This Season’s Practical and Perfectly-Priced Broadway Gift Guide

This holiday season, here at Camp Broadway, we’re making it easy to find the perfect gift for your favorite theatre-lover! Here are five perfectly-priced and practical gifts featuring this season’s most popular musicals.

First up, one of my favorite shirts that I own, the “Eat Sleep Theatre Repeat” shirt (made by Etsy user StagAndCo) is only $23.95 and is perfect for the actor, stage manager, or techie that is always at rehearsal.

Just right for those who are always in awe of the spectacular costumes on Broadway is this print of Broadway’s most famous costumes over time (made by Etsy user PopChartLab. The print itself is only $29.00, and you can save money by purchasing your own frame to hang it in!

Looking for something more simple? For only $10, you can purchase Broadway-themed ornaments (made by Etsy user PartyPaperFavor). These adorable adornments for the tree come in the theme of several different musicals, such as Hairspray, Kinky Boots, Lion King, or Hamilton!

 

 

If you’re trying to find something shiny or sparkly this holiday season, a piece of jewelry might be the best option- try this Dear Evan Hansen inspired necklace (made by Etsy user PerfectionB)! It is engraved with the lyrics “You Will Be Found” and is absolutely beautiful. For only $13, it truly is a cheap and fantastic addition to your wishlist or shopping cart!


My personal favorite theatre-related gift I’ve ever received was a box of 
Official Playbill Frames! They allow me to display all of my favorite playbills (including my treasured signed ones!) on my wall for visitors to see when they enter my room. This is a practical gift idea, and at only $15.99 per frame, they provide a stunning place to display your playbills, as well as some neat room decor.

Did you find something to add to your wishlist? Maybe something to put in the cart for a friend or family member? Let me know in the comments down below if you found anything that I didn’t mention, or what your favorite theatre-themed gift has been!

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“The Heat Is On In Saigon”

By Skylar Raye Noyes

My all time favorite musical is Miss Saigon! The music, the romance, and the story take my breath away. I have always been a major fan of the show and when I heard it was coming back to Broadway, I was ecstatic! Nothing was going to stand in my way of seeing this incredible musical! The night I was going to see the show finally came. I remember entering the theatre and gasped as I saw the set on stage. It was an unbelievable sight to see! I couldn’t believe that I was finally going to see the show that I had been obsessing over for so long, live and on Broadway! It was surreal! As the house lights dimmed and the orchestra began to play the overture, I felt my heart pounding out of my chest. The show began and it was one of the greatest shows I have ever seen on Broadway! Eva Noblezada (Kim) had me in tears the entire show. One of the most memorable performances in the show was when she sang “I’d Give My Life For You.” It was a showstopper, sent chills down my spine, and had me sobbing the entire time.

Another memorable number was when Alistair Brammer (Chris) performed “Why God Why.” It is one of my favorite songs in the entire show and he did an outstanding job! One of my favorite numbers in the musical was “The Morning of the Dragon.” This number is very intense and the dancing is incredible! Another showstopper was when the amazing Jon Jon Briones performed “The American Dream.” He is such a captivating performer! And last but not least, the scene where the helicopter flies on stage is an iconic moment in the show that amazed me. Overall, the whole show was remarkable!

I was fortunate enough go backstage after the show and interview Minami Yusui! Minami is in the ensemble of Miss Saigon. She is an amazing performer and dancer with an incredible story to tell of her path to Broadway. She was kind enough to share her amazing story of passion and hard work with our Camp Broadway readers!

What is your favorite part about being on Broadway?

“It’s a dream come true, I’ve always wanted to be on Broadway. I worked so many years and did so many things to get here and the fact that I’ve achieved my dreams means a lot!”

What advice do you have for kids who want to be on Broadway someday?

“Keep your passion! Always remember why you are doing it, the feeling you had with the first show you ever saw, or whatever motivated you to dedicate your time to this craft. Remember that matters, because when you are going through some difficult times or whenever you get discouraged, always go back to why you are doing it, maybe that wonderful feeling you had or that passion you were given.”

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

“I have a lot of things, but usually yoga and meditation, and to make sure to check in with myself everyday to keep my mind grounded. It can be very dangerous, you can get hurt and once you get hurt you can be out for many days, so take care of each show. I check in with myself every day and make sure I feel grounded.”

