Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
These are a list of the shows that I think exemplify my best work. I've picked one per season. This list is in order from earliest to most recent. I talk a little about what I learned from each one.
1. Indians, 1997
I got to drive into Fort Worth and buy actual deerskins from American Leather Co. for this show. I had previously done Black Elk Speaks in El Paso, in which I had to make the Indian costumes out of faux suede fabric, which was not a great substitute, so I was determined to use real leather this time. I also bought real feathers and bone beads to make headdresses and breastplates out of. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow Baylor's Eagle Feather war bonnet for Sitting Bull. The Indian boys had three pieces of costume--shirt, loincloth, leggings--that they could wear (or not) depending on the scene's requirements, nothing was faked. I used faux fur for the buffalo skins and the students were given creative license to paint whatever designs they wanted onto their shirts/dresses. Buffalo Bill's costume of chaps and a jacket was also entirely made from leather that had a small "cattle brand" print on it. Students sewed everything except his collar which I had to do. We did a presentation at TETA on the "Co-conceptualization" of Indians. It was not only my first time to present anything at TETA, it was my first ever time to attend the conference. I was terrified and had no idea what I was supposed to contribute to the presentation, but of course it all turned out OK in the end.
2. An Ideal Husband, 1998
I won an Excellence in Costume Design award at KCACTF for this show. Our adjudicator only criticism of my design was that I had put all the men in patent leather dress shoes for the first Act and had failed to provide them with another, less formal pair for the rest of the show. We made all 13 of the women's dresses and pulled all the men's suits. Besides making the dresses we also had to make corsets for the ladies (which we did over the summer) and turn short, unruffled petticoats into longer, ruffled petticoats to help create the correct foundation. I had one of my workstudy students, Brandon McWilliams, create all the hats for the ladies. The one pictured for Mrs. Chevely was the piece de resistance of them all. I've used it so many times since then. Mrs. Markby's was fabulously overdone to, it had a whole bird on it.
3. Scapin, 1999
I had so much fun doing this show. I had an idea to do all the costumes parti-colored, including the tights, which made construction process somewhat confusing for the students. All the designs had to be photocopied and colored in for fronts and backs of all the garments with arrows drawn to swatches and even then mistakes were made and pieces had to be recut or seam ripped and resewn. The only huge mistake that escaped my notice throughout the whole process was that I'd put the lovers in the same color family, rather than the brother/sister couples. It finally occured to me what I'd done on first dress and by then it was too late. I had just discovered Renaissance Dancewear and had them custom make and dye all our tights for the show. Another work study student, Curtis Howard, who went on to work for Feld Entertainment, did all the paper mache masks out of brown paper HEB grocery bags. The other thing that got away from me was since the Gendarmes were in black and white, I'd asked half the boys to bleach their hair white (because all four of them had black hair naturally, and instead of half them bleaching, they all did.
4. Medea, 2000
This was a very conceptualized version of the Greek tragedy. This was mainly a dance piece that was accompanied by our percussion ensemble directed by Jon Kutz. Our director/choreographer Jerry MacLauchlin, cast three Medeas and three Jasons to represent different stages of their relationship. I designed the costumes all in metallic neutrals so that our wonderful lighting designer, Tim Poertner could use the costumes as a palette to create any color he wanted on stage. We had two large choruses of Jason's Argonauts and The Women of Corinth. Jerry also cast two similar girls to play Medea's Sorceresses. Crystal Dabbs and Claire McPherson were so into their roles that they went out and bought white colored contacts so they would look blind, not that anyone but the front row could see it, but it was really cool if you could.
5. Royal Hunt of the Sun, 2001
We had nine student designers work on aspects of this show, it was so huge! I won an Excellence in Costume Design award at KCACTF. Our students won awards as well: Kim Moravec and Naomi Elliott won a special award for Excellence in Makeup and Hair, our Props designer, Jon Alonso, and our Sound Designer, Jen Korte, also won awards for Excellence. The other student designers were Bobby Malone, Dylan Henderson and Josh Mullins for Armor; Chimmy Gunn and Alex Lerma for masks and headdresses, respectively; and Lita Thomas and Alexis Koleff for Jewelry. LIke I said, it was a huge show. We made all the boot tops out of leather from American Leather FActory in Ft. Worth and we've used them in a ton of shows since then. In fact the cheaper and stiffer leather that I used for the rank and file soldiers have stood the test of time better than the more expensive and supple leather that I bought for the officer's boots.
