Terre Haute native and Indiana State grad Clair Hummel just finished her master's degree in costume design at the University of Houston. Now that the grad program is over she says that she is " as free as a bird." But, she adds, she "…couldn't resist coming back in the ‘Haute to work in the costume shop for the Cross Roads Repertory Theatre." She's the designer for the Godspell the 2011 season opener.
The Road To Crossroads
Hummel's work as a designer goes all the way back to high school. "I was in a production of The Sound of Music. Something just wasn't quite right with the nuns' costumes, and I thought to myself, I can figure out how to do better than this. So, I did."
Hummel continues, "My mom, Madonna Hummel, is an excellent seamstress, and with some help from her they came out quite well. This led to an opportunity to design Into the Woods and some other high school shows as well. There was never much of a budget, so once I'd come up with designs my mom and I would scour every store in the area that had bargain fabrics."
Characters Behind Characters
Godspell offers some special challenges for director Arthur Feinsod and the costume designer. "There's kind of a character behind each character," says Hummel. "Stephen Schwartz uses the actual names of the original production's actors as the names for the characters and he's written descriptions of them. I've worked with the descriptions and what I've learned about our own actors to make their costumes work."
One example is the character named Jeffrey. Schwartz describes him as being very active and fun-loving. Hummel notes, "Our actor naturally has some of those qualities. I've tried to help him create the character of Jeffrey by costuming him in loose jeans with a T-shirt and a letter jacket to kind of emphasize an active, athletic quality."