Audience over the moon for MMI's 'Tales from the Sea'

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | January 16, 2020

Image with caption: Performers and volunteers share the stage at the Camp Munroe Theater Co. production,

Performers and volunteers share the stage at the Camp Munroe Theater Co. production, "Tales from the Sea."

The theme was "Tales from the Sea," but an observer at the latest Camp Munroe Theater Co. might find a different type of waterworks in the audience - tears.

"I was crying. It was just precious," said Andrea Philson.

See a photo album of the rehearsal and the performance.

Philson's daughter, Constance, was one of the performers in the winter production, performed on Jan. 4 as the culmination of the Munroe-Meyer Institute and WhyArts' latest three-day theater camp.

"The kids had so much fun, and they put so much effort into it," Philson said. "It was Constance's second time, and she had a blast - she absolutely loved it."

"My favorite part was the dancing," Constance Philson said.

Performer Lily Symens also was back for her second time at camp.

"There was more tapping and dancing this time," she said. "It was more fun. I like being around my friends and everybody. I had a great experience, and I want to do it again next year or in the summer."

"They looked like they were having so much fun," said Julie Symens, Lily's mom. "That made me really happy."

"Under the Sea" offered an update to the Camp Munroe Theater Co. formula, said camp director Erin Bentzinger. Building on last summer's camp, Bentzinger expanded the behind-the-scenes opportunities for campers.

"What we've seen is that there is great interest in the technical facets of the theatrical production among our campers -- which gives us an even bigger opportunity, offering our participants chances to learn more about the lighting, the scenery, the sound board and other technical aspects of the theater."

Bentzinger praised MMI's WhyArts collaborators, who created a visually stunning production, using a screen to create a shadow-puppet portion of the show and a black light to emphasize the glittery magic of the show's jellyfish sequence.

The artists really stretched, she said, to make the show exciting for campers who were helping on the technical side of the performance, fun for the onstage performers and memorable for the audience.

"For this production, we had campers who were assisting and observing in the sound and light booth, helping with stage prep such as scenery and doing voiceover work for the shadow puppet portion of the show," Bentzinger said. "And of course, our actors nailed the performance, as they always do."

Bentzinger said she was awed by the audience's reaction to the campers' efforts.

"That reaction really fed the performers' excitement, as well," she said.

Although the run-up to this winter's camp was a short one -- MMI and WhyArts staff spent less than nine hours total working with the participants -- Bentzinger felt the result was one of the theater company's best shows.

"The campers were amazing," she said. "The whole experience was amazing. And I can't wait to do even better this summer."

The Camp Munroe Theater Co. will hold its next production in August.

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