Not Just for Kids
Talent Machines Lesson is that Everybody is Special
by Theresa M. Troescher
Youre all special, says lead Harvey to his fellow Talent Machine performers in the musical Camp Hawyah. With plenty of laughs and carousing, seven- to 15-year-olds teach audience members that specialness is true for everyone from the geek to the tomboy, brain, weirdo and prep. The lesson of this play is that trying to act like something you are not will not bring you happiness.
Set at a summer camp run by eccentric counselor Ms. Google (Caitlyn McClellan), Camp Hawyah follows the plight of Harvey, an awkward teen whose greatest wish is to be noticed especially by his crush, D.
Over the course of a summer, the adorably awkward star struggles through jealousy, first love, fighting, a social and a play audition only to discover that it is better to let the world see who you are than to try to change. And hes not the only one in this collection of characters to battle insecurities and learn who they are during their time at summer camp.
Thats exactly what founder Bobbi Smith aimed for by teaching performance arts to children. The community and educational company she founded in 1987 has been carried on since her death in 2001 by daughter Lea Capps and sister Vicki Smith. Auditions for the three annual performances are open to both seasoned actors and novices.
Families are part of the stage magic as well. The actors parents get involved in the play as a way to share their childs interest, says volunteer and parent MaryLouise Edgerly. Alumni return to help direct and choreograph.
Their work helps draw audiences into the spell with a carefully made set, and lighting by designer Garrett Hyde that reflects the changing moods of the characters and camp. The play was written by Steve Love and Jake Thornhill. Both are Talent Machine trained, and Thornhill is a graduate of New Yorks American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where Love continues his studies this fall. Love also directs Camp Hawyah.
The actors are magical, too. They perform complicated dance routines and aerobic stunts without signs of fatigue, and even the youngest players, the Junior Campers, sing with a maturity beyond their youth.
Harvey, played by Ross Koenig of Arundel High School is both a bumbling teen who sings his woes in the song Im Invisible and a confident leading man.
I love you man! Youre great, cried a fan from the audience, testifying to his success.
Harveys love interest, D, is played by 15-year-old Hana Thornhill. A Talent Machine veteran, she brings a refreshing sanity to the uproarious confusion of giggles, snorting and hyperventilating.
The opening of Camp Hawyah earned a standing ovation. With flushed faces, the cast bowed to their community.
Playing thru July 20 at 7:30pm ThFSa; 2pm Su @ Key Auditorium (nestled behind the Maryland Statehouse in downtown Annapolis) at St. Johns College, Annapolis. $10 w/age discounts and free parking in state lots.: 410/956-0512 www.talentmachine.com.
See More Next Month
Starting August 1, Talent Machine teens bring the magical, musical world of Brigadoon to Annapolis.
Discover Your Own Special Talents
Define your talents with classes in ballet, tap and jazz dancing plus voice and hiphop offered by StageWorkz, the teaching side of Talent Machine. Some are forming this week, others in September: 410/729-2802 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come autumn, you can help Talent Machine make the holidays merry with its Holiday Spectacular. Watch for auditions in Kids Calendar. Then prepare a 16-measure song and dance, bring your photo and earn your place in the company. $5 membership fee: www.talentmachine.com.
Kids Stuff This Week
Friday, July 18
Zing Wing Friday
Kids ages 3+ visit the aviation gallery and mezzanine to learn about flying and decorate a Zing Wing Flyer to take home. noon-4pm @ College Park Aviation Museum, 1985 Cpl. Frank Scott Dr., College Park. $2; 301/864-6029 www.collegeparkaviationmuseum.com.
Kids ages 8+ discovery the facts and fiction of Charlotte and her friends in the Blue Jay Pavilion. Kids must come with an adult. 7pm @ Lake Waterford Park field office, off Ritchie Hwy., Pasadena. free; rsvp: 410/222-6248.
Saturday, July 19
Kids of all ages investigate the world of nocturnal animals on a guided walk.
8-9:30pm @ Patuxent Research Refuge North Tract, off Rt. 198 between Baltimore-Washington Pkwy and Rt. 32. free; rsvp: 301/497-5887 patuxent.fws.gov.
Monday, July 21
Kids grades 4-6 bring parents to discuss Gordon Kormans No More Dead Dogs. 7pm @ Calvert Public Library, 30 Duke St., Prince Frederick. free book to read and keep: 410/535-0291 www.calvert.lib.md.us.
Tuesday, July 22
Kids ages 4-11 explore the music of many different lands with Nada Braham, who presents World of Music with ethnic instruments and traditions. 10am @ Southern Community Center, Appeal Lane (off Rt. 765), Lusby. free: 410/586-1101.
Wednesday, July 23
Kids ages 2-3 shed shells and learn all about the turtle thru puppets, poems, songs and crafts. 10-10:30am @ Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Prince Frederick. $3 w/discounts; rsvp: 410/535-5327.