, Muskogee, OK

June 27, 2013

MLT campers put on a show

By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Carly Johnson and Connor Lynch have similar reasons for going to the Muskogee Little Theatre Summer Camp.

Connor, a seventh-grader at Alice Robertson Junior High, said he’s been going to the camp for the last five years.

“My first year we did ‘Schoolhouse of Rock,’” Connor said. “I knew then I would be coming back. Since I love acting, this is a great place for me to be. It gives me something to do besides sit on the couch and be a lump.”

The campers work on their craft during the camp, and perform in a play as the culmination of their work. This year’s play is “Godspell Jr.,” which McGill said is a family-friendly show based on the parables of Jesus.

The play, which features more than 50 youths who participated in the camp, opened Thursday night. Its remaining performance times are 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 and only available at the door.

Carly, an eighth-grader at AR, said the camp is “really fun.”

“This is my fourth year,” Carly said. “I just keep coming back. It’s a family that you keep getting to come see, and it’s my second home. It keeps me out of trouble in the summer.”

The camp, which provides intense theater training for four weeks in the summer, is put on by the Muskogee Little Theatre and directed by Penny McGill, a drama and theater teacher at Muskogee High School.

McGill said the camp runs the gamut of theater and gets it done in just four hours a day.

“They are learning about everything from stagecraft to theater and show history,” she said. “They also get mini-workshops in dance and song. There is a lot of stuff crammed into these four weeks.”

To call the campers to order, Avery Frix, the production director, led them in a round of response clapping, which quieted them and got them to their places on stage for rehearsal.

McGill said the campers, who are ages 6 to 16, can get a bit antsy.

“We try to keep them engaged at all times,” she said. “We have a lot of activities for them to do. They help with costume and set design, and we try to make it a very positive experience.”

The camp also provides scholarships for students who aren’t able to pay to enter.  McGill said that to her knowledge, anyone who has applied for a scholarship has not been turned down.

“We do have a waiting list every year for campers,” she said. “But we’ve not had to turn away scholarship requests for those who make it in. Hopefully, once we get into a new facility, we can start camps for specific age groups and fit more campers in.”

Connor, who will also be trying out for the basketball team at AR in the fall, said one of the draws of the camp is how nice the staff is.

McGill said that’s because her counselors are mostly former attendants of the camp.

“All of our counselors are highly trained and love what they do,” she said. “Our mission is to keep community theater going. With all the cuts in school budgets, there aren’t a lot of performing arts opportunities for our kids. We’re trying to be an outlet for that.”

Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or

If you go

WHAT: Muskogee Little Theatre 2013 Summer Youth Camp presentation of “Godspell Jr.”

WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Muskogee Little Theatre, 325 E. Cincinnati Ave.

COST: $10 per person.