RTOP’s adaptation of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ kicks off family-friendly performances

Four-week program starts rehearsals four days before performance



The Regional Theatre of the Palouse along Grand Avenue downtown, Aug. 24, 2014.


The Regional Theatre of the Palouse is kicking off its summer camp series at 1:30 p.m. Friday with “Step into the Spotlight,” the program’s first showing of the summer.

“Step into the Spotlight” is the first of four shows free to the public and performed by children between the ages 8–17, and sometimes even younger by audition, said Michael Todd, RTOP assistant director and “Step into the Spotlight” program instructor.

The actors learn the show on a Monday and are ready to perform by Friday, Todd said. While some actors have experience in the program, others are jumping in for the first time.

Todd said “Stepping into the Spotlight” is based on “Where the Wild Things Are,” with music and wild things.

“We do a little adaptation of songs and string them together with a script that the participants learn and perform in a week,” he said. “They really grow as artists and build unity together as a team.”

RTOP’s summer show series is a family-friendly series, but the program invites everyone to see the shows, Todd said. However, families tend to make up the bulk of the audience because the shows are a good introduction for children under the age of 8.

“Sometimes families have a hard time introducing their two-year-olds or their five-year-olds … to the theater, but the summer series is perfect for that because these shows are 15–20 minutes long,” Todd said. “It’s just a nice addition to what families are already trying to do throughout what otherwise is a very busy summer.”

RTOP has been putting on this series since 2007, and the performing arts school has been growing since then, he said.

Todd has been involved in the school since 2011, and over the years, he has seen extensive growth not just in the summer program, but in individual classes as well. But his favorite part of the summer series is the memories created throughout the program.

The children and young adults come out of their shells during the program, and whether it is their first performance or they already have some experience on stage, Todd said they push themselves out of their comfort zone and have fun, as well as make a lot of friends.

“Theater is the most collaborative art form there is,” he said. “A cast builds unity; they rally around each other and they bring out the best in everyone. That’s the most inspiring aspect that I witnessed as an instructor … and it’s a joy sharing that with the public.”

RTOP executive director John Rich does not work directly with the summer program anymore but said seeing children come together creatively as a team and learn new skills in theater is a rewarding part of the program.

Unlike last year’s summer program that had six performances, there are four weeks worth of the camp during the summer this year, Rich said.

Other summer performances include “Wonderful World of Disney,” “Hollywood Premiere” and “Broadway Show Review.” More information on the program can be found on the RTOP website.

RTOP holds auditions for shows throughout the year and is looking for actors of all ages, Rich said.