Mira Costa's Costume Designer Creates Masterpieces Year After YearOct 26, 2023 02:17PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Costume designer Alison Gerber with some of her creations for Mira Costa productions.
MBNews: Where do you get your inspiration for your costumes?
Gerber: It depends on the show. For a show that is set in a certain period of time like Oklahoma! or Anything Goes I research period photographs and also watch movies set in that time period. For a more contemporary show like Mamma Mia! I create a Pinterest page and start collecting images. I share the page with our director, Jonathan Westerberg, and we discuss various looks for each character.
MBNews: Do you work from commercial patterns, or do you design your own patterns based on illustrations or sketches?
Gerber: All of the above. I have purchased vintage patterns on eBay and historical patterns online. I also draft my own patterns.
MBNews: Do you consult with the directors/designers on a certain "look" for the costumes?
Gerber: Absolutely. We always meet early in the process to discuss how the costumes are going to tell the story we want to tell.
MB News: When you host your "costume camps," do your helpers need to have previous sewing experience?
Gerber: Some do and some don’t. I try to have things for people to do that don’t require sewing experience. Although I am happy to teach anyone basic sewing skills. Yesterday we worked on mermaids. People used “bedazzlers” and we cut shapes that will be used as scales.
MBNews: Do you have "regulars" who help every year?
Gerber: I do have people who participate even though their kid has graduated.
MBNews: Have there ever been any costume mishaps, like costumes being misplaced or accessories not staying on?
Gerber: Nothing drastic comes to mind. I do my best to make sure the costumes can withstand the rigors of being worn on stage for many performances. Every now and then an actor’s pants will rip during a musical number. There is always a large supply of safety pins and a sewing kit backstage so the crew can take care of emergencies.
MBNews: So after all this time, do you have a favorite costume that you've made?
Gerber: I have a few; Captain Hook from Peter Pan, Tzeitel’s wedding dress from Fiddler on the Roof, and several of the dresses I made for Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
MBNews: What happens to the costumes after the production?
Gerber: They are stored on campus in a few storage spaces. When doing a show the first thing I do is pull from our stock. There are many pieces that have been in several shows over the years.
MBNews: How long do you hope to continue doing the costumes for Mira Costa?
Gerber: Excellent question. I just take it year by year.