What could be more entertaining than two summer camps of music-loving teenagers having a rockin,’ jammin’ battle over which camp has the most talent?
The rivalry begins when teenagers return to Brown Cesario’s Rock Camp for the summer to find that a former rock star, Axel Turner, is trying to lure the Camp Rock group to his new Camp Star, forcing Cesario to close his camp.
“Camp Rock, The Musical” is based on the Disney channel movies “Camp Rock” and “Camp Rock 2, The Final Jam.” The high energy show features “Can’t Back Down,” “It’s On,” “We Rock” and “This is Me.”
“Camp Rock, The Musical” opened Friday at The Theatre in the Park. The show is rated G.
“This show features some of the most talented high school students in Johnson County,” said Director Mark Swezey, longtime director of theater at Shawnee Mission South High School and at The Theatre at the Park.
“It is a classic story of rivalry and power that highlights the importance of loyalty in our ever-changing world, and fighting for what you believe in. This is a great show for the entire family,” Swezey said.
Brown Cesario, a former rock star who is kind-hearted and cares about maintaining the integrity of his camp, is played by Joell Ramsdell, of Overland Park. Axel Turner, also a former rock star who is ruthless, competitive and Cesario’s nemesis, is portrayed by Skip Gordon, of Grandview.
Mitchie Torres, played by Savanna Worthington, is spunky, smart and the outspoken leader at Camp Rock.
“She’s very loyal to Cesario and her friends and urges them to stay at Camp Rock. I can relate to her in many ways, although she’s more aggressive than I am,” said Worthington, a junior at Shawnee Mission East.
Worthington is one of the finalists in the KC SuperStar competition to determine the metro area’s best high school singer. The contest finale is in August. “It’s been a busy summer so far with rehearsals for ‘Camp Rock’ and KC SuperStar,” she said.
Mitchie’s love interest is Shane Gray, leader of the Connect 3 rock band, played by Fisher Stewart, a junior at Olathe West.
“I love being in ‘Camp Rock’,” Stewart said. “I went to shows at The Theatre in the Park when I was growing up and now I’m in one.”
Shane is a charming rock star who fell in love with Mitchie the summer before at Camp Rock which is why he decided to come back, Stewart said. “The show is great. It’s a lot of fun being with other kids. I like the music and dancing — especially the dancing.”
Shane’s brothers, Nate, played by Jake Bartley, a senior at Olathe Northwest, and Jason, portrayed by Patrick Sturm, a senior at Shawnee Mission South, are in the Connect 3 band.
“I’ve been in all the shows at South directed by Swezey,” Sturm said. “He urged me to audition for The Theatre in the Park season again this year.
Nate is an interesting character. He’s a little shy, more of an ordinary guy than a rock star. But he has a problem. He’s fallen in love with Dana Turner, Axel Turner’s daughter. He really cares for Dana but he doesn’t want to betray his friends at Camp Rock.”
Dana is played by Courtney Shaw, a senior at Olathe Northwest.
“Dana is really a sweet, sincere girl who wishes she was back with her friends at Camp Rock, especially Nate who she loves. Dana is embarrassed by her father’s antics,” Shaw said.
“I love the show and the message it brings telling people to be to be true to themselves and never forget the importance of friendship.”
Kit Walters, who graduated this spring from Olathe Northwest, plays Tess Tyler, one of the Camp Rock defectors.
“This is my first show at The Theatre in the Park. I’m super glad I got the role of Tess. It’s been so much fun,” Walters said.
Walters will be a student at the Chicago College of Performing Arts this fall. “I plan to make theater my career,” she said.
“Camp Rock, The Musical” will play Saturday and Sunday and run Wednesday through July 8 at The Theatre in the Park in Shawnee Mission Park. Curtain time is 8:30 p.m. each night. Admission is $8 adults, $6 youths and children 3 and under free. For more information go to theatreinthepark.org.