The Magic of Theatre: Reflections from a Summer Stars Alum-Turned-Apprentice
"Adventurous theater in Astoria"

-- The New York Times

The Magic of Theatre: Reflections from a Summer Stars Alum-Turned-Apprentice

Stephanie Garace was part of Summer Stars from 2004 to 2007. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania this past May and will be working as a corps member with City Year New York for the 2015-2016 school year. Eventually, she hopes teach full-time.

            Join us, leave your fields to flower

            Join us, leave your cheese to sour

            Join us, come and waste an hour or two…

These lyrics from Pippin’s “Magic to Do” served as a fitting opening to my first Summer Stars showcase back in the summer of 2004; they beckoned me to what would become a lifelong passion for the performing arts. It was the program’s sophomore year, and my first formal introduction to the wonderful world of musical theatre. I was thrilled by the opportunity to combine my interest in singing and acting, and by the chance to share my love of the stage with kids who were just like me. My first year of theatre camp introduced me to songs from Oliver!, Fanny, and Ruthless, and the next three years featured numbers from Anything Goes, Newsies, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Grease, and so many more classics. Summer Stars kick started my dramatic education, and I haven’t looked back since. Fast forward eleven years, and I’m now famous among my friends for an encyclopedic knowledge of all things theatrical and for an unending enthusiasm for live theatre. I’m a thespian through and through, and Summer Stars is where I got the bug.

Eight years after my final curtain call the summer before I started high school, I’m back with APAC, except now I’ve more than outgrown my role of a performer in Summer Stars. As a recent college graduate, I’m now an apprentice, assisting our Program Coordinator Katie in running my beloved theatre camp. It’s surreal returning on the other side of the table, since I remember so crisply what it was like learning new music, running lines ad nauseam, and frantically scrambling to review choreography (I never was a dancer, but you bet I tried my hardest!). But it’s also exciting, and in a different way than it was for me a decade ago. I know what life after Summer Stars is like, and I know that once you get a taste for musical theatre, you can’t live without it. The first day of camp, I looked at our thirty-two students, and I smiled. Some of them might not know it yet, but they’re on the verge of discovering one of their greatest joys in life. Not everyone is going to turn into the obsessive theatre kid I eventually grew up into, but for the handful that do, I am honored to witness and facilitate the beginning of their journey.

“Magic to Do” will always hold a special place in my heart, and not only because Stephen Schwartz writes incredibly catchy music. It will always remind me of my first show with Summer Stars, when I first explored my interest in theatre, where I first got to experience the rush of live performance that I’ve chased ever since. To me, we really did have magic to do on that stage. Now, returning to APAC as an adult, I get to help a new generation realize their passion for the performing arts. And that’s nothing short of magical.

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