Last Friday at the Astoria Performing Arts Center the youths in the Summer Stars program — heavy on the estrogen, 26 girls and four boys — were busily eating lunch when they burst into song. It was as if a radio had suddenly switched to Z100, as the Stars sang poppy favorites with enthusiasm.
In the play “Hullabaloo at Nadalottamoolah,” which the children have been rehearsing for the last two weeks from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, kids are enrolled in a summer camp against their will.
But in real life it’s clear these campers love summer camp and have no qualms with using their lunch break to practice.The youthful stars-to-be had accompanying hand motions and big smiles as if they were on an episode of “Glee.”
In the musical there are several cliques: the jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, thespians and goths. No one wants to mingle, so the camp counselors devise a plan to defuse the tension. They send all the campers on a hike up a mountain. On their expedition they sing pop songs such as “Call Me Maybe” by the Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen and “Part of Me” by Katy Perry. Through their hiking and love of top 100 songs, the campers find a commonality.
“It’s really nice. We get to dance and express ourselves,” camper Aerielle Delacruz, 10, said.
The Summer Stars learn acting terms such as upstage and downstage and play fun games as well as learn their parts.
On Aug. 4, 50 Queens residents ages 8 to 13 tried out for the free summer camp spots.
“That was difficult. You don’t want to turn them away,” Executive Director Taryn Sacramone said. However, because of funding and limited space, the group was whittled to 30.
Kelly Vallares, 11, has participated in the Summer Stars program for three years and says she likes this year’s production the most.
“It feels like real school,” Vallares, who plays a jock, said.
The free Summer Stars program is sponsored by Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), the Aviation Development Council, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Astoria Federal Savings Bank.
When: Aug. 25, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Where: Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent St., Astoria
Tickets: $15, $12 for seniors, students and children
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