Students in the spotlight for Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre camp

As a song from of "Bye Bye Birdie" filled the auditorium at Severn School's Chesapeake campus on Wednesday, two voices were called in to assist. Drama director Harrison Smith and counselor Brian Shatt willingly added their voices to the all-female cast.

"It's an odd year," acknowledged Sharon Stevens-Cimaglia, vice president of Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre and executive director of the camp. "Typically we have five to 10 boys."


The Annapolis company's Performing Arts Camp for teens has performed a musical revue since its beginnings 14 years ago. While many theater camps focus on producing a "book" show — a show that follows a story and features several leads and a chorus — a revue gives the staff an opportunity to tailor the show to the campers' talents.

This year, directors and counselors had a new challenge to factor into the production: There were no boys among the 28 students who enrolled.


"It's unfortunate," said Shatt, 22, who has served as a counselor for three years. But the show must go on, and this year's talent is tops, he said. 'It is really impressive."

Throughout the one-week camp for students entering the eighth grade and up, participants sing, dance and act in preparation for a production at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre.

The camp includes workshops where instructors work with teens on drama and vocal skills, monologues, cold readings, audition techniques and dance. Participants also take part in theater games, scene work and exercises designed to stretch their improvisation skills and imagination, all working toward the two-night show.

This year's revue, "This Joint is Jumpin'," will be performed Tuesday and Wednesday and feature selections from "Bye Bye Birdie," "Chicago," "Into the Woods" and other musicals.

"It's a great camp," said Mary Buckingham, 16, a rising 10th-grader at Broadneck High School, who is attending her second year at the camp. "It's a lot of fun. We just do a lot of cool things."

"I really like the opportunity to go and perform on Summer Garden's stage," said Maria Osborn, 15, a rising 10th-grader at South River High School. "It's really cool."

The camp expands upon one of the stated missions of Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre: "To provide opportunities for the community to learn about and experience live theater." The troupe has a practice of sharing its stage with student groups, and provides support to the International Thespian Society and educational theater at St. Mary's High School.

Smith, 19, was a former camper and counselor at the performing arts camp before becoming drama director this year.


"It provides a really good base and gives you a taste of everything," Smith said, of the camp. "It really caters to the needs of the kids."

Annie Gorski, 16, a rising 11th-grader at St. Mary's High School, joined the camp this year after hearing about it from her friends.

"It involves everything I love to do — singing, dancing and acting," Gorski said. "I love it. I will definitely come back."

Gorski's words are music to the ears of Stevens-Cimaglia.

"We want kids to have fun and learn as much as they can," she said. "The biggest compliment is when parents come up to me and say they can't believe [their child] did so much in a week. They learned so much and had so much fun."

Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's Performing Arts Camp for Teens will culminate with performances of "This Joint is Jumpin'" at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, 143 Compromise St., Annapolis.


The show is open to the public. Tickets are $5, and will be available prior to the show at the box office. For more information, call 410-991-8341.