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Playhouse stages intense theater education

Joe Birdseye acts in “The Three Musketeers” at Harbor City International School. With him is Kjell Hinkel and Matt Semaan.

For Joe Birdseye, 17, the Playhouse Summer Intensive is more than just something to do during school break. He will play the title character in the August production of “Hamlet.”

“I can say that I am looking forward to not only the show, but also the community. The people that do these shows at the Playhouse, like for the summer intensive, they are amazing people,” Birdseye said.

He has completed four summer intensives so far with the Youth Repertory Theatre Company at the Playhouse. He took part in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2010, “Romeo and Juliet” in 2011, “As You Like It” in 2012 and “Metamorphosis” last year.

“I experienced doing children’s camps when I was younger, so I knew my way around a theater,” Birdseye said. “I auditioned and I got in.”

Summer Intensive participants receive a experience in many aspects of theater, including both acting and behind-the-scenes tech work. They learn what it takes to make a show come together.

“It’s covering all the bases of theater,” Birdseye said.

The Playhouse has a system for its students to learn. This year the shows are “Hamlet” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

“We perform those two shows at the same time during the same two weeks,” Birdseye said. “One show does tech for the other show, so ‘Hamlet’ will be doing tech for ‘Millie’ and ‘Millie’ will be doing tech for ‘Hamlet.’”

The program builds not only theater skills, but also life skills. The sense of community among the participants is a valued experience.

“One of my favorite parts of the intensive is that everyone is so inclusive and helpful to each other,” Birdseye said. “They help each other memorize lines, and they help teach what they know in order to help other people act better, and I just think the community is one of the best parts.”

If you go


August 7, 15 & 16 at 7 p.m.

August 9 & 10 at 2 p.m.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

August 8, 9 & 14 at 7 p.m.

August 16 & 17 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for ages 18 and under, plus $1.50 per ticket handling fee.

Duluth Playhouse, 506 W.

Michigan St. (218) 733-7555