New musical theater kids camp begins July, all kids 6-12 invited to enroll, perform
A new West Seattle based musical theater kids camp is coming and there is still time to sign up. It is called Sing Out Seattle! and is sponsored by Westside School, 7740 34th Ave. SW.
Classes begin July 11 and all kids ages 6 to 12 years old are welcome to enroll in the two-week programs. Those participating in the first, July 11-22 session will perform The Lion King July 22. The July 25-Aug. 5 session will perform Princess and the Frog Aug. 5, and the Aug. 8-19 session performs Shrek! the Musical Aug. 19. Each two-week session costs $350 and promises "total immersion" into the drama experience.
Westside School tapped Fauntleroy actor/director David H. Koch (pronounced "Coke") to run the program. We featured Koch in our story about a comic operetta he directed last year here:
Koch is bringing in other professionals to teach at the camp including Katherine Strohmaier, who portrays Sarah Brown in 5th Avenue Theater's current production Guys And Dolls. Also, Robert Jones, who has served as music director at Seattle Children's Theatre, and wrote the music for the children's show, CINDY ELLE, produced at ArtsWest.
"Westside School wanted Sing Out Seattle! under their roof partly because they are doing some updating to their performance space, their multi-purpose area as their middle school begins this fall," said Koch. "They want to bring the community in to see Westside School in a good light."
They will open a 6th grade class, then 7th and 8th grade classes the following years consecutively.
Koch continues an ongoing theatrical relationship with Westside. He directed an old Broadway themed play in 2009, and a year later, a play the kids helped create about their lives at Westside. This year under his direction they performed a popular show about old time radio that attracted many grandparents to relive that bygone era, he said.
Koch said he likes working with the school and its popular admission director, Fauntleroy resident David Bergler.
"Also, because my daughter goes there," he smiled. Quincy is 7. He said he pays the same amount for tuition as everybody else, but that it is less expensive than other private area schools.
"My goal is not to create new actors in the world," Koch explained. "There are already enough actors. Yes, they will learn drama, theater craft, and there will be kids going into theater. But I want to try to get kids confident out there, to help them find their voices. I find that a lot of kids want and desire confidence to find a way to speak out, and this does that in a fun way.
"We take any kid coming in." he said. "But I generally like kids who want to come, as opposed to kids being dragged in by their parents who say, 'He hates this stuff but I think this would be good for him.' Some kids go in with that look in their eyes like, 'Why did my mom do that?' But some then come out who end up loving it.
"I read a study where adults were given three choices, being buried alive, being locked in a room filled with live spiders and snakes, or public speaking. Most preferred being buried or spiders and snakes to public speaking. It's got to come from way back when they were young. When these kids who go through my class get into their junior high years and start recreating themselves I would like them to think, 'I've gotten up in front of a lot of people before, and had a really good time, and maybe it's not that scary.' I think it's a goal they can start moving towards and not have this weird fear."
Sometimes Koch himself would have preferred being locked in a room with spiders and snakes than endure a bit of unwarranted ridicule his famous name brings him.
He explained, "There is the New York billionaire David H. Koch who has been in the news. I used to think, 'He gives a lot of money to the arts. A theater in New York City is named after him. That's fine. I am associated with a rich guy who gives to the arts. Then it comes out that he is a massive supporter of the Tea Party and union breaking in Wisconsin, and people started asking me if I was the same guy, or related to him. No. That's not me. People find me online and write, 'You should be ashamed of yourself."
Perhaps "our" David H. Koch could create a musical about his mistaken identity. Meanwhile he is busy directing "George M!" at The Moore Theatre Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5, a Seattle Theatre Group presentation and Showtunes Theatre production.
Koch just finished as production director for the highly-publicized show featuring South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu May 13 at the Tacoma Dome which include 108 performers, he said. The 15,000-seat venue sold out.
"He's a superstar," said Koch who got to meet the 79 year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate. "He has such charisma and moves people to do the right thing."