PARKERSBURG - As part of its continuing youth theater programs, the Smoot Theatre conducted an acting workshop Saturday, one of a series being offered from June through August.
Felice Jorgeson, director of the Smoot Theatre, said the workshop, part of the Smoot's Broadway Kids at Work Series, is designed to help area youth improve acting skills. She said some may have good skills for singing or dancing but need to work on other areas.
"We have one here who sings well and dances well but acting his downfall," she said. "With these workshops he will get to be better."
Jorgeson said Saturday's workshop used the musical "Oklahoma." The program is aimed at teens from eighth grade through college and will have two more sessions, on July 28 and Aug. 11.
A longstanding Smoot program aimed at introducing younger children to live theater begins this week. The 23rd annual Camp Vaudeville youth program will run from Monday through July 24, culminating with the annual "Vaudeville Visions" show on July 24.
Camp Vaudeville is a summertime apprenticeship in theater arts, as the theatre was seen in the days of vaudeville during the late 19th and early 20th century.
Jorgeson said one part of the camp will include a history lesson of the theaters that used to be in Parkersburg. Today only the Smoot, the last one to open, has remained active for most of its history as a theater. Another older theater still standing is the Lincoln Theater which was built by the Smoot family for movies but closed in 1932. From 1936 to 1972, it was the home of the local J.C. Penney store and is now the Parkersburg Actors Guild Theatre at Eighth and Market streets.
Others have been either destroyed in fires or demolished. The Smoot was built on the site of the Hippodrome and opened in October 1926.
While it spent much of its life in downtown Parkersburg as a movie theater, Jorgeson said the Smoot was originally built in 1926 as a theater for movies and live vaudeville shows. For many years after that period, the Smoot showed movies before returning to its roots as a venue for live entertainment.
Camp Vaudeville is designed for children who will have completed first through seventh grades. Classes are divided by experience - for returning campers - or by ages. This year's classes will include dance, music, history, acting and technical theater.
When Jorgeson began the theatre camp program 23 years ago, the Smoot's vaudeville history was a natural theme and since that time, the program has focused on the vaudevillian art forms, including dancing, comedic skits, jokes, clowns, jugglers, animals, musicians, escape artists and mimes, she said.
The staff is made up of local educators who have both classroom and stage experience. There are also field trips and guest artists who come in to teach and perform for the students.