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Apple Tree Productions

Fifth summer of theater workshops for special-needs children

Unidentified kids from a previous Apple Tree workshop. Photo credit: Jackie Deshaye

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Apple Tree Productions' fifth summer of theater for children has already begun and will culminate with productions of Seussical the musical and Evita in Concert. Apple Tree's Showcase is a separate class for special-needs students. It is theater games, songs and fun, and it is free. Students can drop in or come any time, Tuesday and Thursday through July 21,

The program is run by Heidi Fredericks. Students learn about acting, singing and movement through group activities, games and exercises designed for special-needs students and suitable for all ages and ability levels. Students do not need to have prior experience. Several experienced teachers and volunteers are on-hand to help Fredericks guide students through fun acting and singing lessons.

Fredericks is a public school teacher and is the proud mother of a 6-year-old autistic son, but has no other formal training in working with special-needs students. This program is not intended to take the place of therapy. She said she found through working with her son that singing and acting games excite his imagination, maintain his focus, and ease their connection to one another.

Fredericks grew up in Olympia and was in the very first Capital Playhouse Kids at Play show 28 years ago at the age of 11, and she took part in every one of their summer shows after that until she was grown. She also did shows with Harlequin Productions. As a teenager, she played Ophelia in Hamlet at Harlequin and Julia in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Plus, she was in the first Rocky Horror Show 20 years ago and a few years later was again in Rocky, that time at Capital Playhouse.

She studied theater at Timberline High School under the tutelage of Brenda Amburgy, and after graduating she went to the Boston Conservatory to study musical theater, and later studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Back home in Olympia, she worked for a time with the State House of Representatives and for the State Highway Patrol. More college, this time at the University of Minnesota, and then back home to Olympia for good where she started working on Capital Playhouse's Students on Stage program 12 years ago. She also directed a number of shows including productions of Hair, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Little Shop of Horrors, and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.

The Apple Tree kids will perform Seussical, directed by Fredericks and co-directed by Colleen Powers with Jaysen Geissler as musical director and Mackenzie Platt as choreographer. In August, they will do two evening concert performances of Evita.

Seussical, 6 p.m., July 28-31; Evita, 7 p.m., Aug. 6-7, both shows at Tumwater High School, 700 Israel Rd. SW, Tumwater, $5. For more information, email Heidi Frederick at heidilf8@gmail.com.

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