MMI's 'Cowboy Camp' play celebrated differences

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | January 16, 2019

Image with caption: Troy Kostal, left, demonstrates his magic skills during the production.

Troy Kostal, left, demonstrates his magic skills during the production.

The performers of The Camp Munroe Theater Co. gave a big "howdy" to an audience of family and friends Jan. 5 when the group performed the show "Cowboy Camp" at the Scottish Rite Masonic Hall in Omaha.

A collaboration between the Munroe-Meyer Institute's Department of Recreational Therapy and WhyArts, an art organization based at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the Camp Munroe Theater Co. enjoyed its fifth successful outing with the performance, allowing children and young adults with developmental disabilities to create, stage and perform their own original show.

See a photo album of the performance.

picture disc.
A mysterious cowboy is part of the posse at "Cowboy Camp."
"I describe it as a perfect partnership," said Carolyn Anderson, director of WhyArts. "It's a team working, a rhythm. And not only have our two organizations worked together for this many camps, but also a lot of the campers have been involved in multiple camps, so it goes like a clock."

Directed by Stephanie Anderson of WhyArts, "Cowboy Camp" tells the story of Avery, a cowboy who is different from his peers but who becomes a hero despite his challenges when his unique qualities fend off a danger to the camp.

"I just love it, it's thrilling to watch," Carolyn Anderson said.

Erin Bentzinger, director of the camp, agreed that, five shows in, many performers are more seasoned.

"The kids know what they're getting into, no one's really nervous," she said. "They all know they're going to be helping to write the play and figure out their dance moves -- so it seems a lot easier."

In the lobby after the show, Troy Kostal again demonstrated a magic trick with rope that had proved a crowd favorite during the show, this time for an audience of two -- his parents.

"I like to have fun," Troy said. "And I love being a cowboy, a lot."

Pat and Brenda Kostal loved the show, as well.

"We started a long time ago going to the Munroe-Meyer summer camps, and whenever these types of opportunities come up, he loves to participate, especially in theater and dance," Brenda said.

"It's great to watch all these young men, women and kids get out there and perform, get up on stage," Pat added. "They don't get many opportunities to do that."

Opportunities will keep coming, though; the next Camp Munroe Theater Co. camp and performance is slated for this summer. For information on joining the cast, contact Bentzinger.


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