Off to Neverland
Eleven-year-old Garrett Stefanek is not dramatic in real life, but he likes playing the role of an antagonistic pirate.
"He's really dramatic, and it's fun to act like those characters," Stefanek said of his role as Captain Hook in "Disney's Peter Pan Jr." musical. "I just like doing British accents, and he's an English man."
Stefanek and nearly 40 other kids will take the stage next week as a grand finale of their three-week Prineville Music Theater Camp.
They will perform the children's musical at 7 p.m. Friday, July 20 and at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 21 in the Crook County High School auditorium. Admission is $2 for those 11 years old and older.
"'Peter Pan' is a classic childhood story of youthfulness and not wanting to grow up and make believe and the creativity of a child's imagination," said Prineville Music Theater Camp Director Colleen Holbrook. "We follow Peter and Wendy and her brothers through their adventures in Neverland and come to some meaningful conclusions about life and relationships in the process."
The students auditioned for the musical in late June and began rehearsing July 2.
This is 11-year-old Andi Noyes' fourth season with the children's theater troupe. She plays a lead role of Peter Pan.
"I have had slight lead roles before, but being Peter Pan is pretty awesome," she said. "My life is sort of on stage, so this is something amazing for me."
The 40 children, ages 7 to 15, gather from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays in the basement at Our Savior's Lutheran Church.
Holbrook directs the group along with help from Producer Kim Griffin, Assistant Director Penny Hill, and Sound Tech Joe Whitlatch. Three CCHS theater students were hired to help manage, direct and work with sound. CCHS drama teacher Anita Hoffman also provides resources and support.
They borrowed some props and costumes from the CCHS Drama Department as well as Gary Bowen and the Bend Theatre for Young People.
Because it's a "Junior" musical, some parts of the original production have been cut in order to make it shorter and less complicated for the young cast. Still, there are 11 separate songs that the kids have to learn as well as multiple solos.
Prineville Music Theater Camp has several grantors and corporate sponsors. They are supported by a grant from the Crook County Cultural Coalition with funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust to support Oregon's arts, heritage, and the humanities.
They also received funding from the Morrison Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, the Shelk Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Prineville, and the Rev. and Mrs. J.S. Maas.
Last fall, the troupe made snowmen crafts for a fundraiser and plan another craft fundraiser for October.
"Dillon's lets us have a couple of hours where the kids bus the tables, and every 15 or 20 minutes, we stop and sing a couple of songs and then go back out and bus tables," Holbrook said.
That event is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 19 at Dillon's Grill. Tip money and a percentage of the meals will go to the camp.
Prineville Music Theater Camp, in its ninth season, is the result of a partnership with Our Savior's Lutheran Church and Crook County Parks and Recreation District.
The audience has grown from parents and grandparents gathering at Our Savior's Lutheran Church to a park full of friends and neighbors who watched the plays at Pioneer Park. This will be the third year the performance has been held in the high school auditorium.
"Being able to move up has created a dynamic that is a much higher level. It's been a challenge, but it's been wonderful," Holbrook said of the venue.
She said the camp fills a niche for kids who may not be inclined to participate in athletics, agriculture or fair.
"This is something in the middle for these kids, to do something that's big and important and gives them a voice and gives them confidence," Holbrook said. "Theater skills with kids are about giving them a voice, about letting them pretend, about letting them explore the personalities, try on other personalities, and see what that feels like."
Noyes, who plays Peter Pan, invites the community to come out and see their performance.
"We all work really hard here. We memorize lines, and we only do it for three weeks," she said. "I want people to see how much hard work we did in the three weeks."
'Disney's Peter Pan Jr.'
By Prineville Music Theater Camp
7 p.m. Friday, July 20
2 p.m. Saturday, July 21
Crook County High School auditorium, 1100 SE Lynn Blvd.
Admission: $2 for those 11 years and older