Ever think you would be on Broadway?
“I thought it would be cool, but I was in Japan, I didn’t even speak English. I don’t think I was that realistic. I just had so much passion and just dreamt, it would be so wonderful to be on Broadway and do that! I watched the Tony Awards and didn’t understand any of the speeches, I just dreamt big! I guess I always wanted to and didn’t really think, oh if I couldn’t actually be on Broadway. I just had that big feeling of dreaming about it! I couldn’t be happier. I am very grateful and very lucky!”

Minami’s story is so inspiring! Hearing about how she came from Japan with nothing but a dream, not knowing the language, and reaching her goal of performing on Broadway is incredible! Her advice is to stay focused on your goals and work hard! Thank you Minami for sharing your love and passion for theatre with the readers of Camp Broadway!

 

 

5 Life Lessons from 8 Years in Theatre

Camp Broadway blog, oh, how I have missed you. This is Emma, back after a somewhat hiatus of focusing on my sophomore year, stage managing, and all sorts of other craziness. Today, I’m here to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from doing theatre for eight years. That’s over half my life! One of the most well-known phrases today is definitely the cliche, “All the World’s a Stage”. After doing over 30 shows, I’d have to agree with this. So, without further ado, here are five, crucial life lessons that I’ve learned from doing theatre. 

I am the second from the right in the yellow dress, playing Mrs. Mayor in Seussical. These friends are not only my cast members, but my family.

  1. Trust the Process– Seriously, doing theatre will most definitely test your patience sometimes, however, you’ll learn to depend on your production staff to lead the way. They are experienced in the field and will teach you everything you need to know, all in due time. This benefits you in the future because you’ll know how to trust that whoever is leading the way has a plan to reach the finish line!
  2. Criticism is OK. Say it with me, criticism is OK. It’s okay not to be perfect. In the theatre world, you are going to hear the word  “no” much more than “yes”. It is much easier to get turned down when you are older applying for jobs after doing theatre, since you are used to being turned down and getting constructive criticism. You’ll learn that directors aren’t being mean during notes, but they are doing all that they can to make your performance better!
  3. Time Management is Key! Between balancing rehearsals with homework, work, sports, and other things, you will become fantastic at time management; trust me, this is a great skill when you get into high school!
  4. Your Team is Your Family. Theatre really is a team effort- take out one cast member and a harmony part may go completely missing! After taking part in a few shows, you will know how to work in “harmony” (get it?) with several others, and strengthen your communication skills with others as well.
  5. Be Open. If nothing else, theatre will teach you what it’s like to have a loving family that is always concerned about you and your dreams. If you are open to sharing with your fellow cast members, you’ll learn so many life lessons from numerous different people who have been through so many different things.

These are only five things that came out of doing theatre, and I can’t wait to see what I’m going to learn next. Remember always to be flexible and open to change, and to really love on your cast (aka family) while you have them. Something a director said to me changed my outlook on each show: you will never do the exact same show with the same cast and production staff after closing. So take in every moment that you get to spend with some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet, and most importantly, commit to the show and tell a story. After all, that’s what theatre is all about, right?

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Flying High with Paramour

By Skylar Raye Noyes

J’adore le Paramour! I recently went to see Paramour on Broadway and the show was incredible! It is a blend of Cirque du Soleil’s signature acrobatic high flying adventures and stunts, and Broadways beautiful story telling. The show amazed the audience with gorgeous costumes, choreography, and music. Watching the acrobatics was definitely a highlight of the musical. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched performers soar and flip through the air. They made it look effortless! One of the most memorable stunts in the show was when a pair of twins each grabbed onto a rope with one hand and flew above the audience in unison. You could feel the tension in the theater as the audience fixated their eyes on the acrobats. With one false move they could have lost grasp of the rope and fallen into the audience’s laps! I was mesmerized while watching them soar like birds throughout the theater.

Another showstopping stunt in Paramour was when there was a large seesaw in the middle of the stage and one acrobat would jump onto one end of the seesaw, causing the acrobat on the opposite end to soar high into the air. While in the air, the acrobat flipped what seemed like a thousand times! You certainly cannot have a fear of heights to perform these stunts!

