Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Glee Camp in Farmington Hills, Michigan

These smiling singers give the camera the “Glee” symbol.

They surely "don't stop believin" they're stars.

Or at least that they're on their way to being stars, after some top-notch, special training this week during Glee Camp, featuring songs and choreography from the popular TV series Glee that include classic hits like, Don't Stop Believing by Journey, plus two numbers by Lady Gaga, who was a guest artist on the show last season.

Glee Camp is new this year to the Farmington Hills Special Services Department, Cultural Arts Division, and is happening all week at the Farmington Players Barn. Instructors include professional vocalists Teresa Marbury and Bruce Pooley, who make up the musical duo Rock and Soul, along with award-winning choreographer Toi Banks and choir instructor Brian Christian.

They can see the enthusiasm — and talent — of the 25 kids who are playing Glee for the week.

“They all have voices, it's amazing,” said Marbury, who said the camp is teaching singing, dancing, choir and artist development such as stage presence. “It's in their DNA and we're here to bring it out and hopefully they'll continue to grow. They're already musically inclined.”

One particular Glee Camp student is adding something to the experience by being a participant. He's 23-year-old Danny Friedman, of West Bloomfield, who has Down syndrome. His mother, Linda Friedman, is grateful that they allowed him to join.

“They were so wonderful and so receptive,” she said. “They're angels.”

Doctors told her Danny, three pounds at birth, wouldn't walk or talk. Music has changed all of that. His singing has led to talking, then to writing and reading.

“He's always modeled after others,” she said, including his sister Nina, who loves to sing. They used to have pretend microphones and their fireplace area as their stage.

“You give him a microphone and a big crowd, and he comes alive,” she said.

Linda Friedman said having the other kids learn alongside Danny is beneficial for everyone.

“To have him be included is a win-win situation,” she said. “Because everyone learns. This is a blessing. I can't tell them enough how thankful I am.”

  • Justin Cayal, 11, of Farmington Hills, said he is enjoying the Glee Camp experience.
  • “We're singing all the favorite songs that we like and we're having fun with those songs,” he said. “It's amazing.”
  • Emily Carroll, 12, of Farmington Hills, is taking the experience to heart.
  • “I'm so happy about being able to do this,” she said. “I want to become a famous singer.”
  • Working in the Glee factor into such a day camp is a great combo, according to Chloe Grisa, 12, of Livonia, who someday wants to perform on Broadway.
  • “It's been really fun. Considering how much I love Glee, it's been even more fun,” she said. “People say I am just like Rachel from Glee.”
  • She was sporting a Rachel-esque outfit that included a plaid skirt.
  • Izzy Alo, 11, of Bloomfield Hills, said the Glee Camp will also help her achieve her dreams of musical performance.
  • “It makes me feel more confident about singing in front of people,” she said. “And I love Glee.”
"Their shadows searching in the night," sings Satyam Joseph, a line from Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."

They surely “don't stop believin''' they're stars.

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