PROLOGUE: Six weeks of an unforgettable summer adventure awaits 90 boys and girls, ages 11 to 18, who long to experience the magic of theatre amid beautiful boarding school surroundings, and to share this magic with new friends and appreciative audiences.
DAY ONE: Fade in on the peaceful campus of Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School in Waltham. Cars and vans roll up the driveway, filled with trunks, suitcases, and budding thespians, who are equally eager and anxious to begin a summer of serious performing and playful escapades. Some are CH-CH veterans, some are newcomers ...some are local residents, some come from as far as England and the Philippines ... but all become one big family by the end of a busy day of registration and settling into comfortable dormitory rooms.
DAY TWO: Lights come up in the theatre as all-day auditions begin. Levels of talent vary, but the desire to perform is evident in every face. By the end of the day, each Barn Player (as the CH-CH performers are called) has danced, sung, and acted his or her way into one of four casts, each of which will perform one straight play and one musical during the weeks to come. Everyone also performs in the all-company production, the grand finale of the season. Past shows have included "A Chorus Line," "Cabaret," "Romeo and Juliet," and an extravaganza production of "The Pirates of Penzance."
Continual fade-ins and fade-outs as each day passes, leaving its vivid impression on performers and staff alike. A typical day begins with breakfast at 8, warmups and announcements, two classes and a small break before morning rehearsal, lunch, third class of the day, break, afternoon rehearsal, dinner, evening rehearsal or performance, and then back to the dorm for some well-deserved sleep. Instruction includes a mandatory acting class and two other classes selected from Dance, Voice, Directing, Playwriting, Technical Theatre, and more. As demanding as it all sounds, the camaraderie is extraordinary and the activities are filled with laughter. Weekend trips to such popular sites as Boston, Salem, and Rockport augment the fun while strengthening the bonds of friendship. A special highlight is the New York/Broadway trip, a luxurious 48 hours enjoying the sites of the Big Apple and a rich taste of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, from "Phantom of the Opera" to "Lost in Yonkers," including memorable apr"s-show visits with the actors.
DAY LAST: Curtain falls on teary-eyed Barn Players as all sets are put away, costumes stored, and the roar of the grease paint fades into memory. "Parting is such sweet sorrow" now takes the form of hugs and fond farewells almost too intense to endure. Teachers, who have become friends and mentors to the kids, join in the goodbyes. Six weeks are over , six weeks of sharing talents, dreams, opening night jitters, summer flings, innermost secrets , but the memories and friendships will last through the long winter until the curtain rises again. (Fade out ... for now.) n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.