It was standing room only on Friday, Aug. 11, when young singers, dancers, and actors combined their talents to create one spectacular performance on the stage of the Gowanda's Historic Hollywood Theater.
The ninth annual Hollywood Theater Summer Drama Camp, which was held from Monday, Aug. 7 to Friday, Aug. 11 featured nearly 60 kids, ranging from fifth grade all the way up to 12th grade. The kids took over the stage for the week and ended the camp with a free final performance for the community. Under the direction of Cynthia Ripley, patrons enjoyed a variety of numbers from Broadway Jr. shows.
"The kids have a passion for this," explained Hollywood Theater Grant and Project Administrator Deb Harris. "Like Cynthia Ripley said, we are so lucky to be in a community where we hold arts and culture, theater, and music in high esteem. When you look around at some of the suburbs and the cities, they are just cutting out these programs. We had standing room only in here. It was packed. This community really values the important things and I think that's so cool."
"Ripley, who is a master theatrics teacher, has worked on Broadway and all over the world. She and her assistants dedicated their time to working with the kids all week.
"We are so lucky to have her," remarked Harris. "She just has a soft spot in her heart for Gowanda where she used to teach. She comes back every year to do this project."
Just like previous years, the kids worked really hard learning the lyrics to each song, the choreography, the staging, and most importantly the teamwork. They performed seven numbers including "I won't grow up" from Peter Pan and "How do you solve a problem like Maria" from The Sound of Music.
"A lot of the kids don't know each other, they've never heard this music, and they work their tails off," said Harris. "They take about a 15-minute lunch and they work from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon."
"It's amazing how much they can get done in a week and that they can put on a great show" Harris added. Harris also mentioned that a lot of the artwork and props for the performances are created each year by the local business team at Heaven Scent. "They have been a big help to our productions for the past nine years," she said.
The Hollywood Theater Summer Drama Camp is funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Regrant Program with support from the New York State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and administered by the Cattaraugus County Arts Council.
"I think a lot of what we do here, and everybody hears it constantly, is our restoration work," said Harris. "This board has been at it for 20 years. They have stuck with it during the lean years when they weren't raising money, but they had a belief that this could happen. They have stuck it out. The reason everybody is sticking it out is for exactly what we see here. For one week, we see what this place can be and what it is going to be, only year round. It gives us a little taste of who we are doing it for."
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