Before the show I had the opportunity to interview one of the stars, Paramour’s Sarah Meahl. Sarah played Gina in the show! It’s always a magical feeling when you are in the presence of a Broadway performer as talented, beautiful, and kind as Sarah. She was so gracious to meet with me and share her experiences as a professional dancer and Broadway performer with our readers. During our interview I also got to witness the show’s troupe of autonomous flying robots being tested on the stage! It was cool to get a behind the scenes sneak peek at some of the magic I would later see in the show!

Here is what Sarah had to share with our Camp Broadway readers….

with Sarah Meahl, “Gina”

At what age did you start dancing and how did your love of dance lead to a career on Broadway?

“I started dancing when I was 2 and a half. My mom put me in dance class because I begged! I was not potty trained yet, so she said the deal is that if you be a big girl, you can take dance class, so that was like part of my training. I always loved to dance so much that it was never a question that I wanted to do that. I had this awesome dance teacher who worked at Disney and she told me that she did this professionally as a job. That’s when all these things opened up for me and I realized I can do this professionally, I want to work at Disney! And then she said well you can work at Disney, or you could also go to New York; you could be on Broadway. And that’s how I found out. So ever since that was presented to me, at the age of eight, I wanted that.”

When you were a teenager, did you ever believe you would be on Broadway someday?

“Yes, I thought I could. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. I wanted it to happen, and I thought I could do it. I wanted to put myself in all the right classes and have the right training so that that could be a possibility for me.”

When did you decide to audition for Broadway and what was the motivating factor that led you to go for it?

“I auditioned for Broadway my first time when I was nineteen. I was in college and I went on my spring break to New York. I had older friends from college who already lived in New York City, so I stayed with them. I auditioned for an equity chorus call but I didn’t have my equity card. It was for Chicago. I also auditioned for Nice Work If You Can Get It when I was twenty-one. Those were the ones I could go to and I was nervous, but I also was confident because I knew how to audition because I went to school for that, so I was ready. I felt ready. I came on a bus from Pittsburgh and I stayed with my friend and made sure I was there on time. I got there early! I eventually moved to New York City which was really far away from my family. When you make a lifestyle change and you move so far away, it becomes a goal. Everything before that was fun and I got to dance and this was a step up, but I guess ultimately the thing that helped me be motivated was my love for it. I want to create! Also, I had an awesome mom who was really supportive and never pushed me, but never backed me away from it. She just was happy for me and encouraged me to do it and believed in me. She told me you can do anything if you believe in yourself, and so I felt confident enough because of what she told me.”

with Philippe Bélanger, unicyclist

What’s your favorite part about being on Broadway?

“The people. Everyone here, in every show, everyone has a story to tell. And that’s what we do; we tell stories! I love it because a lot of people in the business were made fun of as kids; they were creative or different. Theatre is a community where everyone is loved and accepted. I’m surrounded by people who love to do what I do: sing, dance, and perform. Whether they’re walking on their hands, dancing, or singing their faces off! They all had a really common goal. They put in hard work, so they all have good work ethic. And most of them have been estranged to some extent, so they’re very loving and open. They’re open to new experiences or different lifestyles because in New York that’s what we do, we have different lifestyles than everyone else. So I think I love the people because the people are so giving of themselves and tell their story. They’re so lovely, open, and wonderful, and I want to be around those people everyday. I want to be around awesome people everyday and that’s what I get here! I am around cool people who work hard and have fought for something, and not everyone can say that they have done that. That’s my favorite thing, but of course I also love the music, the lights, the costumes, the glitter, the makeup, and the eyelashes!!!”

Doing eight shows a week, how do you keep up the energy and enthusiasm for each performance?

