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On five Mondays this summer, a group of young people will gather, and they will share a single thought: “Five days to showtime!”

At the Music Theater Works Summer Workshops, performers ages 8 to 13 gather for a week of rehearsals, singing, dancing and acting in preparation for a musical performance on Saturday for their friends and family.  

Each week is a separate session, and this year the shows include Annie (July 10-15), The Music Man (July 17-22), Spamalot (July 24-29), Singin’ in the Rain (July 31- Aug. 5) and Bye Bye Birdie (Aug. 7-12).

Putting together a show in five days makes for an exciting week, as all are assigned parts, learn their songs, and practice their dances until everything is ready for the big show.  It’s a lot of work, but that has never seemed to bother the workshop participants—they’re having too much fun.

For many kids, the workshops given them their first taste of performing in musical theater.  Many have gone in as absolute beginners and emerged as enthusiastic performers, eager for their next challenge.  

After last year’s workshops, one mother wrote us that her daughter “was completely taken by her experiences in camp last summer. It unlocked a beautiful part of her and it has allowed her to blossom like nothing else she’s ever experienced. Truly life-changing.”

Workshop manager Anya Plotkin is a big fan of the workshops’ “tag-team” casting style, in which everyone is guaranteed a part: “Of course, we all want to be the star of the show! In our program, each and every student has an equal solo.  All our kids get their chance to shine, regardless of prior experience…In Annie, we may have eleven Annies and four Daddy Warbucks and six Miss Hannigans!  The kids learn that being part of a team is a vital element to a great performance.”

But Plotkin is convinced the most important part of the program is how it fosters self-confidence in the young performers: “The rehearsal room is a safe place for all our kids to explore who they are, without fear of censure or discouragement.  As they grow as performers, they also grow as people.  They step into someone else’s shoes, they make new best friends, they learn things they never thought possible before, we open up them up to new experiences and new ways of thinking.”  

“We help our students every day, through a love of music, dance, acting, and each other.”

For more information, call Music Theater Works at (847) 920-5360.  Workshop classes are held at 516 4th St. in Wilmette.  Each workshop is Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a final dress rehearsal on Saturday at 1 p.m. and a public performance at 4 p.m.  Registrations can be made online at MusicTheaterWorks.com.

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