Curtain Call Performing Arts Center presents its summer series

Mt. Laurel has no shortage of sports leagues and day camps to entertain its youth. But until 2011, those looking to be involved in theater had to look to other townships such as Cherry Hill or Voorhees. Curtain Call Performing Arts Center has filled that void and hopes to continue its already rapid growth.

“I live in Mt. Laurel, my kids go to school here, so it was definitely my goal to start a program here. And, so far, the response has been great,” CCPAC founder and director Anne Kessler said.

The annual camp will present “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” and “Willy Wonka” on Aug. 6, 7, 8, and 9 at the Hartford School with shows at both 1 and 7 p.m.

CCPAC, now in its third year, is home to more than 40 aspiring actors and actresses spanning in age from 5 to 16, from all across Burlington County. Kessler started the program after her position in the Berlin school district was cut to part time.

“It was something I had thought about doing, but when that happened, I said now is the time,” Kessler said.

Kessler said the environment and the experience the kids have is what keeps the camp growing.

“Our №1 goal is that they’re having fun. My hope is if you asked everyone here that they would say they love being here. I wanted our program to be different than the ones that are highly competitive or stressful,” Kessler said. “We emphasize quality performances and give kids of all experience levels sessions in voice, acting and dance.”

Another aspect of CCPAC is taking its members on a trip to New York City to see a show on Broadway. Earlier this summer, the kids attended “The Actor’s Workshop” to receive lessons in voice, acting and choreography with Thayne Jasperson, a New York veteran who has performed in many shows both on and off Broadway. The group then joined Jasperson at The Shubert Theatre to see the actor and his cast mates in “Matilda,” one of Broadway’s newest hits.

“It was an amazing opportunity for them. Everyone really enjoyed the entire day,” Kessler said.

The theater group also hosted another professional actor, Curt Foy, who led a “Stage Combat” workshop.

“Curt was great. He acted as our stunt coordinator and taught the kids how to prepare for stage fighting,” Kessler said. “His workshop was another invaluable tool for the campers as they prepare for their two big end-of-season productions.”

Even with the positive feedback the program has received and the help from the Hartford School, Kessler hopes to expand to a year-round schedule and beyond.

“Ideally, I’d love to get to the point where we have our own space and are able to offer classes not only in theater but the tech side as well. Lighting, sound and set building classes would be great,” Kessler said.

Hartford School is located at 397 Hartford Road. Tickets can be purchased by calling 287–5014. For additional information on Curtain Call Performing Arts Center, visit the website at www.curtaincallperformingartscenter.com.