“The experience for my son at this summer camp was exceptional in every way. It was very well organized and well rehearsed. It was professionally produced and gave my son the flavor of what it is to participate in a ‘real’ musical, albeit one put together in two short weeks. I was really blown away at how she got these kids together in a coordinated effort and I loved the show – not just seeing my son up there, but all the kids up there giving there best and helping each other out, when needed. I just asked him to rate his experience on a scale of 1 – 10 (highest). He said it was a 9. I would HIGHLY recommend any Hope Musical Theater camp.”
Menlo Park, CA
“Wow! I’ve just read the previous reviews. I totally agree with the first one I read raving about the unique and incredibly valuable experience the camp has been, which is true for my daughter and son, now 14 & 11. My son is reluctant to go to any camp, but I talk him into HMT each year, and each year he does a fantastic job and grows from it. It’s hard work, but I can tell how proud of himself he is each time he performs. He doesn’t want to sign up for school plays at this time, and I’m OK with that since school keeps him so busy, and they require a huge commitment from parent as well. Here I drop him off and pick him up. That’s all it requires from me, except perhaps going over his lines with him, as he’ll allow. The point is, I know that some day, if he ever wants to be in high school plays, he will be equipped. If he ever wants to run for student body president, or president of the United States, he will have the skills necessary for public appearances: confidence, articulateness, eye contact, appropriate volume, the ability to connect with an audience, etc. Even more importantly, he now knows that, when he is so nervous that his stomach churns and his mouth is dry, he can still stand up and perform, whether on a test, or asking his love to marry him later in life. He doesn’t even realize it, but this experience is invaluable, and will aid him for the rest of his life! I still remember being in a play in 5th grade and how much it helped me. That’s the only play I was in. My son has done this for 4 or 5 years!
My daughter got parts corresponding with her abilities, and they “stretched her” during her time there (3 sessions). She was shy and not extraordinarily articulate. Yet she learn to speak up loudly and clearly, and to have eye contact with the audience. She wasn’t suited for a lead role, yet she shined and grew. She can step up before an audience 1000 times better now than she could before doing HMT.
My son got a lead role his very first year, and was a kick. He is funny, very articulate and has almost a photographic memory. He was well suited to that role. Later, he was a little more self-conscious and grumpy about life, and it showed. He got a smaller part or two that let him participate without carrying the same heavy load. Another year he was a lead, then this year, he was in a smaller role, and was relieved not to have to carry the burden of learning all the lines this time. The size of his roles varies from year to year, depending on where he’s at and how he’s able to perform that year. But the constructive nature of the experience never waivers.
I would so love to detail all the wonderful aspects of this camp, how incredible it is that she gets SOOOOO much out of these beautiful little kids in so little time. My daughter did other acting camps before that didn’t hold a candle to this one. But the detailed ingredients that spell out exactly why this camp is so amazing has already been well documented by Wendy T, so I won’t repeat. Please read her review for a better understanding of the nature of the camp.
Lastly, I love the spacing too. 3 hours a day over 2 weeks allows for free time in the morning or afternoon so the kids can still enjoy their summer sleeping in or doing afternoon play dates or lounging about. It also allows their characters (roles) to seep into their beings, their consciousness, in a way that a 6-hour per day, 5 day camp does not. All in all, I would so highly recommend this camp for your young people. It gets the best out of them, and gives them the confidence and skills to help them get the best out of themselves in life, even if they don’t realize it. We parents should!”
Redwood City, CA
“My 8th grade daughter is constantly volunteering herself for public speaking appearances at school. When I ask her how she has the courage and strength to speak in front of hundreds of people she says Hope Musical Theater. I see this with my younger children as well. My 8 and 10 year old are already learning to hold their head high and project their voice. A life long skill that will serve them well.
Also worth a mention is how impressive the shows are. I have watched many HMT productions without my children performing and have been floored by the quality. My kids and I will sit in the audience several times in summer and be completely entertained even though we don’t know a single cast member. They are amazing productions! The director is so organized she can do this in two weeks. She always chooses the best camper for the part. HMT is fun and entertaining for both the campers and their audience.
My kids also tell me they love the bond that naturally happens between the campers as they all work to create something fabulous. They really have so much fun!”
Redwood City, CA
“We have had three kids in 6 years of Hope plays and I totally agree with Laura N.
I would add the following:
1) The quality of production and performance that Hope is able to get the kids to achieve in only 8 days of 3 hour rehearsals is absolutely astounding. The shows are simply a pleasure to watch with phenomenal singing, acting and dancing.
I have been to shows by Penninsula Youth Theater which had six weeks of rehearsal and were unbearably, mind numbingly, horrendous. Even as a parent you would have trouble sitting through a show.
2) While there are certainly lead roles in each play, Hope structures the productions to have a very wide variety of supporting roles and ensemble roles so that each actor will likely land in a role that suits their ability, work ethic, and desire.
She also learns about individual talents different kids have, such as Irish dance or gymnastics or ballet restructures each play to incorporate these thereby allowing the kids to shine and making each production different and special.
She runs these camps as a professional director with the goal of creating the best possible production. The benefit to all the kids no matter their role is they get the experience of creating a really great production together.
