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Kids can finish summer in the spotlight at free musical theater camp in Astoria

APAC_SummerStars
Photo: Bradley Hawks/Astoria Performing Arts Center

Every August, Astoria gets dazzled by a bit of Broadway — and we don’t mean the neighborhood’s subway stop.

Queens kids ages 8 to 13 with a passion for performance can try out for Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC)’s 14th annual Summer Stars program, a free musical theater camp running from Aug. 15 to 26 at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent St.

Young talent of all experience levels can audition with a song of their choice at Good Shepherd between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Aug. 6. Summer Stars will culminate in public performances on Aug. 27 at 4 and 6 p.m. (Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $5 for children)

Around 30 campers will spend two weeks playing theater games, developing basic vocal technique and learning light choreography. Summers Stars’ public performance — billed in past summers as an “original cabaret” — will include both musical theater hits and pop song favorites chosen by the camp’s teaching artists.

In her second year as APAC’s artistic director, Dev Bondarin sees one of the program’s strengths as ensemble building, where kids become team players within a creative context.

“Having seen the program last year and how successful it was, I was really interested in adding an element to the performance that included some student-devised material,” Bondarin said. This summer, campers might collaborate with the teaching artists to contribute original scenes and song lyrics.

APAC, an award-winning off-Broadway theater and community arts organization, also offers stage time to local seniors ages 60 and older through its Senior Stars program.

According to Susan Scannell Gilbert who founded APAC in 2001, participants’ no-cost access to both Stars programs has always been important.

“Queens has such vast diversity, not only nationally, but economically as well,” Gilbert said in an email. “It’s so important that everyone have the chance to enjoy the arts.”

Summer Stars receives public funding from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department for Youth & Community Development, partnered with the City Council and Councilman Costa Constantinides.

“The funding that we get for the program has continued to come through, because I think [our finding partners] know that this is a quality program,” Bondarin said.

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