When kids take the stage in Singing Onstage’s May production of “The Lion King,” they’ll be wearing costumes crafted by kids who honed their sewing skills at The Makery.
On March 19, about 40 people filled the downtown State College arts and crafts studio to work on the costumes.
“The Makery has a group called Designer’s Club, where kids learn how to make full garments,” said Amy Frank, owner of The Makery. “Singing Onstage teaches musical theater. They’re putting on a new show, ‘The Lion King,’ and they don’t have any costumes. (Director) Heidi (Biever) approached me and said, ‘It would be cool if we had your sewing kids pair with my singing kids, and if your kids designed costumes with my kids. It’s a kids helping kids event, so we’re actually creating those costumes.’ ”
Kids in the Desinger’s Club range from ages 7-14.
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“I like it because I get to know more people,” Designer’s Club member Charlotte Takac said. “It’s fun getting to meet new people and getting to do something you like. This is my third year. I think it’s going to be cool to see things we made, to help out.”
On March 19, The Makery had three stations set up around the room where kids made tunics, headbands and headpieces. Both Frank and Biever spoke, and local designer Julie Snyder worked with the kids, who also are involved in Singing Onstage.
“It’s fun and I like it a lot,” said Ella Caldwell, a Designer’s Club member and Singing Onstage performer. “You can be almost as many characters as you want, it’s really fun to be on an actual stage performing, and it’s fun working with other kids. If you go to Singing Onstage, it’s fun to be in a different (part) of it.”
Lily Shaha is also involved in both Designer Club and Singing Onstage.
“I think it’s cool to make other costumes instead of having them be made from an official company,” she said. “I think it’s cool having kids make costumes. I mean, just having the idea of kids wearing clothing other kids made. ... I love sewing, a lot, and I love being at The Makery and I love making things for other people. It’s really awesome.”
Singing Onstage is in its 14th year of producing musicals with children, and “The Lion King” was selected this year because licenses recently became available for organizations like Singing Onstage and public schools.
“This is ‘The Lion King’ kids’ version,” Biever said. “It’s a half-hour, greatest hits of the show.”
The costumes will range from puppetry to masks, and the costuming will be authentic and original, not like something out of a theme park.
The show lends itself to creativity with the costumes.
Heidi Biever, director
“The show lends itself to creativity with the costumes,” Biever said.
Singing Onstage is an organization centered around getting kids more involved in the arts, specifically stage performances, and the partnership with The Makery is an extension of that core mission, Biever said.
“It’s to allow children to shine and show their abilities,” she said. “It’s really special, because it really fits in with our philosophy.”
While The Makery is not solely focused on working with kids — with classes and workshops designed specifically for adults as well — the youth portion of its programming is a significant aspect of the overall vision if the organization, Frank said.
“Fifty percent of our classes are kids’ oriented classes, and 50 percent are adult oriented,” she said. “The reason we feel it’s so important to teach kids sewing, for example, is it’s very empowering, to understand they can create something that’s very physically useful. You can use grown-up equipment and grown-up tools to create, creating things is very empowering. That goes for sewing and all of our other genres of arts and crafts, and that goes for all levels of life.”
Frank also emphasized the shared philosophies of The Makery and Singing Onstage.
“The thread that runs through The Makery and Singing Onstage studios is that kids are doing things that really are difficult,” Frank said. “It’s hard to get up on stage to sing a solo. You grow so much as a person when you do that. We’re teaching them how, and that’s the skill that will stay with them for the rest of their life.”
Singing Onstage will present “The Lion King” on May 27 at Schwab Auditorium.