6. Opera Comique, 2002
I was pregnant during this show and I was so big I couldn't get near the cutting tables to cut anything out. The students had to do everything for me. It was last minute and I had to make two capes, so I cut them out on the floor on my hands and knees with Sylvan hanging low in my belly. I'm sure I looked ridiculous. My students saw what I was doing and were yelling at me to get up and they'd do it, but I told them I was already down here I might as well keep cutting. We only made the four dresses for this show, but we had to make the corsets, and bustles as well. Shanna Tucker made the bustles and did an excellent job. When people come to rent things they are often mistaken for outerwear because she did such a good job on them. And it's been 15 years and we've used them in a bunch of shows since and they are still going strong.
7. Metamorphoses, 2003
This show presented it's own set of challenges, costumes, makeup, and hair had to endure a swimming pool full of water and still come out looking good and not shrink or fade. I spent a long time testing fabric swatches before we made anything and I used the internet to research waterproof makeup. We ended up going with Kryolan and a spray fixitive.
8. A Man for all Seasons, 2005
This is one of those period shows that I went to so much extra effort to capture the period silhouette and ensure that the students did a really good job of construction, I wanted it to be beautiful and it was. Unfortunately, we were seriously short-handed on this show and most of the credit goes to Shanna Tucker and Jason Sanchez for sewing like the wind and going above and beyond regular shop hours to get the whole thing finished.
9. The Ramayana, 2005
This show was my idea. We had a fantastic choreographer, Jerry MacLauchlin and I suggested that he do some folktales or mythology as a dance piece, much like what he did with Medea. I was particularly fascinated with Indian culture at the time and suggested The Ramayana, a beautiful love story filled with gods, demons, monkeys, and other supernatural creatures. The saris and pajama pants were just half of the costumes for the show. Our wonderful cultural consultant and MCC librarian, Kalyani Ananderamen, went with me on a shopping extravaganza to Dallas where we visited the fabric district (I'd never been there) and some Indian clothing stores and then we got to have Indian food for lunch. Justin Cox did the masks, headdresses, and makeup. He went out and bought an airbrush just for fun and that's how Ravana the demon (Doug Gassaway) ended up wearing just a loincloth and body paint. Best costume I had nothing to do with. The one big mistake I made on this show was that Kalyani gave me a pair of her husband's pajama pants to take apart so I could get a pattern from them in order to replicate it for our boys. A combination of not being able to afford more than 5 yards of silk per pants and the strange way the pants were put together contributed to the boys not being able to dance in them on first dress. It's not that they were tight at all, it was that one leg had an opening in the front, but the other leg was sewn on backwards and had the opening to the back. So the boys could do all their leaping to the right, but not to the left. We ended up hemming them up much higher to fix the problem, but it was still irritating to me.
10. Pirates of Penzance, 2007
This was a joint production between the theatre, music, and opera departments. Every kid in the department was cast plus a handful of high school girls to fill out the ranks of the daughters. We made all the daughters dresses, petticoats, bloomers, and bought white Victorian boots, white stockings, and parasols, We spent so much money. This was after Pirates of the Caribbean came out so I found the source for the Captain Jack Sparrow hat Renboots, and ordered a black one for our Pirate King. We also had to buy all the Bobby uniforms and hats, those came from Tuxedo Wholesaler. Super expensive show. The only thing we didn't have to buy or make were the girls' nightgowns and matching hats and the pirate costumes. We did make the Pirate King costume though and I've used that jacket a bunch since them, as well as all the boot tops from Royal Hunt.
