Clarksville, TN – Last Friday afternoon, a new musical premiered at the Austin Peay State University Music/Mass Communication Building’s Concert Hall. The show, “Intergalactic Space Trip,” was an ambitious, 15-minute production, featuring several musical numbers sung in a half dozen different languages.
When the cast, made up of local 8 to 12 year olds, took their final bow at the end of the show, the parents sitting in the audience agreed that it was a success. They were happy to see what their children had learned in only five days.Friday’s performance was the final production in a weeklong musical theater day camp, hosted by APSU’s Community School for the Arts. It was the first camp of its type ever to be hosted by that program.
“They spent the week learning different songs, designing costumes and some scenery and props and learning some different rhythm instruments to accompany themselves,” JoAnn McIntosh, CSA coordinator, said. “And they pretty much came up with the story line on their own.”
Shortly before Friday’s performance, Briana Larsen, the camp’s artistic director, busied herself backstage, making sure everyone was in costume and that they remembered their lines. Larsen, a senior in vocal performance at APSU, has worked in musical theater since she was in elementary school, and she regularly performs in the University’s opera productions.
Last December, she gave her senior recital, which was the culmination of her years of hard work at APSU. She had to perform works in Italian, French and German, in addition to complex pieces in English, for that program, and she applied this requirement to her young students at the day camp.
“All week we’ve done research on different countries around the world, and the kids have learned a song from each country in its native language,” Larsen said. “They’ve divided into groups and written skits about the different countries. All of this has pretty much been done by the kids.”
The 14 students in the inaugural camp crafted the “Intergalactic Space Trip” musical about a school class of alien children studying the different planets. In the 15-minute play, the alien children are specifically focused on the planet Earth.
“They helped with the choreography, they designed their masks, made rain sticks, helped with T-shirts,” she said. “It’s been a blast.”
Moments before the curtain rose, someone asked the group of young actors if they’d enjoyed themselves that week. A collective “yes” rang out from their eager mouths, while a few stragglers appeared from the dressing rooms to reaffirm this enthusiasm.
McIntosh said the camp’s success will likely make it an annual summer event on the APSU campus. The CSA was founded in 1990 with the goal of promoting and increasing awareness of the arts throughout the surrounding area. The program serves approximately 350 students of all ages and skill levels through programs in music, dance and the visual arts.
For information on other CSA programs, visit www.apsu.edu/csa.