When you think about it, you realize a costume is really a character’s skin. While the actor must bring this person to life, it is the costume that gives the audience at a quick glance, insight to the person/ persons residing in this imaginary world. At TADW, the costumes do just that, due to the sheer brilliance, commitment and care from the amazing costume designers.
The two costume designers this summer, Ann Wilson (designer for Music Man) and Maro Parian (designer for The Jungle Book), have pulled all the stops to bring these two fabulous worlds a stunning look! Both agree that to make great costumes you need to have very good communication with the directors. Maro, who has been a costume designer for thirty years, and has worked with TADW for nine, says that when working with directors, “they tell me ideas, I tell them whether it will work or not, I just really, really have to listen.”
She also says that for The Jungle Book she pulled most of her inspiration from her childhood. She spoke of the Russian version of The Jungle Book simply entitled Mowgli, as though she were talking about a childhood friend. She also noted that when the directors told her they were thinking in the theme of Bollywood that, “it was like opening up a whole new world, and the possibilities were just like - wow.”
Ann who has been costume designing for 16 years, and working with CSUN for eleven, says that for this play she’s been able to draw on the already, “wonderful costumes here at CSUN,” and doing some research into the time period. “It’s been very important for the director and myself to get the colors and time period right.”
While these amazing designers are hard at work creating the perfect outfit, (having only two to three weeks to dress an entire cast) TADW students are popping in and out of the dressing rooms, (some with furry animal skins, others looking like proper ladies and gents) giggling at each other, and strutting their stuff as they get to see the character they are portraying come to life. “Working with kids is so much better than working with adults.” Says Ann Wilson, “It doesn’t matter what you put them in; they are always excited about their costume.” As we continued to talk she looked at me and said, “Take this shirt for example, -she held up a small, long sleeve, yellow, plain, button up tee, and then looked at the boy who will be wearing it- if his mother bought him this exact same shirt at JC Penney he wouldn’t look twice. But because he gets to be Winthrop in this shirt, it’s instantly cool.”
But these remarkable costume designers are so much more than extremely skilled seamstresses, they both have wonderful hearts for the students at TADW (they also both either have children in the program or working in TADW). Maro told me that she, “just loves this age group. I enjoy seeing their work and their different levels of talent and commitment. Working with these students helps me with my own children.” Ann told me that her favorite part of TADW was the “…collaborative process. These students are committed and serious to working on their skills. I’ve worked at middle schools and other places, and those kids don’t have the same commitment and work ethic that TADW students do.”
These ladies don’t just dress these kids to make them look good; they dress them so they feel good. Which is yet another amazing example of how TADW doesn’t just simple focus on making the students looking good on the outside, but also instilling them with confidence on the inside.