Youngsters learn how to put on a show at St. Aloysius theater camp

JACKSON — St. Aloysius Church, Bennetts Mills Road, recently hosted 32 stars-in-the-making when the youngsters took part in the St. Aloysius Kids Musical Theater Camp.

Under the direction of Mater Dei Prep music teacher and play director Cindy Dwyer, campers between the ages of 8 and 15 had a lot of fun while learning about what goes into the making of a theater production.

The youngsters learned about audition techniques, vocal production, how to “act” a song and basic dance steps. Campers also assembled props and costumes and then learned how to put it all together to make a show, according to a press release.

Dwyer was assisted by returning counselor Samantha Amaral, a graduate of Hofstra University who has choreographed and performed in more than 35 shows, including some for Jackson Memorial High School.

Her choreography for “Cabaret” and “Seussical” was nominated for the outstanding choreography award by the New Jersey Theater Association. She also won last year’s Basie Award for outstanding choreography in a high school musical. Amaral has just completed a year of dancing in the national tour of “Sesame Street Live.”

New to the camp this year was acting coach Jessica Brown, a 2011 graduate of Quinnipiac University with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and New Jersey teaching certification. Brown is an experienced actress, an English teacher, theater teacher, play director and drama club adviser.

Several weeks prior to the start of the camp, a Good Samaritan came forward and offered to sponsor two campers. This kind act was typical of the generosity of the parishioners who attend St. Aloysius, as people are encouraged to help their neighbors whenever and wherever possible, according to the press release.

The two-week camp culminated in a performance showcase for family members and friends, featuring songs from Broadway shows such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Little Musical” and “High School Musical.” Campers received a T-shirt and a DVD of their final performance.