During the last year, I have encountered many people talking about ZAK-PAC and the great opportunity it is for young people who are interested in the Arts. If you have not heard of ZAK-PAC it is a performing arts convention geared towards students in grades 6-12. According to their website, “ZAK-PAC (Zakarak Performing Arts Convention) is an exhilarating and intensive theatre training program for students in grades 6 thru 12 providing up-close and personal instruction by professionals from top Regional Theatres, Universities, Broadway and Television!” This year, 2014, is the second annual convention and the dates for ZAK-PAC are October 18-19, 2014 hosted by Germantown Academy.

Each time I talk with the people involved in ZAK-PAC they instill me with their excitement about getting young people involved in the Arts. The remarkable individuals who participate in this convention are full of passion and enthusiasm for the Arts, as well as possess an eagerness to pass their skills on to young people. Julianna Schauerman, who is the Executive Producer of ZAK-PAC wishes to create a positive environment where young people can learn and explore their creativity in a safe environment. According to Schauerman, “I wanted to give kids who were interested in theatre a more intense education and something different from the education they received in summer theatre camps. I chose a variety of individuals who have a passion for theatre, and they can share their gift with the young people in a positive way.” This year, Monica Horan, best known for her role as Amy on Everybody Loves Raymond, is a featured guest and will teach an improv class at the convention. Additionally, other featured guests this year are: Kiira Schmidt (numerous Broadway credits and associate choreographer from NBC’s Smash) and Michelle Kittrell (performed in eight Broadway shows and is now a talent manager in New York City.) There are also many local artists who will be teaching at this convention such as Neill Hartley, Peter Rios, Susan Riley Stevens, and Marcus Stevens.

ZAK-PAC is unique in that there is a “competition” aspect to the program where the kids get to experience what it is like to be on an audition. The young people at this point get to perform a song, monologue or dance and they get feedback on the spot from the teachers. The hopes according to Schauerman is that the young people will learn a lot from the professionals teaching at the convention, and the young people will have a positive and fun experience learning from these seasoned veterans of the Arts.

The ZAK-PAC convention is October 18 -19, 2014 at the Germantown Academy. For more information, visit their website at www.zakarakconventions.com.

Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online site broadwayworld.com and is a freelance writer. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on twitter @theatrescribe and on Facebook/theatresensation.

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