“For energy I get enough sleep, eat healthy, and eat a lot of protein. I also do things other than dancing. I take yoga and I will go to a workout class because a body in motion stays in motion. So I stay in motion and I eat healthy. I think it is very important that you do the same show every night, and you give the same amount of energy. Sometimes I get bored though because I have done 400 performances. Every performance is different; there’s always something that keeps you on your toes. I like to give each performance an intention, so that maybe it inspires me to say something with a new idea. I like to dedicate a performance to someone. If I get really bored, I will think about my Grandpa. It will make me refind why I love it and I think about doing it for someone who I wish could see it. Or this one’s for my best friend, so I’m going to say this line extra special today because I think it’s something that she would love! I also think it is important to really remember when you have nothing left and you’re just bored and don’t want to go on and do the same counts of eight, or say the same thing over and over just get back to the story you were trying to tell like where are you going, where have you been, what does your character want, what do I want people in this theatre to leave with. Just remind yourself of those questions and it will help inspire you to do the scene to the best way you can!”

What advice do you have for teenagers whose dream is to be on Broadway?

With Ryan Vona, “Joey”

“Be kind! You never know what someone’s going through and it is hard to do sometimes in theatre. You have to be a team; you have to work together, and that can be difficult. Every person I’ve met and every experience I’ve had in my professional career, and even before, in youth theatre, every person and experience has led me to the next. Every job has given me networking to get me to my next job. It is a small world, every person and every experience leads you to the next, never think this is too small of a job for me. I was a hostess and that experience gave me what I needed to to play a certain character. I am so happy that I had this friend named Katie that taught me how to baton twirl during recess because I have baton twirled in three or four shows.

Everything is an experience which brings you to the next. You never know, every experience that you have had in your life will be used one day in your life and it all happens for a reason so just experience them and savor them and remember them because you use every person you’ve met. I know my character Gina is modeled after my best friends mom! Who knew I was going to play a character that reminded me of my best friends mom? I’d be like what would Nancy do? Every person you meet, every experience you can use towards theatre, but the most important thing I was going to say is hang around people who inspire you, that’s the number one thing! Surround yourself with people you admire, people you want to emulate, successful people, happy happy people! I’ve noticed that my group of friends that I have from high school and college and beyond, those tiny little groups of people that I’ve loved have risen with me because we all hold each other accountable for the good work we are doing. So I think that is really important! If you have a goal and a dream and it’s something you can’t survive without, pursue it and be relentless but be kind and usually the two, if you are kind people want to work with you. You are likable. Above anything else before “cast-ability” or talent comes do I want to work with that person, then you have a job. I know people who are so talented joyous and they bring teamwork, spirit and happiness … its Broadway, it can be hard, really hard … and you need those people to bring up the moral. Be a person who you would want to hang out with!”

Thank you to Sarah for granting this interview and offering such inspiring advice to our young readers. These are words to live and love by! She truly is a special person, beautiful inside and out. After saying goodbye to Paramour, Sarah found a new l’amour and has said hello to Hello Dolly, where she is now part of the cast! Good things happen to good people; wishing you all the successes you deserve as you continue to pursue your Broadway dreams!

This Season’s Broadway-Inspired Halloween Costumes!

This Halloween, maybe you’re looking to try something different. Maybe you’re going to a party with a group of friends- wait, even better, maybe you’re attending the party with a group of theatre-lovers like yourself! This season was filled with shows featuring extravagant costumes with intricate details, and I’m here to help you recreate some of them yourself! This year, knock everyone’s expectations out of the park and try out one of our ideas for Broadway-Inspired Halloween Costumes with all of your friends!

Broadway-Inspired Halloween Costumes

You can try something as simple as wearing contrasting colors to depict Elphaba and Glinda!

Iconic Duos of Broadway

Grab your closest friend and get ready to transform into one of the most iconic musical theatre duos of all time- Elphaba and Glinda! These two stunning singers are complete opposites in personality and in style, perfect for several best-friend duos out there! This look can be completed for a very low cost! For Elphaba, grab a black dress, some combat boots, and accent with green pieces of ribbon, nail polish, or jewelry! For Glinda, choose pink (“popular dress”) or blue (bubble dress) and accentuate your look with lots of glitter and glam! 

Grab Your Group!

Broadway-Inspired Halloween Costumes

Take a look at this group of girls with simple costumes inspired by The Lion King!

Try something different this Halloween and be sure to gather your entire group! Scout out some matching outfits or school uniforms and transform yourselves into the stellar kids from School of Rock!

If you’re going for something more varied and different, try dressing up as different animals from The Lion King! Use face paint, ears, and different colored t-shirts for a simple but fun look. Group costumes can include all different kinds of looks but still be seen as one! This is one of the best parts about going with your group!

