Among the familiar characters appearing on the Greenwood Community Theatre stage for tonight’s performance of “Seussical” are 23 very special guests making a one-time cameo.
Just before intermission of the show — a musical based on the work of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss — children who took part in a weeklong, arts-centered summer camp will run through a dance number in front of the audience.
The purpose, instructor Ansley Keenan said, is introducing young children not only to the arts, but also giving them an opportunity to learn more about themselves.
“It has the power to help kids with their confidence. It improves reading skills. Some of the kids that are shy can find a voice through this,” said Keenan, who teaches drama with the ACTS program at Brewer Middle School and is an adjunct faculty member at Lander University. “They’re actually doing some of the dance moves that the cast does.”
Rehearsing their steps alongside cast members from the show — which has six productions left through June 23 — the participants, all between the ages of 5 and 8, are anticipating their moment underneath the lights.
“We run, and it’s kind of funny because the Cat in the Hat kind of jumps out”, said 8-year-old Peyton Larkins, of Greenwood. “I get to make new friends and I get to be in the play.”
Keenan and her counselors — most of whom are local high school students — have read Dr. Seuss stories to the campers, or completed themed crafts in between learning lines, stage position and the dance itself.
Ashley Brown, a visual and performing arts major at Winthrop University, said mentoring a younger wave of aspiring performers is inspiring. She’s part of the “Seussical” cast.
“This is my fifth year doing it, so I really enjoy doing it. Just taking little children and showing them what you’re doing as part of a bigger picture is really cool,” Brown said. “Especially when you get a child at camp who’s never been at camp before and they’re like, ‘I’m coming back,’ and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, yay!’”
Nora Jones, who’s entering her junior year at Cambridge Academy, attended summer performing arts camps when she was younger.
Now as a counselor, she said, the perspective helps her understand the feelings of children who might be apprehensive about acting.
“I think my favorite thing is on that first day when you have those two or three campers that don’t want to be there and don’t want to participate, they’re the ones having the most fun and enjoying it,” she said. “If you do it and experience it, you’re going to have fun, no matter what.”
“Seussical” has 7:30 p.m. today and June 21 and 22, with 2 p.m. shows slated for Saturday, Sunday and June 23.