ENGLEWOOD — Lemon Bay High School graduate Caitlin Waldrop revisited her theater roots while interning at the Lemon Bay Playhouse, a familiar place since she was 6. Now she’s back and helping a new generation of prospective stars find their voice at the Lemondrops Summer Theater Camp.
“It was a really great thing for me to do, because the playhouse is where I started,” Waldrop said. “I got a scholarship from them when I graduated from high school this year. I’m excited to come back and work where I started.”
The three-week camp, for kids age 7-10, is coordinated by Cheryl Hastings and Patty Tuff, and will wrap up with a public performance on July 27.
“These kids have been great,” Hastings said. “They’re learning more quickly than I thought. They’re all well-behaved, and they’re all eager to learn. You have to start with the basics when you start to teach, like any other actor.”
Hastings said they’ll start from the body and work inside to develop creativity through imagination.
“We learn about our body,” she said. “We learn to relax. If you’re a nervous wreck out there, nothing’s going to come out and then you just build. Acting is like juggling and you have to juggle a lot of different things. Like an imaginary ball, we learned about body then face, voice, projection, articulation and blocking before you know it, you’re juggling all these balls.”
Hastings said she chose the theater because it staved off boredom with her daily activities. Honing her skills helped her stay sharp.
“The one thing I hope kids come away with this is that if they want to do this, go and do it and do the best you can,” she said. “Keep working on it.”
Tuff said the camp works because she and Hastings complement each other’s skills.
“My strength is definitely body movement,” she said. “I saw my weakness is some of the technical aspects of the stage which Cheryl has the strength at.” One thing Tuff said she wished she understood better was the role actor awareness plays on the stage.
“I think it’s really hard to understand how everybody else’s parts affect you and how you affect everyone else,” she said. “I think when you’re young, you don’t think in those ways. So hopefully, we’re sharing that with them.”
Waldrop said she feels like a camp counselor.
“When they do their performance at the end of camp, I will be considered a stage manager, because I will be giving them queues and directing them backstage,” she said. “I kind of like doing everything (on the stage). When I was at Lemon Bay (High School), I had many different roles in the department. I was head of our scenery department. I was assistant stage manager twice. I’ve been on stage in almost every single show we’ve done.”
Waldrop said the camp offers a refresher course for her on theater fundamentals and provides her a teaching opportunity as she considers a career in the arts.
“I started doing camps here when my mom directed them,” she said. “I went to the high school level and I feel like here is where I learned so much. I think the most difficult for me at first was taking direction because I’m such a strong-willed person that I want to do what I think is correct. But when you’re in a theater setting, you need to be able to take direction because your way isn’t always the correct way.”
Waldrop said she plans to attend State College of Florida to earn her liberal arts degree. Afterwards, she has her sights on New York for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.