Setting the stage for young performers

The theater bug: it’s a form of passion known to infect people on first contact.

The theater bug: it’s a form of passion known to infect people on first contact.

Michelle Filleau-Maas and Nancy Santiago have seen it time and again while contributing to Bothell High stage productions — Filleau-Maas as a voice coach and Santiago as a producer and director.

“Theater gives kids an opportunity to get up and express themselves,” Filleau-Maas said. “A lot of them are drawn to it as a release. They’re free to be who they are.”

Filleau-Maas and Santiango formed LimeLight Productions this year with the hope of exposing people to the benefits — or the bug — at an earlier age.

They’ll be offering a series of musical theater camps this summer to teach students in grades 3-9 basic vocal, dance and acting skills.

“We’re hoping we can build them up so by the time they get to high school, they have an awareness of what’s expected,” Santiago said.

Each of the workshops lasts five days and culminates with a recital.

Elementary students can attend one of two camps, running June 23-27 and July 7-11.

Junior-high classes will take place July 21-25 and July 28 through Aug. 1.

Performers of all experience and skill levels are allowed to join.

“We’ll feature everybody in one way, shape or form,” Santiago said. “It’s the diversity of this that makes it so fun and interesting.”

LimeLight will also offer a musical revue camp this summer. The program is designed to prepare students for Broadway-style productions like “The Producers” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

Participants will learn about dance movement, conditioning and production processes.

The course begins Aug. 18, and wraps up with back-to-back Broadway revues at the Northshore Performing Arts Center on Sept. 12 and 13.

“These camps are all good introductions for the kids,” Filleau-Maas said. “It’s a good starting point for us, too. We can learn about everyone’s strengths, and the areas where they need improvement.”

That kind of knowledge comes in handy when Filleau-Maas and Santiago work with students in the Bothell High theater department.

Santiago has produced every one of the school’s shows since the Northshore Performing Arts Center opened. She also directed two of its musical revues.

Her work overseeing stage productions began at the Saint Brendan School, where she supervised the drama program for seven years.

Santiago is currently contracted by Youth Theatre Northwest to direct musical theater for grades 3-6.

Filleau-Maas got involved with Bothell’s drama program in 2004, when her daughter Alyssa participated in one-act plays as a sophomore.

Her efforts began with support for the booster club, but it wasn’t long before the theater department was making use of her 15 years of experience as a voice and piano teacher.

“It’s one of those things where if you open your mouth and say you can do one thing, they’ll enlist you for a ton of others,” Filleau-Maas said.

It’s not like Santiago and Filleau-Maas resent their involvement with the local drama scene. They did, after all, establish LimeLight Productions.

“We’ve both done an enormous amount of volunteer work,” Santiago said. “We know what our skills are, and we know we like working together. It makes sense to do this.”

“This has been a good community for us and the kids,” Filleau-Maas said. “We want to do whatever we can to bring in new talent and help develop it.”

• To register for a LimeLight camp, call Filleau-Maas at (206) 595-0902 or Santiago at (425) 770-5041 by May 30.