Step onto stage for a dramatic summer |

Step onto stage for a dramatic summer

DILLON – Strange sights and sounds will emerge at the Lake Dillon Amphitheatre this summer. Some mornings, kids will giggle and grimace as they pretend to walk through Jell-O. Other days, they’ll dialogue using only lions’ roars, witches’ cackles and other outrageous noises. And for weeks, they’ll prance around the stage like horses, wiggle like pigs or pounce like cats.

For the 10th summer, the Young People’s Theatre Workshop will offer classes in all levels of theater performance for students ages 4 to 18. After the four-week classes, students may participate in three- to four-week rehearsals for their final performance.

Debbie Swartz and Melissa Amato will teach 4- to 6-year-olds creative dramatics, including stage presence and acting, through games.

“First of all, they’ll learn how to feel more comfortable on stage and learn how to use their voices and bodies in a new way,” Amato said. “They’ll learn to think on their feet.”

Move! Speak! Perform!, taught by Josh Blanchard, will help 7- to 8-year-olds practice audition technique, enunciation, storytelling, vocal projection and creative movement.

Blanchard performed in “And the World Goes ‘Round” and the “Santa Land Diaries” at the Lake Dillon Theatre and choreographed Summit High School’s production of “Footloose.” He is pursuing a master’s degree in the University of Colorado’s humanities program and approaches theater performance from a broad knowledge of literature, history, music, dance and communications.

“Theater often teaches you the tools to perform, but it’s through the principles of literature and history that we learn why we’re doing this,” Blanchard said. “Great theater often has roots in historical themes or literary themes. Theater is just a way to communicate these ideas. Understanding the other elements – music, art, literature – is a different way to look at theater.”

Deborah Shansky, managing director of the Backstage Theatre, will teach 9- to 12-year-olds intermediate acting. She’ll develop students’ acting skills by emphasizing character, movement and various stage techniques.

The Lake Dillon Foundation for the Performing Arts has hired two outside instructors to teach the intensive and scene study classes for teen-agers. Melanie Bell has a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and has taught and performed with professional theaters in Dallas. New York resident Amie Duffy has performed throughout New York and Chicago.

“Two great things about them is they bring perspectives from different parts of the country,” Blanchard said. “They’re amazingly talented.”

The teen intensive class focuses on acting methods, movement techniques and improvisation. Students will lead warmups and evaluate one another’s work. Scene study teaches character development and analysis, dissection of scene purpose and an overall evaluation of playwrights’ intent.

After classes end, students can join rehearsals for a final show. Teen-agers will present “Durang Shorts,” a series of short plays written by Chris Durang. The plays include “For Whom the Southern Bell Tolls,” a parody of Tennessee Williams’ “Glass Menagerie,” and “Beyond Therapy,” a story of a lonely woman who writes several personal ads and ends up with the same man.

Younger students will perform “Babe, the Sheep Pig … the Musical.” The play features a pig who wonders what his purpose on the farm is – besides being turned into bacon.

“There’s a lot of exciting and interesting characters for the kids to play,” Blanchard said. “We’re going to go into it with some pretty high expectations and see what happens.”

All classes, except creative drama, begin Monday, June 16. Creative drama starts July 8. Children’s classes run two to three days a week in the morning, and teen classes run five days a week in the afternoon. The teens’ performance is Aug. 1-3, and the kids’ show is Aug. 7-10.

Class costs range from $120-$150 without the summer show and from $270-$285 with the performance. Scholarships are available. To register, call (970) 513-9386.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

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