I can officially say that year 2 of Camp Broadway was the most difficult and rewarding one yet! Camp Broadway was a working challenge which is what I loved most about it. It ever-changing, never really the same thing from day to day. which was problematic at some parts but almost brought us together more as campers and performers. We all know that no production is perfect and that sometimes you must struggle to get something right.
Last year I had so much fun because my attention was on relationships and the people I was meeting. Now coming back to it and not only knowing a lot of the campers but having a bit more experience under my belt I came in ready to work. To my surprise camp had almost changed its format this year. One thing I really enjoyed that we didn’t get this year was time to work with Michelle Robinson, our director.
I really enjoyed the emphasis on presence and confidence she’d taught in a workshop we did the year prior so I was bummed about it. Because to be honest there were some kids at camp this year that are STARS. Presence and personality are two things that really can’t be taught but something to be honed in on. And I really was sad to see they didn’t get that because I still hold to this day Ms. Robinson’s advice to “never let anyone mess up your name.” That may seem normal to other and sort of just a normal misstep but your name is your life in entertainment.
People get sold on their names, if Hamilton took a dip in attendance today (which I don’t see happening anytime soon) they’d probably announce some big star coming into the show. I don’t know about you but if I heard Usher was going into Hamilton as Burr or Jordin Sparks as Peggy/Maria I’d buy my ticket immediately. It’s almost like when Chicago takes just the slightest dip in sales Brandy is back or Mel B, someone people would come to see. I think one thing that was evident this year is the fact that this was a trial run of its new format.
Atlanta was the first city of the summer so we were the guinea pigs for their plans. We saw them sweat, literally and figuratively. There were moments that we were all flying by the seats of our pants and we went along with them. Which is something that didn’t happen last year but was probably the realest moment I’ve had in camp. When you’re working on a production it is not a guarantee that it will always be planned down to the minute.
Sometimes you’ll get to a space and realize that it’s smaller than the space you’d be practicing in so everything changes. Your blocking, choreography, even your onstage interactions. I liked that we had to figure it out and work to learn. One thing about the working it out process that I didn’t like was the disconnect between us and our choreographer.
I think with our choreographer, Spence Ford, the disconnect was that we’re still kids. There were moments I focused on talking to others instead of focusing on her teaching. A big part in that along with our lack of focus was that she’s professional. the staff at CB is professional which is one thing you don’t necessarily realize. She’s been on Broadway and seen what we all dream of and instead of embracing that we disrespected her process.
That stuck out to me a lot after camp,the power in respect. How being professional is simply having respect for everyone involved in the process. Things like don’t be late to respect your director, come warmed up and prepared in respect for your fellow actors. These are the lessons I needed most and I’m happy I got them in camp. I think my favorite part like last year was music. Mr. Bill Newberry is the most awesome person ever.
One thing I love about Bill is his energy, he’s just so cool. And as a singer he was always my favorite part. One huge thing I love about Camp Broadway is that our counselors are working actors. It was awesome walking into the Rialto and seeing India Tyree, who I’d just seen in Grease at Serenbe and Sweep at the Aurora theatre. And I love her work but as a part of the dodgers (the older group at CB) I have to say our counselor, Chris Lewis is the best!
One of the best moments was when Jennifer Holliday came. It really set in this time that she is a LEGEND. One thing I value about Camp Broadway is their effort is introducing industry professionals to campers. So, overall Camp Broadway year 2 was a success, a learning process, and the best camp I’ve ever been to.