Youth, adults get workout at Show Choir camps

Anne Chapman leads the men's part of the Adult Show Choir Camp during an evening rehearsal Wednesday night. The show choir campers will be performing Friday night in Central Park. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

Campers to put on show Friday night in Central Park starting at 6:30 p.m

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – A legacy of area show choir experience quickly pulled together a local summer camp and the market was rich.

More than 60 people rallied around the first of its kind Summer Show Choir Camps this week at Union Presbyterian Church. With three chances, you could guess who worked up the idea and the first two don’t count.

Anne Chapman, a Fort Madison resident who now gallivants across the country as a much-sought after show choir choreographer, her father Allen, along with Jason Woodley and Taylor Stoddard, cobbled together the idea about three weeks ago.

On Tuesday, the camps began with about 42 youth and more than 20 adults in two separate camps.

The groups will put on a community performance on Friday night at Central Park starting at about 6 p.m.

Allen Chapman, right, and Taylor Stoddard play keyboard and give instructions at the Youth Show Choir Summer Camp Wednesday at Union Presbyterian Church in Fort Madison. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

“It was a whim,” Chapman said. “And we kept sending text messages back and forth asking if we were really going to do this. And with the reaction, we had to.”

Woodley said when the instructors put it out on their social media channels the idea took on a life of its own.

“We started it off thinking we would just get middle school/high school kids to do this and we put it out and our Facebook pages exploded,” Woodley said.

“We got text messages from adults who said they would love to do this,” he said.

“They’re having a blast. It was hilarious, they started warming up with the Dad, and it was like ‘Holy Cow these people can sing!’,” Chapman said.

Some of the adults were former show choir participants, and some weren’t.

For example, long-time accompanist Teri Welborn, who’s played piano for decades for high school performers, decided this time she’d take the risers.

“Teri, she’s been the high school accompanist forever and she’s just up there doing it – but she’s always been in the back. There’s every age and they’re amazing singers and amazing dancers and they just got up there and started doing it,” Chapman said.

Taylor Stoddard works through some musical numbers on the keyboard while youth campers sing along at Union Presbyterian Church Wednesday. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

Chapman said the youth summer camps are standard. Allan Chapman did summer programs in the 80s and 90s at Iowa Wesleyan with some of the most influential musical instructors in the area.

“When that stopped, there wasn’t one even close to southeastern Iowa. There’s some in the Des Moines area, but they’re just too far away,” Chapman said.

She’s done commuter camps in the Des Moines and Omaha area for those kids because she works in those areas regularly. She’s also done camps in Albuquerque and bigger ones at the University of Southern Mississippi.

“I just said, you guys, we can do a commuter camp like this for our kids and our kids deserve this,” she said.

Woodley said it was very last-minute and they got a very good response very quickly.

“We had the discussion in Taylor’s room at the high school. Then we came up with some flyers and we were ready to go,” Woodley said.

The camp includes break-out sessions with people who grew up in southeast Iowa, but are professionals in the performance industry.

Wednesday Evie Kunch, who went to HTC and graduated from Mt. Pleasant, now lives in Denver working with a performance of Footloose there.

“She’s making money at this. She has a day job, but that’s what she does at night. She was cast as the lead in Peter and the Star-Catcher and has been asked to audition for Carousel in the spring,” Chapman said.

Woodley said on Thursday Flint Haas, who is a 1995 graduate of Central Lee and lives in Argyle, and the three went to show choir together as youth, is a conductor and accompanist and is mostly known for traveling with “Wicked”.

“Flint has toured in Paris and he’s done everything from Wichita, Kansas to Paris, France,” Woodley said.

Allen Chapman said there are other camps in Ohio, Illinois, and Nebraska but they carry a high price tag. The Fort Madison camp was just $75 for the kids and $40 for the adults.

“They are having a really good time. I think this is great for the first year and I then hopefully we can make this an annual thing and make it grow just a little bit,” he said.

“I’m hoping it will just keep happening in the future…I think they’re air conditioning the gym as we speak and I hope, if we do this next year, we can rehearse here but then it would be nice to do the show in air conditioning.”

The groups are working up several musical numbers for the performance Friday night with the adults performing first, then three or four talent performances, before the kids perform following. There is no charge for the event.

“Bring the lawn chair and come and see these people,” Anne Chapman said.

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