 

Sugar, Butter, Spooky!

Broadway-Inspired Halloween Costumes

Check out these three visitors from BroadwayCon dressed as the Waitresses!

My personal favorite musical, Waitress, has some of the simplest yet fantastic costumes on Broadway. All you need in order to dress up like Jenna, Dawn, and Becky are matching dresses, aprons, and some white shoes! You could even add a Halloween twist to your look and come up with some names of pies with some unusual ingredients for the diner!

Well, CB readers, have any of you planned out your Halloween costume yet for this year? Be sure to comment below and tell us what you have planned, maybe you’ll inspire another CB reader to create their own Broadway-Inspired Halloween Costume this “season”!

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Camp Broadway Mainstage Highlights 2017

Each summer since 1995, over 30,000 kids from all over the country have attended Camp Broadway’s 5-day signature program, working with industry professionals direct from Broadway in an authentic Broadway rehearsal process to perform classic numbers from Broadway’s most beloved shows.  This summer, Camp Broadway celebrated its 21st summer of connecting Broadway professionals with theater-loving kids in New York City and around the country.  Below is a peek into the rehearsal process and once-in-a-lifetime moments that children experience in a week of Camp Broadway. See our favorite moments from camp in 2017, including workshops with Broadway pros, meeting the kids of CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, seeing ANASTASIA on Broadway and performing hits from Peter Pan and Shrek the Musical.


 

All week long, campers work with our staff of directors, choreographers, and music directors who all have extensive Broadway and National Tour credits. They are leaders and master teachers who are successful in translating the traditions and standards known to professionals on Broadway into age-appropriate programs that are relevant and inspirational for aspiring amateur thespians.


Campers take part in the unique tradition of the Camp Broadway Robe.


Campers spend Wednesday in Times Square, first rehearsing at B.B. King Blues Club before heading off to a Broadway matinee.


 

NYC CB’ers had a special workshop with Anastasia’s Ian Knauer, and learning choreography inspired by the show.


The young performers of Broadway’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory visited for a special Q&A, sharing with our campers what it’s like to be a kid on Broadway.


Campers attended a matinee of Anastasia and were treated to an exclusive post-show talkback with the cast!


symphony-space

On Friday, family and friends are invited to watch the Camp Broadway Family Finale in the 756-seat Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space.


Over the course of 5 days, campers take part in both Camp Broadway, and Broadway traditions, from the Camp Broadway Medley to the Gypsy Robe Ceremony.


 

Campers rehearse all week to perform highlights from two popular Broadway Musicals. In 2017, campers performed Peter Pan JR. and Shrek the Musical JR.


REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR SUMMER 2018!!

Register by 12/31 and save $100

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The Next Step 2017 Highlights

The Next Step offers a specialized program of musical theater classes taught by Broadway professionals, for aspiring performers, ages 14-17, who have had some previous on-stage experience. A highly unique program, The Next Step weaves traditional musical theater training into an immersive theatrical environment designed to give participants the opportunity to understand what it’s really like to be a Broadway “Gypsy”. Check out our highlights to see what a week inside of The Next Step is like. CLICK HERE to read our blogger’s review of the program!


professionals

All week long, participants work with our staff of Broadway directors, choreographers, and music directors, who take them through an authentic Broadway rehearsal process.


Participants attend an evening performance of a hit Broadway show, and get treated to an exclusive talkback with the cast. This summer, Next Steppers saw Cats, and had the chance to take a masterclass in movement from Cats ensemble member, Christine Smith.


b-b-kings

The Next Step spends a day rehearsing at B.B. King Blues, a venue where jazz and Broadway stars alike frequently perform. Family and friends are invited to watch the final showcase here on Friday.


Over the course of 5 days, participants work to discover their unique characters by taking on classic theater character types (diva, ingenue, dancer, comedian). The final showcase gives them a chance to show off their individual talent, and shine as a group.


tradition

An important part of any Camp Broadway program is making Broadway and theatre traditions relevant for participants. At the Next Step, participants become part of the program’s history by signing the Next Step theater trunk.


