Role Playing

Learning skills that will pay off in the theater profession is the goal of the Winchester Players Summer Theater Boot Camp, and the results of this summer’s session can be seen today as the campers perform "Pirates in the Caribbean" at the Winchester Cultural Center.

"It’s a musical I wrote," says Susan Swanson, director of Winchester Players. "I put a lot of Broadway songs in it to spice it up."

Swanson is a retired performer who appeared in "No No Nanette" on Broadway when she was 17, and went on to appear in "Seesaw" and the original "A Chorus Line" before it moved to Broadway and became a smash hit.

Swanson’s late brother, Don Swanson, contributed a story to the production that was used by "A Chorus Line" creator Michael Bennett. The character of Don is still in the show, but Susan didn’t make the cut.

"I didn’t have that much of a story," she says.

Swanson retired from a 30-year career in show business five years ago and moved to Las Vegas. Last September she took over the group formerly known as the Arts Train Players.

"My friends started a bet that I couldn’t make professionals out of rec center kids," Swanson says. "The kids have come a long way. Nobody has really taken them seriously and taken the time. They’re good."

Swanson, who directs and choreographs the "Pirates" show, has relied on her brother Christopher Swanson, who retired from the "Jubilee!" show at Bally’s to study to become a history teacher, and Katie Hill, an award-winning tap dancer, to help teach the camp.

The production is designed as a showcase of the camp’s curriculum, including improvisation, stage presence, theater staging, audition techniques, singing, dancing, scene study and stage makeup. Campers also play drama games go on field trips and receive instruction on costuming and backstage skills.

More than 40 students from 6 to 16 years old will be performing. They are: Abigail Allen, Soler Bean, Madison Benitez, Sydney Berg, Camila Bernaola, Madison Bowe, Charlotte Brum Bezie, Hector Brum Bezie, Martha Brum Bezie, Sydney Calmelat, Taylor Calmelat, Rachael Colucci, Emily DeAngelo, Ali Delre, Tori Delre, Tommy Dingolo, Kourtney Edwards, Anjanette Frederick, Giana Gomez, Jewelena Gomez, Rebecca Gort, Teresa Hopkins, Kayla Jensen, Tanya King, Adam Krist, Adam Lauer-Overby, Rebekah Lescenski, Amy Rae Levanduski, Catlin Moscato, Maxine Nathan, Allison O’Brien, Arturo Olvera, Emiliano Olvera, Ruby Pierce, Christina Robinson, Menkara Saforre, Annabelle Shattler, Cierra Smith, Dylan Smith, Jon P. Smith, Kiefer St. Maria, Eryanne Thurow, Shavon Turner, Briana Troisi, Shyla Wright and Jenny Yokobori.

Eight of Swanson’s students have been picked up by a local talent agency to audition for jobs in show business in Las Vegas.

"We train the kids to do this more as a profession," Swanson says.

Next up for the Winchester Players is "Hairspray’s Christmas Party" during the holidays.

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