GYPSUM — “Guard — take that sword out of your ear!” scolded Jillian Kiss, assistant director of “Aladdin Jr.”
The Porchlight Players Children’s Summer Theater Camp participants take the directors’ notes very seriously, but they are still kids, and sometimes the props are distracting.
The camp is three weeks long and culminates with a public performance at Gypsum’s Lundgren Theater at 7 p.m. Friday. Everyone is invited to join the 35 cast members for an Arabian night complete with a magic carpet, a genie, a monkey, a villainous bird and a romantic story.
The group consists of children going into fourth through ninth grades, and they have been practicing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week since school let out.
“One of my favorite lines is when Genie says, ‘Phenomenal cosmic powers — itty bitty living space!’” said Keith Buckelew, 13, who landed a role in Porchlight’s adult Valentine’s Day performance of “The Full Monty” last February. He plays the character of Aladdin in this production.
“Genie is a big character,” said Ashlyn Laidman, 13, who plays Genie. “This character has the most attitude of any I’ve ever played.”
Jackson Vincent, 12, is playing Sultan, Princess Jasmine’s father.
“I’m always a dad,” he said.
“That’s because he’s so chill,” said Haley Carpenter, 13, who plays Jasmine.
Many of the kids have been in multiple productions together.
“We’re all really used to each other,” said Bronwyn Crick, 12, who plays Iago, the villainous parrot.
“It’s kind of annoying to be doing this with my sister,” joked Crick’s brother, Lachlan Crick, 10. “I’m the lead guard, who is also an evil character, so we share a lot of scenes and we’re always next to each other, which kind of stinks.”
There are things Lachlan Crick enjoys about the role, though.
“I get to be stupid and evil, and people still respect me even though I’m stupid,” Lachlan said.
Director Ann Olin said she has more siblings participating in this year’s camp than ever before.
“We have half a dozen sibling groups in it together this year,” she said. “I think it’s a good sign that kids are enjoying it and their siblings want to join them.”
‘Labor of love’
Several campers have returned to volunteer for the program after aging out of it, which is the case with Kiss and others.
“[Buckelew] has already asked me if he can come back and help next year,” Olin said.
This is the seventh year the Porchlight Players, a community theater group, has done the camp.
“This is my labor of love,” Olin said. “It’s a fundraiser for us and it’s a way to give back to the community.”
The performance is free to spectators. The camp costs $325 for participants.
“That works out to $20 a day, which is cheaper than a baby sitter,” Olin said. “Any money we get goes back into the program. This year, we have 15 body microphones and the first year we didn’t even have a regular microphone.”
Scholarships are also available for those who can’t afford the camp otherwise.
“Pretty much anyone who wants to do it and is signed up before space runs out gets in,” Olin said. “The Eagle River Foundation has supported us the last five or so years for the scholarships and the town of Gypsum helps by waiving the fee for the theater. We couldn’t do this without them.”
She said the Porchlight Players start taking registrations for the camp in the beginning of March and the roster fills up by the end of the month.
“It’s first-come, first-served and preference is given to those who have done the camp before,” Olin said.