Summertime drama 0
Debbie Zepick, far left, demonstrates to her cast how she wants them to act during one of the scenes in Tumbleweeds.
For most kids summer is all about having fun, forgetting everything their teachers taught them, taking family trips to the lake, spending days lounging by the pool, and seemingly endless hours of doing absolutely nothing.
But for some, lazy days in the sun just aren't exciting enough.
This is where Debbie and Dean Zepick come in.
Down a quiet range road out in the country, teenagers are rehearsing lines, preparing choreography, perfecting pitch and working long hours to put together a full stage production in only one week.
"We've got four days to pull together a two-hour, full length musical," said Daniel Allers, one of Zepick's former students, who now helps behind the scenes with production. "It's a lot of work but a lot of fun too."
Zepick began the camp in 2006 as a way to provide homeschooled children with an opportunity to be involved in drama productions all year.
"(Dean and I) really enjoy working with the young people and doing musicals with them," said Zepick. "I said 'wouldn't it be fun if we could do a camp and spend a whole week of concentrated effort.'"
In the first year, Zepick had her doubts whether or not her group of kids could pull off a production of this size in such a short amount of time, but it turns out they were up for the challenge.
"It was great and I realized it actually could be done," said Zepick.
From Sunday to Thursday, the kids work tirelessly with Zepick and her many helpers, practicing dance numbers, rehearsing songs, and perfecting lines. Some of the actors with solos even put in extra time outside group rehearsals to be as ready as they can for the opening show.
This year's group isn't any different. After only one day of rehearsals, Zepick can tell they're going to be phenomenal.
"They're doing a great job," she said. "There's some brand new kids but there's also some who've been in many, many performances."
This July, Zepick and her crew are presenting Tumbleweeds. Based on the comic strip, which first appeared in the 1960s, this adaptation is all about having fun for the cast, as well as the audience.
"It's always nice to see it's been a quality production and the audience has enjoyed themselves," said Allers. "It gives people a real taste of what theatre is."
While rehearsing the closing musical number of Act 1, Zepick shouts to her cast to up the "cheese" factor. This means making over-exaggerated gestures, pronounced body language, and a whole lot of goofy.
If it's not filled with cheese, the audience might think we're being serious, said Zepick to her cast.
The group gets set up for another run through, and this time they seem to understand what Zepick is really looking for. As they march around Tumbleweed, the main character, they heave their fists in the air, singing with enthusiasm and energy.
July 9 was the first day of rehearsals and already it's possible to see a show coming together. It's easy to imagine these kids on opening night, in full costume, portraying the silly folk of the old frontier.
"It's just a good old western," said Allers. "And hey, it's Alberta."
The show opens July 13 at 1:30 p.m. at Asker Church, Hwy 53 east and north on Range Road 232. There will also be a 7 p.m. evening show and another afternoon matinee at 1:30 p.m. July 14.