There’s a new, local theater program with a familiar face at the helm. Westfield High grad and theater alumnus Pat Mitchell is partnering with Creative Dance Center (CDC) to put on Spotlight Theater Camp.
The camp will run Aug. 4-8, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at CDC, 14155-E Sullyfield Circle in Chantilly. For more information and to register, go to www.cdctheater.com. Mitchell’s excited about it and is hoping for a good turnout.
“It’s open to anyone, anywhere, ages 5-18,” he said. “The Fairfax County-run programs wrap up, the end of July, and so does Westfield Summer Stage. So we’re hoping to pick up the kids still looking for something to do at the end of summer.”
Mitchell, who teaches theater arts at Holmes Middle School, is CDC’s program director. He’s in charge of building and guiding its theater program, which is kicking off with the theater camp.
“Then, starting this fall, we’ll spend several months working toward a production,” he said. Selected for the inaugural one is an original, children’s show, “Goldilocks on Trial,” written by Chantilly High Theater Director Ed Monk.
After graduating from Westfield in 2002, Mitchell obtained a bachelor’s in theater at GMU, followed in 2013 by a master’s in educational psychology.
He’s currently working on his Ph.D in education leadership, also at GMU. He taught in Arlington County for a year and has just finished his third year at Holmes Middle in Alexandria, where his students put on a fall play and a spring musical. Mitchell teaches sixth, seventh and eighth grades and, he said, “I get to go to work every day to do something I love.”
What’s on Tap at Theater Camp
Ages 5-8: Young Actors Ensemble
Beginning Acting Techniques, Performance and Rehearsal Experience, Team Work, Communication Skills, Movement for the Actor. Bring two snacks, water and lunch. Week-long Rehearsal with Final Performance
Ages 9-11: Junior Actors Ensemble
Beginning and Intermediate Acting Techniques, Performance and Rehearsal Experience, Technical Theater Workshops including lighting, sound, costume, and set design, Voice and Movement for the Actor, Public Speaking Skills. Bring two snacks, water and lunch. Week-long Rehearsal with Final Performance.
Ages 12-18: Senior Actors Ensemble
Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Acting Techniques, Performance and Rehearsal Experience, Characterization for the Actor, Technical Theater Workshops including lighting, sound, costume, and set design, Voice and Movement for the Actor, Public Speaking Skills. Bring two snacks, water and lunch.
Now, with CDC – which has run a successful dance program in Chantilly since 1986 – he’ll continue his community-theater career. He’s done assistant directing for The Alliance Theatre and was the technical director for Westfield Summer Stage’s recent production of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.”
In addition, Mitchell was the production manager for Synetic Theater and Classika Children’s Theatre, both in Arlington. And he performed professionally in Washington, D.C., and in Ireland with the Keegan Theater.
Although CDC’s dance program is well-known throughout the area, it wanted to broaden its offerings. “One of my co-workers saw Holmes’s show, ‘Aladdin,’ this spring and put me in touch with CDC President/owner Ramona Batchelder,” said Mitchell. “She was interested in starting a theater program, but needed someone who could pull people in from the community.”
The two met in March and the idea started taking shape. “Given the fact that I’m from this area, have strong ties here and believe in the abilities of the students here, it seems like a perfect fit,” said Mitchell. “We’re hoping to build this into not just theater, but a triple threat – an acting, singing and dancing group. I think there’s a high demand for this in this area.”
He plans both fall/winter and spring shows, besides the summer camp. “We want to build the students’ acting skills and confidence levels so they’ll feel comfortable getting up and performing before their peers,” he said. “They’ll focus on creating the main performance, but this program will give them more one-on-one training.”
Initially, said Mitchell, “We’ll concentrate on the base, their acting skills. My hope is that we’ll build toward doing musical performances. I’m really excited about it. It’s something I’m passionate about, but it’s daunting to start my own business. So I’m grateful for this opportunity with CDC and for someone putting their faith in me.”
He also emphasized that people of all ages and acting levels are welcome to participate. “I feel adults in this area are underserved,” he said. “But we’ll take all comers. The more students we get, the more staff we’ll hire.”
And it’s something they’ll be able to continue, all year ’round. During the school year, classes will be held on Sundays: Ages 5-8, from 1-2:30 p.m.; ages 9-11, from 2:30-4 p.m.; ages 12-18, from 4:15-5:45; and adults, from 5:45-7:15 p.m. For more information, see the Website or call 703-405-0868.