by Danny Foner
As a high school student returning to school, I'm faced with the same question countless times: how was your summer? Well...
This past summer, I was fortunate enough to attend the CAP21 Pre-College Musical Theater and College Audition Prep program. This musical theater program is offered to rising juniors, seniors, and college freshmen at the CAP21 conservatory in New York City. For five weeks, I, along with eighty others, attended classes on singing, dancing, and acting for eight hours a day, five days a week. By the end of the first week, I realized that the program is described as an "intensive" for a reason. However, this time was also some of the most rewarding of my life. By the end of the program, I felt as if the five weeks had lasted both a lifetime and a nanosecond.
Though many factors contributed to this experience, one group of incredible individuals cannot be overlooked: my teachers. Across all nine of my classes, the constant ingredient was the dedication and expertise of the instructors. Every single teacher had years, sometimes decades of experience on Broadway, national tours, television, or with other professional work. Not only was the talent of the teachers world-class, their ability to imbue students with a rich depth of knowledge was unbelievable. The quality of instruction opened my eyes to countless new techniques, philosophies, and skills in the fields of singing, acting, and dancing.
The excellent instruction was fully matched by a sterling curriculum. In acting, improv, and monologues class, we learned to find and trust our instincts as actors, as well as mental and physical techniques for creating a three-dimensional, real character. In vocal technique, vocal performance, and audition technique classes, we learned the basis of proper singing technique, and applied these skills (as well as our acting skills) to the performance of a song. In tap, ballet, and jazz classes, we were both supported and challenged to learn new skills and apply them to demanding routines. For instance, my tap teacher, Geoff, who just so happened to be the dance captain for the recent Mary Poppins musical, taught us the original choreography to "Steppin' Time," a number in which jolly chimney sweeps tap dance across the rooftops of London. At CAP21, amazing teachers combine with an outstanding array of classes to produce an unforgettable experience.
However, the classes themselves only tell part of the story. This program was also an incredible opportunity to meet amazing new friends and witness some great performing art. Hailing from Argentina to New York to California and everywhere in between, we were an eclectic mix of students. Nonetheless, our shared love of theater was the glue that forged many friendships. Although I only knew them for a few weeks, I feel as if I've known some of these friends for years. Every single classmate I met was kind, friendly, and extremely talented. I have many fond memories of my friends over the summer, including some of the theater we saw. I'm not sure if you're aware, but there's a small thoroughfare in New York City that is known for putting on a good show once in a while. You probably haven't heard of it, it's called Broadway. With cheap student-rush tickets in hand, we sampled many of the local shows, including the hilarious Potted Potter, the witty First Date: the Musical, and Fuerza Bruta, an immersive piece of performance art that is as close to indescribable as I've ever seen.
All in all, I guess you could say I had a pretty good summer. If you have a passion for musical theater, I highly recommend this program (if you couldn't tell already). Now it's your turn: how was your summer? Are you excited for fall, or wistfully pining for the sunny days of August? Let me know via Facebook!