We are proud to welcome participants from across the country, and all over the world. Over the course of 5 days, participants have the chance to meet new friends from new places, as well as share the culmination of their experience with friends and family.


ENROLLMENT FOR The Next Step NYC 2017 IS NOW OPEN!!
July 23 – 27, 2018
CLICK HERE to enroll today!

SAVE $100 when you enroll by 12/31.

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Shining Stars Highlights 2017

Camp Broadway’s Shining Stars program is excited to welcome theater-loving youngsters from around the world to our 5-day summer program for 6 to 9 year olds. In 2017, we welcomed campers from China, Japan, and Indonesia. Check out highlights from our Shining Stars sessions this summer where our campers created sets, costumes, props, dialogue, and dance moves to the classic children’s story, Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka.


All week long, Shining Stars work with our team of director/choreographers, music directors, and young performing professionals who have experience working in children’s theater, as well as on Broadway. They are leaders and master teachers who are successful in translating the traditions and standards known to professionals on Broadway into age-appropriate programs that are relevant and inspirational for theater-loving youngsters.


Over the course of 5 days, our Shining Stars workshop songs, create original choreography, design sets and construct costumes based on a beloved and age-appropriate show. In Summer 2017, Shining Stars presented Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka.


Through creative play, Shining Stars are encouraged to discover their artistic voice, and develop their character.


On Friday, Shining Stars perform the Family Finale and celebrate their accomplishments with family and friends.


REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR SUMMER 2018!!

Register by 12/31 and save $50

 

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Tony Award Winning Bandstand

By Skylar Raye Noyes

Becca Petersen

My newest obsession on Broadway is definitely Bandstand: The New American Musical! I was fortunate enough to see it twice, once in previews and a second time after it opened! It was interesting to see how the show changed from previews to opening. Not only does Bandstand have spectacular choreography and music, it also has an inspiring story! Donny Novinski, played by Corey Cott, is a World War II veteran who gets a group of fellow war veterans together to form a band that will compete in a Bandstand contest. Along their journey to the top, we watch them struggle with haunting memories of their experiences in the war and searching for the respect they deserve. The show’s leading lady, Julia Trojan, played by Laura Osnes, struggles with the loss of her husband who died in the war. She finds a new purpose singing with the Donny Nova Band and finds new love along the way!

The dancing in Bandstand was incredible! The show won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Choreography in a Musical! I loved how Andy Blankenbuehler (Director, Choreographer) and Mark Stuart (Associate Choreographer) were able to incorporate so much symbolism into the choreography. It was beautiful and captivating to watch. Even the simplest things, such as bringing a chair or piano onstage, were choreographed so that the movement could symbolize what the characters were going through. Along with the amazing dancing, the music was outstanding! Being able to watch Corey Cott sing “Donny Novinski” was a highlight of the show for me. He is such a captivating performer to watch! I’m also a huge Laura Osnes fan and I loved watching her sing “Love will Come and Find me Again.” She sings the song with so much passion and her voice is incredible! The real showstopper was “Welcome Home.” This song describes each of the boys in the band and how they are doing once they return home after the war. This song left me in tears. Bandstand is a memorable show and I learned a lot about what veterans go through once they return home from the war and the difficulties they face. I would definitely see it a third time!

I had the amazing opportunity to interview one of Bandstand’s cast members, Becca Petersen, before seeing the show! Becca is a swing in the show and also the understudy for Julia Trojan. She was so gracious to meet me before the show to answer some questions about her journey to Broadway. Becca also offered some inspiring advice for young people who want to pursue their dreams of a career in musical theatre! Here’s what Becca had to share with me and the Camp Broadway readers…

When did you begin doing theatre?

“I actually started in dance. I had two older sisters and they were big into musical theatre, so I listened to musicals while growing up. When I was about 10, my friend was taking a

Andrew Leggieri, Swing and understudy for Jimmy

musical theatre class that had a “bring a friend to dance class”. I went to the trial class, loved it and stayed at that studio until I moved out of Indiana, where I am from. It was a dance studio but very musical theatre-based. I did musical theatre classes through the studio. Once I was in high school, I did show choir. It is very big in the Midwest! I got into that world, which is very interconnected with the same people. I got a lot of different opportunities in the theater world through show choir. It’s kind of what got me hooked!”

