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Forty campers will perform the musical performance July 15 and 16 at the CCHS auditorium

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Lou Potvin, who plays the role of Mary Poppins, is surrounded by her "bees" in this act of "Mary Poppins Jr.," during a practice last July 5 at the CCHS commons.

An event that locals look forward to every summer will soon be featuring Mary Poppins Jr., scheduled to offer two performances Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16.

The Prineville Music Theater Camp has been bringing smiles to faces for 13 years. Barbara Punch and Michelle Moore created Prineville Music Theater Camp, and the first performances began in the summer of 2010. Michelle was a music teacher and had subbed in the Crook County School District when they cut the music programs from the elementary schools.

At that time, Our Savior's Lutheran Church had funds available for a kids' program. Wanting to keep Moore here, they were able to put that money towards music and theater, one of Moore's many talents, and Prineville Music Theater Camp was born. It was a gift to the community. After not being able to find permanent work with budget cuts, etc., Moore moved back to New Mexico and would come to Prineville yearly for her "working vacation" as she called it. She was the director until her death in 2017. Colleen Holbrook has since taken over that position.

Production manager for the camp, Kim Griffin, commented that at the end of the year party they provide each year, they let the kids select the play for the coming year.

"It was a tie between this and Beauty and the Beast, and we decided to go and try this one this year. The kids are excited about doing Mary Poppins Jr., and it has a lot of pieces," she said.

Griffin added that most kids get to play multiple parts. This year, they hired camp counselors: Hannah Jones, Natalie Stefanek, Anthony Crider, and Brianna Merkley.

"We were able to break all of the kids up into four groups, and in our day, we have four sections of time. We can take each of those groups, and we have smaller groups and work a little more intensely on the choreography on that. This week, we are doing a little bit of blocking and a little bit of choreography and music."

The group performed and sang for the Prineville Kiwanis and were in two parades this summer with their group on a float.

The camp started in the basement of Our Savior's Lutheran Church. It has since moved to Crooked River Park and the Crook County High School commons as the event has grown to more than 40 campers. The first few performances were held in the sanctuary of the Lutheran church. When the productions outgrew that space, they moved it to Pioneer Park on the big stage. The noise from passing motorists and the effort of breaking down the sets each day made that location cumbersome.

The camp always begins the middle of the last week of June and runs through the third week of July. The camp is open to ages are 7 to 15, and they can be signed up with Crook County Parks and Recreation District in the spring.

On a hot summer morning, the campers were busily working in the commons in their groups on a music number they were to perform for the Prineville Kiwanis group later in the week.

Tommy Fall is playing the part of Michael Banks in the upcoming play. This is his fourth year being part of the camp, and he likes being part of something his other friends are involved in. He also thinks it is a good way to spend his summer.

"The thing I enjoy most about Theater Camp is probably hanging out with other people and getting to know them and putting on the whole show," Fall said enthusiastically.

Moriah Boyum plays Jane Banks in the performance, which is a sister to Michael Banks, played by Fall. It is her fifth year, and she likes being able to express herself and put on a show for people. She also enjoys meeting new friends at camp, and spending time with the other performers.

"I like entertaining people, and I like singing and dancing," she expressed.

Lou Potvin, who plays the role of Mary Poppins, loves theater and said that she has always admired watching the actors in her younger years when attending the Prineville Music Theater Camp performances.

"They were the stars, and the best days of my summer were spent watching plays that this group put on. I finally got to participate four years ago," said Potvin.

She added that she loves the counselors and the friends that she has made.

All the participants agreed that there are more songs this year, which is a plus for those who love to sing and dance.

Penny Jones is the assistant to the director and Casey Tunison is the stage manager. Eric Michel is the sound and tech person and Katie Jones is the assistant to the producer.

Griffin noted that they are working with Nathaniel Dunaway and his class at CCHS for sets, costumes, sound, tech and stage help. Sarah Jones is helping with their costumes. There is a board of directors that work behind the scenes all year round and especially during camp dates and the performances.

"Prineville Music Theater Camp now has a board of directors from different facets of the community and work with the Crook County Foundation," Griffin went on to say. "They meet regularly during the year, and one of their main contributions besides giving great ideas is to help fundraise to keep the camp going. Production costs, copyrights, the scripts and rights in itself are quite costly. The camp also employs high school students and past cast members as camp counselors, sound tech and assistants. We even have past cast members as volunteers," added Griffin.

The productions have all cost between $10,000 to $12,000 to put on for the community. Griffin said that they have scholarships to make sure that all kids are able to participate.

The partnership between Prineville Music Theater Camp, Crook County Foundation and Crook County Parks and Recreation District is also funded in part by contributions from the Robert W. Chandler Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation and Advised Donors of the Oregon Community Foundation, Prineville Kiwanis, Friends of PMTC and Our Savior's Lutheran Church.

Mary Poppins Jr. will be performed in the High School Auditorium on Friday, July 15 at 7 p.m. or Saturday, July 16 at 2 p.m. Cost is $5 for adults, $3 for students 6 to 18, and under 5 is free.

Sidebar

Cast of Main Characters for Mary Poppins Jr:

Mary Poppins—Lou Potvin

Bert—Dilon Hagedorn

Jane Banks—Moriah Boyum

Michael Banks—Tommy Fall

Mr. Banks—Dylan Boyd


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