Imagine your little thespian—up on stage, under the lights, singing or acting his heart out to a full house—it could happen this summer at Clear Space Theatre in Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Since 2004 this professional theater group has opened its doors to budding young actors and actresses while they are on summer vacation from school, instructing them in the ways of the stage as part of the Musical Theatre and Acting Summer Intensives.  The students learn and perform a scaled down version of a famous Broadway musical or play in one week—hence the ‘intensive’ part. Its complete immersion in musical theatre designed to show students what life is really like behind the scenes of a professional production. According to Jennifer Hayward, Managing Director,

“The rehearsal process for our regular productions is broken down into working with the director, musical director, choreographer and we try to accomplish this same structure for the summer intensives.”

Students in grades 1-12 have the opportunity to participate in various weekly sessions broken down by age group. Clear Space Theatre’s Artistic Director, Doug Yetter, selects the musicals that can best be adapted, and are age-appropriate. This year grades 1-3 will perform Cinderella, grades 4-6 Mary Poppins, and grades 7-12 Hello Dolly! Additionally, all grades may participate in a production of Thoroughly Modern Millie a separate week in August. The latter production is by recommendation only.

“[The recommendation] week was established to allow for one week of our summer intensives to be devoted to those students who are thinking about continuing their education in the performing arts past high school—for the student who has a true devotion and passion to musical theatre.  These students need a letter of recommendation from a drama, vocal and/or dance teacher,” explained Hayward.

In all weeks of the various sessions students are in Clear Space’s theatre complex from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A sample day in musical theatre would include warm-up, voice, voice with movement, musical staging, and rehearsal. The day is supplemented with snack breaks and lunch. On the final day of camp, the students perform the musical or play they have learned, under the lights, in keeping with Clear Space’s theatrical vision.

“The concept behind the entire company is that we use minimal set pieces and costuming to allow the actors to truly tell the story.  This idea is also used in our summer intensives with minimal costuming, but the lighting and sound design is like a regular performance,” says Hayward.

Students from all over participate in Clear Space’s Summer Intensive programs. Some are local students who work on productions throughout the year and continue into the summer. Others are out-of-towners on vacation, or those whose parents own second homes; some stay with grandparents who live in the area. This year students are coming from as far away as Florida and Arizona to participate.

For parents considering options that best suit their child this summer, personal experience often provides the best advice. Managing Director Jessica Hayward’s own daughter has been participating in the summer intensives since she was six-years-old.

“[The summer intensive] was the answer to what I’d been looking for to keep [my daughter’s] spirited personality involved in something with a purpose.  She was full of energy and my husband and I knew she needed to find a creative outlet to express herself.  Watching her perform during the summer intensive at the end of the program, we knew she had found her place,” Hayward reflected.

And it wasn’t just Hayward’s daughter that displayed this sense of belonging and purpose; she noticed this sentiment with students across the board.

“It is always such a delight to see these students begin the week with a sense of question and uncertainty, yet when they step on the stage Friday at the end of the week to perform, they have a strong sense of self-confidence and joy when they’re showing the audience all of their hard work from the summer intensive.”

Currently there are openings in all of Clear Space Theatre’s Summer Intensive sessions. But Hayward suggests signing up as soon as you can. Only 40 spots are available in each session, and they run at capacity each summer.

For those interested in theatre programs throughout the rest of the year, Clear Space offers classes to all students from first grade through senior citizens through their Arts Institute. Classes are offered in two ten-week sessions, one in the fall and one in the spring. Information can be found on Clear Space’s website under Education prior to the start of the semester, (the next will begin the second week of September).  Aside from the classes, anyone wishing to try their talent at performing throughout the year, children and adults, are welcome to audition for the regular company performances as well as the Children’s Theatre Program. The next open audition will be held this Saturday May 19th at 10 a.m. at Clear Space’s Rehoboth Beach facility. Auditions for specific productions will be announced as they become available.

More Information:

All photos are from the Clear Space Theatre Company Facebook page.