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Musical theater: Workshop for kids

Sunday school of song hits the right notes
by: KATIE HARTLEY, Lauren Angeles tackles a song from “The Sound of Music” on a recent Sunday at the Cami Curtis Performing Arts Center, where children and teens nurse musical-theater dreams.

Four-and-a-half-year-old Gracie Avalon can barely contain herself. She wants to sing.

And when instructor Lauren Angeles asks the dozen students in her musical theater workshop 'Who can sing that part of the song a little louder?

Gracie is all arms and voice. 'Me, me - I can. Can I?'

Gracie takes sure vocal hold of - appropriately - a verse from 'Do-Re-Mi' from 'The Sound of Music.'

Stroll by the new Cami Curtis Performing Arts Center on Northwest 23rd Avenue on a first Sunday of the month and you're likely to hear the sounds of musical theater throughout the day, as groups of kids and teens learn the do-re-mis of vocal performance and some essential Broadway-style moves to boot.

The renovated studios sit in what was - until this past fall - formerly the Assistance League Thrift Shop. Curtis, who has been performing since age 3, had a similar but smaller studio in Troutdale, teaching chorus and dance to about 50 students.

Enrollment in the new space is more than 400, with a wide variety of classes offered for kids and adults, from break dancing and tango to the monthly musical theater workshops for kids 6 to 10, and another for ages 11 and up.

Curtis credits her staff, who come up with their own curriculum. 'They're great at what they do, and they love what they do,' she says.

Curtis plans to expand the center come February. The aim is to mount full musical productions and become a bigger player, she says, in Portland's family musical theater scene.

Past workshops have focused on songs from 'The Sound of Music' and 'Peter Pan' but through 2008, Angeles will teach kids selections from Delia Ephron's 'How to Eat Like a Child: And Other Lessons in Not Being a Grown-up,' introducing a new song each month. Some eager voices can barely wait.

- Lee Williams

Workshop: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. SUNDAY, Jan. 6, Cami Curtis Performing Arts Center, 735 N.W. 23rd Ave., 503-227-8649, $25 per workshop