If one is looking to define “cacophony,” there wouldn’t be much need to look farther than the summer workshop at On Stage.
After all, gathering 27 children between the ages of 8 and 12 and trying to organize them into any semblance of order is a good way to find the true meaning of the word — loud, confused, and usually inharmonious sound, according to Webster.
“It’s a lot of controlled chaos,” Marc Hammes, director of the workshop at On Stage Monroe, said.
But turn on the stage lights and start the show and those kids are suddenly ready to go, singing and dancing like seasoned professionals.
It’s all part of the magic at On Stage, the community playhouse which holds several summer day camps for kids throughout the season to teach them about the basics of theater, and instill in them the joy of putting on a show.
“We teach them the basics of acting and what it’s like to be in a performance,” Hammes said.
This means a run-down, condensed into a week of rehearsals, of theater lingo, basic theatrical protocol, acting lessons, singing lessons, choreography practice and much, much more.
Some of that includes behind-the-scenes work, too, as the young actors also get a chance to explore backstage and even up in the booth for some theater tech training.
“We give them a taste of theater tech — how to run the lights and the sound and so forth,” Hammes said.
But most of the focus is, as the name of the organization states, on stage, as the kids spent the week working to put together a short musical to perform Saturday for their parents and families.
This year’s show was “Snow White and the Seven Dorks,” a modernized re-telling of the fairy tale in which Snow White finds herself banished to the same table as seven dorks and must find herself in the process.
The kids inhabiting the characters said it was a funny, entertaining play.
“It’s going really good,” Alida Knobloch, 9, who played Snow White in the show, said. “There’s a lot of great stuff in it.”
Alida said this was her fifth workshop at On Stage and said she really enjoyed hitting the stage and spending time with the other theatrical types at the day camp each year.
“Everyone is really nice,” Alida said. “It’s never boring.”
Jackson Rutledge, 12, plays the prince in “Snow White and the Seven Dorks” and said he enjoyed the camp, even with a few difficulties in the show now and then.
“We have a dance that’s pretty hard,” Jackson said. “But it’s going well.”
Jackson said he was in a previous show at On Stage but this was his first summer workshop and he really got a lot out of it.
“We’re all having a good time,” Jackson said. “It’s a really great experience.”
Hammes said with kids like that in his ensemble, it was easy to teach them the joys of the theater.
“This group is amazing,” Hammes said. “They’re energetic and they’re passionate about performing.”
Hammes said that’s helped by having a strong mix of veterans and newbies.
“There’s kids here who have done three or four workshops before, some of them since they were 5, but we have a lot of new kids, too. They’re all excited to be here.”
Hammes just hopes everyone leaves the workshop feeling the same way as Jackson, who is already interested in doing more at On Stage in the future.
“I love the theater,” Jackson said.