Behind the OCTC Scenes: A Woman of 1,000 Costumes
Beth Koperwhats design and creates costumes for the Ocean City Theatre Company.
Theatergoers appreciate the look of any good show, and they understand that each show has a unique style and wonderful costumes to bring it together.
But they probably have never given much thought to the world of Beth Koperwhats, the mastermind behind the beautiful costumes of the Ocean City Theatre Company.
Koperwhats has created about 500 costumes since the start of the year, and she'll make another 500 before OCTC rounds out its 2012 productions.
Koperwhats is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, and she began acting with the theater company in 2007. The follow year, she performed in “Little Shop of Horrors” and again the next year in “Oklahoma.”
When director Michael Hartman saw Koperwhats making her own costumes, he asked her to to give it a go for the "Christmas Spectacular" in 2009, and the rest is history.
For two years, Koperwhats has used her design intelligence along with the views of Hartman to create beautiful and extraordinary costumes. She is the sole creator of each costume and occasionally receives help from interns
of the company.
She took some time this week to share the key steps to costuming a show:
- Inspiration: “I look at photos from the time and era of the show, past productions, current fashions and more.”
- Sketching: “First Michael (Hartman) and I find out what he wants on stage. Deciding points of view for each outfit is key. I try not to do replicas of the past, but I am not trying to re-create the era. The sketch gets shown to Michael and we discuss.”
- Choosing fabric: “I really get inspired from fabric. I love vintage and then I try to translate that onto the stage. Although I might love a fabric, when I take a step back, and it might not read well.
- Finding the right pattern: “I usually adjust a pattern or tweak it. Sometimes I might just make my own to make it how it should be. I learned all that from my mom.
- Cutting, piecing, and sewing: “We get measurements way before the show so when the actors get here, their costumes are already waiting. I have to cut and piece all the fabric together to make the full costume.”
- Fitting: “I might make two of the same outfits in the same size but they always fit actors differently. A costume is never perfect.”
- Trim and enhance: “More is more. Less is never more. I am never happy with the end result, because there is always something I can do to give it more.
- Get it on stage: “I get to see it under the lights and see how everything mixes together and we are good to go.”
The scene shop is in the back of the theater company's building at 712 West Avenue. The fireplace for “Cinderella” and her carriage are currently being crafted there. Gallons of paint sit on shelves waiting to be used, while piles of wood are already making their way into becoming part of a scene.
Together, the costume and scene shop of the Greater Ocean City Theater Company will create enough costumes and sets for 12 shows this season.
For more information on the Ocean City Theatre Company,
visit their website or call the administrative offices at 609-398-1118.