The Wilton Children’s Theater took to the altar with its summerstage production of The Wedding Singer on Thursday, July 11, and Friday, July 12.

Director Mary Jo Duffy and Music Director Chris Coogan guided 50 campers through the story of Robbie, a popular wedding singer who, ironically, was left at the altar during his own nuptial ceremony by his fiancée, Linda.

Though devastated, Robbie receives consolation from Julia, a waitress at the wedding hall where he frequently performs. After Julia asks for Robbie’s help in planning her own wedding, a strong friendship develops between the two.

The story ends with Robbie and Julia confessing their love for each other, and sharing a kiss. The more mature nature of the play is also accompanied by an increase in practice intensity, the teachers said.

Mr. Coogan, a seasoned jazz player, and Mrs. Duffy, a former broadway actress and an instructor at Wiremill Academy, used their knowledge and skills to help the summer program reach a new level.

“We’ve kind of taken it to a little bit of a higher level, I guess, in that we demand a little more performance-wise. We’re really trying to teach them something here.”

While the program is seeking a higher level of performance, it maintains the encouraging atmosphere the Children’s Theater is known for, they said.

Children entering seventh  through 10th grade were able to participate in the performance. This age group was chosen to give middle and high school students, who wouldn’t be able to perform in the public schools’ plays, a chance to act in front of an audience.

Mrs. Duffy said, “I think the reason this organization got started was because there wasn’t anything in the schools until the kids reached high school, and most of the time the ninth graders won’t get a part in the high school musical, so we are sort of filling a gap.” The program acts as an accelerated training for the more demanding school plays, where auditions are more selective, rehearsals are more time-consuming, and performances are held to a higher standard, she said.

Most of all, the Summerstage program exists to continue and celebrate the benefits of stage performance.

“Theater is unlike anything else,” Ms. Duffy said, “When you pool together, it teaches kids how to have each others’ backs, it teaches children how to kind of depend on one another, help each other out, how to be a community, to work together, to put one show together, be supportive of each other. Any chance to do that is just beneficial to kids, I think.”