By: Karrie Beck
Port Huron Parks and Recreation’s production of The Trials of Alice and Wonderland, produced by local middle school students under the direction of Renee Barr and her dedicated team, lit up the stage Friday afternoon at McMorran Auditorium in Port Huron, MI. The play was the result of a week-long, summer theater camp; a top-notch show with the flare of a full-blown production – all accomplished in just five short days! “It is amazing what these kids can do in such a short amount of time,” said theater patron, Erica Llerenas. She and others remarked at how truly good the hour-long show was. One audience member added, “I thought these kids had worked on this for weeks!”
Nineteen middle school students attended this year’s summer camp. In addition to producing a fantastic show, the kids were taught theater etiquette, vocal skills, choreography, and given the opportunity to practice the audition process. The recreation department also held a successful elementary theater camp back in June.
Area high school students will have an opportunity to attend a theater camp in August. Thanks to its positive success and reputation, the camps fill up fast and typically have waiting lists for those hoping to participate. This is not surprising given the strength of the program’s strong coaching staff, which includes Renee Barr, and assistant theater instructors: Gillian Bolt, Madeline Godwin, and Justin Russell.
Renee Barr, a drama coach for Port Huron Schools and the Port Huron City Recreation Department, has coached drama for over fifteen years. During that time, she mentored countless children and teens. Many students come back year after year to be a part of her productions because of the fun atmosphere she creates. “She is giving and soooo kind. She lets us be ourselves and even listens to our ideas. All her plays are fun,” said camp attendee, Logan Forbes.
The middle school drama camp was even more fortunate this year. During rehearsals, the 2017 Miss Michigan pageant winner, Heather Grace Kendrick of Marysville, MI., stopped by and students were given the opportunity to meet and visit with her. Miss Kendrick, a recent contestant on America’s Got Talent, will go on to compete in the Miss America Pageant in September 2017, in New Jersey.
Theater is a great way to gain mental strength and develop speaking skills. “I have watched my grandson’s self-confidence transform before my eyes in the last three years under the direction of Renee Barr. The confidence she builds in these children is remarkable. I am so thankful for the encouragement and energy she brings to each show she directs. The kids truly love her.” Lila Genaw
Renee would say the show’s success was a result of the hard work on the part of the kids – and indeed they are an impressive group of youngsters – but the performance level they’ve reached could not have been possible without her heart-felt, and dedicated coaching.
If you’d like more information on Port Huron City Recreation Department events and camps, follow the link.
*Madeline Godwin, the assistant theater instructor from Port Huron, MI mentioned above, was recently selected to be one of three remaining finalists for the final spot on the Detroit Piston’s Dance Team! The last of the finalists will be decided by an online poll which runs through Friday, July 28, 2017. To support and vote for Madeline, visit: VOTE FOR MADELINE!
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