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The annual camp will present 'The Wizard of Oz' this year, with performances Aug. 12-15



TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - David VanDyke and Fiona McInnis play the Scarecrow and Dorothy, respectively, in Broadway Rose’s Teen Summer Workshop rendition of 'The Wizard of Oz.'In a different context, many of the participants in the Broadway Rose Teen Summer Workshop would never be friends. In all reality, it’s likely that they’d never have met.

Coming from different schools, towns and states, the teens came together through their love of performance — from there, friendships were made.

“It’s really nice because you meet a whole different community of people. There’s so much less judgment in the theater world,” said Fiona McInnis, 16, who’s participated in the workshop for four years. “When I’m here, I feel like I can be myself. I’m not nervous.”

Though she’s never been a lead in a play before, McInnis is stepping into the spotlight as Dorothy with the camp’s upcoming production of “The Wizard of Oz.” An incoming junior at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, McInnis was a member of her school’s state championship-winning choir team last year, and it’s through music that she’s found her emotional outlet since childhood. Yet with the annual summer camp, her love for acting is growing, too.TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Tristan Shugart lifts up Lana Sage during aerial practice for 'The Wizard of Oz.'

“When I was younger, I was very talkative, but I wasn’t really outgoing enough to show all of the acting capabilities that I had. For a long time, I kind of stood in the shadows when it came to acting and singing in front of everybody,” said McInnis. “But then, when I finally came back this year and kind of last year, I realized the community is so accepting and they encourage you to do what you want to do.”

For many of the young actors participating in the workshop, McInnis’ words rings true. For them, the Broadway Rose New Stage in Tigard where they rehearse and perform is a safe space, and the people around them keep it that way. Whether they fit in elsewhere, they often find themselves fitting in here.

“It’s a lot of fun. At times, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I try to act like I know what’s going on,” said Jane Hamp, a 16-year-old participant from North Carolina who is spending the three weeks of camp staying locally with her sister. Though she often finds that she’s hard on herself after making mistakes, she appreciates the patience of those around her. “The instructors here are really nice, and they’re just like ‘It’s OK. Slow down, take your time and try again.’ I love that.”

While she enjoys the acting and will play a munchkin and teacher in the show, the workshop is about more than that for Hamp. It’s a community, and a way for her to engage with her peers in a way that she otherwise might not have been able to do. TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The Levitation group practices special effects for the upcoming production of 'The Wizard of Oz.'

“This strange girl came here from North Carolina. They don’t even know who she is, and they’re just so welcoming,” she said, grinning ear-to-ear.

At the end of the workshop’s first week, Hamp said she already had a group of friends to get lunch and hang out with — those memories, she said, are the ones that she’ll relish most upon returning home. And even for veteran workshop-goers such as Portland resident William Britton, a 14-year-old who’s been a teen camp participant for four years (and a children’s camp participant for four years before that), it’s the people who bring him back year after year. “I have a good amount of friends here, and the community is a really strong environment,” said Britton, who is playing the Tin Man. While he likes acting, “it’s more about the memories that I build here.”

Still, this acting workshop isn’t all just hanging out with friends — the teens are together for six hours a day for three weeks in preparation for the show, which runs Aug. 12-15, and they have a lot of work to do. Though they’re telling a classic tale, they’re doing it in a new way that utilizes the cast over a set and props, and requires them to be completely dedicated and entirely creative.TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Jamie Lee Hammond helps teach dance steps to William Britton and Fiona McInnis for the Broadway Rose Teen Summer Workshop production of 'The Wizard of Oz.'

“We are doing a version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ that is low on tech and high on imagination. We’re essentially treating it as if a group of teenagers broke into a theater and used whatever they could find to create the world and magic of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” said Director Isaac Lamb. “It’s also allowed the students to take ownership of the show in a more intrinsic way; many of the best, most creative ideas have come directly from them.”

Even as they work through it, the teens themselves are looking forward to finally seeing the completed show, which maintains the original characters, musical numbers and script.

“I’m really excited to see how it turns out because the way the director — Isaac — is doing it, it’s very much a different concept,” said Charlotte Burge, 13, of Tigard, an ensemble cast member. “I’ve seen it done before and it turned out pretty great so I’m interested to see how this will work. It’s gonna be interesting.”

With more actors and fewer props throughout the show, it means that more actors are on stage at any one time than might be in a different production. Not only is this necessary for the show’s success, but it’s one element that helps foster the strong community vibe that the actors share. Whether they’re the lead or an ensemble member, each has a powerful role to play.

“Theater kids are very outgoing and not afraid to be who they are,” said McInnis. “I think that’s what I love about this and about Broadway Rose in general. It’s such an amazing community.” TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The Explosions Group practices during rehearsal for 'The Wizard of Oz.'

See the show

What

The Wizard of Oz

Who

Broadway Rose Teen Summer Workshop

When

Wednesday through Saturday, Aug. 12-15 at 2 p.m.; additional performance at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14.

Where

Broadway Rose New Stage Auditorium, 12850 S.W. Grant Ave. in Tigard

Cost

$10 each, children under 2 sitting on parent's laps are free

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