First Stage Summer Theatre Academy: A taste of professional theatre for students ages 12-18

It’s Wednesday night and you’ve got 16 pages of lines, seven songs, and four dances to memorize before Friday afternoon. Sounds like a challenge even the most seasoned actor would find overwhelming. Now imagine you’re only 12 years old and it’s the middle of July!

The above scenario is typical for any of the students participating in OCP's popular First Stage Summer Theatre Academy. Started in 1997, the academy takes place over the month of July with two different two-week sessions offered to students ages 12-18 who want a more intense performing experience. For two weeks, students will work intensively with members of the First Stage production team in a “summer stock” setting. Each session includes daily warm-up activities, auditioning workshops, improvisation exercises, dance classes and vocal/blocking/choreography rehearsals. They work with professional directors, musicians, choreographers and technicians from OCP and become part of an original production written specifically for First Stage. On the final Friday evening, the production is presented in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre for an invited audience of friends and family.

It isn’t easy – the directing staff asks these students to stretch themselves as both performers and young adults on a daily basis. The goal (aside from having a great time!) is that these young performers gain a better understanding of the hard work and commitment needed to stage a production in only 10 days. Academy participants leave with the sense of accomplishment on a job well done and rush of adrenaline that only performing on stage can provide. It’s not uncommon for students to return year after year or to audition for future Playhouse productions.

If you know of a student who is just itching to get on stage, spaces are still available for our second session, which runs July 19-29. Students may register online at or by calling the Education Office at (402) 553-4890 ext. 131.

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