The Ten Commandments of Rising Stars Week!

Summer is our favorite season here at Rising Stars – it means our camps and theater intensives are just around the corner! This year, we’re very excited to run TWO musical theater programs – the first, our new Musical Theater Intensive for Homeschoolers, runs next week (June 5-9); the second, our traditional Rising Stars Camp, runs July 17-21.

(These two programs have different names but are essentially the same.  They just have different titles because of boring legal reasons that I won’t go into.  All you need to know is that, no matter which of our programs you are enrolled in this summer, your experience will be fun, awesome, educational, empowering, and probably – no, make that definitely – very sweaty.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post entitled The Ten Commandments of Choral Singing.  In that vein, I thought it would be fun to write a similar post for our summer programs.  So, whether you are a seasoned Rising Star, or you’re a new enrollee and aren’t sure what to expect, I give you: The Ten Commandments of Rising Stars Week!

I. Thou shalt arrive each day on time, with thine own music.  At the beginning of every day, we do a vocal warm-up and a physical warm-up.  These are important for preparing your voice, body, and mind for the day’s rehearsal, and if you come late, you might miss them.

You must also remember to bring your own music.  We don’t always have extra copies, and it’s really hard to share music with your neighbor.  Even if your neighbor is your best friend.  Trust me on this.

II. Thou shalt bring a water bottle, and shalt drain and re-fill it at least once during camp.  WATER IS ESSENTIAL.  Let me repeat that for those in the back.  WATER IS ESSENTIAL.  The programs take place during the summer, in a church hall with no air conditioning.  It is hot as you-know-what in there.  You will dehydrate VERY quickly, especially once you start singing and dancing around.  Two full bottles’ worth might sound excessive, but trust me, you will need it.  We don’t want anyone passing out, k?

III. Thou shalt be a respectful cast member.  This means being attentive to the directors and choreographer while they are teaching, raising your hand if you have a question, obeying directives promptly, and maintaining a positive, can-do attitude.  

It also means being supportive of your fellow students, both musically and socially.  We care very much that everyone feels welcomed and included.  If someone looks lonely during lunch, go talk to them.  If your neighbor looks lost during music rehearsal, kindly point out to them where we are.  Do your part to maintain a positive environment.

IV. Thou shalt not touch the piano or any other instruments, unless given permission to do so.  The pianos and keyboards are reserved for staff members only, even when rehearsals are not in session.  As much as we’re glad that you like experimenting on the piano, or showing off your latest rendition of “Heart and Soul” that your uncle taught you over the weekend, we ask you respectfully to refrain.

V. Thou shalt keep track of thine own props and costumes.  Your prop and costume pieces are solely your responsibility, and no one else’s.  Keep them in their designated places, and follow any and all prop and costume protocol that you are given.  Similarly, do not touch anyone else’s props, unless asked to do so.  

VI. Thou shalt practice thy music and choreography at home EACH DAY after camp.  I cannot stress how essential this is.  Typically, our programs consist of 7-10 numbers, and most people are involved in at least 4-5 of them.  Remember, you are trying to learn music and choreography, AND memorize these songs in just five days.  You will be exposed to a lot of music and movement between the hours of 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, and you will need to go home and synthesize it all to ensure that it will be locked in when you return the next morning.

 VII. Thou shalt take care of thy voice.  Just because you should practice every day at home does not mean you need to sing outside of program hours.  In fact, we recommend that you don’t.  You will be using your voice A LOT, and it will need time to recover each evening.  Practice your music silently, by reading or thinking through each song.  If you’re trying to memorize, run through it mentally, or write out the words.  Dance moves can also be practiced in silence.

This also means no screaming/yelling/excessively loud talking of any kind, getting an adequate amount of sleep, eating healthy foods, and avoiding dehydrating beverages like soda and coffee.

VIII. Thou shalt follow the performance dress code, TO THE LETTER.  The dress code is: black bottoms (shorts, pants, or capris), a plain, solid-colored t-shirt or wide-strap tank top, and black footwear that you can dance in (sneakers, jazz shoes, character shoes, etc.).  Historically, the shorts and footwear have not been a problem, but the shirts.  Oh my, the shirts.  

Solid-colored means that the shirt is all one color, with no different-colored layer(s) peeking out at the bottom.  Plain means that it has no logos, screen prints, words, cutouts, ruffles, lace, fringe, glitter, rhinestones, colorful buttons, pictures of unicorns, jingly things, glowing things, flashing things, or weird textures of any kind.  Wide-strap means at least two inches wide.  Ladies also need to watch their necklines.  If your neckline is too low, we will tell you to find a different shirt.

The reasons for our dress code are: 1) a uniform look; 2) comfort and ease of movement; 3) a desire that the audience focus on you, not what you are wearing; and 4) microphone facility – the mics clip onto your shirt and must be as near to your mouth as possible in order to pick up your lovely sound.

IX. Thou shalt follow all mic and backstage protocol as dictated to thee by stage management.  This is self-explanatory.  As much as we all relish a good backstage-disaster story, we’d prefer it not to be from our camp.

X. Thou shalt not talk backstage during the performance.  It doesn’t matter whether you are wearing a mic, or whether that mic is on.  The audience WILL hear you if you talk.  Save your congratulations and inside joke references until after the show.

Above all, we want you to have FUN.  We love Rising Stars Week, and we want you to love it, too.  If there is anything you’re concerned about over the course of the week, PLEASE let us know.  Our staff are amazing, and we are there to help you and provide you with an enjoyable experience!

So now you are all set for the most epic week ever!  We can’t wait to see you all, either next week or in July!

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