'Creepy Creatures' Pied Piper hosts week-long theater camp

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Skunks, bumblebees and porcupines were dancing, singing and acting at Tupelo High School this week.
The critters – all played by elementary school students – are part of Pied Piper’s Theater Camp, with the theme “Creepy Creatures.” The 56 children were divided by grade level and sent to various parts of the camp: arts and tech, acting, singing and dancing.
In the arts and tech room, the youngest group of kids was making porcupines and finishing their bumblebee hats.
“Have glue gun, will travel,” laughed Jane Miller, who was in charge of the arts and tech room.
Debby Gibbs had fun with a group of the youngest kids on Thursday morning.
“We’ve had a great week,” said Gibbs, who’s over Pied Piper. “I love this week every year, and I love working with them.”
Both Julia Jane Everette, 6, a student at Tupelo Christian Preparatory School, and Kaylee Heitger, 10, a student at Mooreville Elementary School, said acting was their favorite part of the camp.
“There’s nothing like acting,” Julia Jane said.
Kaylee said she liked letting loose on stage.
“We’ve been able to act and get silly,” she said. “We’ve been able to express ourselves and not have ourselves locked up. We have to be all silly and goofy.”
Kaylee had fun singing and dancing with her friends and meeting new people.
“I’m in a group with lots of kids I know and a lot of friends. Some are in plays with me,” she said. “Even though I’ve just met them, I feel like I’ve known them forever.”
Counselors at the camp are high school students from TCPS and THS, as well as alumni.
Nathan Wallace, 19, of Tupelo, is a theater camp veteran who came back to teach the acting part of the camp. He’s currently a student at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.
“Working with the kids has been a blessing,” he said. “I tell them to honor the playwright and be yourself, and the character will come through. You’ve got a heart to share, and we want you to share this.”
The students’ work will culminate in a free performance of “Creepy Creatures” at 10 a.m. today at the Tupelo High School Performing Arts Center.
sheena.barnett@journalinc.com