On a typical day at The Scene, a musical theater summer camp held at Santa Clara University, a group of students practice a choreographed number in one room. In another room, students gather in a circle for a theater game. In a third room, students create props. Such is the invigorating atmosphere that is part of The Scene.
“We’ve been offering this conservatory program in some capacity for about 30 years, and this is our fifth summer doing The Scene,” says Scott Evan Guggenheim, the executive director of the California Academy for the Creative Performing Arts, the organization that hosts The Scene. “Our intention is to provide students with the opportunity to grow as artists and human beings. We are doing everything we can to allow them to explore the creative arts. There are 30 kids in our program this summer.”
Guggenheim, a Santa Clara University graduate, has staged and produced numerous productions. He produced the original “Schoolhouse Rock Live” and he will be taking “The MeshugaNutcracker!” to New York this winter. Guggenheim works alongside his wife, Shannon, who is a co-director, movement specialist, and choreographer at The Scene.
During mornings at The Scene, Guggenheim’s students, who are from the third grade and up, study acting and movement. “Page to stage” involves script analysis and some experimentation with playwriting. “Stagecraft” allows participants to take a hands-on approach to set and costume design. During afternoons, the young actors and actresses work on rehearsals and general production. At the end of the summer program, students will perform two live musical theater shows of “America Sings.”
“‘America Sings’ is about the Washington Jefferson Franklin Ad Agency, and this agency [has] created a campaign, approved by Lady Liberty, to teach kids about America today,” Guggenheim says. “They go through Columbus to modern day America with music and dance. This story is satirical; it’s a tongue in cheek history lesson.”
“I like getting together with people who like the same things as me,” says Lily, 11, a student in The Scene. “At school, everyone likes pop music, but here, we can sing Broadway music.”
“It’s great to learn new patriotic songs and sing about your country,” says Melina, 10. “What’s nice about The Scene is that you can perform at the level that you like. So if you want to do a solo, they’ll let you do a solo. I will be singing a solo in the song, ‘Americana Medley.'”
“At The Scene, I learned a lot of skills in each aspect of theater- singing, acting, and dancing,” says Gracie, 14, an incoming freshman at Wilcox High School.
On July 30 and July 31, students from The Scene will perform “America Sings” at Santa Clara University’s Recital Hall (inside the music building at the corner of Lafayette and Franklin) at 7 p.m. The show is open to the public and tickets can be purchased by visiting theretrodome.com. Go to thescene.theretrodome.com for more information about The Scene.