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Glee Club coming to Suffolk County

Actress Marie Danvers will be one of the instructors at Glee Club. Courtesy photo (click for larger version)
June 29, 2010 | 01:42 PM
Are your kids gleeks? Do they love to perform? Then Long Island's newest summer camp might be just the place for them.

Glee Club, a not-for-profit affiliate of the Oberon Foundation, is a week-long summer program where students from seventh to 12th grade will have the opportunity to both learn and improve their dancing, singing and acting skills with professionals. The camp is the brainchild of Director Valeri Lantz-Gefroh, who has been a professional actor for about 25 years and teaches acting at Stony Brook University.

Lantz-Gefroh attributes the idea to the smash hit TV show "Glee," her insatiable love for teaching and the unmatchable talents of her colleagues, many of whom perform on Broadway today. Lantz-Gefroh is good friends with instructors Marie Danvers and husband Rob Gallagher, Broadway actors who both teach alongside her at Stony Brook. "I know really remarkable people," Lantz-Gefroh said. "They were part of my inspiration [to create the program]."

Danvers and Gallagher have both been acting for a long time and have had the opportunity to perform in a variety of starring roles. Danvers' most notable role is that of Christine in "The Phantom of the Opera," while Gallagher had the opportunity to star as Javert in "Les Misérables" and is currently in "South Pacific." Musical Director Jackson Kohl is trained in classical piano but "feels equally at home in musical theater," and is a Long Island native.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for young people to work with professional dancers, singers and actors who have reached the highest levels in their craft. There are no other opportunities like this on Long Island — for stars to travel to communities and work with students in this capacity," Lantz-Gefroh said, citing the uniqueness of the Glee Club program.

During their week in Glee Club, students will be exposed to a variety of professional singing and acting techniques and dance choreography. "Glee Club will be great fun — but beyond that it will give students a preprofessional experience that they may not have anywhere else," she added.

The hours of the camp day vary by location but will always begin with both a physical warm-up (dance) and a vocal warm-up (singing exercises). Throughout the day there will be a variety of classes, such as singing lessons with professional techniques.

The day ends with rehearsals for glee numbers, in which students will practice two numbers for a Glee Club performance at the end of the week in front of their friends and family that will consist of everything they learned. They will have the opportunity to showcase their new techniques as well as perform the two numbers they practiced.

Glee Club is affordable. One week of Glee Club classes costs $150, which evens out to about $10 per hour. Because of the difficult economy, "We're trying to be really respectful of where people are financially," Lantz-Gefroh said. She explained that to take these types of classes with professionals in New York City would cost upward of $90 per hour.

Another great aspect of the program is the fact that it travels. It's taking place in a number of locations on Long Island spanning six weeks, which will give a variety of students from different areas and schools the opportunity to participate. Several of the locations for the program include Mount Sinai, Rocky Point, Shoreham and East Islip. If Glee Club is not in an area near you this summer, however, they are taking requests to bring it to new neighborhoods during the school year and next summer.

Glee Club will officially end on Aug. 23, when the young performers from each of the sessions will be invited back to perform in the grand finale of a concert featuring the Broadway faculty and a number of exciting guest stars on stage at Suffolk County Community College.

Registration is still open online or by mail, though space is limited. Though the students will be learning a lot, Danvers said, "It's camp, the kids should be having fun. I really want them to have a great time while learning something in the process."

For more information, visit Glee Club's website www.gleeclubny.com or contact Valeri Lantz-Gefroh by phone at 721-6690 or email val@gleeclubny.com.

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