With the temperatures rising and the school year quickly coming to a close, it’s never too early to start thinking about summer activities for kids. The Ahwatukee Children’s Theater offers the perfect solution for summertime fun with a variety of camps that are a great way to beat the heat while developing invaluable skills.
“It’s a great thing to do in the summer because it’s 110 outside and it’s 74 in the theater,” ATC executive director and founder Michele Rubino said. “It’s better than having your kids sitting around watching TV. They’re dancing, they’re singing, they’re meeting new people and getting life skills. I always say my June is great because I spend it in a nice, cold theater.”
Now in its 12th year, the Ahwatukee Children’s Theater (ACT) has been offering summer programs since 2000. This year, ACT offers six different programs for a wide array of ages.
The biggest program involves putting on a production of “Cinderella.” The camp spans the month of June and is for kids in kindergarten all the way up to age 19. The kids practice Monday through Friday from 2 to 5 p.m., and perform the show at the Chandler Center for the Arts June 30 and July 1 — a first for ACT.
“We’re pretty excited about that one because it’s a really big venue,” Rubino said. “There’s 800 seats and it’s a real professional theater so it’s going to be a really exciting production for the kids.”
For the younger children, there are two shorter sessions where the children put on a production of “Flat Stanley, Jr.,” which is having its Arizona premiere in Ahwatukee. Based off the popular children’s book series, the story follows a flat little boy that can fit in an envelope and travel around the world.
“It’s really great because you get to learn about different cultures and there’s music from all the different countries in the musical,” Rubino said. “It’s brand new, and the Ahwatukee Children’s Theater is doing the premiere. I’m really excited about that.”
When it comes to children ages 3 to 5, the “Fairytale Camp” allows kids to dress up and recreate fairy tales every day, along with reading stories and making crafts. Rubino notes that it is a “great way to introduce drama to the little guys.”
There are also two camps that focus primarily on performance skills. There is a one-week intensive vocal camp, along with the “Auditioning Like A Pro” three-day workshop in July. The workshop aims to give everyone the tools they need to be successful at an audition, which includes working on a monologue, an audition song, doing a cold reading and a dance call.
The summer camps are not strictly limited to children, either. “Don’t ACT Your Age” allows adults to come in and put on a musical revue full of singing and dancing. Although it did not catch on well last year, Rubino hopes that more adults will participate this summer.
“I’m hoping to get some of the grown-ups to come in and play with us, too,” Rubino said. “I think that people think children’s theater, so they don’t think there’s going to be anything available for their age. Once in awhile we do like to get these adults involved as well.”
Rubino believes that everybody can benefit from some time in the theater. She references a statistic that says the No. 1 fear people have is speaking in public, and the No. 2 fear is death.
She believes that being in the theater can give people more confidence speaking in public, along with being comfortable in their own body.
“I think that nowadays it’s so hard to be who you are, and that’s one of the things that makes theater great because theater kids are very accepting,” Rubino said. “The confidence to be who they are, feel good about themselves, be able to stand in front of a group and give a speech or sing a song — those are tools that people don’t even develop as adults.
“Most importantly, I just want them to have fun,” Rubino said.
To learn more about Ahwatukee Children’s Theater and its summer offerings, visit www.azact.org or call (480) 705-9319.
• Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.