Spectators had the opportunity to “Zoom” in to watch this year’s Camp Hippodrome participants as they performed a choreographed dance routine to a “Hairspray” medley. The live performance took place Thursday, July 9, 2020 from the homes of the campers, and epitomized the old showbiz saying, ‘the show must go on.’
Sponsored in part by JP Morgan Chase and the PNC Charitable Trust, Camp Hippodrome offers two, one-week programs every summer. The camp’s second week culminated with the memorable dance routine, which the campers performed via the software platform Zoom.
Leading up to the ‘Grand Finale’ of this year’s Camp Hippodrome, middle school students in Baltimore City and Baltimore County logged into Zoom for musical workshops, choreography training, and career sessions for campers to learn more about future career opportunities in theatre.
Camp Hippodrome is a free program that provides students with the opportunity to receive professional instruction during the summer at the Hippodrome Theatre.
Following the performance, Jeremiah Sutton, Constance Tittle, and Bailey Cordell, talked about participating in this year’s Camp Hippodrome, which could not be held at The Hippodrome due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Me and the other kids all have one thing in common, and that is that we all wanted to come to camp,” said Jeremiah, who attends Sudbrook Magnet Middle School.
Jeremiah also talked about “Hairspray,” the Broadway musical based on John Waters’ 1988 film of the same name.
“The message of Hairspray is really good,” said Jeremiah. “People will realize how long ago it was written, and see in real life it is happening right now.”
Constance attends Ridgely Middle School.
“Ever since I was little, I have wanted to sing and reach out to people and connect with people,” said Constance, who is participating in the camp for the third time. “Virtual camp was more than I expected. This is better than being there for me. This virtual camp is just so amazing, and I just thank God for Wi-Fi.”
This year marked Bailey’s first time participating in Camp Hippodrome.
“I have always liked to perform,” said Bailey who attends Pine Grove Middle School. “It’s a great way to connect with people, a great way to communicate through art, and a great way to get your feelings and thoughts across without being super bland.”
She added, “It gives us something fun to do. They [Camp Hippodrome] tell us about unions, we meet special guests, we learn about monologues and things we are supposed to do. They help us so much and it is a great experience for anyone who wants to be an actor. Despite being miles away, we still did fun things and managed to create this great environment.”
Olive Waxter is the executive director of The Hippodrome Foundation.
“We have this incredible, most beautiful resource in the state of Maryland,” said Waxter. “It’s a little frustrating—we all have to be safe and follow the rules. But I am proud of them and they have risen to the challenge. I know they would prefer to be here at The Hippodrome.”
When asked if she questioned whether or not Camp Hippodrome would take place this year,
Waxter said: “I really had doubts about a virtual camp. But, I knew we had to do something. I had doubts about if we would be able to establish the relationships, and if the intimacy would be the same. But computers, digital and screens are something the kids understand better than we do.”
She added, “It has been quite a surprise. I was a doubter and I should not have been. It has been a fun experience seeing the kids get better and better with their skills. They are all gutsy. My favorite moment is always the finale. I love to see the kids having fun. That’s what this is all about. This year was kind of emotional.”
Barb Wirsing is the Education Director of The Hippodrome Foundation.
“I usually have my Kleenex,” said Wirsing. “They are just incredibly talented youth. It brings me to tears.”