Seashore Theater Camp Sees Come From Away; Works With Tony Nominated Star

 

 

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LONG BRANCH, Thursday, July 7 – Aspiring young actors in Seashore Theater Camp “On Broadway” had an opportunity they will never forget July 5. Seven to 13 year olds not only got to see Come From Away, the internationally acclaimed Critic’s Pick that won a 2017 Tony for Best Direction and Best Musical awards across North America. They had the privilege of taking a song and dance workshop at Ripley-Grier Studios with Tony nominated Chad Kimball.

Following Come From Away’s origins at La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theater and the Fords Theater in DC, Seashore knew from the start that the show would be everything NY Times Ben Brantley said in his rave and more. Buying tickets the first day they went on sale, attention turned to securing a workshop with cast member Kimball, who had done a Meet & Greet after seeing Memphis in 2010.

The actor, who plays six different roles in Come From Away and (like his 11 castmates) seamlessly switches characters, personas and accents on a dime, taught 31 children the opening number Welcome To The Rock. Accompanied by Randy Redd on piano, he helped them rehearse the song, one step and verse at a time, sharing techniques that have made him a favorite on Broadway the last 17 years and garnered him Dora and Helen Hayes noms for outstanding performance in CFA along with Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations for racial barrier breaking DJ Huey Calhoun in Memphis.

In addition, Kimball gave boys and girls an insight about the fast paced show that helped them better understand what they were about to see on stage — the true story of how the people in a small town called Gander, Newfoundland opened their hearts and homes to nearly 7,000 stranded worldwide passengers from 38 planes diverted after 9/11 attacks closed the U.S. Airspace, the power of the human spirit and the incredible bonds forged in that historical moment which exist to this day.

At the end of the session, campers had a chance to ask questions. They wanted to know how Kimball got his start in acting, what role he played in Come From Away, what other shows he was in, which show was his favorite, what he does to prepare each day, what his favorite song in the show was and what show he would see on Broadway if he could pick only one.

“First of all I got an education, which is very important,” Kimball emphasized. “I went to a school called Boston Conservatory and I got a degree in theater… I came to New York and started auditioning… This is my sixth Broadway show,” he said, talking about having to learn all different characters for CFA where he plays six or seven different parts including Kevin T., playing a ‘crazy DJ guy on the radio’ in Memphis, Milky White Cow in Into The Woods, Civil War, Good Vibrations and Lennon.

His favorite? “It’s a tie between this one and Memphis,” said Kimball, who also received the San Diego Critic’s Circle Award for Lead Performance in a Musical for Memphis and has been named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the 100 most creative people in entertainment (for his role in Into The Woods).

Favorite CFA song? “Probably the one Hannah sings,” he said. And if he could see one show, which would it be? “That’s hard because they run the same time as our show, but I would like to see Natasha, Pierre and the Comet of 1812,” he said.

Seashore campers loved the workshop, loved the show and were still talking about it the following week after seeing the second installment in their Broadway Show/Workshop Series: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“We were very excited to include Come From Away this year and give campers an opportunity to work with an actor as talented as Chad Kimball,” Seashore Director John Villapiano said. “In addition to showing children what exceptional acting looks like, Come From Away provided a different perspective on 9/11 and lesson about how people should treat each other, how to look beyond individual differences and how comaraderie can come from crisis,” he said.

Theater Camp Director Renee Harrison Pincus, who founded the specialty program more than a decade ago, agreed.

“Going to shows of this caliber and working with the best on Broadway has helped campers take their singing, dancing and acting skills to a much higher level for the past 11 years. We look forward to seeing how they apply what they learned today in their performance of Shrek The Musical,” she said.

According to Pincus, the curtain will go up on Shrek at the Long Branch High School Theater on August 11-13. For tickets, visit seashoreplayers@gmail.com.

Seashore, which first opened in 1926, has the distinction of being the first day camp in New Jersey and the pioneer of an industry that has benefited hundreds of thousands of children. During the last nine decades, it has grown to become one of the largest day camps in the country, providing innovative activities for more than 500 boys and girls each year, setting the standard for what camping should be and being named Hulafrog’s 2017 Most Loved Day Camp.

While many things have changed since its inception, Seashore’s commitment to taking fun to greater heights and giving children opportunities to try things they would not experience elsewhere remains the same.

 

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Caption: WELCOME TO THE ROCK. Seashore Theater Campers learned the kind of singing, dance and emoting techniques that garnered Chad Kimball Dora, Helen Hayes and Tony nominations for his roles in Come From Away and Memphis during a Broadway Workshop at Ripley-Grier Studios on July 5.

 

Caption: After the show, Seashore Theater Campers had Playbills signed and photo opps with cast members including Tony nominee Chad Kimball, who taught their workshop in the morning.

 

Caption: Seashore Theater Campers also met Jenn Colella, Tony nominee, Drama Desk Award winner, Helen Hayes Award winner and Outer Critics Circle Award winner. Colella played heroic pilot Beverley Bass, the first woman to become a captain of an airline crew at American Airlines, who commandeered her passengers to safety in the true story behind Come From Away.