TAMPA, Fla. — The pandemic closed the curtain for a musical theater spring break camp in 2020, but this year the show goes on.
The Straz Center provides the musical theater spring break camp for kids and teens through Metropolitan Ministries.
“This year we got creative. We figured it out and we’re able to have our children experience the arts right here in ways that really light them up. This is their only and first opportunity to dance, sing and be a part of musical theater, in a real theater, it’s amazing,” said Nicole Boone, the senior director of education at Metropolitan Ministries.
The program is called CREATE, standing for Children’s Recreation Education Arts and Therapeutic Experience.
“Our kids are typically underexposed to things that other children might have an opportunity to do. This type of programming and this type of partnership becomes essential to what we are doing. We even had one of our children come back after the first day and say I figured out what I want to be. I want to be an actor when I grow up. Before that, he had no context for what that was. But now he’s a part of musical theater and he gets to have that experience,” said Boone.
This year the theme is "Emerald City Showcase." The participants are in small groups, wear masks and social distance. They craft props, write, learn songs, dance and act.
At the end of the week, rather than having their usual live performance for families, they record their performance for families to later watch.
“They love getting better and so they’re very excited to show their growth and I just love developing that skill and helping them escape throughout the week as well through some of the wonders of musical theater,” said Jeff Morris, the community partnership coordinator for the Straz Center.
The camp is one of more than 40 community partnerships by the Straz.
The programs offer arts education at no cost to schools and service agencies. Applications are open through April 2.
“We just don’t want economics to be a barrier to learning about the arts and finding a way to explore your passion in the performing arts,” said Morris.