Florida-native turns Colorado resident, Rebecca Evans, makes her OpenStage debut as Costume Designer and Head Seamstress in "Treasure Island"
Tell us about yourself! What theatre or other experiences did you have in this discipline before working on this show?
I am currently the Costume Shop Cutter/Draper for CSU, and I spend my summers working the same position at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. I realize most people don’t know what that means, but essentially, I’m a patternmaker, seamstress, tailor, and teacher all rolled into one. I am, in not so many words, a costume engineer. I’m given a design, and I figure out how to make the drawing into something 3-dimensional.
I came to Colorado from Florida, where I was a Draper at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Before that, I spent three years as the Resident Costume Designer and Shop Manager for the Manatee Performing Arts Center, where I costumed eight musicals per season. Needless to say, I have a lot of costuming experience under my belt.
How did you hear about OpenStage?
It’s difficult to exist in the Fort Collins community and not hear about OpenStage. Coworkers, students, and even my partner have experience with this theatre company. Sydney reached out over a year ago to have me design, and I finally managed to fit it into my schedule.
How familiar were you with "Treasure Island," the book or the stage adaptation, before you were cast in this show?
I grew up on the story. I think my generation is most familiar with Muppet Treasure Island (that was my first introduction to Tim Curry as well) and Treasure Planet. Both are two of my favorite films, so I like to think I was fairly familiar with the story line before getting involved.
Why are the costumes so important in this show?
It’s pirates. What are pirates without some cool costumes?
Ultimately, this production is about storytelling, and I think we tried to capture that in the costumes. Jim Hawkins is weaving an elaborate tale, and the costumes are part of that.
What is your brainstorming and design process?
Most of my design process came through the director, Kate. She and I sat down early-on and decided what we wanted these costumes to look like and what their role in the story was.
What has been the most challenging part of this show and your work?
I concentrated most of my efforts for this show on Long John Silver. Mo needed to look both menacing and friendly at the same time, the most pirate-y pirate. Plus there’s the challenge of the peg leg. I think it all came together quite nicely in the end, but it was a lot of work to get there.
What has been the most rewarding part of this show and your work?
Getting to costume design again after three years of only doing patterning work is quite satisfying. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it. The cast and the rest of the crew/design team have also been really incredible throughout this process, and I’m looking forward to working with all of them again in the future.
What is your favorite piece you worked on in the show?
I patterned and then made Long John Silver’s vest from scratch, which took more work than I originally anticipated. The audience may not know that it has the most work put into it, because visually it looks much like the rest of the show, but it’s definitely my favorite garment.
What is your favorite part in the show?
I love the introduction to our pirate crew. They're all so quirky and fun, and it gave a lot of details about their costuming choices.
What is the importance of this show today? What do you hope audiences will get out of it?
I think this show has a lot of heart, along with some really fun storytelling. I hope the audience is able to enjoy something truly unique and special, something that lets them escape for a couple of hours.
What projects are you working on next? What is your dream role or dream show to work on?
Currently, I'm working on costumes down at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, but soon I'll return to working in Colorado State University's costume shop. I'll be costuming Book of Will for Open Stage this coming fall, which is very exciting.
I don't know if I have a dream show anymore. I've costumed so many. I will always enjoy challenging work, shows that really push the boundaries of what is possible in the theatrical space and provoke an audience to consider new ways of thinking.
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Adapted by Bryony Lavery
Directed by Kate Austin-Gröen
June 3 – July 1, 2023
Playing at the Park at Columbine Health Systems
Come see Rebecca's work and the entire "Treasure Island" cast, June 3 – July 1!