Nearly two dozen young actors and actresses got the chance to hone their craft this week on the very same stage that Grace Kelly and Robert Prosky made their debut appearances on.
It was all part of the Old Academy Players’ Children’s Art Program in East Falls. Now in its third year, the camp brought in the largest crowd yet, according to co-coordinator Courtney Bambrick of East Falls.
Students have been learning a variety of skills during their three-day class including acting, singing, dance, costume and set design.
The 21 students were broken into two groups this week; the older group called themselves the Waffles and the younger children, the Munchkins.
In the early classes, students started with warm up exercises before getting into their assignments. This year’s theme is the musical, ‘Grease.’
The aspiring actors and actresses have been learning the songs and choreography for ‘Summer Lovin’, ‘Beauty School Dropout’ and ‘We Go Together.’ They’ve also been building a simple set and will perform together on Thursday night at the theater.
Like Bambrick, instructors are volunteers who are members of the Old Academy.
The idea for the camp sparked from a conversation that Bambrick had with Old Academy Players President Nancy Frick about raising funds for the all-volunteer community theater.
Bambrick expected her idea for a children’s outreach program to be put down by other members. To her surprise, no one objected and other members took up the project enthusiastically.
“We started out small,” said Frick. “It has grown really quickly. It is great getting the next generation into theater.”
Both the instructors and students feature a mix of new and returning faces. Many of the returns have been to all three CAPs.
Jessica Hobbs-Pifer is no stranger to OAP, having performed in a number of shows and will be featured in ‘Little Women’ this November.
“It looked like fun,” said Hobbs-Pifer. “It’s at the Old Academy and some people have been here three years so that means there is something good about it.”
Polly Edelstein just recently wrapped up her directorial debut during the OAP’s Third Annual One-Act Bonanza. A recent newcomer to Philadelphia, Edelstein prides herself as being a dedicated volunteer for the community theater.
“This is really good. These kids are really talented,” said Edelstein.
The camp wraps up this afternoon, followed by a performance of ‘Grease’ later tonight.
Disclosure: Bernard J. Scally, despite not being an OAP member, has been seen on stage at Old Academy Players from time to time, most recently appearing in the third annual One-Act Bonanza.