Shayna Turk, Director | STARS
Welcome to Shayna Turk's Academy of Rising STARS. My name is Shayna Turk and I am the director and founder of STARS. I began this camp with the intention of teaching younger children how to become more self confident in stage performing. I wanted to teach younger children the necessary skills to perform on stage. However, over the years this camp has become so much more.
Throughout my life, theater has always been important to me. When I was five years old I started acting. I went to a few theatrical camps and performed in twenty-three musicals. In every production I learned something new whether it was becoming more confident or improving my singing skills from that point forward, I knew musical theatre would be a major part of my life.
In 2002, while I was performing in shows, my sister Talia decided to join me. Talia was six years old and wanted to perform as well. Talia and I both auditioned for a show and were given our roles. I was given one of the leads and was thrilled, but my sister was not. Even though Talia had an incredible voice for her age, she was not given an important part due to her age. We did not feel it was fair that she should be given a smaller part just because she was younger. After that summer so many ideas filled my head, I tried to think of different ways for my sister to get a bigger role the next summer.
In 2003, I started an art camp. Although it was not a theatrical camp, it was a beginning. Twice a week for two hours, eight kids came to my house and I helped them create different art projects. From word of mouth, a total of fourteen additional kids came to my camp. After the summer of 2003 I wanted to do something different.
In 2004, I decided to start my own drama camp. I knew it would take a lot of work and devotion, but I felt I could do it. So at the age of eleven, I began what is now called Shayna Turk's Academy of Rising STARS.
Since my grandparents, Erica and Jerry Miller, had a large backroom with a stage, I had a built-in location to hold my performances.
I asked my sister and twelve of her friends to perform in my first show. So at the age of 11, I directed my first production, "You are a Good Man Charlie Brown". For three weeks during the summer, the kids came to my house and I taught them everything they would need to perform the show. After the third week, we invited all of their families to come and watch the show. The kids enjoyed performing and the audience's reaction. I realized that I had found what I had been looking for!
From that day on, my life would never be the same. After seeing everyone's reaction, I decided to direct my second musical "The Wizard of Oz". I knew that my first show was a success, when fifteen kids signed up for my second production. I taught these children the choreography, singing and acting, necessary for performing on stage. After the third week of this camp, we successfully performed in front of an even larger audience. As the summer of 2004 came to a close, not only had I directed two shows but I also had eighteen kids eager to participate and perofrm in my camp the following summer.
In the summer of 2005, I directed two more shows, "Annie" and "Grease". Eighteen kids performed in Annie and thirty kids performed in Grease. This camp evolved from twelve to thirty!
Since that summer I have produced 9 more musicals, and even 2 teen musicals. Each summer has been unforgettable and life changing. I can't wait for what this summer has in store.
STARS | Music for Heart Foundation
In 2007, I decided I wanted to direct only one show and have a larger preparation period. So in 2007, I directed "High School Musical". This show was unlike any others I had done. For the first time, a five year old Delaney Kate Small joined STARS campers.
Delaney's two older sisters, Jaime and Kylie, had been performing in my camp since the beginning. Each summer, Delaney wanted to join them, but she was not old enough. Delaney is very special to me. She was born with congenital heart disease and struggled until she had corrective surgery. Delaney was fortunate to have parents who could afford this surgery. Soon after, Delaney's parents, Brenda and Craig small, founded the Music for Heart Foundation.
Music for Heart is an organization that raisees funds for children who suffer from congenital heart disease. All over the world, there are countless children suffering from this disease who are not as fortunate as the Small family. Funds generated through the Music For Heart Program are designated to sponsor cardio-thoracic medical missions to third world countries where cardiac care is unavailable. In addition, funds allow cardiac children to be flown to the US for complex corrective surgeries.
When Delaney joined my camp, I decided that all the money raised from the performances would go to Music for Heart. STARS raised $1,700 from the performances of "High School Musical"!
In the summer of 2008, I directed "Hairspray". This was my favorite show because every kid had an incredible time and we raised $3,200.00 for Music for Heart Foundation!
Ever since Delaney joined STARS, the focus of my camp changed. STARS was no longer just a theater camp but now about the experience of giving to those less fortunate. The devotion of the Small family is incredible and I am able to show my campers how important that is and play a roll model to them. I want to keep helping these cause in every way I can.
From now on, STARS will always give the proceeds to Music for Heart and each kid involved will know that they have helped make a difference in a child's life. I plan to continue STARS for many years and hopeefully will be able to continue while I attend college. I'm so thankful to have been given this incredible opportunity and so excited to continue on my dream!