6/26/2014 9:09:00 AM AHS Drama Summer Camp makes a splash Performed for the public Thursday, Friday evenings
Nearly 60 students from Alice, Orange Grove, San Diego and other neighboring towns took part in the four-day drama summer camp, culminating in two performances of “The Little Mermaid” on Thursday and Friday nights.
Nearly 60 students went under the sea last week for a four-day camp hosted by the Alice High School Drama Club, culminating in two evening performances of the Disney musical "The Little Mermaid."
"It's gone smoothly," AHS drama teacher Darlene Totten said. "I really like doing (the camp). It's a really good way to get kids excited about the theatre." The camp was last held in summer 2012 when the students performed "Adventures of Peter Pan," a royalty-free adaptation of J.M. Barrie's novel.
After skipping 2013, the camp has returned with a more well-known production with Disney's musical adaptation of "The Little Mermaid." "We wanted something that would get a lot of attention," Totten said. "One that everyone would want to do, so we went with the Disney one."
Totten said while the royalties were a little high, she felt it was worth it if they could get a lot of people involved in the production. Participation in the camp was $50 per student.
The musical tells the story of Ariel, a mermaid fascinated by the surface world who trades her voice to the sea witch, Ursula, for three days as a human. If she is not able to make Prince Eric fall in love with her in that time, her soul becomes the property of the sea witch.
In the major roles of Ariel and Ursula were Orange Grove High School freshman Kyleigh Carr and sophomore Jaden Charles. Both are veterans of the AHS Drama Club Summer Camp.
"We both started two years ago," Carr said. "It's been fun. Challenging, but fun." Charles said memorizing lines within three days was stressful, but she loves being on stage.
"It's something that we both enjoy doing," she said. Although they play bitter enemies in the musical, offstage Carr and Charles are best friends. "So that's been fun," Charles said.
Charles said she's no stranger to playing the lead in a musical, last year she played Tracy Turnblad in her high school's production of "Hairspray," and said she would continue to pursue acting even after Orange Grove ISD elected to not offer drama as part of its curriculum in the upcoming school year.
"They cut our program," Charles said. "This summer is when I can do it, but my mom says that I have drama all of the time." William Adams Middle School seventh-grader Madison Timmons portrays Sebastian the Crab in the production. In 2012, she performed the lead as the eponymous Peter Pan, but said she found this summer's role more challenging.
"This year was a longer play, and we didn't sing in 'Peter Pan,'" Timmons said. "But it was really fun."
Other major roles included Salazar Elementary fourth-grade student Kailey Villarreal as Prince Eric, Dubose sixth-grader Lilieth Stephens as Scuttle and Noonan Elementary fourth-grader Daniella Benavides as Flounder.
Totten said the camp, now in its 10th production in 12 years, tends to have a lot of students who return every summer, even some who have since graduated high school and are now attending college.
"Because it's fun," she said. "They love being out here. There are a few that started here as little kids and are still here even after finishing high school." Performances were held in the Bryce Taylor Theatre for the Performing Arts on both Thursday and Friday evenings. Tickets to the public were $5 for adults and $3 for children.
In addition to the students, Thursday's performance also included adult members of the community participating in the show. Funds raised through the camp went towards the AHS Drama Club's summer trip to the International Thespian Society Festival held at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. The group left on Saturday.
"We have kids that qualified in acting and a technical theatre go that will be competing as well," Totten said. "So we'll see how we do."