Recapturing Childhood: A Magical Costume Design

By Annie Cady

Back in April, we had our first design meeting for Peter and the Starcatcher.  Though I read the play at least a couple of times before the meeting, this was really the first time that all of the designers come together to start working on the version of the play that we were going to create together. In this meeting our director, Hal, described his concept (he’s the ship’s captain!). He talked about the play being full of fun and adventure.  One of the phrases I jotted down in my notes was “recapture the magic and imagination of childhood”.  He wanted magic to be at the heart of the story. 

The three orphans at the center of our story.

The script requires the audience to use their imagination. As designers, Hal asked us to create a playground with lots of possibilities. We needed ways to quickly move forward in the story: to change locations with one move of a set piece or prop, and to change character with the addition of an eye patch, a hat or an epic mustache. Every actor plays multiple characters, often with merely seconds to change.

The feared Pirate to ever sail the Seas…BLACK STACHE!

As the Costume Designer, I thought about the life on a ship, and what those characters would need to survive that life. I thought about a long sea crossing and the world of pirates and orphan boys. My visual research mostly consisted of worn and patched up clothing. Pieces that looked lived in and brought a lot of texture to the stage. I found images that made sense for each character and started to sketch. My costume renderings take all of my research and combine the disparate parts into a single cohesive character.

Fighting Prawn: King of Mollusk Island.


I was also inspired by the time period, so you will see a nod to the late 1800s in some of the pieces.  But we are not strict – Hal did want magic, fun and an atmosphere of playfulness.  So, I chose to add some sillier things that also fit in with the quick character changes – lobster claw hands, pasta hats and a lacy bonnet for Jeremy all find a place in the design.

Things often change a bit as we make our way through tech week. My work is only partially done right now.  But so far, I think we are finding the way to bring magic, playfulness and adventure to life on stage. I can’t wait for you to experience all of that magic for yourself!

Don’t miss out on Annie’s epic designs! Make your plans now to join us for this magical adventure. Peter and the Starcatcher begins performances on July 12th! For Tickets —> Performance Calendar

From New York to Minnesota: A New Friendly Face

If you’ve seen either Holmes and Watson or Boeing Boeing this spring then you have likely encountered the newest addition to the Commonweal, Lacey Szerlip. Read on to learn a little bit more about our newest Stage Manager!

Hi everyone! I’m Lacey Szerlip! I’m excited to be here as a Stage Manager this season! I love the community that is built around this company and how nice and welcoming everyone has been. I was born and raised in Redondo Beach, California. I miss the beach everyday, but I also enjoy wide open spaces so this is a nice change for me.

Lacey Szerlip
Lacey comes to us by way of California and New York City!

I grew up watching productions of musicals and plays around Los Angeles. My mom really pushed us to see anything and everything we could. She really helped to shape my love for all kinds of art. I went to college at a State University named Purchase College in New York. I studied Theatre with a concentration in Stage Management. I not only learned about Stage Management, but I also learned so much about theatre as a whole and got to enjoy many various types of theatre first hand. College was also the place that I was introduced to so many amazing plays that I never would had known about before. One of my favorite plays that I’ve ever read is written as a prequel and sequel to A Raisin in the Sun, called Clybourne Park

When I applied to the Commonweal I looked up the company and really enjoyed what I found. I knew that this would be a good fit for me, even if it is in a tiny town in Minnesota. Not something I’m used to, but a nice change from my normal pace. Living in this community is such a different environment than I’ve ever lived in before and I like it a lot. And I love that even in such a different place, there is still a bit of what I’m used to: a theatre where I get to go and work all day and love every minute of it.

Peter and the Starcatcher rehearsal with Lacey Szerlip
Lacey (center) runs rehearsal alongside Director Hal Cropp (right), and Assistant Stage Manager Jodi Rushing (left).

It has been awesome working on Peter and the Starcatcher so far. It’s going to be an amazing show and I can’t wait for everyone to be able to see the magic that we are putting on the stage. This show is so fun, imaginative, and hilarious. It’s a perfect show for me to start my work here at the Commonweal, and for that I’m so grateful! I hope that everyone who comes to see it, enjoys the show as much as I do! See you all soon!

Be sure to catch Lacey’s work as stage manager when Peter and the Starcatcher begins performances on July 12th! For Tickets —> Performance Calendar

The Joys of Hatcher’s Mystery

We asked company member Eric Lee, who can currently be seen as Dr. Evans in Holmes and Watson, what performing the twisting mystery has been like.

Last fall, when we were looking at the season to come, I had one role I knew that I wanted for sure: Dr. Evans in Jeffrey Hatcher’s Holmes and Watson.

First of all, I love a good mystery. In elementary school, I must have read every Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew book in the school library. Then I found a treasure trove of old Ellery Queen mystery magazines at a neighbor’s garage sale! What a day that was!

Holmes & Watson production photo - 3 Holmeses
Eric Lee (far left) alongside the rest of the cast. Photo by Peterson Creative Photography and Design

Fast forward to last year. I’m reading Holmes and Watson, and the first thing that strikes me is that signature Hatcher cleverness and wit. I just love his way with language and how he tells a story. I was intrigued, engaged and drawn forward. I couldn’t wait to find out where he was taking me as I was reading—and not every play engages me in that way. When I first read the big reveals, I was just delighted!

Now that the show is on stage, you can hear the shock of the audience at every performance. I certainly didn’t see the twists coming. And why would we? Hatcher reveals the answers to all of his questions with his classic wit and charm. I take great joy in sharing those moments with each audience, and getting to see how they react to the twists and turns I got to take such pleasure in the first time.

Holmes & Watson production photo - dying Inspector
photo by Peterson Creative Photography & Design

I’ve heard it said that one reason we love mysteries is because we know there will be an answer. In a world in which there are rarely clean resolutions to our big problems, what a satisfying feeling it is! As always, I am so grateful to share these moments with you, our Commonweal family. Come and experience all the twists and turns for yourself!

Be sure to catch Eric’s work, and the rest of this stellar cast, before Holmes and Watson closes for good on July 6th.
For Tickets —> Performance Calendar