Kamps Memorial Award
Given by Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre
BDHS Graduate Receives BDACT’s Kamps Award
Natalie Franke, a 2022 Beaver Dam High School graduate, is the recipient of this year’s Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre (BDACT) Jerome H. Kamps Memorial Award. Natalie’s interest in theater began when, as a three-year-old, she attended BDACT rehearsals with her mother and grandmother. From then on, she said, “It was magic! Growing up with this experience and influence instilled me with creativity and passion for theater.” She especially values theater for the opportunity to “make close friends who became my second family.”
At eight years old she performed in BDACT’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Natalie has appeared in St. Stephen’s Lutheran Elementary School plays, BDACT’s Tell-A-Tale and main stage shows, Beaver Dam High School plays, and other theater experiences. Her stage skills include acting, dancing, singing, as well as a variety of backstage roles. Following her freshman year in high school, Natalie performed in BDACT’s area high school production, Newsies. She has continued to participate in each of BDACT’s summer high school shows and the Beaver Dam High School musicals, including the role of Yente in Fiddler on the Roof. Currently, Natalie is in the cast of BDACT’s high school summer musical, Big Fish.
To qualify for the $500 annual award sponsored by the Kamps family, the recipient must be a graduating senior from Beaver Dam High School, Wayland Academy, or another area high school, who is committed to post-graduation education. This fall, Natalie will be attending UW-Whitewater to pursue undergraduate and master’s degrees in Communication Sciences/Disorders.
To select an award winner, a committee of theater representatives evaluates the candidates’ essays and tallies the points and hours committed to their theater experiences. Committee Chair Annette Kamps said. “In their essays, the applicants expressed sincere appreciation for the opportunities that theater has given them to grow in their talents and benefit from the camaraderie created within a supportive theater community.”
The award is in memory of Jerome H. Kamps, a co-founder and charter member of BDACT and a dedicated art teacher at the Beaver Dam High School for thirty-four years. He is particularly remembered for his many outstanding set designs for BDACT and BDHS productions and for the encouragement and love for the arts that he instilled in so many.
About Jerome H. Kamps
Jerome H. Kamps was a charter member and co-founder of Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre, established in 1964, and a dedicated Beaver Dam High School art teacher for thirty-four years. He was set designer and director of set painting for more than sixty high school plays during his teaching career. From 1964 until just before his death on May 4, 2015, he also designed and directed set painting for many BDACT productions. He particularly encouraged and gave enthusiastic support to young people as he helped them discover and demonstrate their art talents at school and through community projects. Among those projects was a large barn mural, part of a state-wide project sponsored by the Wisconsin Arts Board. One of his favorite BDACT projects was the extraordinary set for Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat, in 1995. Given his example as a dedicated “back-stage worker” who gave his talents and love for the arts unconditionally, the Jerome H. Kamps Memorial Award will especially acknowledge those characteristics.