Once you’re a member of the Center for Preparatory Studies in Music at Queens College’s Musical Theatre Summer Workshop family, you’re a member for life.
This summer’s workshop will culminate in a showcase on Thursday, Aug. 1 at Queens College’s LeFrak Concert Hall, featuring music from Broadway shows such as “Wicked” and “Pippin.”
Each participant will be featured in a solo number and scene, in addition to a few monologues and ensemble pieces. The numbers range from comedic to dramatic — impressive when the audience realizes that nobody in the camp is over the age of 16.
Participants learn from professionals while getting one-on-one attention from the staff, including CPSM alumni who return year after year.
Assistant director Kerry McEnerney attended the camp and now majors in theatre.
“I started coming to camp here when I was 9 and I loved it. It’s what convinced me to do this for life,” she said. “I think what’s important about this is we’re all building a show together and it becomes a family. No matter the age difference, or where we’re from or different levels of experience, we all do this together.”
The only requirement for CPSM is that participants have some experience in theatre, dance or singing, and show a passion for performing.
“I’m excited to be able to help the kids because I love being their friend and I love being a role model, which I didn’t expect to feel back when I started,” said assistant acting and vocal coach Becki Santana, who was a CPSM participant for several years.
“Practically everyone who works here went to the camp when they were younger for many years, so it doesn’t feel like co-workers. It’s like theater family back together again,” McEnerney said.
Though founder Kimberly Larkin didn’t plan on creating this family atmosphere, she said there is something special about the ability for a program to bring students together from all over the world who share the same passion. She sees returning students take on more of a leadership role and grow to another level as performers.
Volunteer and former CPSM participant Robert Fischetti said, “I wanted to get the chance to teach some of the kids who I knew were going to be here because I wanted to see how my ideas would actually look if they were played out,” he said.
Larkin focuses on teaching the process and technique, rather than on the performance, and helps boost the participants’ confidence along the way.
“People often ask why I do not audition,” Larkin said, “and I say I am not looking to find talent to put into a show — this is the role of school and community theatre.”
My goal each summer is to have every student leave the program at the highest level of skill they can attain in four weeks in singing, acting and dance,” she added. “They leave with a monologue and song ready for auditions and an approach to studying a lead role after working on a character in a scene from a musical.”
Current Broadway performers teach choreography from their respective shows in master classes, giving the students a chance to hear fun anecdotes about their careers.
Participants also take headshots at a discounted price and go on weekly field trips to meet professionals.
“Although the staff works to create an encouraging, noncompetitive yet professional and intense environment — it is the students that make that actually happen. It is that unexplainable spirit of this program that makes me want to dedicate every minute of my life to it each July and I love doing it more with each passing year,” Larkin said.
One CPSM participant, Kayti White, already plans on returning as a counselor next year.
“I can honestly say for the past five years this has been my home. I’ve never felt more comfortable anywhere else than I’ve felt here,” she said.
She continued, “My favorite part about CPSM is the fact that everyone gets a solo song, everyone’s in a scene, and there’s three or four group numbers every year. It takes away the whole cattiness and competition of it because we know we all get our time to shine, and with 35 kids you can’t find that anywhere else. It’s a truly amazing, special thing to have a community like this.”
CPSM Musical Theatre Summer Workshop Showcase
When: Thursday, Aug. 1 at 7 p.m.
Where: Lefrak Concert Hall, Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing