Theater camp is Zooming to Snohomish County kids this summer

Edmonds’ Driftwood Players have partnered with Dandylyon Drama to offer an online summer theater program.

Matty Sythadone directed “Monkey in My Bedroom.” (Levi Walker)

Matty Sythadone directed “Monkey in My Bedroom.” (Levi Walker)

EDMONDS — At a time when theaters are closed due to COVID-19, the Driftwood Players have partnered with Dandylyon Drama to offer summer camp via Zoom to kids.

For 10 years, Dandylyon Drama has been bringing the performing arts to elementary and middle school students in Edmonds, Lynnwood, Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline and Woodinville. It has partnered with the Edmonds Driftwood Players on summer camps before.

This summer’s partnership led to two camps featuring the virtual productions of “Monkey in My Bedroom” — which was performed in July — and “Mighty” — to be performed in August — for kids 8 to 12. Auditions, rehearsals and the performances are all online.

“We feel fortunate that we’re able to really turn our mission into action by finding ways to keep kids actively involved in theater-making during these complicated times,” said Dandylyon Drama founder Melani Lyons in a news release. “I’m proud that we are being trusted to offer safe and meaningful summer options to the community.”

“Mighty” is about a lonely girl with a runaway imagination. In her mind, Franky and “The Mighties” take on bullies, her parents and even space pirates. Because The Mighties see and understand her, Franky learns that she has to stay true to herself to make friends.

There are eight spots available for the “Mighty” camp. Rehearsals are scheduled for Aug. 3-20, with a Zoom performance for family and friends on Aug. 21. The deadline to audition for the play is Aug. 2. When you have registered, all audition material will be emailed to you, including a video tutorial on how to submit your best virtual audition.

The playwright, Kaelyn Langer-Mendonca, is a board member for the Edmonds Driftwood Players and also serves as Dandylyon Drama’s education director.

The play “Monkey in My Bedroom” was performed via Zoom on July 9. It’s about a monkey that escapes the local zoo and finds solace in a trickster boy’s closet. But when Bobby tells his family and friends that there is a monkey in his bedroom, they don’t believe him. He’s tricked them one too many times.

That playwright, Frank “Paco” Farnham, has collaborated with the Driftwood Players on several of his original works. His children’s plays also include “The Story of Q,” (2018) and “Toby the Tornado” (2019), which were performed at the Wade James Theater in Edmonds.

Farnham said his latest play was inspired by a song he wrote in 1989 that was also titled “Monkey in My Bedroom.”

Matty Sythandone was selected to direct the play because he is a former member of Driftwood’s Teen Troupe. Now 23, Sythandone credits Driftwood’s summer camp with giving him the confidence to try out for plays at Meadowdale High School.

Sythandone, who earned his bachelor’s degree in musical theater from Cornish College of the Arts, has been teaching with Dandylyon Drama since 2018. “Monkey in My Bedroom” was his first time directing through Dandylyon.

Twelve kids signed up for his Zoom camp.

“Working with the kids through the camera is a great experience, because you’re showing them not just theater tactics but also what it takes to act on a camera, which is a totally different ballgame than if this were to be a play in person,” he said. “You want to do less as an actor on film.”

Lyons told The Daily Herald they recorded two-thirds of the play — so it could be edited before the July 9 performance — and then had the kids do one-third of the production live.

Sythandone live-streamed his director’s introduction for “Monkey in My Bedroom” at the Seattle Repertory Theater — he was dressed up and held a microphone — to make it special for his campers.

“I was crying,” he said, recalling his welcome speech. “My mom was the person who signed me up a long time ago, and now I’m here, it’s like a full circle. It made me really happy to share my love of theater with the youth.”

Lyons founded Dandylyon Drama in 2009 to provide theater opportunities for youth before they get to high school.

When she was a student at Camas High School, Lyons tried out for softball and cheerleading, but didn’t make the cut for either team. Lyons didn’t know where she belonged — until she found the performing arts.

“Even though this is an arts-loving community, schools were completely underserved with zero drama happening,” said Lyons, who also is the organization’s artistic director. “Kids can’t wait until high school to be part of the arts. By then, kids are lost and think that they’re not good at anything, if they hadn’t had an opportunity at an elementary or junior high level.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.

Summer camp

“Mighty: A Virtual Performance” is scheduled via Zoom for Aug. 3-21. For ages 8 to 12. Audition videos must be submitted by 6 p.m. Aug. 2. Once you are registered, all audition material will be emailed to you, including a video tutorial on how to submit your best virtual audition. Camp is 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. A Zoom performance for family and friends is set for Aug. 21. Tuition is $195.

Don’t have kids, but still want to help? Donate to a scholarship fund to help families struggling to find the money for tuition and send a child to summer camp. Email education@dandylyondrama.org if you’re interested in contributing to the fund. If Dandylyon Drama can’t fill all eight spots for the virtual production of “Mighty,” it will have to be canceled.

More information about Dandylyon Drama’s summer camps can be found at dandylyondrama.org/register.

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