LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Lakewood Ranch has become a summer artist colony for budding young thespians.
For the 14th year in a row, Acting Up Performing Arts Camp has enrolled Bradenton and Sarasota-area children as young as 5 in a full-day summer camp held at Lakewood Ranch High School.
Beginning the week after school ended June 8, local boys and girls up to high school freshmen interested in all aspects of the performing arts, including drama, dance, voice and art, spent three weeks practicing and perfecting their craft.
They will showcase what they have learned in a production of "Shrek The Musical," based on the 2001 DreamWorks film "Shrek," and William Steig's 1990 book "Shrek!"
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Campers will give two theatrical performances at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Lakewood Ranch High School.
The musical, according to camp and drama director Roxane Caravan, who is also the director of the Lakewood Ranch Theater Department, is a one-hour, junior version of the original play, which debuted on Broadway in 2008.
"We put on a pretty nice show with a full set, full costumes and full, tracked orchestration. The show is basically a compressed, abbreviated version, which is doable for younger kids." Caravan said.
Acting Up campers have been guided by counselors studying Performing Arts and Musical Theater in high school, as well as professional vocal and set design directors from New York University and Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. A resident choreographer from Lakewood Ranch High School and Manatee School For the Arts is also helping to coach the campers.
"We have a really talented group right down to the little kids. Baby Shrek is just 5 years old. The young lady who plays Little Fiona is age 7 and has a beautiful voice. A lot of our campers come back every year, and some of them have come into my high school program and gone all the way through graduation," Caravan said.
The production, as in years past, is a fundraising event for the Lakewood Ranch High School Theater program and all ticket sales and money collected from camp fees go directly into the program. Student counselors are volunteers fulfilling their community service project hours.
Past camp performances have included junior productions of "Hairspray," "Alice in Wonderland," "High School Musical 2," and "The Little Mermaid."
General admission for "Shrek The Musical Jr." is $5.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Lakewood Ranch High School Auditorium Box Office at 941-727-6100, ext. 2198. Information about the performances available at actingupcamp.com.
Kathryn Moschella, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.