I Pushed Aside My Fears and Joined Camp Broadway’s The Next Step …and This is What Happened

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Calling all musical theater nerds!

Are you wondering whether Camp Broadway’s The Next Step is right for you?

A few weeks ago, I was wondering the same thing.

Why?

Well, I had never done a Camp Broadway program before, and although I had experience onstage, it was mostly Shakespearean plays and local/community productions. Musical theater was relatively new for me, and I was very nervous about going to a “musical theater intensive” camp without having tons of experience.

But, I had recently joined Camp Broadway’s blog team and was coming to New York to visit family. So, I decided to push aside my fears and go for it!

The Next Step is a five-day camp, teaching teens the Broadway show process: from auditions to opening night. It gives campers who are searching for theater community the chance to work with Broadway personalities while gaining valuable knowledge of performing arts. Campers come from all over the USA and the world to participate in this renowned program.

Throughout the week of The Next Step 2016, I kept a diary of what camp was like.

I went from a total newbie to a confident veteran. And you can, too!

Here’s your insider look at The Next Step:

Monday

Nervously standing at the registration table with my mom, reality hit me: I was starting a camp taught by Broadway professionals, alongside kids who seemingly had been doing this all their lives! But I was delighted to find that the first thing the camp counselors had us do was talk and get to know each other’s backgrounds and interests. This helped us let out our first-day nerves and create the sense of community that we carried throughout the rest of the week. There were campers from places including Massachusetts, Ohio, Louisiana, California, Puerto Rico and Poland, as well as New York! But soon enough, we were all acting like one big family.

Then came our exciting professional headshots. They were used in the program for our show at the end of the week.

After all of us got acquainted and photographed, we had dance and singing auditions. If your heart just skipped a beat when you read that: don’t panic! We had an audition workshop beforehand to help prepare us.  🙂

Lesson: You don’t have to be perfect to participate. Everyone is encouraged. Be honest about your skill level, and work from there.

THE NEXT STEP Group Physical Warm Up at Dancesport in New York City on July 25, 2016.  Photo by Henry McGee

THE NEXT STEP Group Physical Warm Up at Dancesport in New York City on July 25, 2016. Photo by Henry McGee

Tuesday

We were treated to dance workshops with Ryan VanDenBoom (Backup Boys/Ensemble/Shakespeare Understudy) and Elizabeth Earley (Swing) from Broadway’s SOMETHING ROTTEN! Mr. VanDenBoom led us through the basics of tap dancing and Ms. Earley then taught us a portion of the dance from the opening number of the show: “Welcome to the Renaissance.” (We clapped wildly for this number—and for the rest of the spectacular show—when we all saw this musical the next night.)

Later that day, we were put into “character groups” based on our auditions: Divas, Ingénues, Romantic Leads, Comics and Triple Threats. Each group had songs that embodied their character type. Camp homework was memorizing lyrics and dance steps.

Lesson: Put your all into memorizing/rehearsing each night (see my previous article for memorization tips!) so that each day in camp, you’re ready to receive greater feedback.

THE NEXT STEP Workshop with Elizabeth Earley learning the opening number from "Something Rotten!" at DanceSport in New York City on July 26, 2016.  Photo by Henry McGee

THE NEXT STEP Workshop with Elizabeth Earley learning the opening number from “Something Rotten!” at DanceSport in New York City on July 26, 2016. Photo by Henry McGee

THE NEXT STEP Tap Workshop with "Something Rotten!" cast member Ryan VanDenBoom at DanceSport in New York City on July 26, 2016.  Photo by Henry McGee

THE NEXT STEP Tap Workshop with “Something Rotten!” cast member Ryan VanDenBoom at DanceSport in New York City on July 26, 2016. Photo by Henry McGee

Wednesday

We had a wonderful question-and-answer talkback with Sarrah Strimel (Ensemble, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS) in the break between rehearsals for our show. Ms. Strimel’s down-to-earth honesty, positive attitude, and humor was like getting advice from a friend.

Lesson: The talkback left me feeling totally inspired to step out of my comfort zone and accomplish my goals—which is an essential attitude for a performing artist. Also essential: surrounding yourself with positive, upbeat role models and asking for their advice!

THE NEXT STEP Workshop at DanceSport in New York City on July 27, 2016.  Photo by Henry McGee

THE NEXT STEP talkback with Sarrah Strimel Photo by Henry McGee

Thursday

Emphasis today was on intense rehearsals. Especially warm-ups (exercising and stretching before rehearsing.) Pre-rehearsal cardio helps you feel energized—especially during dress rehearsals, which can be lengthy.

Even with such a tight deadline, each group and each performer got the exact amount of caring instruction that we needed. I didn’t feel glossed over at all. Just the opposite! I felt that I was getting focused, individualized mentoring on technique, presentation, and theater history. That attention gave me the confidence to push myself more each day.

Lesson: In addition to warm-ups for your body, warm up your mind, too! Research the history of the play you’re in, get to know how others handled your role, what the critics said, etc. Find out all that you can! This will add dimension and range to your performance!

 

THE NEXT STEP Stage Finale at DanceSport in New York City on July 27, 2016.  Photo by Henry McGee

THE NEXT STEP Stage Finale at DanceSport in New York City on July 27, 2016. Photo by Henry McGee

Friday

The Big Day: SHOW TIME!!!

After a week of auditioning and rehearsing with Broadway professionals, here we were, at B.B. King’s on 42nd Street, ready to perform!

The Next Step 2016 show was exhilarating!

Backstage, you could hear the titters as people reviewed lines, songs, and dances, while talking about the excitement of being in NYC. There were also convos about things like Justin Bieber, cute dogs, and our hometowns.

When the lights went up, we took the stage!

The theater was filled with parents and other audience members in a huge mob with flashing cell phones recording our performance.

We got a standing ovation!

After the show, we rushed to take selfies and exchange emails, and talked for over an hour! We thanked our directors and the Camp Broadway staff, and promised to keep in touch.

Our goodbyes were bittersweet: sad because the week flew by so fast and this amazing camp experience was over…but happy because we were now friends, could keep in touch and were planning to see one another next time.

Lesson: Toss out the mindset of nervousness! Jump into The Next Step and take a chance! It will boost your confidence, and help you develop your character—onstage and off. And honestly: no one cares if you look awkward except for you. DON’T WASTE THE OPPORTUNITY OF THIS CAMP by being self-conscious! Whether you’re a newbie like I was, or a veteran: The Next Step is a supportive place where you don’t have to worry. Treasure it!

THE NEXT STEP Final Showcase at B.B. King in New York City on July 29, 2016.  Photo by Henry McGee

THE NEXT STEP Final Showcase at B.B. King in New York City on July 29, 2016. Photo by Henry McGee

In conclusion…This is What Happened:

The Next Step was only a week long, but I learned a lifetime of valuable insights about theater arts, professionalism, and the amazingly supportive Broadway community! I am so glad I pushed aside my fears and took a chance!

THE NEXT STEP Final Showcase at B.B. King in New York City on July 29, 2016.  Photo by Henry McGee

THE NEXT STEP Final Showcase at B.B. King in New York City on July 29, 2016. Photo by Henry McGee

Registration for The Next Step 2017 opens soon! Check our website for more details about signing up!

Have another question about The Next Step? Leave it in the comments below!

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