Theater is competitive for the lead roles as it should be. Our three kids have been in a roughly 12 Hope productions and in every case the casting for the leads and in fact all the roles was right on in my opinion. Our eldest daughter is very competitive, reasonably talented, and is definitely disappointed when she doesnt get a big part. But in every case where she didnt get the part she wanted I could see that Hope chose the right person for the part. And in every performance lead or not Hope showed our daughter how to make the most of her part.
If you want a really great camp where your kids will actually learn to act, sing and dance and put on a very high quality production then HMT is for you.”
Redwood City, CA
“As a current high school senior, I am so grateful to have been a camper at Hope Musical Theater. I first signed up for the camp when I was eight years old and loved it so much that I signed up for it year after year until I was too old to be a camper. Because of HMT, I not only became comfortable on the stage, but I also developed a passion that had stayed with me long since. I’ve continued acting through my middle school and high school year and hope to continue in college.
Ms. Hope is really an inspiration to not only myself but many of my friends. After polling the cast of a musical I was just part of in my high school, 12 of the members had been part of the camp (and many of them were leads in the show, including myself). Like myself, they all began at HMT and learned to love theatre thanks to her program.
If you are looking for a truly engaging and exciting entry into theatre for your child, I strongly encourage you to sign up for Hope Musical Theatre!”
Palo Alto, CA
“This was the fourth year my two children have participated in Hope Musical Theater and, in my opinion, it is hands-down the best run and most impressive of all of my kids’ various camps and activities. What Sarah is able to accomplish with a large number of children in such a short time is nothing less than extraordinary. The productions are fantastic. The kids learn to speak in front of an audience, master basic choreography, help produce the sets and learn the responsibility of being part of an ensemble… all while being exposed to some of the most classic musicals of all time. I think Sarah is a terrific teacher. My impression is that she is fairly strict, which I think is just fine and I’m sure is necessary in order to put together such high quality shows. Most importantly, my kids love doing this program. Whether it is the summer camp or the school year workshops, the kids have a great time and want to participate year after year.”
Los Altos, CA
“I was a camper at HMT summer camp four times and never got a lead role but that didn’t matter to me. Sarah Hope goes out of her way to make sure everyone has a chance to make their part funny or memorable… Another thing I have realized about this camp is that whether you have 2 lines or 20, you will still learn the same skills. You need to enunciate your words, project your voice, look out at the audience while speaking, and react to what’s happening on stage. You also learn key things about theatre that you must know if you want to continue in it, like stage directions (stage right, stage left, upstage, downstage, etc), writing down your blocking, memorizing lines, songs, and dances, how to make sure you don’t miss your entrances, and how to deal with props. I loved every minute of this camp, and I can wholeheartedly say that it helped me with theatre outside of HMT. I have gone on to get lead roles in my school’s productions because of the skills I learned at Hope Musial Theater. I would recommend it to any kid wishing to have a great time at a summer camp or learn the skills of theatre.”
Palo Alto, CA
“HMT summer camp has, without a doubt, changed our lives. I started with 7 and 8 year old girls in Peter Pan, and every year since then they look forward to Hope’s camp all year. Really, they talk about it ALL YEAR. They can’t wait until it starts. Now they are 13 and 12 and my 10 year-old son has joined in. So collectively, our family has been to this camp 16 times.
Camp runs for 2 weeks for 1/2 days, with a tryout and a performance day leaving only 8 half-days of practice, yet the shows are wonderful. And I am a very hard theater critic. In fact, we ‘researched’ all of the local camps- from ones that were all day for 5 weeks to ones that practiced every evening until 9pm and Hope’s shows were by far the best. Why? Creative, visually interesting, good props, great costumes… but best of all, a live band that moderates its speed and volume to allow the kids to shine, and substantial stage-time for all cast members that does not feel forced or wasteful. (Another major camp had taped music from speakers IN FRONT of the stage so you couldn’t hear a single word the kids were singing.)
Hope is an amazing woman, a former performer in Beach Blanket Babylon with a huge personality and energy to match. I do not know How she organizes 30 kids in such short order to produce such an amazing show…
Casting is based purely on stage ability and voice and not at all on age or looks, which is refreshing for kids who notice a “type” being cast on most stages and screens and magazines. Her leads work hard, learn lots of lines and are expected to be prepared. This can be daunting for some. In fact my son, after being a lead one year, asked the next year if he could be “the wallpaper,” and she cast him in the part of a mute! (But don’t ask for parts for your kids- that is highly frowned upon). The larger parts are more stressful and the smaller parts are more free so one should not look at the part size as a determinant at all, because all of the kids end up having fun and feeling valued. And for all the work they put into it the kids love it. They help make the sets and design the brochure and eat outside and they play some theater games and learn to respect each other.
In fact, the joy we all experience with the 2 weeks of kids singing around the house and in the car, and the fabulous shows, have drawn both sets of grandparents to fly in from the east coast for that last week of camp for several years now.
So how has it changed their lives? Hope make the stage a safe place to be You. To “sparkle” and “shine”. A place where a heavy girl or a tiny boy can have a leading role, or a solo, or be a magician or a Mayor. A place where they’ve made friends they will likely have for a lifetime, where they’ve learned responsibility and most of all that they can get up in front of an audience and be applauded. Don’t we all wish we had learned that?
Sarah Hope your camp is a gem. Thank you for sharing your time and talent with our children.”
Portola Valley, CA