A Moment in the Woods: Aspiring Performers Tackle La Cage, Sweeney Todd and More at French Woods Theatre Camp

By Michael Gioia
01 Aug 2013

Jason Robert Brown is one of the camp's famous alumni.

"I was very surprised when I got cast as [Angelique], a cagelle [in La Cage], because I've never done anything like this. I've never worn heels. I've never been a drag queen," said Morean with a laugh. "What I think is special is the fact that we get to do it, but the best part is that we get to do it here, which is such a safe environment. I would never do that in Miami because of bullying. But here, you tell people that you're in La Cage playing a drag queen, [and they say], 'Oh my God, I can't wait to see it!' In Miami or anywhere else, you'd get made fun of because you're a guy playing a drag queen."

"People respect each other here," added Noah Singer, 15, who came from Jupiter, FL, and had very little theatrical experience before French Woods. "I only did a sports camp before I came here, so when I came here, I got to experience a theatre atmosphere… Even if you don't want to do this in your life — I'm somebody who's not really looking into doing theatre for a career — you can be able to say when you're older, 'Yeah, I was in shows when I was younger. I was able to perform with people who will be on Broadway one day.'"

Notable alumni who went on to perform on Broadway or have a successful career in the arts include Tony-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (13, The Last Five Years, Parade), Andrea Burns (In the Heights), Melissa Errico (Passion), Gideon Glick (Spring Awakening), Remy Zaken (Spring Awakening), Zooey Deschanel ("Almost Famous"), Adam Levine (lead singer of Maroon 5) and Adam Kantor (The Last Five Years, Rent) — who recently visited the camp with Last Five Years co-star Betsy Wolfe to perform the Jason Robert Brown musical, which was seen at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre ("It was so amazing," said 16-year-old camper Eli Elman about the concert performance) — among many others.

"When I left camp, I cried from here to Newark airport," admitted Morean, who will attend New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in the fall. "You just learn so much, and you really grow — not only as a person, which is a big factor when you audition for college… but also as a performer."

(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)