NEWBURGH - For close to an hour Saturday afternoon guests were able to experience the sights, sounds and wonders of The Big Easy, New Orleans that is!
Seventeen youth, ages 5-12 took the Aquinas Hall stage at Mount St. Mary College to showcase the culmination of two weeks of very hard work and passion. It was here that the Voices of Hope Music Performance Camp put on the original musical review: "Stone Gumbo-A Day in New Orleans." Using dance, assorted genres of music, storytelling, Shakespeare and puppetry, campers celebrated the history and culture of one of our country’s most beloved spots, known for its cultural diversity and good times.
Voices of Hope, a missionary of Newburgh’s St. George’s Episcopal Church, runs a year-round performance program. The summer component, from June 30th until July 12, just wrapped up its second year. After achieving good success in its inaugural summer, the ante was raised this year.
"This year, we definitely challenged the kids, vocally, theatrically and creatively, as we wanted to give them a whole experience," said Lana Williams-Scott, Program Director. "The best experience was bringing kids from all walks of life together, and it was only appropriate that the Director, Cabot Parsons, chose New Orleans as the setting because of this diversity."
Those students hailed from five different towns, located in two counties, Orange and Ulster. Their hard work and passion for their crafts were evident Saturday, as they took part in four different scenes. As Folk, Zydeco, Swing, Jazz and Blues melodies filled the air, the talented contingent showcased an assortment of creative talents. One of those participants was David Leino of Newburgh, who will be entering the sixth grade in the fall. New to the theater scene, Leino looked like a seasoned professional. Dressed as a witch doctor in the "Twilight Bayou Tales" segment, Leino dazzled the audience with his "I put a Spell on You" singing performance.
"I really liked being able to be someone I’m not," said Leino about his "Stone Gumbo" debut. "It’s also nice to then go back to being myself; it’s just a lot of fun."
Also enjoying herself was Jada Moody of Newburgh. Moody, who will be entering the fourth grade at Meadow Hill Elementary in the fall, came to the Music Performance Camp with an experienced dancing background. Testing out her acting skills for the first time, she instantly felt at home with her newly acquired skill.
"I love that my parents and family get to see me on stage," exclaimed an excited Moody. "The best part about the whole experience, is you get to be a star for the day."
For other participants, the experience had a still further impact.
Michelle Urbanski of Walden, came to the Camp with a singing background. After the two weeks, she quickly caught the "acting bug."
"I want to continue to do acting in the future," said Urbanski. "Even though I met people here for just a couple of weeks, I learned you can still get very close to them; I have the phone numbers of several of them to stay in touch with."
Other "Shing Stars" rounding out the cast included; Joshua Alicea, Zachary Chester, Reni Gibson, Toni Gibson, Janaesia Lynch, William Mensah, Devin Moody, Jostin Prado, Michelle Prado, Laila Riley, Daniella Seymour, Chandler Scott, Kayleigh Timber, and Dominique Wheeler. Alice Shane served as the Music Director, Caryn Bartley the Camp Coordinator and Andrea Cesar the Choreographer.
To learn more about Voices of Hope or register someone in one of its programs, contact Williams-Scott at: 845-249-8343 or come to rehearsal Monday evenings from 5:30-6:30 at St. George’s Church, 105 Grand Street, Newburgh, and register in person.