Chapmans to lead free theater camp in Fairfield

FAIRFIELD – Two local favorites Allen and Anne Chapman will be leading the Fairfield Evelyn Gamrath’s Summer Camp at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center and Sondheim Theater.

Russ Lippencott, the director the center and theater said camp was awarded a grant to increase the accessibility of the theater camp for youth across Southeast Iowa.

The $10,000 grant provided by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts, will provide the funding for up to 75 youth, ages, 8 – 14 years, to attend the theater camp at no cost July 15 – 20.

“We are excited to receive the Arts Program grant, as it opens up this great opportunity to more youth,” Lippencott said. “With camp scheduled to start next week, we hope our message of no cost to the youth or their families will reach all interested youth and we will see them at camp. There are no income requirements or financial assistance applications to complete as the grant applies to all youth between 8 and 14 years of age.

Following four successful years of summer camp, the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center is excited for the fifth annual Evelyn Gamrath’s Summer Theater Camp, Play Ball: Take Me Out to the Sondheim, Monday, July 15 through Friday, July 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and free performance Saturday, July 20 at 3 p.m. on the Sondheim stage. Students 8 yrs. through 14 yrs. old are invited to celebrate with song and dance as we hit the ball out of the park with a baseball and softball theme this yearThe camp is split into two parts by age with 8 – 10 year olds attending camp from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 11 – 14 year olds attending from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. All campers will enjoy a complimentary lunch from the Fairfield Community School District from 12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

“It is a great honor for our theater camp to be recognized by the peer review committee, the Arts Council and the Department of Cultural Affairs,” said Lippincott. “We are required to match the $10,000 in camp expenses. We will be working through the guidelines of the grant and be offering refunds to the campers whom have registered for the camp once the grant has been fulfilled. We will offer parents and guardians the opportunity to convert their registration payment to a donation to the camp.”

Danville’s Vicki Jacobsen, music director and Lynn Jacobsen, stage director, will join Allen Chapman as camp director and Anne Chapman as choreography director at the summer camp.

“This is going to be an unbelievable experience for the students,” Lippencott said. “We have assembled the best educators we possibly could have put together for this camp…call it the ‘who’s who’ of Iowa High School vocal and show choir educators. What an extraordinary opportunity for the kids to be with these educators for an entire week.” 

The “coaches” for our baseball themed theater camp are led by Allen Chapman, a 40-year vocal music educator from elementary through college. Vicki Jacobsen returns as the music director. Vicki spent 32 years leading the vocal music at Danville Community Schools. Anne Chapman, daughter of Allen returns as the choreographer, a role she has at numerous camps and schools, as well as adjudicator and clinician, guest speaker at competitions across the country. Lynn Jacobsen returns to the camp as the stage director assisting with theme development, costumes and props and general performance skills. Lynn is a member of the Iowa High School Speech Hall of Fame and led Danville students to the All-State Speech Festival  

The Summer Camp at the Sondheim is made possible by the support of Wayne & Nan Kocourek, Everybody’s Whole Foods, Jefferson County Farm Bureau, and Fairfield Community School District.       

The Summer Camp at the Sondheim is named in honor of Evelyn Gamrath, wife of Bob Gamrath and mother of Bob Gamrath, Jr., Kathyrn Carpenter, Nan Kocourek and Tom Gamrath. Evelyn Gamrath was a long-time junior high choral director, collegiate and church choral director, and had a passion to teach children and instill in them love for the arts.

Visit or call 641-472-2000 to register for the Evelyn Gamrath’s Summer Camp at the Sondheim.

“It’s going to be an exciting week, Monday through performance day,” said Lippincott. “We are staging a full length performance together in one week and the stars are 8 – 14 year olds, it will be a lot of fun, the kids will learn from some of the best choir and show choir educators in the country and perform under the Sondheim stage lights.”

For more information and to register, visit or call 641-472-2000.

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