For the last three summers, Ankeny freshman Scott Kruse counted down the days until theater camp at Des Moines Performing Arts.
“You get cast on the first day, you learn the music and your singing parts and your lines and choreography and then you put it all together and you’re in full costume and makeup, too,” says Kruse, “So it’s really exciting all week. So it’s a lot but it’s really fun.”
But this year we’re in the midst of a pandemic.
“When the school closures and cancellations started to happen, we were very hopeful that summer would start to turn around and we would be able to hold our in-person camps,” says Karoline Myers, education manger for DMPA, “But we immediately started making plan Bs.”
And those backup plans mean adapting to virtual theater experiences.
“So instead of a full day experience, those experiences are shorter, lots of smaller groups so our students can still have really direct and personalized instruction,” says Myers. “Those theater kids who are watching those YouTube videos, they’re following shows, listening to cast recordings. So to still be able to connect them with those high-caliber, high-profile individuals even at a time when we’re staying at home.”
The virtual camps are also giving DMPA a chance to reach more kids. “We’re not bound by parents transportation schedules. We’re not bound by geography,” says Myers.
For Scott, that means a chance to meet more theater lovers like himself.
“It’s just a new opportunity and there’s lots of new things happening with this online format. Again, with more one-on-one time with more professionals,” says Kruse, “And it’s also just really fun. If you like singing and dancing and acting, then you should definitely do the camp.”