11. Pride and Prejudice, 2007
was an ACTF entry, didn't win anything, because of the dad, played by Cruz Thomas, would never come in for a fitting so his jacket ended up being too big. That's all our adjudicator talked about in the critique even though every other costume fit perfectly. It was even suggested that I should have just bought all the menswear from Tuxedo Wholesalers instead of making them ourselves. First of all TW only sells things made form regular Prom stock which means that everything is either black, grey, navy, or brown and only comes in solid colors. Back in 1997 I was super lucky to get one jacket in maroon and another one in green, but again only solid colors. Well I had a very specific color palette in mind and I desperately wanted patterns on the men, so we made all the costumes, not just the dresses. The students learned a lot! So I stand by my decision and I think if the adjudicators hadn't been so jet-lagged they would have seen how awesome our costumes were and would have given me an award. Yes, ten years later I'm still bitter about this.
12. Romeo and JUliet, 2008
I was determined to do the whole show using a period-inspired color palette: vermillion and lapis lazuli. Basically I put the Capulets in oranges and the Montagues in blues. The Prince and his brace of kinsmen, Mercutio and Paris, were in purple. The masks were made to resemble animal faces out of thermoplastic by Seth Ramsey who played Capulet. I got more tights from Renaissance Dancewear and this time we dyed them ourselves. We made every single costume ourselves from scratch for this show. It should have been an ACTF show, but our admin wouldn't pony up the money for traveling adjudicators out again the very next year.
13. Too Many Sopranos, 2010
We made all four of the Sopranos' gowns and the Angel chorus as well. We pulled the basses costumes, except for Nelson Deadly's Canadian Mounty costume which I ordered from Tuxedo Wholesaler. We have yet to use it again so far. Saint Peter and the ladies were all in gold, the basses were all in red, because they were stuck in hell. It's a really funny show and a great spoof on opera types.
14. Lion in Winter, 2010
I won an Excellence in Costume Design award at ACTF. The adjudicators were particularly impressed with the crowns that I made myself. This show had more buttons on each costume than any show before or since. We made each piece from scratch.
15. The Chicken Opera, 2012
This is the only original script on this list, with book and lyrics by MCC alum Julie Woodley (a former theatre and opera student) and music by our own piano instructor, Dr. Andy Hudson. The farm animals are all scared by an unknown presence on the farm and have life lessons to learn from each other as well as a visiting rooster with a penchant for psychology. Julie wrote this show with her daughter in mind, being a single mom and trying to raise her daughter to solve her own problems and that there's nothing to fear but fear itself. With avain characters like Rose the Chicken, Birdetta, Madame Poultry, Bill the Duck, Dr. Roo Quacks, plus two peacocks from the neighboring farm, and their friends Bob the Squirrel, Pudge the Dog, Crazy Sue the Pig, Mice-stro, and three fainting goats, it was a designer's fantasy come true. So many feathers on this show!
16. Three Musketeers, 2012
This show is the first on the list to be directed by Kelly Parker. Kelly went from being an MCC student, to an alum who came over from Baylor to continue doing musicals with us, to a high school OAP director that came to our clinics, to being our box office staff person, to our scenic designer to our director, to the Department Coordinator and I've supported him all the way. Kelly is just a great guy and he's so easy and fun to work with. This was a great show and it was my idea to do it outside. You can't tell from the photos but a cold front blew in during tech week and the actors are freezing cold. Oops! The weather the weekend before had been just beautiful. Anyway, we'd never done a show in this period so I had a lot of fun building all the hip pads for the girls and putting almost all of the men in wigs. The leather Musketeer hats and boots also came from Renboots, the same place I got the hat for Pirates of Penzance.
17. BEaux Stratagem, 2013
Anothe show directed by Kelly Parker. This was another period we hadn't done yet, Restoration. I got to design petticoat breeches for a character, something I've wanted to do for a while now. It was a very tongue in cheek show and I was particularly pleased with how Mrs. Kate Sullen's blue dress turned out. Eloquently played by Savannah Cooper, her stunning costume was made by Lauren Lowe.
