Summerfame musical theatre institute to take a 2nd bow

After students of last summer’s SUNY Oswego musical theatre skills institute offered rave reviews, the college’s School of Communication, Media and the Arts will bring back Summerfame, July 17 to 29.

Instructors working with student at previous Summerfame.“I thought it was an absolutely eye-opening experience, and I’ve never learned more in two weeks than I have here,” said one student who attended the first institute.

“I learned so much! The teachers answered all my questions to the max, and sometimes more than that,” wrote another. “They explained everything so I could understand it more.”

Rolling admissions are under way for committed students of theatre in grades 9 to 12, the school announced. This summer’s institute promises an intense series of voice, movement, acting and theatre design workshops, as well as hands-on experiences such as:

* Assisting with stage management at Harborfest, one of the region’s largest summer festivals

* Taking field trips to the Sterling Renaissance Festival and Merry-Go-Round or Hangar theatres to learn from popular area performances

* And performing skits for those attending the concurrent New York State Summer School for the Media Arts at SUNY Oswego

Talented faculty

Kevin Kennison, a noted teacher of theatre, again will direct Summerfame. An experienced casting director with credits from Disney Theatrical, ABC Films and Broadway, and a SUNY Oswego theatre alumnus, he echoes the positive reviews.

“I think last year was very successful in that, though it was a pilot, the institute was based on experience with a summer intensive school we had from my New York University background,” he said.

Kennison, who has a Ph.D. in educational theatre from NYU and last semester was chair of the BFA program at Brooklyn College, said nearly all of Summerfame’s talented faculty have completed arrangements to return, and another is working on it.

Kelly Magner-Thomas, choreographer and owner of Miss Kelly’s Dance School, will return to coach dance and movement; Todd Graber, associate professor of music in SUNY Oswego’s music department, will teach vocals; and Kennison will coach acting, with another teacher to be named.

“We want a holistic, well-rounded experience for our musical theatre students,” Kennison said. “They’ll really get a good sense of what they’ll encounter in an audition for college theatre department admission. We make the curriculum as challenging as possible.”

Fritz Messere, dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts, said he and Kennison were determined to hold the line on cost, and the $1,675 tuition this summer remains the same as last year.

“For a lot of families in Onondaga and other area counties, cost is always an issue,” Messere said. He urged prospective students and their families to explore the scholarship programs of area churches, service organizations and others.

Summerfame’s value for the dollar is exceptional, Messere said. “It really is an opportunity to work with professionals on an intimate, small-group basis,” he said.

For more information or an application, visit

PHOTO CAPTION: Theatre tips—Heather Ungerer, 14, receives help with performance movements at last year’s Summerfame musical theatre institute at SUNY Oswego. Shannon Penrod-Miller, a Summerfame instructor, and Kevin Kennison, the institute’s director and a veteran casting supervisor and theatre professor, assist. The 2011 edition of Summerfame will take place July 17 to 29, and the college is accepting applications for rolling admission.
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(Posted: Apr 12, 2011)