RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Nearly 50 kids age 6-18 are getting a taste of theater this month attending the Portsmouth Area Arts Council’s Theater Camp at Portsmouth Little Theater. The intensive two-week production introduces kids to the theater, with a production of “Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids.”
“For the last decade or so Portsmouth Little Theater has done a summer youth program, and it’s been a four-week program. So it’s been a lot longer rehearsal time and a little more like one of the full productions we would have. We decided this year to keep it really short and really intense. Rehearsals are a little bit longer in the evening, and we’re only going to be going for two-weeks,” said Becky Lovins, executive director of Portsmouth Area Arts Council (PAAC).
To accommodate their hurried deadline, the group selected a shorter show this year — “Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids,” based directly on the 1967 animated Disney movie which was originally based on the 1894 book by Rudyard Kipling.
The show is just the “bare neccesities” of the famous animated story!
“The kids show is about 45 minutes long. It’s a very condensed version of the retelling. It has all of the original music from the Disney cartoon,” Lovins said.
The camp was accepting up to 50 kids in their summer production this year, and 48 showed up for auditions. All of them were given a part in the upcoming play. The show’s artistic director is Susan Foster, responsible for teaching the show to all of the children and making decisions on the way the show will look on stage.
After only two-weeks of rehearsing, the kids will perform their show at Portsmouth Little Theater later this month.
“They’re going to be doing a lot of hard work. I know that other summer camps and music camps that we’ve been to try to pack a lot of things in. Hopefully in this first week we’re going to sing through and learn all our parts, then next week we put it on stage. By next Friday night it will be a full-fledged show. The only thing different is there will be very simple costumes. The kids will be wearing ‘Jungle Book’ t-shirts in the colors of their characters, and jeans and tennis shoes. We’re not going to costume them the way would a normal show because we’ve only got two-weeks time,” Lovins said.
She said every year they show up, the kids always surprise them with their talents and enthusiasm for the show.
“They are adaptable, intelligent, and determined. Unlike adults, they’re not intimidated by they type of schedule. If we don’t tell them they can’t do it they won’t know that they can’t, so they do,” Lovins said.
Many of the kids return to the camp year after year, and even advance to perform in full season productions.
“The thing I love about theater is that it’s not competitive. Once the audition process is over and everybody has their part, it’s everybody coming together to create a really great show. It’s not like somebody wins and somebody loses. Kids have a lot of fun with it, and once it gets in their blood … a lot of kids make better friends here than they do at school. The kids that participate in theater oftentimes maybe don’t play organized sports, or don’t do other organized activities. So when they get with a group of like-minded peers, they’re at home,” Lovins said.
The show opens at Portsmouth Little Theater on July 20 and performs five times in three days.
“Those kids would perform the show a month longer than the adults want them to. Whenever they rehearse and work so hard on it, to only run it a couple of times … it’s like, why not?” Lovins said.
Tickets will be available for $8 each at the Portsmouth Little Theater Box Office from 7 to 9 p.m. every night.
“If you’ve got a little one that can sit on a lap, they don’t need a ticket,” Lovins said. “I think anyone with kids, whether they’re familiar with this story or not, will enjoy this show.”
Later this season PAAC will also feature a series of educational programs, as well as a full production of “Music Man Jr.” (ages 6-13) in the fall, and “Legally Blonde” (ages 14-18) in spring. These shows are junior adaptations of full-sized shows; they are longer than “Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids” and the music is much more complicated, Lovins said.
More information about the Portsmouth Area Arts Council, or any of its upcoming shows, can be found online at www.paac4kids.org. They are also available on Facebook.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.