy morning cast and crew show their excitement for another outstanding performance.

By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Robert Merrick

American Academy (AA) summer performing arts camp students put on an amazing performance of “Sleeping Beauty” at the Parker Arts Schoolhouse Theater on Mainstreet. This summer camp production was open to AA students K-5 with two casts of 60 performers. Many of these campers were seasoned performers, while the other campers were brand new to the stage.

AA offers two summer camp productions each year. The first camp was offered for younger performers, while the second camp was offered for budding performers in the fifth through eighth grades. The summer camp productions offered opportunities to students who were interested in exploring a passion for performing arts. Students were not required to audition in order to participate. In the process, students learned stage craft and the value of working together toward a common goal in a very short period of time. Specials Department Director Mark Middlebrooks said the entire cast and crew worked together to tell a story on stage, not only because it was fun, but it also helped students to take a step back, look at themselves, who they are becoming and what they might do to become the best versions of themselves.

The queen (Omisha Panda) and the king (Xander Cooley) presented baby Princess Aurora to Prince Phillip.

In a short period of time, these students transformed into the best “Sleeping or Sleepy Beauty” cast with just two weeks to learn their lines, stage and rehearse. AA eighth grade students helped with stage calls, set, lights and sound while volunteer parents assisted performers with dress changes. Middlebrooks was very proud of all the hard work the students put in to the production and performance. He shared the students were very much involved in every level of making it a great production, bringing the story to life while learning some incredible life lessons off the stage as well.

This summer camp production was one of many AA arts programs available to students. AA offers supplemental art programs designed to challenge students who have the desire to explore, excel and graduate in the areas of musical theatre, theatre, dance, instrumental music, vocal music and technical theatre. As big and bright as a spot will shine, AA students’ talents shine through on the stage for all to see and enjoy.

Good fairies Merryweather (Reese Pucciano, left), Flora (Ellery Dowdeswell, center) and Fauna (Cali Mayne, right) brought Princess Aurora gifts of song.

Drew Merkel displayed her passion for the stage while her character Maleficent “mistress of all evil” planned the curse of death on Princess Aurora.

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