(Shenandoah) -- Young KMAland thespians are getting a crash course in play production this week.

They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together ooky, they're...the 40 students in grades 4 through 8 participating in the Southwest Iowa Theatre Group's Theatre Arts Camp. All this week, students have engaged in rigorous rehearsals for this weekend's production of "The Addams Family Jr." at the Park Playhouse in Shenandoah. Instruction runs the full gamut of theatre, including blocking, choreography and music. Camp director Julie Murren, assisted by Amy Toye and Wendy Widger, put the students through the paces. Murren tells KMA News "Addams Family Jr." fits the campers' strengths.

"I knew that I had a lot of talented kids," said Murren, "and I knew that our kids that were growing up through the program were read for new challenges. We have a lot of comedic actors, and I thought it was a good opportunity to showcase some of that."

In preparing for the upcoming production, students learn there's more to acting than just getting up on stage.

"Our kids have been working on characterization," said Murren. "A lot of these characters are quite different from their actual personalities. They've been learning how to become their characters in all different ways, not only in the lines that they speak, but also in their body movements, and their voices and their walk."

Cast members like Kaylee Ridge, who plays Pugsley, say only having a week to prepare for the musical is a challenge.

"I mean, it's only a week," said Ridge, "so it is really a hard thing to pull everything together in a week. But, we've all been working hard, and I think we're going to pull all of this together toward the end."

For Bella Nordyke, who plays Uncle Fester, the theatre camp means fun.

"My favorite is, probably, getting to know new kids who might be coming into the theater," aside Nordyke, "and acting out the characters, and just being on stage, in general."

This year's camp carries a twinge of sadness for Ali Hansen. Already a veteran performer, Ali is participating in her final theater camp.

"Yeah, it's a little sad, because this has been like a big part of my summer," said Hansen, "and I did it with all my friends, so it's going to be sad that this is the last year."

Murren, meanwhile, says she's had fun watching the regular attendees grow as performers over the years.

"It's pretty cool to see how kids have grown and changed throughout the years," said Murren. "Some of these kids have been in all five camps with me. It's kind of fun to see how shy they were when they first came in as kindergarteners, and how they've really come out of their shell, and just become star vehicles."

Performances of "The Addams Family Jr." are Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2. All seats are $10. For reservations, call the Park Playhouse Box Office at 712-246-1061 or email switg@switg.org.

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