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Posted: Monday, August 6, 2007 12:00 am

Cruella De Vil became notorious for her wicked fetish of spotted dog fur, but students in “101 Dalmatians Kids” will become known for their acting in her fictional tale.

All the dogs of London come together, in the Disney-based story, for a rescue operation of innocent puppies —Odessa-Midland children are uniting in similar fashion to perform the lively musical at the Permian Playhouse.

And the show, on Aug. 17, is actually the culmination of the Playhouse’s Summer Theatre Camp which started Monday and lasts for two weeks.

Artistic Director Mark Tenniswood said about 40 children are already enrolled in the camp — an intense training with classes on acting, singing and dance.

Teen volunteers with the Kaleidoscope Company use their performing experience to teach the camp participants from first grade through high school.

“They’re teaching the classes, and I’m supervising the show,” Tenniswood said. “Some of our student teachers not only have training from us, but places like Milam (fine arts magnet school) too.”

Bonham seventh-grader Courtney Williams, 11, said she stays busy at the camp, teaching the show’s dance numbers and choreography to the different age groups.

“It’s really cool that you get to meet a lot of people in the community, and you can use your art in a positive way — these kids are really talented,” she said.

Nicole Juarez and Tyler Bell, both 11-year-old sixth-graders at LBJ Elementary, said they’ve had a fun, exciting time at the daylong camp.

“Once you get into it, you start doing more and more rehearsing, and it gets more funner over the days,” Bell said.

Some of the basic music lessons taught are a reminder of things normally learned during the school year.

“It’s fun and exciting, and you can learn some new stuff — it’s review of what I’ve already learned in school,” Juarez said.

By playing name games and silly competitions, teachers like 15-year-old Hope Boyer encourage younger artists to be creative and animated on stage.

“This is a lot of their first time, and they’re nervous, and we have to talk them into it,” she said. “It’s really great because it’s easy to express yourself in theater — I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

After practicing his free-style dancing, Reagan third-grader Nathan Manales, 8, shared his enjoyment with the theater, but a little stage fright for the big performance.

“At the first part I feel frightened, but at the end I feel good — if I don’t mess up,” he said.

WANT TO GO?

>> Summer Theatre Camp at the Permian Playhouse started Monday, but there’s still room for more young actors.

>> Children in grades one through 12 must register today

>> Cost is $195 for the two-week camp.

>> The camp is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Aug. 17.

>> Students need to bring a sack lunch each day. Snacks and drinks will be provided.

>> “The full performance of “101 Dalmatians Kids” is at 5:15 p.m. Aug. 17 at the theater.

>> Admission is free. Call 550-5456.

Odessa, TX

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