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Gwinn camp plays up the drama

July 29, 2012
By JOHANNA BOYLE - Journal Ishpeming Bureau ( , The Mining Journal

GWINN - Cruella De Vil, a pack of Dalmatians and the Superior Arts Council have spent the past two weeks giving a collection of kids their first taste of acting at its annual drama camp.

The camp takes kids in third through eighth grade through the basics of putting together a show from auditions to the final performance, this year staging a production of Disney's "101 Dalmatians."

Final performances were held Thursday and Friday at the Gwinn High School cafetorium.

Article Photos

Chloe Norman, Noah Woodruff-McConnaughey and Hallie Roos rehearse a musical number for “101 Dalmations.” The final production was held Thursday and Friday. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)

"It's a mix between producing a show and playing drama games, improv," said Director Emily Strazzinski. "I've seen a lot of kids blossom over the past two weeks. I think it's important for boosting confidence and giving kids something fulfilling to do in the summer."

The camp this year included 36 kids, many of whom had never acted before, like 11-year-old Savannah DuVall, who plays a Scotty dog in the play.

"I said, oh drama's not my thing, but I started loving it the second I got here," she said.

Camp begins by introducing the kids to the basics.

"We started with just an introduction to what theater is," Strazzinski said.

That includes something that will serve the kids well if they ever decide to act in anything else - how to audition. Camp staff spend time walking the kids through the audition process and how to prepare for it.

Each of the kids signed up for the camp is assigned a part.

"I wanted to do something with a big name," Strazzinski said, in order to attract more kids to the program.

Once cast, the kids start learning how to develop their parts and their acting skills - pretending to be a pack of Dalmatian puppies, for example. Then there's costumes, learning dance numbers and memorizing lines, all in the space of two weeks.

Beyond that, kids can also get an idea of what activities go on behind the scenes of a play, from helping with props to painting sets, which DuVall lent a hand with.

"I helped paint the piano, the door, the TV," she said. "I'm still helping, but I'm not that nervous."

Originally started in 2004, the camp ran for a couple summers before taking a hiatus and returning to Gwinn last year.

Now back in production, the kids who participated this year will be well on their way to taking part in other plays around the area in the future.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is



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