This week, kids in the inaugural Pacer Drama Camp learned, rehearsed and produced “The Jungle Book,” which will be performed this afternoon at Willis Education Center.
Drama Camp leader Jennifer Ruhlen said Thursday the camp was the first of its kind for the district, and she created it to give kids a chance to experience theater over the summer.
“We have a lot of talent in Delaware, and we wanted to make sure we could foster that and give those kids an outlet,” Ruhlen said. “This is for those kids who really like to show their stuff.”
According to Ruhlen, 44 students have taken part in the weeklong camp, while 13 Hayes High School students have served as stage hands and helpers. She added the group has been rehearsing a production of “The Jungle Book,” which it will perform Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the Willis Auditorium. The show is free, open to the public, and it will last about 40 minutes.
“I think we’re ready,” Ruhlen said Thursday morning. “It’s a lot of work to put a show together in a week, but they are really pulling it together.”
Ruhlen, the director of productions at Dempsey Middle School, said she has enjoyed the week of drama camp and forming relationships with the students.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know these kids a little more on a personal level, not just seeing them in the classroom,” Ruhlen said. “Seeing them really shine on stage and seeing different personalities come out in them.”
Zoe Kincaid, a rising fifth grader at Carlisle Elementary, plays the bear, Baloo, in the show.
“I am looking forward to everybody getting to see how hard we have worked,” Kincaid said. “By day two, some of us had gotten mostly off script. We’ve learned so much of the dances in a few days. I am a little bit nervous because I want everybody to have their lines memorized and be off script. I know they can do it, and I have a few things to memorize myself.”
Kincaid added she had never acted before but hopes to do theater when she goes to Dempsey next year. She said she made new friends in the camp and is looking forward to seeing the show come together.
“I really enjoyed seeing other people’s dances and how much work they put into it,” Kincaid said. “We’ve all worked really hard so far. I’ve made a lot of new friends. It’s really fun.”
Connor Chrismer, a rising fifth grader at Schultz Elementary School, got his acting start earlier this year in Buckeye Valley High School’s production of “Annie.” He said his mother told him about the camp.
“I thought it could be a lot of fun,” Chrismer said.
Chrismer plays the tiger, Shere Khan, in the production. He said he’s enjoying putting on a scary voice as a villain.
“After we started working I thought, ‘I’m going to have so much fun being the bad guy,’” Chrismer said. “Bad guys get the good songs, but he doesn’t have one. I get to do my inner Scar, who is my favorite Disney villain.”
Chrismer said he enjoyed the fact the cast got to make their costumes for the performance today, which he is looking forward to.
“We get to make our own costumes and that is a whole bunch of fun,” Chrismer said. “(I’m) a little bit nervous (for the performance), but overall, I’m excited. When I get home, I’m going to make sure I’m going to memorize my lines even better.”
Lyla Maniaci, a rising fourth-grader at Schultz who plays part of the jungle in the story, said she enjoyed getting to spend time with her friends during drama camp. She said she’s excited to perform and hopes to do drama again at Dempsey.
“(I’m) looking forward to performing in front of family,” Maniaci said.
Sophia Bargar, a rising fourth-grader at Carlisle, plays one of the coils of the snake, Kaa, in the play and shares a musical number with the other coils of the python.
Bargar said she enjoyed drama camp, especially making her own costume, and she can’t wait for today’s show.
“I like performing on the stage,” she said. “All my family is going to be there, and I really want to do good. I’ve always wanted to act and perform on stage. All my family did it and wanted me to try it.”