For Dee Deringer Piquette, or “Miss Dee” as many of her friends and students call her, costuming is more than a job or a hobby, it’s a life-long passion. Dee, who has lived in Miami Springs for most of her life, learned to sew from her mother, who learned it from her mother. You might say it’s in her blood.
Dee says that her grandmother made costumes for her mother’s dancing, and then her mother later made costumes for her own dancing. She remembers when she was a little girl, lying on her living room floor, and sewing little beads onto fabric. Dee’s mother remembers helping Dee to make clothes for her dolls.
At age 7, Dee started taking ballet lessons at the Miami Springs School of Classical Ballet on Hook Square. Then in high school she joined the Miami Ballet Conservatory. Later, she went to FSU where she majored in dance and theater. Dee says she was always dancing, “I loved to get in the backyard and choreograph dances for the neighbors.” Her mentors were Madam Bladow from the Miami Springs School of Classical Ballet as well as Dr. Nancy Smith from FSU.
In addition to sewing and dancing, Miss Dee is also an actress, choreographer, dance teacher–and a fine cook as well. Plus she makes time to sing in her church choir. Miss Dee has traveled the world performing in musical reviews. She has won acclaim for acting and singing, such as when she was a co-lead in a recent Broward County production of “Grey Gardens” or when she was in “The Fantasticks” or “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” She continually wins praise for her incredible work costuming performers, primarily at the Pelican Playhouse in Miami Springs.
From the Wicked Witch and Cowardly Lion in the “Wizard of Oz,” to gorgeous medieval outfits in “The Trials of Robin Hood” and everywhere in between, Dee’s creativity and talent have shone brightly. Actors appreciate Dee’s sense of style and attention to detail. Even with a cast of 30 performers–Dee makes sure each individual character is complete.
Ralph Wakefield, Artistic Director at the Pelican Playhouse, has called Dee the “MacGyver” of costumers. He shared that once Dee made “The Canterville Ghost’s” suit of armor out of Styrofoam meat trays she got from Milam’s.” “She’s a joy to work with and always adds color and richness to our shows without breaking our budget.”
Miss Dee has been part of the Pelican Playhouse since it began in 2000. Dee says she loves the Pelican Playhouse because it is true community theater at its best. She says her most challenging costume was probably the Jabberwocky in “Dorothy Meets Alice.” But her favorite costume was that of a giant catfish in the “Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon” for which she had to research actual fish shapes and parts, such as fins. “I’m very particular about those details, and I love when I get it right,” said Dee, “Costuming and theater makes me happy. I get a great joy when an actor puts on a costume and they become that character. That means I’ve done my job.”
And for those of us at the Pelican Playhouse, Dee brings us great joy, show after show. Thanks, Miss Dee, for all that you do!
See Dee’s costuming talents for yourself at our upcoming Pelican Playhouse production!
Fairy Tale Theater opens May 3-12.