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A creative kickoff

Students watch auditions for “Cinderella” in the two-week production camp on the first day of the Paramount Arts Center’s summer camps in Ashland on Monday. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Summer Arts Camps back in session at the Paramount

ASHLAND, Ky. — For the first time in two years, students were present for the Summer Arts Camp at the Paramount Arts Center on Monday, beginning two weeks of creative opportunities and learning.

The annual classes, which the theater has hosted for several years, were called off last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but returned this week in a scaled-down form.

“We were eager to get back,” Kaitlyn Eldridge, the manager for the camps, said. “And all of our camps sold out, which is super exciting.”

She said that as there was uncertainty during the planning on when health restrictions would be lifted, they decided to limit the camps to two weeks, with the first week comprised of three classes in the morning and three in the afternoon, and the second with three in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Eldridge said they kept capacity lower than usual, in order to gauge interest and to have a number instructors were comfortable with for the return of the camps.

One of the classes is the two-week, popular summer production camp, which is open to children from ages 8-18, Matt Hammond, its coordinator, said. That class runs throughout the full day.

Over its course, those enrolled will learn all aspects of what goes into a musical production, from costumes to choreography to vocals, culminating in a performance of “Cinderella” next Friday.

Hammond said the show, which will have a cast of about 45, will be open to the public and tickets will be $5.

On Monday, students were going through the first stage of that process, taking part in auditions for the roles in the show.

Hammond said he was impressed with the attentiveness of the students, who maintained their interest throughout the day.

“Just to keep it going for eight hours, good for them,” he said. “Hopefully, by next week, we’ll have a big musical going.”

Other offerings included Drawing with Color, taught by Nancy Adams, also offered in the afternoon, where students were learning the basics of visual art, starting with a lesson with the color wheel, and Drawing Boot Camp, which she offered in the morning.

Also in the morning was Superheroes, offered by Maria Whaley, instructor with the Ashland Regional Dance Theater. That session, for ages 3-5, explored dance, music, creative drama and arts and crafts, built around a superhero theme.

Students model costumes in the Runway Fashion class on the first day of the Paramount Arts Center’s summer camps in Ashland on Monday. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Upstairs, Kelsey Bender was teaching Runway Fashion, which is open to those ages 6-12.

“We’re doing all kinds of hairstyles, accessories, ways to do nails,” she said. “We’re also going to design our own purses and have a fashion show at the end of the week,” she said.

Next week, Whaley will offer another dance class for the youngest attendees, this time with an outer space theme, as well as a class for the older children, which will explore tap, dance and ballet. Also offered for the older attendees will be a yoga class, taught by Crescent Holbrook.

Eldridge said in addition to limiting capacity and classes and going down to two weeks from the typical three, the Paramount is still following precautions, due to COVID-19.

Water fountains were covered and bottled water was being distributed, while things were kept sanitized.

“As you can see, we have plenty cleaning supplies here and we’re still following social distancing,” she said.

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