Reviewed by Clyde Morrison
Wipeout was the Tween Drama Camp presentation this year. The youth performers were between the ages of 11 and 17, under the direction of Dale Nakagawa. There were twelve original songs in the play with singing and dancing in each one. What exuberance and energy these young people had in all the songs! I was told that the director, Mr. Nakagawa, was also the choreographer for the show and what a job he and the performers did. There was a lot of memorization for even the smallest role in the show, and the performers were all up to the task.
The play was a simple story about property that “Mom” and “Pop” owned at the beach, and they were going to sell it. The Avalon Kids, who loved the beach for its surfing, were set on trying to save the beach to keep it for the surfing. They were opposed by the Cove Kids who were trying to take the beach from them. It all rested on a surfing contest between the champ of the Avalons and the Coves. Just before the contest the Avalon champ, Riptide, hurt his leg, and a girl, Midge, had to take his place.
The story was not all that exciting, but the choreography and energy of these young actors and actresses was infective. The girl in the lead, Midge, was played by a dynamic and exciting Camryn Consolian. She was constantly in motion trying to save the beach, but the most impressive section for me was when she got on that surfboard and showed such a determined look on her face. She was going to win the contest, and there was no question about it. What a performance!
The two male leads, Riptide and Reef played by Kaleb Tompkins and Nick Kenehan, were also up to their tasks. Both kept into character so well that they made us believe they were actually the surfers. Kaleb was the blond, good looking, hero with the shy smile that all the girls loved, and Nick was the dark haired villain who would do anything, including cheat, to win. Nick had a strong speaking and singing voice that carried to the back of the theater. While these two boys were leads, other boys showed that they could carry their parts well also and were not bashful as some boys are at that age. Elliot Hull as Pop, the aged surfer and father of Midge, gave a very believable performance right down to his limping with a cane. Ryan McGraw, Cameron Edenfield, Chris Kenehan, Evan Searls, and C. J. Hanson had speaking parts and did an excellent job entertaining us with their different characterizations.
The girls, in addition to Camryn Consolian, also had great parts. I thoroughly enjoyed Mattie Mitchell with her inability to rhyme her speeches although she tried. Madison Edmonds kept moving throughout the play while listening to music on a small transistor radio or tape. Her engine never stopped, and she certainly was one of the important reasons for the tremendous energy of the group. Another of the girls that I enjoyed was Claire Haller who played Wendy. Claire had stage presence and a smile that drew us into the scene. She seemed to enjoy the music and the dancing, and that made the audience realize that we enjoyed it also. And, also Wipeout had that person on the beach with the metal detector looking for buried treasure. Paige Petrine was great, popping in and out of scenes, until she finally found the gold cup that had been won by Pop in a surfing contest.
As usual, in a play like this, there are many helpers backstage setting the scenery, painting, making costumes organizing, and on and on. Kathy Abramowitz was the producer. Kathy Wendling was assistant producer with Madilyn MacFarland as a student assistant. Madilyn was a drama camp veteran who was tireless in her work with the campers and the production. Every play needs that someone who goes out of her way to help wherever she is needed. I am told that Madilyn was that person. Set construction chiefs were Stewart Lanier and David Westmark. The very difficult job of working with the young voices belonged to the music director from NAU, Stephanie Whitaker. With so little time for preparation, she had these teens singing with gusto the thirteen original songs.
Dale Nakagawa, the director, was talented in many ways, and we were certainly lucky that he agreed to take charge of the whole program this year. What a wonderful job all of these crew adults did to make a very enjoyable evening. Thank you.
As to the older teens who are moving on from drama camp, we are looking forward to seeing you in the Pinewood Players performances on the main stage in the future.