A young director is spicing up the local theater circuit with a new company that she hopes will become a staple in the community.
When Ramsey resident Danielle VanKampen graduated from Ramapo College last May, the actor/director knew she wanted to use her talents to give back to the community in more ways than one.
“I compete in pageants, and I am planning to compete for Miss America,” VanKampen told Patch. “For that, you need a platform and a cause or an organization that you want to support. I knew what I was passionate about, so I thought I’d form my own.”
Last year, VanKampen’s theater company, Per4ming heARTS, was born.
The idea behind the company is unique – it fosters the growth of local community theater for both area actors and potential audiences. Per4ming heARTS also uses each show it puts on as an excuse to donate money to a local non-profit.
“I have auditioned for shows all over the place,” she said. “I’ve traveled two or three hours away to audition for community theater shows, and I felt there wasn’t as much of an opportunity in this area.”
Plus, VanKampen, a 2008 Ramsey High School grad, said the theater and music programs at local high schools and Ramapo College are breeding good actors who need a place to perform.
Because the community is such a central part of her project, VanKampen said she felt involving community organizations was a perfect fit.
“A portion of our proceeds from tickets and concession sales is donated to a local charity,” she explained. “We will choose a new charity with each show.”
The Per4ming heARTS debut show, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown opens this weekend at the First Presbyterian Church in Ramsey. Most of its stars are current Ramapo College theater students.
Charlie Brown: Peter McPherson
Snoopy: Brian Petty
Sally Brown: Traci Cidlik
Lucy Van Pelt: Rachel Valovcin
Linus Van Pelt: Craig Wolfe
Schroder: A.J. Minutillo
“I chose the show because it has a small cast, and I thought it’d be a good one for our debut,” VanKampen said.
She also worked with the deacons at the Church to choose a charity to benefot from the company’s inaugural show. Hearts and Crafts, a counseling center that helps young people deal with grief through art, will be the show’s beneficiary.
Eventually, VanKampen said she hopes the company will expand, put on more shows, and maybe even open its own theater space that could offer acting classes and other opportunities for community theater. But for now, the 22-year-old director who is also pursuing grad school and working at a gymnastics studio in Hawthorne, said directing her company's first show is exciting enough.
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown runs this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors and $15 for children. Contact (551)427-5540 or firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.