What is your favorite part about being on Broadway!

“I have so many favorites! It is my first Broadway show so it’s pretty exciting to be making my Broadway debut! It’s nice to be in the city I love and have been dreaming of living in for years and to have a job that I have also been dreaming of for years. Not a lot of people can say they are passionate about what they do and are able to do it everyday. I have been blessed with this amazing opportunity and going to work feels fun and exciting. I’m surrounded by people who are equally as passionate and are all working toward the same goal, which is really exciting!”

What is a swing in a Broadway show?

“I’m a swing in the show. There are understudies for principal tracks, the leads in the show, and a swing is an understudy for the ensemble. So I am not on stage on every night, but if someone in the ensemble gets hurt, goes on vacation, or needs to call out for some reason, the swing would hop into their track. The same thing would happen if the understudy goes on. There would be a hole in the ensemble so the swing would go there. It’s basically the show’s insurance policy is having a swing there so the show can always go on.”

What was it like to step on the Broadway stage for the first time?

“It was so neat stepping on stage for the first time. In rehearsals as the swings we just observe and write a ton of notes because we are not up in the action with everyone. So when I

Mark Stuart, Associate Choreographer for Bandstand

stepped onto the stage, it was the first moment of feeling ‘I am on Broadway!’ I am here and I am a part of this! That’s a feeling I will never forget, first time on a Broadway stage, dreaming as child, and I am here and I am doing it. Dreams are coming true!”

What are some challenges with being a swing?

“Challenges with a new show, with Bandstand it is an all original production, so it’s starting from the beginning. As a swing it’s exciting because there are a lot of changes being made and they are creating the show. So nothing is really set in stone, which is awesome because they tweak the show to get it perfect. It can be a little hard for a swing because I am covering seven different people. So in one rehearsal when a whole number that all seven people are in is changing, that’s a whole lot of work on the other end trying to catch up. It’s exciting and keeps the swings on their toes! We constantly have our mind working to keep up with it and make sure we are ready, and when we have to go on at a moments notice we will have the show at the quality it is usually.”

Is it hard memorizing all the different tracks you have to know?

“It’s challenging but it takes a certain personality to be a swing. It’s pretty high stress and you have to be able to have different parts of your mind working at different times. If you get the hang of it and can figure it out in the moment it’s very fulfilling and rewarding.”

When you were younger, did you ever think that you would be on Broadway someday?

Becca Petersen

“I have always wanted to do musical theatre since I was very young so have been taking all the prerequisites, if you could say, to make my way to New York. Yes in the sense that I have tried to be as prepared as possible, but getting the call that you are about to be in a Broadway show is unlike anything and you can’t really expect that because it’s a very hard business to be a part of. It was shocking and wonderful and I am glad I was prepared to take on this exciting journey!”

What advice do you have for young people who want to pursue a career in musical theatre?

“I would definitely say to be in New York City and working in the business whether it is on Broadway or in tours, regional productions, it takes a lot of confidence and self-assurance that you are prepared and ready. It’s a hard business to be a part of and you have a lot of rejection, but someone will love you, and you have to remember that no matter what people are telling you if you are confident in yourself and your abilities and talents, and what you have to offer, someone will say yes to you. With that you need to be prepared as possible, so getting in dance classes, voice lessons, acting classes are essential to being here on one of these stages in NYC. So work on self-confidence and work on the talents that you can change. It’s a business about other people deciding things for you, so if you make yourself as ready for an opportunity as you can then that part of the job is in your hands. My mom always used to say luck is when preparation meets opportunity and a lot of Broadway performers are there at the right moment and we are lucky because we are prepared when an opportunity presents itself!”

Do you get nervous and do you have advice on how to deal with nerves?

“I get nervous when I’m not feeling prepared. There’s a difference between being nervous and feeling adrenaline. It’s more thrilling for me if I know I am ready for the task and the part and show I am doing. It’s more of an excitement thrill. Once someone told me if you are feeling nervous about something, somehow try to turn it into excitement energy rather than fearful nervousness. Sometimes that’s just a little mind trick. For me it’s usually if I am prepared it’s exciting.”

