UNCSA costume program named among Top 10 in the nation for sixth consecutive year by The Hollywood Reporter

The costume design program in the School of Design and Production (D&P) at UNCSA is among the Top 10 of its kind in the U.S., according to the annual list published by The Hollywood Reporter. This is the sixth consecutive year the program has been in the Top 10 since the list began in 2018.

Notable alumnus and Academy Award-nominated costume designer Paul Tazewell (“West Side Story,” “Hamilton”) is quoted in the article as saying that UNCSA is “well rounded and focused. …As an artist it was an environment that was very encouraging of interaction with other artists. Developing those collaborative relationships made me who I am.”

Paul Tazewell

Paul Tazewell

The article calls costume design at UNCSA a “program on the move” and cites the advantage that it is a stand-alone program, not part of a theater program or drama school, as well as its unique relationship with the School of Filmmaking that provides experience and exposure to students for film as well as theater and opera. Program co-director Bill Brewer is quoted, saying, “We have developed curriculum specific to film design. These students get in-depth exposure to all aspects of the role that costumes play in the filmmaking process.”

To create its annual list, The Hollywood Reporter consulted with costume designers and academics, looking at “the critical factors — including class size, reputation and alumni success — that help make each school unique.” The publication writes, “As schools meet the demands and technology of an ever-changing entertainment landscape, nothing tops a good education.”

Michael J. Kelley, dean of the School of Design and Production and himself an alumnus of the scene design program, said, “We are thrilled to be included on this prestigious list of best costume schools for the sixth year in a row. UNCSA offers a profoundly creative, hands-on immersion in the design and technical arts that power the global arts and entertainment industry.

UNCSA production of "Sweeney Todd" directed by Lo Feliciano Ojeda / Photo: Wayne ReichUNCSA production of "Amadeus" / Photo:  Allison Lee IsleyUNCSA production of “If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be A Muhfucka" / Photo: Allison Lee IsleyUNCSA production of Haydn’s opera “Orlando Paladino” / Photo: Allison Lee Isley

“The School of Design and Production is dedicated to rigorous professional training in every aspect of modern stagecraft,” Kelley noted. “But many of our alumni find successful careers in filmmaking, theme parks, cruise ships, live destination attractions, live projection, and entertainment shows and spectaculars like the Olympics and Super Bowl. There really is no place like UNCSA.”

D&P offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in 16 distinct theatrical design and production areas that include undergraduate costume design and technology (combined) and graduate costume design and costume technology, as well as undergraduate and graduate wig and makeup design.

In addition to Brewer – who has designed for theater, ballet, opera, film and television, both nationally and internationally – current costume design and technology faculty include Pam Knourek, co-director, who has more than 20 seasons with the Santa Fe Opera, seven years with The Guthrie Theater, and numerous film and television credits; alumnus Michael Sharpe, who has worked on Broadway productions such as “Into the Woods” and “Wicked,” on film productions such as “First Wives Club” and “Kate & Leopold,” and on TV productions such as “Smash” and “Jessica Jones”; and alumna and Assistant Dean Kjersten Lester-Moratzka, who teaches costume technology and has experience as a principal draper for Santa Fe Opera and as a freelance draper for The Metropolitan Opera and Broadway productions.

Additional alumni of the costume program at UNCSA include Michelle Pflug, who is highlighted in the article and was costume coordinator for “West Side Story” and “The Gilded Age”; Kristen Mendez, costume coordinator, “The Good Fight” and “American Horror Story”; Anna Tibboel, set costumer for “Sam & Kate,” principal set costumer for “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” and costumer for “Marriage Story”; Bee Gable, costume illustrator for costume designer Toni-Leslie James, “Rustin”; Christine Field, assistant costume designer for “West Side Story”; Stef Maus, assistant designer, “Invasion” and costume designer, “Madam Secretary”; and Diana Haberstick, costume designer for “Into the Wild Frontier” and many more.

About the School of Design & Production

A stand-alone design and production conservatory dedicated to every aspect of modern stagecraft, the School of Design and Production delivers a profoundly creative, hands-on immersion in the behind-the-scenes magic of live theater, with undergraduate and/or  graduate programs in animatronics, costume designcostume technology, lighting, production and project management, scene design, scene painting, scenic art, scenic technology, sound design, stage automation, stage management, stage properties, technical direction, and wig and makeup design. The School of Design & Production is the only one of its kind as a conservatory that is not integrated into a theater program, giving students and alumni the opportunity to transition into other career fields like film, television, and live and themed entertainment. 

Alumni have won or been nominated for major awards in the arts and entertainment industry, including the Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Critics’ Choice, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Helen Hayes awards. Notable alumni include Tony and Emmy Award-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell, TV and film executive producer Tanase Popa, photographer David LaChapelle, actor Hunter Schafer, wig and makeup artist Destinee Steele, SpaceX environmental health, safety engineer Randy Rees and many others.

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February 28, 2023