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SUNY Fredonia's "Playground" drama camp wraps up fourth season with record enrollment
Monday, September 06, 2010

“Dress” Rehearsal: Isaac Gadikian poses with Director Marc de la Concha, ’05, during the Saturday a.m. rehearsal for “Mulan, Jr.”
Where can a child learn the basics of acting, singing, set design, theatrical sound and lighting, costume design, hip-hop dance, martial arts, improvisational comedy and choreographed stage combat — all in less than a week? The answer is, “Playground,” SUNY Fredonia’s annual youth drama camp.

The six-day drama camp wrapped up its fourth and most successful season on Saturday, Aug. 21, as a record 81 children between the ages of 8 to 15 performed “Mulan, Jr.” for their families and friends at a capacity-filled Marvel Theatre within the Rockefeller Arts Center on the SUNY Fredonia campus.

The camp was led by SUNY Fredonia Professor Edward Sharon of the department of Theatre and Dance, and SUNY Fredonia alumus Marc de la Concha, ’05, who served as the production’s director. Sharon, de la Concha and fellow alumnus Dan Lendzian, ’06, came up with the concept in 2006 in a New York City café and, following the generous support of the Fredonia College Foundation's Carnahan-Jackson Humanities Fund, the idea took flight.

Seth Hannum and Liam Pickreign, ages 9 and 11, got to work in the control room during a live theatrical performance, assisting with sound and lighting production.
“The staff is made up of some of our most creative alumni who have returned to be a part of this exciting project, as well as many of our current students,” Sharon said. “It is incredibly rewarding to have taught them and then be able to invite them back so they can pass on what they have learned to the next generation.”

Other Fredonia alumni who also assisted include Julie Schillaci as assistant camp director and Shane Osgood, who led the improvisational comedy lessons. SUNY Fredonia faculty member Laurel Walford, together with alumna Ashley Arnone, provided costume services to the cast for the production.

In addition to the many rehearsals needed to put on the 60-minute play, the young people enrolled in the camp were treated to a variety of special guests, including a master class taught by former Buffalo Jill (NFL cheerleader) Marci Hadley, who led the student in a hip-hop class. Following her was Ron Valvo, an Asian martial arts instructor from Jamestown, N.Y., who taught the children some basic maneuvers as well as the science and strategy behind the various disciplines.

Two young campers learn the basics of choreographed stage combat with bo staffs.

To help the chidlren handle the larger parts, two actors were selected to perform the two major roles of Mulan and Mushu, Mulan’s sidekick comedic “guardian dragon.” Those roles were performed by Michaela Tramuta (Mulan, first act); Ashley Eck, (Mulan, second act); Christopher Wawro, (Mushu, first act), and Sophie Robledo, (Mushu, second act).

Plans for summer 2011 include two camps, one for children ages 8 to 12, and a second camp for ages 13 to 18 – each for less than $200 for the week. To learn more about next year’s Playground Drama Day Camp, contact Edward Sharon at

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State University of New York at Fredonia