Rifle kids’ theater camp to perform ‘Aladdin Jr.’ at Ute | PostIndependent.com

Rifle kids’ theater camp to perform ‘Aladdin Jr.’ at Ute

Thirty-four kids ages 8-14 participated in Rifle's only kids' theater camp for four weeks. Now, they're showing off what they learned with performances of "Aladdin Jr."
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You Go...

Who: Rifle Theatrical Summer Camp

What: ‘Aladdin Jr.’

When: 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: New Ute Events Center

How Much: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and veterans, $7 for kids. Tickets can be purchased online at http://squ.re/1LZS23U.

The scene at Wednesday’s rehearsal of “Aladdin Jr.” by a new kids’ theater camp in Rifle is similar to most rehearsals two days before opening night: slightly chaotic, with actors pausing on stage to yell a question to their director.

“Where should I put this rock?”


“Where’s the music?”

But anyone who’s spent enough time in theater knows not to panic if the show hasn’t come together by the middle of tech week. By some magic, opening night will run without a hitch (as far as the audience is concerned, at least).

This is one lesson learned by the 34 kids who signed up for the first Rifle Theatrical Summer Camp. The camp ran a total of four weeks and took on kids ages 8-14 from Silt, New Castle, Rifle and Parachute. Put on by Secret Identity Pictures, a local production company run by Brett Lark, the camp is the only one of its kind in western Garfield County.

“There’s nothing like this; there’s no other theater,” Lark said. “I just love theater, and that’s why we started Secret Identity Pictures in the first place. We wanted to bring kids’ theater to Rifle.”

Over the first three weeks of camp, which lasts from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, the kids learned a variety of aspects of theater at Graham Mesa Elementary School. They had classes in dance, acting, singing and art (which helped with the sets they built and the costumes they put together). The final week was spent doing run-throughs of the musical at the New Ute Events Center.

Lark said he envisioned the performance at the Ute from the very inception of his idea for this camp, and the New Ute Theatre Society helped make that vision a reality.

The nonprofit branch of the theater helps with funding certain performances that may need financial help.

“We’re able to help out groups by helping them financially or making sure they can get a booking, a place to rehearse and perform,” said Anna Kaiser with the New Ute Theatre Society. “We did donate to Brett’s production here. He came to us in the spring and said he wanted to do this, and we were all for it. Obviously getting the kids up on stage is awesome, and then bringing in all the parents and groups that might not have otherwise been coming in for movies or concerts is great, too.”

Because of all the sponsorship from the theater society and others, Secret Identity Pictures was able to offer the four-week camp for $125, $135 or $145, depending on when a student registered. Six scholarships were also made available for low-income families.

“We’re just happy to provide more opportunities like this and make it affordable,” Lark said. “It’s way cheap. You can’t even find those prices for day care, plus everything we’re teaching these kids, and the whole experience.”

Garron Snyder, the 12-year-old playing Jafar, said he was thrilled when he heard about the camp.

“I’ve been really missing doing theater, and the second my mom saw this opportunity, I was like, ‘Great, let’s go back out there,’” he said. “It’s just something I have a passion for — and it also prevents me from sitting around all day at home.”

Malory Berrett, the 13-year-old playing Iago, said she’s grown as an actor because of her experience at the theater camp.

“I’ve only ever been in one play,” she said. “I’ve done voice lessons forever, but this has helped me grow in acting and singing.”

Lark said providing opportunities for young people to experience theater is important to him because of his own growth after getting into acting at a young age.

“I really appreciate the presence of theater in my life,” he said. “I feel it helped me develop a lot of personal skills, a lot of social skills, and it allowed me to not be so shy.”

Talking to some of the kids in the camp, those effects of theater aren’t uncommon.

“I felt like before I came here I was out of confidence,” Snyder said. “Some rough things have been happening in my life, and this just kind of helped me realize, ‘This is who you can be.’”

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