Wonderful world of summer


Children rehearse in costume at RTOP in Pullman.

From staff reports

In this small town, the Regional Theatre of the Palouse (RTOP) brings a little slice of Broadway for all ages.

RTOP is a theater group in downtown Pullman, known for taking large-scale productions like “Les Miserables” and “Mary Poppins” and bringing them to their smaller stage.

RTOP also offers numerous workshops throughout the year, giving locals and especially children the chance to know a theatrical experience.

“Promoting the arts and arts education through quality theatre. This is our mission statement,” said RTOP director John Rich.

This summer, RTOP will offer four summer camps for children ages 8 to 16.

The camps focus on music, dance and acting, Rich said.

Each camp lasts a week and has a different theme, from Wonderful World of Disney to Broadway Show Review.

The theme determines the style of music and performance, including Disney classic songs, modern, pop, or classical songs, Rich said.

At the end of the week, the morning and afternoon camps combine and put on a show. This is done after only five days of learning and rehearsing songs, dances, and script.

“I think that the summer camps are a good opportunity for young people to not only have fun but feel that they’ve accomplished something at the end of their camp,” said Tina McClure, one of the instructors.

McClure, an instructor for RTOP for the past seven years, said much of the camp activities are done through games to help kids be more comfortable with speaking up and enunciating.

Through these games, kids learn lyrics and melodies for music, choreography, and a certain number of lines. Every show follows an original script written by the directors and branches out from the songs featured. The most popular camp is the Disney themed session.

“Costumes are always super fun with Disney,” McClure said. “(You have to) recreate and be creative. It won’t look exactly the same, but similar.”

Rich said some campers do shows throughout the year and others come back every summer. RTOP has always featured a performing arts school along with their regular productions on the main stage.

There’s usually a wide age range of kids, from ages 5 to 15.

The range allows the kids to work with other young actors their age while sharing the experience with the variety of ages, McClure said.

McClure said she enjoys seeing the transformation in the child actors, many of whom come into the camps very shy but come out of their shells as the week progresses.

Seeing it all come together is a thrill, especially for these kids who are undertaking the somewhat daunting task of putting together a show in four days, McClure said.

“We want the campers to have fun, learn about theatre, music, dance, and come away with a feeling they have accomplished something by putting on a show,” Rich said.

Camp themes and times are Stepping Out into the Spotlight June 15-19, Wonderful World of Disney from June 22-26, Hollywood Glee Club from July 6-10, and Broadway Show Review from July 13-17.

Tuition for camps is $105 per session.

See http://www.rtoptheatre.org/ for more information about camps and performances.


Reporting by Catherine Kruse