Seventeen local students aged 6 to 20 met at the Lost Nation Theater at Montpelier City Hall Arts Center last week to orient themselves towards its 2022 Winter Dance Theater Camp. They did physical warm-ups and choreography with Taryn Noelle, learning parts of a new song with Kathleen Keenan, practicing lines with Kim Bent. During a fun and action-packed session, students immersed themselves in the enchanting world of Winnie-the-Pooh.
Each day for the coming week, these students are racing, learning theater skills, and rehearsing.
At 6 p.m. Friday, February 25 and 11 a.m. Saturday, February 26, and streamed live online, LNT’s Theater for Kids by Kids students will perform “Back to the 100 Acre Wood: Winnie-the-Pooh Revue,” an original, 40-minute dance-drama adaptation of AA Milne’s classic by Bent, at City Hall Arts Center.
This week’s camp and upcoming show marks LNT’s return to its winter educational programming. The theater company is preparing for a robust summer schedule of camps and in-person and in-theatre opportunities for students as well as its main stage season.
“Education is one of the three priorities on which we founded this company – excellence in performance, education and community involvement,” said Bent, president and founding artistic director of the company. professional theater in Montpellier.
In LNT’s programs, students work with theater professionals on the company’s stage in a supportive environment, with LNT’s vast resources – sets, costumes, lighting and more.
The education of young people has been at the center of LNT’s concerns since the beginning. In the 1990s, LNT worked with Lycée Montpelier with the after-school theater program and brought students into the company as interns and mentorships. Programs for young students followed later.
Between theater camp productions, conservatory/intern shows, and main stage shows incorporating students, LNT has had over 50 productions in its educational programming. Students who attended camps when they were young are now bringing their own children to the theatre.
Summer programs range from “Theater Play for Every Day” for children ages 6-9, to intensive two-week musical theater focused on theater for children by children for ages 12-20. “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “Mary Poppins”, and “The Wizard of Oz” are some of Theater For Kids By Kids’ past shows.
“We have always appreciated and tried to emphasize, whatever age we work with, that children work in the same theater where we put on our shows. They see it’s something you can take seriously and see as your life’s work,” Bent said.
“The Lost Nation Theater is a very ensemble-oriented theater,” said Keenan, the theater’s Artistic Director Producer. “You’re going to be onstage in a particular show, but you’re also going to be working in a crew or working in front of the house or on stage management or lighting, so there’s a respect for anyone putting on a show. . No role no one is more valuable than another is a philosophy that we try to convey.
“We keep the bar high,” she said. “We are in the mindset that students will achieve whatever bar you set. Of course, you have to give them the basics and what they need to succeed in reaching that next level, whether in a skill or in interacting with others. We want to teach them to fight.
The experience gained at LNT moves forward with students – building confidence, nurturing a love of theater and building careers.
Among LNT alumni who are now theater professionals, Sam Biondolillo was a camper at the first Theater For Kids by Kids “Wind in the Willows” in 2008. He went on to study theater arts at Boston College and earned his MFA in lighting design, and has designed more than 100 off-Broadway and local productions. Biondolillo designs the lighting for “Back to the 100 Acre Wood” and works with the campers for this session.
Quadruple talent Taryn Noelle – actor, dancer, choreographer, singer – first performed with LNT ten years ago and has been involved in educational programs for eight years.
Noelle directs the staging and choreography of the winter camp. “Winnie-the-Pooh” was his suggestion for camp and production. Bent wrote the show’s script and Keenan composed her original songs.
“People who love Winnie-the-Pooh will recognize all of the iconic characters. It’s our version that makes it special,” Noelle said.
With a focus on camp dance-theatre, Noelle gets the students moving.
“There really is no substitute for simple, strong unison dancing. There is something very powerful about everyone doing something together and doing it fully with all of their heart, body and mind,” she said.
Dedication to learning, providing opportunities for students, and working together are ubiquitous at LNT camps.
“Kim and Kathleen imbue that feeling of leading by love and by heart,” Noelle said. “They’re both such talented directors and performers and artists themselves, of course, and the team of designers and directors they bring in are amazing. This allows you to put on a whole show in just one or two weeks of camp.