TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The beach is always a great, traditional summer destination for the whole family, but day-after-day it can get a bit redundant, especially in the evening.
Seeing this, Robert Wright, retired University of Alabama treasurer and vice president for financial affairs, had a vision that the University bring some thespian entertainment to Gulf Shores during the summer to light up the night with drama and fill up part of the days with fun and youth development.
And 16 years ago, both the SummerTide Theatre Camp and the SummerTide Show were born.
For three weeks starting June 4, Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, youth in kindergarten through 12th grade will have the opportunity to join UA’s SummerTide Theatre Camp at South Baldwin Community Theatre and learn story theater, dance and music.
There are no age restrictions, but students must know how to read and take direction.
“This began 16 years ago as a way of getting the talent of the UA theater program out into a different part of the state,” said Stacy Alley, director of SummerTide, an associate professor of musical theatre and dance and director of musical theatre at UA.
“It’s not just for local kids but those who come for vacation,” she said. “We have students who’ve come for many years back-to-back as a tradition. So, we get to see some kids grow and change and go on to other things.”
At the culmination of each week, the students will perform a play to demonstrate what they learned.
The camp’s sessions are from June 4-8 for beginners, June 11-15 for intermediate level and June 18-22 for advanced.
The cost of the camp is $100 per child per week. The camp’s counselors will be UA theater, dance and band students who during the day run the camp, but by night, starting May 31 and ending June 28, they perform in the SummerTide Show.
This year the show is “Forever Plaid,” an Off-Broadway musical about a high school musical quartet who dreams of recording an album.
The shows will be performed at 8 p.m. nightly Tuesday through Saturday and at 4 p.m. on Sundays. Each show is 90 minutes and features four theatre and dance students and three band students.
“Most of our shows are lighthearted and family friendly,” Alley said. “Bob Wright’s vision was for families at the beach to have something to do after dinner.
“I find quite often that our students will go in and not realize how rewarding it is to be a camp counselor. They audition for the SummerTide Show, which is a professional credit for them, but they often say that the most rewarding part of the experience for them was teaching the camp.”
Ticket prices for “Forever Plaid” are $20 for adults and $15 for children 16 and under.
“It’s a very exciting time for our students and the University. It’s great for theatre and dance students to give back to the community, be creative and direct a small project.”
For more information and to pre-register, go to https://summertide.org/theatre-camp/. Pre-registration is not required.