The theater provides opportunities for kids to be creative, gain confidence, and learn the value of teamwork. And summer theater camps are a wonderful way for Boston kids to experience the thrill of the stage: Students and the instructors alike can immerse themselves in the creation of a production without the cares of school, other extracurricular activities, or homework. All over the Boston area, there are opportunities for kids from preschool through high school to spend their summer days making theatrical magic.
Here's a roundup of some of the best summer theater programs in Boston, Cambridge, and the suburbs.
If you are looking for an overnight camp experience or a different type of day camp, take a look around in our Summer Camp Directory to search by interest, age, or location. Our Summer Camps Guide offers more recommendations.
1. Boston Children’s Theatre — Boston and Beverly
Boston Children’s Theatre offers summer theater workshops at the Ben Franklin Institute for Technology in the city and Shore Country Day School in Beverly for ages 4-14. The one-week introduction to creative play is for younger kids, and each morning, the children explore a different theme through drama, music, and crafts. The options for theater development grow with the kids – older children have the opportunity to receive pre-professional training and produce a show. The programs for older and more advanced thespians require an audition and are all held on the North Shore. Busing from BCT’s Boston Studio is available.
2. Wheelock Family Theatre — Boston
Child development faculty at Wheelock College work with Wheelock Family Theatre artist-educators to create challenging drama and movement games, improvisations, and exercises that help youngsters learn not just the how but also the why of onstage thoughts, feelings, and actions. Their summer camp offerings for ages 5-18 include introductory creative dramatics for the youngest actors, to more specialized workshops and intensives for older and more experienced performers.
3. Improv Boston Summer Comedy Camps — Cambridge
During Improv's Summer Comedy Camps for kids, professionally trained improv instructors create a fun and supportive environment for kids to explore, develop, and make connections with others. Veterans to the stage and newbies alike will learn improvisation skills that will make them better performers and that they can apply to every day life.
4. New School of Music Kids’ Cabaret — Cambridge
You may not think of New School as a place to study theater, but the Kids’ Cabaret gives children the opportunity to do exactly that. For three weeks in July, kids take musical theater classes that incorporate singing, acting, and dancing, plus prop and set design. Team building is explored through theater games, script-writing exercises, and improvisation. The session culminates in performances of songs, scenes, and dance from the musical theater repertoire.
5. Underground Railway Theater — Cambridge
Underground Railway Theater provides training for young people ages 6-16 through classes and intensive programs. Aspiring theater artists learn alongside URT Teaching Artists and CST professionals, skills in script analysis, ensemble building, puppetry, mask, and performance. Summer theater offerings include character study, comedy and Shakespeare. A CIT program is available to ages 13 and up.
6. Brookline Music School — Brookline
In addition to summer music camps and classes, Brookline Music School offers kids ages 7-12 a comprehensive musical theater program called Curtain Call. Over the course of three weeks, students work from the ground up to bring together a final production. As they work and play, they learn about script writing, prop and set design, singing, acting, dancing, and teamwork.
7. Beaver Summer Programs at Beaver Country Day School — Chestnut Hill
During each two-week session of Beaver Off-Broadway, campers learn the ins and outs of theater production. They develop skills in acting, costume design, set building, and stage makeup as they produce a musical. At the end of the session, they put on a show for family and friends.
8. Watertown Children’s Theatre — Watertown
From tropical animals to circus acts to Shakespeare, Watertown Children’s Theater offers kids entering Kindergarten through Grade 9 a variety of options for learning about the stage and polishing their talents. Check out the different theater camp themes, like Adventure on the High Seas, Broadway Live, and Bard Battles.
9. Arlington Center for the Arts — Arlington
Children entering grades 3 to 6 and 5 to 8 spend two weeks together creating original and kid-friendly productions with the help of the instructors at Arlington Center for the Arts. They get to create costumes, scenery, and props in addition to performing, and their days are balanced with plenty of outdoor time.
10. Theater in the Open — Newburyport
If your kid loves to perform, but you want him to spend the summer outdoors, Theater in the Open just might be the answer. The Summer Arts Workshop is for kids ages 6-16 who want to explore and be creative. The summer camps range from two-week sessions to six-week sessions, all culminating in performances.
11. LINX Performing Arts Summer Camps — Wellesley
LINX's has long highlighted the performance arts on its extensive camp menu, but many kids will be thrilled this summer with the addition of Broadway Theater Camp. For kids entering grades 2 to 8, the camp emphasizes Broadway techniques in designing sets, learning direction, and, of course, performing on the stage (for both parents and other campers). There's also room in their acclaimed general theater camp for children going into kindergarten through 8th grade.
Photo courtesy of Kidstock!
12. Kidstock! — Winchester
Our parent friends' rave about Kidstock’s summer theater arts program, which offers students of all ages the chance to create and star in their own stage production. A staff of professional actors, artists and educators guide each age group through a developmentally appropriate experience in theater rehearsal with individual workshop experiences in drama, dance, art and music. A nice bonus is that the theater is air conditioned and the kids spend lots of time outdoors, too.
Top photo courtesy of Boston Children's Theatre
Originally published in 2014