18. A midsummer Night's Dream, 2014
This is still my favorite production I've ever done at MCC. Also directed by Kelly Parker, our concept was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites paintings. I particularly loved how the faeries turned out exactly like I'd imagined. We did run into one small problem. I had ordered an airbrush off of Amazon for $50 along with airbrush makeup from Kryolan to use to basically recreate the Demon Ravana's makeup from Ramayana. I gave it to our makeup designer, Lauren Lowe to practice with. The practice session went great, but then it clogged and no amount of cleaning could ever make it work again. The lesson learned here, is don't by a really cheap on sale airbrush off of Amazon and expect it to work. All that money on makeup was wasted because we couldn't use it and I never got any money back for the defective airbrush. Luckily I had bought each faerie an extra pair of fishnet tights so we cut them up and used them as sleeves to cover the bare arms. We even went so far as to paint their ballet shoes. It was the most amount of color I think we've ever put onstage. And all the credit for the wings goes to alum Jason Sanchez who cranked out 9 pair of them for me. This was the first time we did a free performance for area high schools and junior high schools. That was my idea. It went over really well. The kids loved coming to see our show.
19. The Magic Flute, 2016
The opera at McLennan has always been the red-headed step-child in terms of budget. I generally have about $500 to do costumes which is why the opera generally is costumed in stuff we already have. And this was the second time I'd done Magic Flute for the opera. The first time I used the Ramayana costumes for the Ladies and the Medea costumes for the Spirits and make Papageno and Papagena from scratch. This time we made 10 of the 15 costumes from scratch. And this time the Queen of the Night LIT UP LIKE A CHRISTMAS TREE! I was so excited. I probably had her in 24 rechargeable batteries in 6 battery packs safety-pinned into her hoop skirt and a pouch on her corset. We had to make new hoop skirts for this show, the ones we'd made back in 1999 for Christmas CArol were dying a sad death, so four new ones were made at the end of the fall semester in preparation for this show in the spring. Of the things we pulled from stock, you'll notice one of the Peacocks from Chicken Opera and Oberon from Midsummer is being worn by The Priest, The Spirits are wearing the Faeries also from Midsummer. The flamingos are wearing tutus that were made for a dance show a year earlier just with added sleeves and tulle around the neckline. This was such a huge show I had to come in with work study students over spring break to make it happen. ANd yes, Sarastro is totally rocking the Jareth look from Labyrinth in memoriam of David Bowie who had recently passed away.
20. Hansel and Gretel, 2017
This was my first opera with our new opera director, Bronwen Forbay. She is amazing and I love her. We came up with using two witches for our production, one being the "kindly grandmotherly" type who lures the children in, and then suddenly turns into the "cannibalistic evil witch" who's going to lock you in a cage and fatten you up for the oven. Both witches' costumes were made with the same fabrics, just dyed different colors. It was supposed to be a "smoke and mirrors" trick where magically, the good witch changed into the bad witch. I bought prosthetic noses and chins and jowls for our witches but one actor became really claustrophobic once he had all his pieces on and just couldn't perform in them, and the other pieces were too small to fit well on the other actress' face. It was disappointing that I'd spent all that money on what should have been awesome makeup, that we turned out not being able to use. I think only the noses made it to the final curtain. We made the fantastical half of the show from scratch and pulled the human half of the show from stock.
100th show: Henry V, 2017
So Henry V was my 100th show. I made it 20 years at MCC! This one was also directed by Kelly Parker and was staged outside on the Bosque River Stage. This time it was in April and not November, so cold was not a problem. I thought this show was going to kill me. The entire English and French armies onstage. So many uniforms to make. Luckily I had two aces in the hole: alum Shanna Tucker, who did all the fleur de lis and lion embroidery on the tabards for me at a bery reasonable price, and Geekfest friend Mike Lewis, who did all the chain mail sleeves for me also at a very reasonable price. If it hadn't been for that, I don't know that we could have finished. Also, I was able to reuse all of the leather doublets we'd made for Richard III York and Lancaster armies, they were red and white, so the English got the red ones and the French got the white ones. Then I used all the longjohns from Spamalot to go underneath the doublets. Mike added the chainmail sleeves that we laced into the doublet's armholes. We made the particoloured tabards at the end of the fall semester, and Shanna embroidered them as soon as we were done sewing. We got the fabric for free from Jason Sanchez's connection at ICS Jail Supplies which saved us about $500. And yes, we re-used the boot tops from 1999's Royal Hunt of the Sun. Also, we had to make two new crowns. You'd think we'd have had enough crowns after Macbeth and Lion in Winter, but people keep having bigger heads, so we needed larger crowns for Henry and the King of France. Brice Garcia made those. We also did a free performance for the area high schools of this one too.
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