TUNKHANNOCK — A dancing giraffe. A time-traveling villain. African cats with special powers. Put them together and you get a play at the Dietrich Theater called “Dancing Safari” created and performed by children (ages 5-12) who attended a week-long camp called African Safari! Theatre & Visual Arts Camp.
Camp directors Amy Colley and Michaela Moore taught the children interesting facts about the continent of Africa, including art, music and customs. Children also learned history, geography, and about the size of Africa.
“We learned that three United States can fit into Africa,” said Mary Boecker, whose sisters Jane and Grace were also campers. “We loved it. It was so much fun.”
Mary played Marianna, a royal dancer of ancient Egypt, while Jane was Lucy, an African cat, and Grace, a panther.
“I like putting on the show,” said Jane.
The play was set in both an African forest and ancient Egypt, about which the children also learned during the week.
“Each student made up their own character based on the theme of Africa and African Safari and then we created costumes, props, and sets to compliment the characters,” said Moore. “We then made up an original story about those characters.”
Camper Avalon Weidner opted to become a fairy who was part bunny named Cupcake Jewel.
“I like performing in the show,” Avalon said.
In the play, her character cheers up Giraffey, a dancing giraffe, who was sad because other kids were teasing her. Meanwhile, Liam Shepard wore a red hood since that was his character’s name. He played a time-traveling bad guy, who went back in time to ancient Egypt to steal from Marianna, who was given treasures by the pharaoh and his queen for her amazing dancing skills. Marianna, having time-traveled to present day African forest, meets Giraffey, becomes impressed with her dancing and invites her to go to ancient Egypt to dance for royalty.
Meanwhile, camper Julia Gibbon as the Queen of the Cats gives her cat subjects special powers, such as the ability to make things grow to Coco, a cheetah played by Kaitlyn Keown, a tickle wand to Lucy, an African cat played by Jane Boecker, and a talking feathered hat to the strong panther Shadow played by Jane’s sister Grace Boecker. Last, but certainly not least, the Queen of the Cats gives the power of the hiss to Macie Woodruff’s character Lively, made to be a feral cat.
“No belly rubs for this kitty,” said Woodruff as Lively.
Together with their new powers and help from a couple of survivalists named Ivy and Vine (played by Ashton Swank and Jude Racoski) and an elephant named Ellie (played by Everly Keown), the cats and Cupcake Jewel are able to fight the evil forces of Red Hood and snag a couple of poachers, as well.
The play was performed on stage inside the Dietrich Theater Aug. 3 with parents and grandparents in attendance.
“I think it’s wonderful that they can put such a great show in such a short time,” said Mary Boecker, grandmother of the younger Mary, Jane and Grace.