By Monika Davis
Jumping up and down, kids wiped sweat from their foreheads as they finished another run-through of their dance routine at The Hurrah Players theater summer camp. Shawn Terry danced harder than any of them.
Shawn, a 13-year-old from Chesapeake, has participated in the camp for the last three summers and said that doing the camp is a way for him to express himself without being judged like he feels people do at his school.
“I like the adrenaline rush you get and getting to perform with the friends you’ve made the past two weeks,” Shawn said.
Samantha Schneider, a 12-year-old from Portsmouth, is participating in the camp for the second year.
Samantha also said the camp allows her to try singing, dancing, and acting, something that a lot of younger teens look for in an effort to explore what they are good at. She also likes trying “different characters and embodying them to see what I can do.”
The camp has been around for 31 years. Katie Stone, the general manager of The Hurrah Players, has been with the group for 10 years and said that enrollment has increased. The company is expected to move into a bigger building one day which will allow more students.
Stone, who took drama classes in middle and high school, has a degree in theatre management. She said she loved everything about theatre but wasn’t too fond of acting. Her experience with The Lost Colony and theatre troupes in Richmond has helped her shape The Hurrah Players, she said. She said she thinks that teens’ use of social media has increased interest in the summer program.
“This generation loves to get online and share their opinion and word of mouth is the best marketing tool,” she said.
Camp counselor James Cooper stood in a stairwell of The Hurrah Player’s Norfolk building, directing the students to go into their next class. James, a rising senior at Norfolk Collegiate School, was responsible for the 11-and-up age group called “The Supremes.”
Along with the camp, James performs in Hurrah Players’ plays and musicals. He started in theatre in the sixth grade where he helped choreograph and organize plays.
Performing is genetic for James. His mother was a dancer and father was a singer. .
Asia Morris, a Norfolk State University student majoring in performing arts, teaches hip-hop and other dance forms during the camp. Not only are the students learning steps, her classes help the kids become more comfortable on stage before their final performance on the last Friday of the camp.
Morris, 26, is from the Boston area and found herself in Hampton Roads after she followed a few friends who transferred to Norfolk State University. Morris, although only having a year of experience with The Hurrah Players, spends more than 30 hours a week with the theatre group.
The kids react quickly and attentively to her loud voice and Flo Rida’s “Going Down for Real” playing during the dance class.
James sat in the small auditorium and watched her students dance. He lit up when he saw the students go out of their comfort zone.
“Theatre allows you to search your emotions and find truth.”