Registration due Friday for theater camp at Sondheim

Following four successful years of summer camp, the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center announces the fifth annual Evelyn Gamrath’s Summer Theater Camp, “Play Ball: Take Me Out to the Sondheim,” 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through July 19 and free performance at 3 p.m. July 20 on the Sondheim stage.

Students 8- through 14-years-old are invited to celebrate with song and dance as they hit the ball out of the park with a baseball and softball theme this year. Rehearsal days are a bit different this year as campers are split up by age rather than by grade. The split of ages for rehearsal days is: 9 a.m. to noon, with lunch from noon to 12:30 p.m., for 8- to 10-year-olds; and noon to 4 p.m., with lunch from noon to 12:30 p.m., for 11- through 14-year-olds.

The summer camp will be led by Allen Chapman, camp director, Anne Chapman, choreography director, Vicki Jacobsen, music director and Lynn Jacobsen, stage director.

“This is going to be an unbelievable experience for the students,” said Rustin Lippincott, director of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. “We have assembled the best educators we possibly could have put together for this camp ... call it the ‘who’s who’ of Iowa high school vocal and show choir educators. What an extraordinary opportunity for the kids to be with these educators for an entire week.”

Allen Chapman has taught vocal music from elementary through college, in a career spanning more than 40 years. He has toured choirs to Europe and appeared on national convention programs. He has had numerous awards bestowed upon him including National Federation Award of Merit by the Iowa High School Music Association for his contributions to music education at the local, state and national levels. Chapman resides in Fort Madison.

Anne Chapman, daughter of Allen and the late Sandra Chapman has been singing and dancing since she could walk and talk. Her studio pupils have been awarded regional and national honors, her dance teams have been crowned state champions and her choirs consistently rank at the highest levels in competition. Her skill as an adjudicator and clinician have provided her with numerous opportunities to serve as a show choir camp choreographer, guest speaker at conventions and symposiums and adjudicate competitions nationwide.

Vicki Jacobsen returns as the music director, a role she held with the inaugural Summer Camp at the Sondheim. She spent 32 years as vocal music director of Danville Community Schools in Danville. She was the K-12 music instructor and established a “swing choir” her first year in the system. Her show choir program received statewide recognition for its innovative style and energy and were named one of the top small-school music programs in the state, garnering many awards at competitions. She also directed a concert choir, women’s choir and men’s choir.

Lynn Jacobsen is the stage director. Jacobsen, an Iowa High School Speech Hall of Fame member, has led Danville students to the All-State Speech Festival every year for the last 43 years. He was recently named the 2014 Iowa Educator of the Year by the National Federation of High School Educational Theatre Association.

The Summer Camp at the Sondheim is named in honor of Evelyn Gamrath, wife of Bob Gamrath and mother of Bob Gamrath Jr., Kathyrn Carpenter, Nan Kocourek and Tom Gamrath. Evelyn Gamrath was a longtime junior high choral director, collegiate and church choral director, and had a passion to teach children and instill in them love for the arts.

“Summer Camp at the Sondheim started four years ago with goals of providing area youth with opportunities to express their creative spirit and experience the thrill of live performance, while gaining confidence, and having fun doing it,” said Lippincott. “We are thankful for the support of the Kocoureks, Paul Praither, Nathan Gamet and Everybody’s Whole Foods, John Sandbothe and Jefferson County Farm Bureau, as well as the Fairfield Community School District. Their support has allowed us to expand on the successes of the first four years of our camp and enhance the campers’ experience of theater, performance, teamwork and critical life skills with a dynamite cast leading the camp.”

Registration for the Evelyn Gamrath’s Summer Camp at the Sondheim is $125. To register campers for the weeklong experience, visit or contact Niccole Giberson at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, 641-472-2000,

“It’s going to be an exciting week, Monday through performance day,” said Lippincott. “We are staging a full length performance together in one week and the stars are 8- to 14-year-olds, it will be a lot of fun, the kids will learn from some of the best choir and show choir educators in the country and perform under the Sondheim stage lights.”

The deadline for registration is Friday.