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Sooner Theater Hosts Summer Camp for Community’s Young Thespians

The shy kids are among Nancy Coggins’ favorite summer camp students. Coggins, who works as Sooner Theatre’s public relations and development director, said parents often come to her worried that their child might be unable to break out of their shell, thinking that perhaps the theatre’s summer performing arts camps won’t appeal to their child.

“These kinds of kids are some of my favorites because they’re usually the ones that end up on stage in front of a hundred people belting out a solo, and their parents are stunned,” Coggins said. “They find a love and passion for performing arts, and it does so much for their creative brains and their self-esteem. They do break out of their shell and find their voices.”

This June, Sooner Theatre of Norman is once again hosting summer camp sessions, inviting hundreds of youth to take part in acting, musical theatre, magic and more. The Studio of the Sooner Theatre is Norman’s premiere performing arts academy, located just across the street from The Sooner Theatre in Norman’s historic Downtown Walker Arts District.

The Studio offers performing arts classes and summer camps for children age 3 to 18. Beginners all the way up to stage veterans take part in acting, singing, tap, hip-hop, improv, magic and more.

From its humble beginnings in 2013, when Sooner Theatre “begged, borrowed and scraped” to host its first summer camp with 31 students, the camps now attract hundreds of young creatives every year.

“We went from 31 children to 1,000 kids per year that go through our programs,” Coggins said. “For some kids, it’s a fun way to spend time with friends; for others, it’s a great introduction to the performing arts and a chance to be on stage; for others, it’s a way to break out of their shell and find their own voices.

“We have more than 25 summer camps for kids ages pre-K to high school,” Coggins said. “Most are half-day camps, and we do everything from musical theater to magic.”

Two of the summer camps are audition only, lasting for four weeks. In one of the production camps, students entering 3rd to 7th grade will put on a performance of Disney’s “Frozen Jr.” on June 26-30 and students entering 8th through 12th grade will present the musical “All Shook Up” on Aug. 1-4.

“I think because Disney just allowed ‘Frozen Jr.’ to be licensed, this will be one of the first productions of the show in Oklahoma,” said Coggins. “The musical ‘All Shook Up’ showcases the music of Elvis, but is not the story of Elvis. It includes everyone’s favorite songs, lots of dancing and a lot of fun.”

In addition to the audition-only summer production camps, Sooner Theatre hosts other summer camps open to all enrollees. Enrollment can be done online at soonertheatre.org, by calling The Sooner Theatre at 321-9600 or in person at the Theatre, 101 E Main St., in Norman.

“Enrollment is open all summer long, and we have camps throughout the entire summer,” Coggins said. – BSM

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