Lower Makefield - Fifty kids capped off eight days of summer camp on July 19 by making a big splash.
The budding young thespians took to the stage inside the William Penn Middle School to present the Disney Classic, “The Little Mermaid,” a musical tale about a mermaid who dreams of the world above the sea and gives up her voice to find true love.
The show brought this year’s Children’s Musical Theater camp to a crescendo as a room filled with parents, family members and friends enjoyed the summer production presented by the Bucks County Performing Arts Center and directed by Pennsbury elementary school vocal and music teacher Nancy VanDerBas.
Open to students from 2nd through 8th grade, the camp introduces students to every aspect of musical theater from vocalization, acting and improvisation to dance and movement. Some also help behind the scenes with lighting, sets and sound.
Considering the kids and their adult directors only had seven days to cast the show, learn lines, practice and rehearse major choreography numbers, the end result was nothing short of miraculous.
As the kids took their bows, VanDerBas smiled broadly and joined the audience in applauding.
The best part, she said, is seeing the kids “shine on stage,” which they did on July 19 with a tidal wave of under the sea fun and mythical adventure.
When she began the summer camp close to four decades, VanDerBas said her goal was to use the arts as a way of building team work and skills while acquainting youngsters with acting, singing and dance.
“I wanted each student to feel accepted in the program at every level from beginners to advanced,” she said. “And We help each other with everything from learning the script, songs and dance movements to costumes and set design.
“I also wanted a place for children to learn how to create, sing, dance, learn scripts, work with others as part of a team and gain confidence by performing on stage,” said VanDerBas.
The end result is phenomenal each year, she said, and extremely satisfying as a teacher.
“I love seeing the growth in skills as they return each year. I love that we create a space of acceptance for all children. And I enjoy seeing happy faces and children engaged in ‘live’ performance.”
While VanDerBas took the bows at the end of the show, she said it takes an entire team to put together the show.
“I am grateful for a tremendously talented staff. We work together and use the best of each person’s talent to produce the show,” she said.
Helping to put together this year’s show are acting coaches retired Pennsbury teacher Cheryl Stanker, Eleanor Roosevelt third grade teacher and working actor Bruce Perlman and Charles Boehm teacher Ashley Gaynor.
Assisting as vocal director was Pennwood vocal and music teacher Sharon Sharkey; Pam Soda and Rachel Barlow were in charge of set design; teacher assistant Samantha Dearolf; and interns Michelle Pellegrino, Ally McKeever, Olivia Caldera and Courtney Cooper.