By Bob Evans
It’s Disney to the max at Shawnee Mission Park’s Theatre in the Park as young thespians take center stage in a nearly-all adolescent production of “Camp Rock,” for two weekends only at the outdoor venue.
Teens come to a summer camp for their annual two-week musical theater camp to strengthen their singing, dancing, and performance levels. Only, this time, Camp Rock finds stiff competition from Camp Star, run by a revengeful rival of Camp Rock’s founder. With more money, more staff, higher pay, better facilities, Camp Star attracts more and better of everything–except heart. The campers at Camp Rock band together to make up for their shortcomings and even accept a challenge to compete against the well-to-do camp in a national TV showdown.
Campers at Camp Rock know they face an uphill battle to keep their camp alive for the summer and now must depend on other campers to fill in as instructors after Camp Star wooed the best camp counselors away. Along the way, there must be romance in the air, and also some in-camp rivalry. And, there is.
“Camp Rock” falls miserably short on story and substance, but for younger audiences, it’s the stuff Disney built an empire. The show is reminiscent of the Original Mickey Mouse Club serials of “Spin and Marty,” “White Shadow,” “The Hardy Boys,” and others. Good characters, but not much story or depth. “Camp Rock” falls into the same category…only with spectacular singing and dancing to make it stand out.
The cast of “Camp Rock” can compete vocally with any professional venue in town. Director Mark Swezey found enough local talent to overfill the show with spectacular voices and coax strong performances from his cast. Lots of credit also goes to the choreography team who made this show almost exhausting to watch with all the musical/dance numbers. The cast performs flawlessly on opening night with precision dance sequences.
So many strong performances make the show an impossibility to single out individuals. The two leads have wonderful singing voices. The other couples that sing duets also know how to belt a song. The entire cast works well as an ensemble and there are no weak performances The director and choreographer have the cast finely tuned. It’s quality work from young performers
For a holiday time, TTIP’s “Camp Rock” excels for family-fun. The show is light, musical, lively, and features about 30 local students. The only adults are the two camp directors. “Camp Rock” proves the K.C. theatre scene only grows and gets stronger with this wealth of young talent waiting in the wings. “Camp Rock” contains no foul or adult language, so the show screams, FAMILY FUN. Take a blanket, lawn chairs, a picnic, beverages, and the entire family. Worry not. Grandma and Grandpa will enjoy the show as much as the early elementary students.
Savannah Worthington, Mitchie Torres; Fisher Stewart, Shane Grey; Jake Bartley, Nate Grey; Patrick Sturm, Jason Grey; Karen Frits, Caitlyn Geller; Kit Walters, Tess Tyler; Hayley Knudsen, Ella Pador; Maddie Robert, Margaret “Peggy” Dupree; Darcie Hingula, Rosie Day; Brett Rawlings, Barron James; Jordon DeLeon, Sander James; Evan Nugent, Andy Hosten; Joell Ramsdell, Brown Cesario; Courtney Shaw, Dana Turner; Zach Greer, Luke Williams; Skip Gordon, Axl Turner.
Orchestra: Jeff Martin, conductor; Greg Bridges, piano; Baird Williams, bass; Joel McCoy, electric guitars; Nathan Helgeson, keyboard, Alex Frank, lead guitar.
Mark Swezey, director; Ann McCroskey & Tara Wells, choreography; Jeff Martin, music director & conductor; Lisa Halderman, scenic designer; Leslie Spindler, costume designer; Julie Cunningham, props designer; Shelbi Arndt, lighting designer; Josh Koan, sound design; John Holland, hair & make-up designer; Julie Cunningham & Amatista Rodriguez-Rush, assistant stage managers; Kristi Mitchell, assistant music director; Kyle Kappelmann, assistant choreographer, Lauri Hoedl & Jordan DeLeon, dance captains; Annie Barry, crew; Susan Winters, assistant costumer, Greg Bridges, accompanist; Sarah Saugier, production manager; Jaon Harris, technical director.
“Camp Rock” continues July 1 and 2 at TTIP. Then, performances run next week Wed-Sat night. Showtime is 8:30.
Tags: “Camp Rock”, Theatre in the Park, Shawnee Mission Theatre in the Park, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Johnson County Kansas Parks and Recreation