“Camp Rock” takes the stage in Blackwood

The Mainstage Center for the Arts production will run from July 18 to 20.

Special to The Sun/ Photo courtesy of Mainstage Center for the Arts

Get ready to rock as Mainstage Center for the Arts presents “Camp Rock, the Musical,” sponsored by Bowman & Co and Grace Construction, from July 18 to 20. The show is based on the Disney Channel’s hit movies, “Camp Rock” and “Camp Rock II: The Final Jam.” It revolves around the beloved camp rock’s battle for survival against the flashy new Camp Star.

For years, Camp Rock has been a haven for young musicians like Mitchie, played by Diana Pinolini of Blackwood, her friend Caitlyn, featuring Lauren Pluta of Runnemede, and brothers Shane, Nate and Jason Gray — originated by the Jonas Brothers — and played respectively by Jared Jefferson of Burlington Township, Brielle Hina of Washington Township and Charlie Bell of Gloucester Township.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to portray Shane Gray.” Jefferson said. “I’ve usually played roles that are a bit of comedic relief so this is new. Our director, Anthony, is wonderful with helping you explore your character, and Lexi, our vocal director, is helping me with those higher notes. It’s more hip-hop than I’ve done, so our choreographers Allison and Kaitlyn, as well as our intern Corinne, are really helping me with that. The cast is great and it’s all coming together.”

“Even though this character is normally played by a male, I’m really enjoying it. Jason is a little goofy, and I normally have those roles,” Hina added. “I like to make people laugh.”

Bell is also having fun portraying his character.

“Nate’s a little awkward and silly,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s a nice change of pace compared to the role I had last year.”

The show begins as Mitchie and friends return for another summer of fun, and are greeted by Camp Rock’s founder, Brown Cesario, who is being portrayed by Breanna Koch of Haddon Heights.

“I’m enjoying this role. Mitchie is easy for me to connect with. Camp Rock was one of my favorites growing up,” Koch said. “I think teens who grew up watching will love it, too!”

Camp Star invites them to a “friendly bonfire.” The camp rockers watch Camp Star’s performance headlined by Luke Williams, portrayed by Anaya Colon of Cherry Hill, who is Camp Star’s top star. Some campers, including former Camp Rock star Tess Tyler, played by Monica Thomas of Sicklerville, decide to ditch Camp Rock and join Camp Star.

Most of the staff also leaves, because Camp Star’s owner Axel Turner, played by Asha Parker of Franklinville, promises to double their salaries. Mitchie and her friends decide they will take it upon themselves to act as Camp Rock’s new counselors.

In the midst of the drama between camps, Nate falls in love with Axel’s daughter, Dana, portrayed by Laura Ahern of Gloucester Township, despite Axel’s efforts to keep them apart.

The show culminates with a showdown between the two camps the Final Jam.

Will Camp Star play fair? Will Camp Rock survive?
Additional characters include: Rosie Day (Kaitlyn Hackett of Sicklerville), Peggy Dupree (Essence Gandy of Sicklerville), Ella Pador (Caroline Corriveau of Plainsboro), Barron James (Sophia Palacio of Blackwood) Sander Loya (Ciara Shea of Blackwood), Andy Hosten (Michael Thompson of Sicklerville) and Georgina Farlow (Emily Williams of Sicklerville).

This production is directed by Anthony Magnotta of Runnemede.

Coincidentally, he played Shane Gray when Mainstage last presented Camp Rock in 2011.

“I hold so many memories from that summer,” he said. “I got to share that experience with people who I continue to call my best friends, and that is something I am enjoying this summer with a brand new generation of rockers as I watch them strengthen friendships! It’s a story about friendship and how music influences friendship and the stakes you will go through to save something that you love so much. This is something both that excited me as a performer in the show and now as the director for it!”

“I also get to work with Kaitlin Fanelli and Allison Shapiro as my two assistant directors, which I am thrilled about,” he added. “I admire them both so much, and I knew I needed them for this show along with our talented musical director Lexi Schreiber!”

Camp Rock features nearly 70 talented young local actors and is filled with great songs, dance, romance and more. Popular songs include “This Is Me,” “Can’t Back Down, “It’s On” and “We Rock.”

Camp Rock runs Wednesday and Thursday, July 18 and 19, 7:30 p.m., and Friday, July 20 at 10:30 a.m. in the newly-renovated, fully accessible Dennis Flyer Theatre, Lincoln Hall at Camden County College in Blackwood. Following the performances the audience may meet cast members in the courtyard on the left side of Lincoln Hall.