News-Sun photo by KATARA SIMMONS Andrew Pillsbury (left) and Jared Clemente rehearse their parts.
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published: Sunday, July 08, 2012
Young actors debut comedy at HLT's Summer Theater Institute
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - Laughter and giggles are sure to unload when the cast of "The Further Adventures of Nick Tickle, Fairy Tale Detective" take the stage at the Highlands Little Theater this week.
The Summer Theater Institute is a new concept on a former summer camp in the local community.
"The camp was funded by the college (South Florida State College). We worked with them on the camp for many years, but their grant funding dried up so they decided not to hold the camp this year. So we decided that we would do it ourselves," said camp and play director Jennifer Westergom.
Westergom is a long-time actor who has performed in numerous productions with Highlands Little Theater. She, along with Kristen Taylor, are the directors of the production.
The 21-member cast includes young actors from fifth-graders to 10th-graders, most of who are new to the world of theater.
"We were surprised and happy with the amount of new students this year. We have about five or six who have experience and are returning actors but most of them are new," Westergom said.
The four-week camp gives blossoming actors the opportunity to learn fundamental skills for their craft in a unique and relaxed environment.
"The first two weeks we focus only on acting skills. It's the hardest part of the camp, for them (students) and for us. That is how we structure it though. It's upfront the first weeks and then we get into the production. They don't even start reading their scripts until the third week," Westergom said.
Students were busy Friday afternoon rehearsing on a small stage at the Thakkar Pavilion. The dark room set the stage for the next week's production as Taylor described the plot.
"It's about Nick. He is a detective of fairy tales. He is solving a mystery and the mystery is the disappearance of Granny Possum; she is the one who tells all the fairy tales," Taylor said.
This is the first time the production will be portrayed by the Summer Theater Instate but was chosen for good reason.
"She (Taylor) chose the play," Westergom said. "It was written for kids specifically and it has a lot of humor in it. There's something for adults and kids, for everyone. It also has fun costumes and fairytales, so that's why it was chosen."
Taylor feels the production is a good learning experience for the young actors and will bring even more excitement to the enthusiastic cast and crew.
"This is teaching them the comedies they haven't been familiar with. It's all a part of them learning the background and the richness that they need to pull from to grow their craft," Taylor said. "Some of the kids, about four or five, are happy to be a part of the technical side of it. They are really good minds and everyone is fun to work with. It's good to see how far they've come; it's very rewarding to us. It is the reward."
Taylor and Westergom hope to continue the camp in the coming summers to give the young actors the opportunity to grow and discover a different part of themselves and their crafts.
"We want to bring awareness of the theater to young people in the community. We want them to really learn how to become a better actor," Westergom said.
"The Further Adventures of Nick Tickle, Fairy Tale Detective" will debut at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Highlands Little Theater Thakkar Pavilion.
Tickets are $5 for entrance and can be purchased at the HLT box office, website or by phone. All proceeds go to the STI camp funding and scholarships for eligible students.
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