Youngsters ages 6 through 18 will have fun this summer participating in Playhouse Merced’s Summer Youth Program where they will learn parts in a musical and then put on a show.
Angelina Thompson was hired by Playhouse Merced in April to be the Summer Program director, and now she is excited to get the program up and running.
“Kids who participate in the Summer Program will have the opportunity to learn skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, empathy, and of course so much more while creating a musical production to perform in front of friends and family,” Thompson told the Times. “Whether they are experienced, advanced or have never set foot on stage before, we welcome every child in our community to come and experience theatrical arts in an environment that is positive, inclusive, and fun for everyone.
“The Summer Program consists of three sessions which will be held at the United Methodist Church in Merced.
“We found the musicals for the program through an online publisher, Beat by Beat Press, which has children’s musicals and theater resources available for young actors.
“The first session from June 14 to July 2 is for kids ages 6 to 12. They will have the opportunity to do ‘Space Pirates’, an ensemble musical show with solos incorporated into it.
“During the second session from July 6 to 23, the kids will be doing ‘We Are Monsters’, also an ensemble musical show with solos.
“The performance of the show for the first session will be held on July 2 and 3, and the performance for the second session will be on July 23 and 24.
“The kids in the teens program will have the unique opportunity to create stories inspired by their own life experiences using songs from our 2021-22 season shows. Their program will culminate in a special performance which will be the centerpiece of the entertainment for the annual gala in Merced on August 14. On August 15, they will perform the show for friends and family. I am very excited to provide them with a space to learn from each other’s experience and see what they come up because I believe in creativity through the art and power of storytelling.
“Those interested in applying for the summer program can either go online to www.playhousemerced.com and click the Summer Program link, or they can apply at the Playhouse Merced box office on Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. We anticipate having 20 to 30 kids per session. We will have full and partial scholarships available as well.”
Describing her background, Thompson told the Times, “I attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, studying Acting and Screenwriting, and graduated with a degree in Motion Pictures and Television. Throughout my career, I have filmed various short films, student films, and commercial films, and done stage work throughout the Bay Area and Los Angeles area. I have written a few scripts for both film and theater productions. I also worked at Bat’s Improv Theater in San Francisco for a few years, starting off as a volunteer. Eventually, I was offered a job as one of their house managers.
“In late 2019, I decided to move back to my hometown, Merced, for what was supposed to be just a temporary stay, but then when COVID hit I decided to stay. I’m glad I did because it’s great to back and be a part of Playhouse Merced.
“I was a summer camp participant over 10 years ago when they did ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘High School Musical 2′. It’s definitely surreal to come back as the Summer Program Director and provide the best summer experience for our kids and youth from our wonderful and diverse community.
“I am excited to be part of the process of creating a memorable and meaningful camp experience for all the kids participating in our summer program. This is really my first time taking on such a large amount of responsibility that comes with being a director, but I’m very grateful to Playhouse Merced for the opportunity for growth in a leadership position that is both challenging and rewarding. We have an amazing team of extremely talented and passionate artists — young men and women, some of whom have been with the Playhouse for many years and others, only a short time. It is great to be able to collaborate with them, learning from one another and bringing out the best in each other. It has been so much fun!”