Ponoka Community Theatre and the Ponoka United Church are partnering to present ‘Small Town Musical’ featuring the talents of several local youths.
The camp — for kids ages nine through to 17 — runs from Aug. 14 to 18 from 9 a.m. to noon at the church, and the deadline to register is Aug. 1.
Led by Brielle Casey, this year’s theme is musical theatre — tapping into singing, dancing, and staging — complete with highlights from a range of classic musicals.
Casey has been leading this creatively-rich event for local youth since 2015.
“We’ve done a plethora of different things; not one camp has ever been the same as another. I really enjoy that part because I love the versatility and the extension of a much of the arts to our youth as possible instead of just a standard ‘this is what art is,’” explained Casey.
“It’s so much more than that.”
In past camps, Casey has brought in various facilitators from all across Alberta to teach their craft to the kids.
”We’ve done everything from songwriting to storytelling, improv, and comedy. I once ran a clown camp, and a full-out dance camp,” she said. “This year, it’s really exciting — I got super brave and decided that I needed to direct a play.
“This year is also exciting because musical theatre is a massive love of mine. And teaching it is even more fun. We are going to do a musical of sorts, but it’s a bit of a mismatch of a bunch of things put together, too.”
Casey will lead her troupe through the production’s development during camp week, and then they will present it publicly on Aug. 18 at Ponoka United Church. The production itself is Casey’s own creation.
Meanwhile, she said that seeing the kids grow through the creative process is a gift in and of itself.
“I love seeing how they can choose to be something else in that moment,” she said.
“We often have something inside of us, we just aren’t always sure how to share it. This is predominantly what I see in working with kids,” said Casey, who also teaches dance and gymnastics in the community. “It’s like a whole new person gets to steps forward. These kids get to kind of the ‘shed’ that skin of what they think they are or what everyone has told them that they are, and they get to be something else,” she explained.
“That was a big lesson that we learned with a play recently … I was telling them to be more; to be extra! This is the place where we get to do that.”
For Casey, a passion for the arts — and for theatre specifically — was sparked early on.
“I was always a bit of a performer,” she added with a laugh. “I didn’t let my brother and sister perform their own Christmas concerts — I had to do it for them with all of their friends. So that was me as a kid — a little unruly and a little wild! But my mom was really wonderful and she just let it flow,” she recalled.
From there, she got into gymnastics and dance.
“And of course, high school offers drama programs. So I jumped into that full-force and that was fantastic,” she said.
She ended up studying performing arts at Red Deer Polytechnic.
These days, teaching is kind of a natural extension of all of these incredible experiences, she said.
“I just give what somebody gave me. And I get to see these kids as they get bigger through the years. They join leadership teams, or they are doing really cool, funky art and it makes them super happy and they share it with me.
“So there are those beautiful, personal successes, and I get to see that. It’s pretty fantastic.
“All I want is for them to feel successful and confident.”