07/17/2013 11:45 am ET Updated Sep 16, 2013

Engaging Children Through Costumes

Although the season is over, Florida Grand Opera (FGO) continues its efforts to bring opera to the community through partnerships targeting local children with an interest in the arts. Director of Education Cerise Sutton and Head of Costuming Camilla Haith have spent the summer working with theater programs and camps to share the opera art form with performing arts students.

Tandem Theatre Project's summer camp at the Deering Estate educates children, both beginners and advanced students, in musical theater through the preparation and performance of a showcase. Through the partnership with FGO, students of the camp have the unique privilege of working with professionally made costumes, sets and props as they take to the stage.

The younger age division recently put on a production of Three Little Pigs. Haith spent a month designing and building numerous costume pieces that doubled as scenery by transforming into backdrops or cottages. Just this week, the camp's teens opened their own abridged production of Romeo and Juliet, which they performed with vigor and passion at the Deering Estate Stone House Ballroom to the delight of their friends and family.

"It's wonderful to see teens embody these iconic characters and be fully committed," said Sutton after seeing an evening performance of Romeo and Juliet on July 15. "It's an excellent show, from the complex dialogue to the choreographed fight scenes, and we are so proud we can give the show a finishing touch with our costumes."

Tandem's teens were sent on a field trip to FGO's costume warehouse, where Haith fitted them for costumes used in FGO's production of Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, which opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts during the 2011-12 season.

"They went through the steps that our professional singers would go through before they go on stage," said Sutton. "And they were loving it!"

Up next on Florida Grand Opera's summer calendar is Girl's Empowerment Camp at Miami-Dade's Women's Park, which mentors girls in middle and high school.

Campers will take a peek behind the curtain at the opera with two costuming workshops led by Haith. On July 26, the girls will enjoy an overview of the costuming process and will be given a special challenge: to create a wearable garment using only the mystery items given to them. The second part of the workshop will take place on August 2. The students will present Haith with their creations, talk about the process and challenges of making a costume, and even strut their stuff in their very own designs.

For more information on Florida Grand Opera's educational programs, visit the company's Education Page.

Tandem Theater Project's Romeo and Juliet