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Neverland Theater Company gears up for summer camp

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Last summer, Fife’s Neverland Theater Company had a banner inaugural camp experience for students with the original Hockman and Hockman production of “Sleeping Beauty.” Now getting ready for its second year, Neverland is taking registrations for youth ages 10-18 for this summer’s five-week camp to stage the Hockman and Hockman original offbeat musical comedy “The Temporary Detective.”

Neverland Theater Company was started in 2014 by Columbia Junior High drama instructors (and Fife High graduates) Hayley and Emily Rathburn, who had assumed leadership of the program when Fife drama teachers Dave and Teresa Hockman passed them the torch of Wonderland Theater Company after 26 years of providing area youth with a fun summertime experience in theater. Even though the Rathburn sisters renamed the program Neverland Theater, the Hockmans continue to be involved in numerous ways including contributing “The Temporary Detective” to the program (and their take on “Sleeping Beauty” last year as well).

“Everything we learned, we learned from them,” Hayley Rathburn said of the Hockmans. She noted that “The Temporary Detective” is one of her top favorite plays the Hockmans have written, as both she and Emily took part in its stage production when the two were still youngsters in school.

“I really like it,” Hayley said. “It’s really different and there’s tons of awesome group musical numbers. For musical theater fans, it hits everything you want to see.”

Dave Hockman said “The Temporary Detective” hasn’t been staged since 1994. “We were fairly young into Wonderland Theater then,” he said. “Musicals that you can do with kids are hard to find so I wrote the tunes for this one and Teresa and I wrote the script.” He said he has written two new songs for the production, as well, which is bound to add even more laughs and fun to the story.

Set in the deep South, “The Temporary Detective” tells the tale of a not-too-smart young man who takes a correspondence course to become a detective and, after his first lesson, receives his temporary detective’s badge. Ready to put his newfound “knowledge” to work, he encounters money hungry, moustache-twirling villains, sassy saloon girls, hilarious hillbillies and more in this adventurous musical.

Hayley Rathburn said Neverland Theater Company’s summer camp is perfect for both novices and seasoned stage performers, as the program is structured so that every participant will be challenged. The camp is not just for Fife students but for any student in the area 10-18 years old. No experience in acting, singing or dancing is necessary and no youth are turned away – all comers will be put to work and with a double cast, the maximum number of students will get time on stage. Other benefits of learning theater include developing self-esteem, meeting like-minded friends, exercising the mind and body and gaining experience with teamwork.

“Like we always do, we double cast it so somebody will be one part in one cast and perhaps be a member of the ensemble on their off night so they get to be in even more songs and experience more,” Hayley explained.

She described what students can expect. “It’s like a five-week, jam packed, musical theater experience so you’re going to learn how to dance or if you already know how to dance you’re going to refine your skills or get featured with those skills you already have,” Hayley said. “You’re going to learn lines, so you get memorization skills, presentation skills and speaking in front of a crowd. And then you’re going to learn how to sing songs. We’re going to have live musicians so (the student actors) are going to learn warm-ups and vocal techniques and that kind of stuff.”

The young learners can get technical experience behind the scenes as well such as building sets, learning how to work the ropes and how to operate sound and lighting.

The registration fee is a bargain at just $250 per student (with possible added fee for costumes and additional tickets to performances). The fee includes two complimentary parent tickets and professional cast and individual photos at no cost. “I researched local programs like this and sometimes they charge double what we do for less time, so for everything you get it’s well worth it,” Hayley said.

Registration forms can be found at Columbia Junior High School, Fife High School and the district offices at 5802 20th St. E. in Fife. Or, those interested can visit Neverland Theater Company’s Facebook page “Neverland Theater.”