Local theater group uses downtime to teach young performers

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — This time of year, the Startlight Theater’s members would usually be running lines, doing dress rehearsals, and getting ready to put on a show. COVID-19 did away with those plans.

Like true actors, the theater group decided the show must go on. Instead of the actors and crew suiting up, Starlight put the community in the spotlight.

Dim the lights and draw the curtains as Rockford’s youngest dancers take center stage.

“It’s kind of the silver lining of everything that’s been going on with the pandemic,” said Camp Counselor Theresa Garner-Wilson.

This week, members of Rock Valley College’s Starlight Theater are teaching kids Drama 101 at Camp Supernova.

“Normally the Starlight season during the summer is so so busy it gets difficult to be able to do other extracurricular activities. So, we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to be able to take some more time to plan and be here with the students,” Garner-Wilson explained.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, campers are learning choreography, playwriting, and stage directions.

“We learned the upstage, dow stage, right stage and left stage… We’re going to do a story, we’re going to make up our own play about the three little pigs,” said one camper.

Camp Supernova is held at the Boys and Girls Club in Rockford and costs are covered by a grant. Camp counselor Theresa Garner-Wilson says the week of activities are many campers’ first exposure to theater.

“Oftentimes people that get into theater when they’re young, it’s because they had an opportunity to be able to pay for it, which just isn’t a reality for a lot of children, so having the opportunity to be involved in community theaters that are free– it’s a really awesome opportunity that a lot of kids may not necessarily have,” Garner-Wilson said.

While they may be rookies, the future Tony winners plan to stick with musical theater until they land a leading role.

“It’s fun and it’s entertaining like, instead of being in the house, laying on your bed eating, bored,” explained one camper.

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