“It’s like your life is a musical for a week!”
That’s Andover High School student Tyler Brooke Franssen on Butler Community College’s Showchoir Showcase — and she’s not alone. This year 300 high school students, beginning Sunday, July 17, will live and breathe music and dance for a week, making this the largest-attended session in the camp’s history.
The week-long camp culminates in a public performance by all the campers — not to mention the staff and clinicians — at 4 p.m. on Friday, July 22 in Butler’s gym. The community is encouraged to attend.
This year’s camp theme is “Butler Showchoir Storm!” and attendees will be put through a lyrical bootcamp of sorts with 14-hour days packed with interest sessions, daily workshops, vocal and choreography sessions and more. On the whimsical side of the experience, Channel 12 meteorologist Mark Larsen will talk to campers about the correlations between weather and working as a team in the showchoir setting.
Among this year’s big names are Sergio Mejia, whose resume includes choreography for worldwide Disney events. Kye Brackett, Greg Jasperse, David Moellenkamp are also big names coming in this year. Brackett sings and choreographs for Barry Manilow and is taking a week off to come to El Dorado. Moellenkamp’s groups have won all the top showchoir awards this year, and Jasperse is a recognized name in vocal jazz. Another 15 or so clinicians are dropping their performance lives for a week to join the camp crew.
With nearly 20 years of experience in giving area high school students and teachers the tools to become better singers and dancers, the camp itself is the brainchild of Valerie Mack, artistic director for the Showcase and lead vocal instructor at Butler. Mack takes pride in attracting top-notch talent from across the nation to deliver quality workshops to campers.
Mack also looks forward to unveiling a brand new theme song for the 2011 Butler Showchoir Showcase, as written by long-time camp supporter Greg Gilpin. Dedicated to the Butler campers, it’s called “The Journey” and will be in print early this fall. This is a companion to Gilpin’s previous camp theme, “Why We Sing” which is one of the best-selling pieces written for choirs, also written for Butler’s camp.
For many of the participants, the impact of the showcase is long-lasting, with success stories as far-reaching as Fort Scott-native Spencer Lee, who appeared in the camp talent show, before appearing on several episodes of “Glee” and as a back-up singer for “American Idol” and other Hollywood projects. In the last 19 years, the showcase has even cranked out several campers who’ve gone on to become music educators themselves throughout the region.
“I take my week of vacation from work every summer to come be on staff at the camp,” said Jake Siegrest, Butler Headliner alum and past camper, who now works on the camp staff. “It is truly a life-changing event for the students, teachers and staff. You’d have to experience the camp to understand what a difference it makes in everyone’s life.”
If your jazz hands can’t wait until Friday’s show, check out this batch of photos from the 2010 Showchoir Showcase, “The Road”.