By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. —
The arts have a home in Alexandria. It’s right downtown at the corner of Church and Canal Streets.
After opening earlier this year, The Commons Theatre is going full steam ahead, hosting a Youth Theatre Camp this summer.
“People in the community just want to be able to see kids have arts opportunities,” said program coordinator Sandra Jensen.
The theatre camp is open to kids who have completed kindergarten to 12th grade, from anywhere in Madison County. The program will run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during June and July between 1 and 4 p.m.
The camp and rehearsals will culminate in the production of “Annie Jr.,” a shorter version of the musical “Annie,” with four performances set for July 25-28. Jensen said the kids will not only learn their roles for the play, but choreography, staging, costumes, set building and more.
“They really are going to be teaching the different facets of theatre. We’re really excited about it,” said Jensen. She said that the hope is to have 100 kids in the camp. The cost is $50 apiece. Some partial scholarships are available.
Jensen described the vision for the theatre as twofold: to provide youth opportunities in the arts in the community, and to bring the body of Christ together. She takes on the job of coordinating the new program after serving as a volunteer in the Church Street Commons ministries. She is also involved at Alexandria High School in the chorale drama department.
Two Anderson University graduates, teachers with degrees in music and theatre experience, will head up the camp operations.
“They are both so energetic. … They are full of enthusiasm for youth theatre,” said Jensen.
Laura Hicks is a graduate of Anderson University with a music education degree. Hicks will be teaching at Hamilton Heights in the fall, as assistant band director, after teaching music at Park Elementary in Fairmount. She has years of community theatre experience, including choreography.
“We are so excited. We cannot wait to get started,” said Hicks. ”It’s going to be a really fun time and we want everyone to come out.”
Kata Ewigleben also graduated with a music education degree from AU. She teaches music at Orchard Park Elementary in Carmel. She has worked with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and the Anderson Children’s Choir. She, too, has years of community theatre experience.
Ewigleben is enthusiastic about the camp and the range of opportunities that will be available to the youth, from onstage roles to stage crew, set building, directing and more.
Hicks said kids coming to audition should expect to read from the script, and they’ll be asked to sing a little bit. It’s a good idea to have a song to sing. Still, Hicks pointed out that there are all kinds of roles from cast to crew.
The co-directors will have the help of volunteers to manage activities.
“These girls are on fire to give back to these kids,” said Scott Owens, the visionary organizer behind all of the Church Street Commons ministries of which The Commons Theatre is just the latest. Other Church Street ministries include the tutor/mentor program established in 2000, and Heaven’s Wearhouse, a free clothing distribution site adjacent to the theatre.
The Commons Theatre took shape after Owens began renovating the old, dilapidated church at the corner of Canal and Church Streets in downtown Alexandria six years ago. The 9,000 square-foot structure dates to 1899. The sanctuary has become the theatre. The old baptismal area has even been incorporated into the stage. Theatrical murals flow on the walls around the room.
Upstairs rooms are being renovated to accommodate art studios and classrooms. During June and July, however, those rooms will be used for Youth Theatre Camp activities.
“The facility is perfect for what we’re using it for,” said Ewigleben. “It is a wonderful facility. It’s going to be a great place for the town.”
Owens is enthusiastic about creating arts opportunities for youth. “It is going to be a special, special camp. It’s going to be exciting.”
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If you go
What: Youth Theatre Camp
When: 1 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during June and July
Where: The Commons Theatre, 204 W. Church St., Alexandria
Audition and register: Interested kids must audition and register on Saturday, May 25, from 9 a.m. to noon.
More info: Check out the website at www.thecommonstheatre.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.