Beginning next week Ahwatukee Children's Theater (ACT) will be conducting a camp for children, culminating into a full production of "Pinocchio" later this month.

ACT will host the camp starting on Tuesday, July 5 for kindergartners through fourth-graders and "Pinocchio" will play July 20-21.

"A benefit of participating in the camp is the great life lessons kids learn," director Bailey Isenberg said. "Working as a team and working together [are two lessons participants learn]."

ACT offered the "Pinocchio" camp last month as well, conducting shows June 22-23. Both were sold out.

Bailey Apostol, whose 9-year-old daughter, Claire, played Jiminy Cricket in the June production, highly recommends the camp and play to other parents.

"Claire gained a lot of confidence that she didn't have before the show," Apostol said. "And with so many other kids [participating in "Pinocchio"] they create that bond that spending so much time together generates."

Isenberg agreed with Apostol's sentiment, adding that children make life-long friends after acting in plays. She explained that she had participated in some productions when she was younger, and still maintains friendships with people she met there.

"ACT [and "Pinocchio"] is about so much more than theater," Isenberg said. "We get children out of their shell and allow them to work as a group. The show isn't just about one person, it comes together as a cast."

Claire also spoke highly of her experience in the play.

"I liked being with my friends and acting with all of them," she said. "I also liked that I got a solo because that was fun [but hard too]."

Apostol said that while Claire participated in various activities, she always said the play was her favorite part of the day. The family lives in south Chandler so driving to the theater takes time, but they both said the drive was worth it.

"ACT makes you feel very comfortable," Claire said. "If you're really interested in acting, they let you choose which part you would like to get and you may get it. They don't yell or get mad at you either, which is nice."

Playing theater games is also a component of the camp, according to Isenberg. Having snack time and activities such as Disney trivia ensures that the experience is not all work.

The camp will be from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday for two weeks (July 5-19) before the show premieres at ACT, 5051 E. Elliot Road. "Pinocchio" will play at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on July 20 and at 6 p.m. on July 21. Tickets for the show are $15 each. The production fee is $250, with half that amount due the first day of camp.

For more information, call (480) 705-9319 or visit www.azact.org.

• Anna Gunderson is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a freshman at Arizona State University.

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