The Hollywood Reporter names UNCSA Costume Concentration among Top 10 for seventh consecutive year

The costume design concentration in the School of Design & Production (D&P) at UNCSA is among the Top 10 of its kind worldwide, according to the annual list published by The Hollywood Reporter. This is the seventh consecutive year the concentration has been in the Top 10 since the publication began keeping the list in 2018. The university is one of only two public universities on the list.

Of the School of Design & Production, the publication writes, “UNCSA is the only stand-alone creative and performing arts conservatory of its kind (most such programs are part of a theater or film program).” The article also highlights that students are able to work on dozens of productions with the opportunity to partner with the schools of Music, Dance, Filmmaking and Drama.

UNCSA Drama production of "Amadeus" / Photo: Allison Lee Isley

UNCSA Drama production of "Amadeus" / Photo: Allison Lee Isley

Renowned D&P alumnus and Academy Award-nominated costume designer Paul Tazewell (“Wicked,” “West Side Story,” “Hamilton”) and Kristen Mendez (“American Horror Story,” “Genie,” “The Featherweight”) are highlighted as notable alumni.

Michael J. Kelley, dean of the School of Design and Production and alumnus of the scene design program, said, “We are honored to grace the esteemed list of costume programs at premier universities for the seventh consecutive year. UNCSA stands as a beacon of creativity and excellence, offering an immersive, hands-on approach to design and technical arts that profoundly impacts the global arts and entertainment industry.

“The School of Design and Production is committed to maintaining the rigorous professional training that prepares our students for careers in diverse storytelling realms, from live theater to film and TV and from arena spectaculars to themed entertainment. As evidenced by our working and successful alumni and our experienced and connected faculty, UNCSA remains a leader in delivering exceptional value to students, shaping tomorrow's leaders in the arts and entertainment landscape."

UNCSA Drama production of "As You Like It" / Photo: Wayne Reich

UNCSA Drama production of "As You Like It" / Photo: Wayne Reich

To create its annual list, The Hollywood Reporter consulted with costume designers and academic professionals, looking at “the factors that make a design school special including alumni success, class size, extracurricular programs and opportunities for networking.”

The publication also discussed effects "as the industry tries to figure out what to do with ... artificial intelligence." 

Costume design & Technology concentration Co-Director Bill Brewer is quoted as saying, “We believe that because we tell stories about the human condition, our industry will continue to rely on the artistry of humans.”

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 concentration at UNCSA include Michelle Pflug, who was costume coordinator for “West Side Story” and “The Gilded Age”; 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”; Diana Haberstick, costume designer for “Into the Wild Frontier”; Andja Budincich, costume designer for “Run the World” and assistant costume designer for “You”; Andrew Senn, costume illustrator for “Doom Patrol” and “Haunted Mansion”; 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 concentrations in animatronics, costume design, costume 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 producerTanase Popa, photographer David LaChapelle, actress Hunter Schafer, wig and makeup artist Destinee Steele, SpaceX environmental health and safety engineer Randy Rees and many others.

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February 26, 2024