Sulie Harand Friedman, Co-Founder of Harand Camp, Passes Away at 97

Sulie Harand Friedman, Co-Founder of Harand Camp, Passes Away at 97

Sulie Harand Friedman, co-founder of Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts, passed away Saturday evening, August 6 at the age of 97.

Sulie Harand Friedman began studying opera with Richard DeYoung at the American Conservatory of Music, and was coached by Kurt Herbert Adler, who became the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Opera. She won contests in Chicago movie houses and radio shows, culminating in a long run at the Oriental Theatre. Sulie played clubs across the Midwest, performing tributes to Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and others. She quickly turned to musical theatre and established a reputation with her one-woman shows, traveling all over the country with thirty-nine different pieces in her repertoire.

While she continued performing, Sulie opened the Harand Studios of the Theatre Arts with her sister Pearl, which later expanded to include Harand Camp, where Sulie headed the Music and Programming Departments and coordinated shows with Pearl.

Harand Camp’s roots began into being in 1952 as a children’s arts studio based in Chicago and area suburbs. The studio curriculum focused primarily on musical theater with an emphasis on the community spirit and equal opportunity. The studio claimed to be the first to combine training in all three musical theater disciplines – singing, dancing, and acting. The children loved it so much that they never wanted to go home so many parents suggested expanding the program to a full camp in the summer months. Pearl once said that the “dream [had] always been to have a place where kids can laugh and play, where they can develop their whole personality while learning through shared experiences.”

Pearl, a former member of the Chicago Repertory Theatre, taught drama, while Sulie taught voice. Other staff members included Byrne and Joyce Piven (who would later found the Piven Theatre Workshop), Chicago’s future Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, Lois Weisberg, Nora Jacobs (former dancer with Martha Graham), Estelle Spector (Columbia College) and many other prominent professionals.

In 1955, led by Sulie and Pearl, with husbands Byron and Sam, the studio expanded to an overnight summer camp in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The curriculum struck a balance between the arts and traditional camp activities. Jeremy Piven, who was a camper in the 1980s, still marvels at the program saying “how many places in the world can you go to as a kid and get fulfillment performing in plays without all the politics—and still get to play sports all day long?”

Harand adheres to a philosophy of inclusion and a non-competitive spirit – placing a premium on social development and committing to sharing lead roles and the ideals of “No Man Is an Island.” Sulie said they had wanted “to give children the ability to live with other people and not feel someone else has to fail for them to succeed.”

In 1989 the Harand family sold the camp property in Elkhart Lake; however, the camp continued to live on at Wayland Academy, a preparatory school in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. In 2005 the camp relocated to Carthage College in Kenosha. Harand Camp recently concluded its 62nd Season and is still operated by the Harand Family – Judy Friedman Mooney, Janice Gaffin, Nora Gaffin, and Samara Harand.

Sulie Harand Friedman’s family obituary follows:

Sulie Harand Friedman, co-founder of Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts, passed away Saturday evening, August 6 at the age of 97.  Sulie was preceded in death by Harand Camp co-founders – husband Byron Friedman, sister Pearl Harand Gaffin, and brother-in-law Sam Gaffin.  In addition to her legacy as a teacher, director and businesswoman through Harand Theatre Camp, Sulie was renowned for her one-woman interpretations of classic musicals. She will be remembered for her contributions to performing arts education and lasting impact on thousands of Haranders around the world.

Sulie was the beloved wife and best friend of the late Byron Friedman; loving mother of Judy Friedman Mooney and Jacqueline (David) Friedlander; proud grandmother of Samara Harand and Frank (Susan) Friedlander; fond great grandmother of Francesca and Penelope; dear sister of the late Pearl Harand (the late Sam) Gaffin; cherished aunt of Nora Gaffin and Janice Gaffin; and great aunt of Samuel Lovell, Angela Lovell and Peri Cherashore.

Services will be held Thursday, August 11 at 12 pm at Chicago Jewish Funerals, 8851 Skokie Blvd (at Niles Center Road), Skokie. Interment will follow at Westlawn Cemetery, 7801 W Montrose Ave, Norridge.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Harand Camp Scholarship Fund, 1569 Sherman Ave., Suite 201A, Evanston, IL 60201.

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