The popular 7th Street Kids musical theater workshops will present Disney’s “Aladdin KIDS” and Disney’s “Newsies JR” at Hoquiam’s historic 7th St. Theatre this July. Auditions for Grays Harbor children ages 7-16 will take place Saturday, June 4. Parts are available for 60 children who want the life-changing opportunity to hone their acting, dancing and singing skills to become part of a live theater production after a concentrated time of rehearsals. Both shows begin rehearsals in mid-June, with “Aladdin KIDS,” a 30-minute show, rehearsing for three weeks and performing July 8, 9 and 10. The second program, “Newsies, JR,” a two-hour show, is a six-week workshop with performances slated for July 28, 29, 30 and 31.

In 1992, Micki Colwell, a theater enthusiast from Aberdeen, realized her dream of establishing a musical theater program for Grays Harbor kids in the 7th Street Theatre where she had enjoyed many wonderful theatrical productions. Sadly, Colwell died the year of the 10th anniversary production. She certainly would have been proud to see how her 7th Street Kids Summer Theater Program is still going strong 31 years later, continuing its mission of “fostering and encouraging the growth and development of children and children’s theater for our community.”

Mary Nelson, current 7th Street Kids president and treasurer, joined the board in 2001. “I don’t have any kids. I was recruited by Micki for board diversity,” she quips. Nelson recalls that after Colwell’s death, Brad Duffy, who was the Grays Harbor College drama instructor at the time, stepped in as producer. Now retired, Duffy still acts as a consultant and advisor to the board of the non-profit organization.

Some new elements have been introduced to the 2022 program. The former mini-camp, which already saw some expansion last year, has grown this year to the fully costumed, 30-minute production. Karin Noble will direct the cast of 30 kids in three performances of “Aladdin KIDS.”

Photo By Christine Vincent

Noble is a theater pro with a background in theater instruction, choreography and directing. She moved to Ocean Shores in 2014, taking part in three shows with Stage West before joining the board of 7th Street Kids in 2018.

Noble gets emotional when talking about the community-building aspect of the 7th Street Kids productions: “Everybody helps, parent volunteers, grandparents. We are a theater family! We draw from all school districts.  Kids come here, meet each other, form life-long friendships and learn valuable life skills. We are also raising actors for Grays Harbor’s amazing stages.”

As for the two-hour “Newsies JR” show, Kendall Cavin, will direct its four performances.

“‘Newsies’ is an inspirational story about the 1890 New York City newsboys strike,” explains Cavin. “They gave me three shows to choose from. I picked “Newsies JR” because of the great music and because this true story is one that kids should know about.”

Cavin, a 2019 Aberdeen High School graduate, is a theater student at Whitworth University in Spokane. She is one of the many former 7th Street Kids who graduated from the program at age 16 and remained involved with the production team. She worked herself up from education and activity director to assistant director of “Matilda” in 2019, and finally to director of the JR show in 2021. “I just love to spend my summers here,” she says.

With two fully costumed shows, Jeannie McNeal, will be busy. She has been with the 7th Street Kids from the beginning, when her daughter Meghan performed in the very first show, “The Wizard of Oz.” McNeal is known for her competent and inventive work as costume designer and costumer.

As head of the production committee, McNeal explains the selection committee’s criteria for choosing shows: “They need to be popular with the public, and they need to be shows the kids would love to do. They also need to appeal to younger and older kids. And, Covid 19 still prevents our pit orchestra from playing, so we needed a show with an accompanying music track.”

Photo courtesy of 7th Street Kids

The 7th Street Kids summer workshops are financed through community donations, tuition, ticket sales and an endowment by the Bishop Foundation. Nelson mentions a new scholarship fund by private donors, administered by the Grays Harbor Community Foundation. “The new fund, along with the Bishop Foundation endowment, will ensure that no child will be left out for financial reasons – for generations to come,” she said.

Registration and audition information is on the website Inquire until June 4 about available space in the workshops.