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

“I will warm up vocally and physically and connect with the people around me. Having everyone get excited and having good energy amongst the cast is really helpful.”

Does the cast do anything together before the show starts?

“The show is about veterans and how they are coming back home into real life. The Bandstand cast has been circling up and someone will share a story or a name of someone who has served for our country, and it has been really neat to come together and say let’s do this show for that person. It has created a neat camaraderie and purpose for our show!”

A big thank you to Mark Stuart, from Mark Stuart Dance, for arranging this interview with Becca! Seeing Mark’s work on stage was truly inspirational. I can’t wait to see what he does next! For more information on Mark’s studio check his website www.markstuartdancetheatre.org

Also thank you to Becca for sharing your time and story with me and the readers of Camp Broadway. You are an amazing, kind, and generous person and so talented!

Enjoy your Bandstand journey!

Boulder Creek High School Choir Stuns Audiences with Broadway-Themed Concert

Throughout the 2016-2017 school year, Boulder Creek High School Choir (in Phoenix, Arizona) accomplished

Men’s Chorus surprising the audience with an amazing Newsies set.

several feats such as performing with Choirs of America at Carnegie Hall, and reaching a record number of students in the program.

Boulder Creek High School currently operates with 6 “during-school” choirs, and one after-school choir. The six during-school include two beginning choirs, two concert choirs, and two show choirs. For those that aren’t familiar with the concept of show choir, it is a type of choir that combines typically musical theatre and pop music to create a 15-20 minute set that is performed with costumes and dancing.

At the end of each school year, Boulder Creek hosts a “pops” concert, where all 6 choirs get to put on a show, just like the two show choirs (Heart and Soul/Broadway Bound) put on during all four concerts.

Each year has a theme that has been well thought out and usually correlates to the overall theme of the year. For last year, it only seemed fitting that with a trip to New York, the theme should be Broadway.

Broadway Bound giving a Tony-worthy performance with Hamilton: An American Musical.

Men’s Chorus, a beginning choir, kicked off the concert with a bang with a strong performance of Newsies, complete with Newsboy hats and the dance break using newspapers from the actual show! Women’s Ensemble, also a beginning choir, brought the heat with Carole King songs such as “It’s Too Late” and songs from the Beautiful: The Carole King Musical such as “Stupid Cupid” and “Poison Ivy”. Dressed in yellow, all of the girls shone bright and put an enormous smile on the face of each audience member. 

Bella Voce, the women’s-only concert choir, stunned the audience with a harmonious rendition of Hairspray and their amazing choreography skills. These girls have the voices of angels when they sing, and brought their own flair to the entire set. 

Heart and Soul, the women’s-only show choir, brought their performance to a new level after simultaneously dancing and singing in three other concerts throughout the year. Dressed in blue and black, they shocked the audience with a set featuring songs from Wicked, including “Popular”, “Defying Gravity”, “What is This Feeling?” and more. As these ladies wove in and out of each other during choreography, their harmonies intertwined beautifully as well. 

Bel Canto Honor Choir, the mixed concert choir, shocked every audience member with a stunning rendition of the Lion King, with laser-precise vocals and choreography. Every note resounded throughout the house and struck a chord with everyone in the house and backstage. Each soloist had immense, contagious energy and stunning vocals.

Broadway Bound, the mixed show choir, brought a different element to the table than usual- hip hop dancing. They accompanied it with music from the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton, and hypnotizing vocals to match. Dressed as specific members from the show as well as several choir members wearing a costume similar to the common ensemble costume of Hamilton, the entire choir had the audience on their feet at the end of their performance, as if they had just watched a portion of the Broadway show.

Honor Choir presenting Simba during their Lion King set.

Show choirs across the nation are starting to introduce more musical theatre repertoire into their sets, and theatre kids across the country are starting to get more involved in their choir programs. As a theatre kid myself, I know that show choir is truly a passion of mine especially since it combines singing, acting, and dancing! I encourage all of you to give it a try, as it might turn out to be a new passion of yours that will strengthen your vocal ability and help you in the world of musical theatre! 

This year in school, try to step out of your comfort zone and try something new- whether it’s choir, theatre, band, art, dance, a new sport, or any activity! All Pictures are credited to SicPicPhotography.

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