A behind the scenes force, today we’re talking to costumer Marci Franklin!
Marci manages the costume departments at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and formerly the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN. Her work can also be seen in the films Hunger Games, Elvis and Nixon, and Ender’s Game. Her design work has been seen in theaters all over St Louis. Next year she will be designing **** for The Repertory Theatre. She is the resident costumer designer for East Central College.
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
A: The Miser, in high school. I was a wench in a mob cap and a flannel shirt. Comic relief, for sure!
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
A: I suppose it would be that “We aren’t saving babies.” Meaning what we do is theatre, a skit, a play, a musical. Yes, it’s my profession and it pays the bills but we are not saving lives. We are telling stories, enabling people to escape into another world for a while, we entertain people and make them happy or sad or introspective or angry. In the end, we want to give the audience the best show possible but we need to remember that in the end, it’s just a play. Emotions and words need to be positive and helpful and realistic. When we take ourselves too seriously, people get hurt and theatre stops being a collaborative effort. Maybe we save the lives of those involved by being a family, a theatre family. In the end, it just a play.
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
A: Oh, which one to pick!! During the 17 years, I’ve had my share of missing costumes. Is it a) still at the dry cleaners, b) behind your hangtag with all your other clothes and you were too lazy to look, c) in your ditty bag and you didn’t look hard enough, d) in the next guy’s stuff, e) stolen. Apart from those daily occurances, I would say back when I was the wardrobe supervisor for the Rep, we were doing Anything Goes. The chorus girls (what are they called, angels) arrive in these curly lamb coats. Two were real, two were fabric that looked like curly lamb. The two fake coats came back from the dry cleaner in shreds. The string/yarn that simulated the look of curly lamb had been glue on the fabric and the dry cleaning fluid had dissolved the glue. I proceeded to fabri-tak all the strings/yarn back on the coat in a somewhat believable fashion for the show that evening. It took many, many hours. Otherwise, the shop would have had to build two coats that day.
Q: What is your dream role/show?
A: Hairspray. Love the music, the message, and John Waters. I hate musicals in general but I like Hairspray and Little Shop of Horrors (I was bag lady #1 at East Central College in 1990).
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
A: I am totally old school right now. ER and CSI episodes that I record. I know, boring.
Thank you Marci!
Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.
See her work at gracemaustin.com.