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Teens prepping to make a musical in Lambertville at Playhouse camp


Summertime Sondheims?

“Who knows who we will discover?” muses musical composer/lyricist Kate Brennan, who will join playwright/director David Lee White in “Making a Musical: New Theater Workshop for Teens,” a Bucks County Playhouse summer camp for kids running for two weeks beginning July 8 at Lambertville Hall in Lambertville.

The tuneful twosome doesn’t expect to produce a little night music — the workshop sessions are held, after all, during the day and, once all is said and sung, Sondheim was a one-of-a-kind talent, acknowledges Brennan. Still, the concept of teens teeming with talent creating a show side by side with Brennan and White is a tantalizing prospect for potential Broadway musical wannabes.

And they will be making book on “Book of Wonder,” the in-development Brennan/White show that will form the musical backdrop for the workshop teens’ efforts in vocals, writing, acting, improv and song development.

Working workshops with kids is nothing alien to the two writers/musicians, both 2023 Jonathan Larson Grant finalists, whose “Alien8” developed into quite a hit when it was produced and staged by the BCP Youth Company last year.

“Book of Wonder,” which is based on a book penned by Brennan and White, has its own novel plotline, that of a town stuck in silence since their fabled storyteller — whose stories allow the townspeople to fall asleep at night —abandoned them.

More than anything, Brennan and White keep to their belief in the role of theater as nurturer of young talents with stories to express.

And what’s this twosome’s own story? Theatrical teammates for the past seven years since working together at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, the two also work independently and have built bios that bulge with accomplishments as artists and educators. But giving voice to the upcoming generation generates, perhaps, their most noble of needs.

“We like to rely on young people to fill roles in our work. Their voices are authentic, important,” notes White, of those teens he considers “evolving artists.”

And where better, says White, to display their talents than in a county and at a theater that have provided an evolution for the arts over the years — and with assistance from two BCP instructive icons — Michaela Murphy, director of education, and Ellen Galosi, assistant director.

“The Playhouse has a shocking history” — in the best sense of the word, notes White — with its history of histrionics staged by the most prominent people in theater. It is amazing, he adds, “to sit in a theater, work on a stage, where Harpo Marx once sat, or Neil Simon worked.”

And what better way to accomplish it all as a collage of creativity than with college-age kids (and younger) putting it all together.

Perhaps one of Brennan’s earlier musicals says it all when it comes to staging a workshop for a work in progress. And that musical? “Some Assembly Required.”

Michael Elkin is a playwright, theater critic and novelist who lives in Abington. He writes columns about theater and the arts.

If you go

“Making a Musical: New Theater Workshop for Teens” will be staged for two weeks, July 8-12 and July 15-19, by the Bucks County Playhouse at Lambertville Hall in Lambertville.

To register, go to:

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