HATTIESBURG, MS (USM) - Fabrics, dies, accessories and sewing machines in the costume shop of The University of Southern Mississippi have been working nonstop since last November in preparation for the Centennial production of "Ragtime, The Musical."
Cody Stockstill, a master of fine arts student and theatre design technology major from Gulfport, is one of 40 students working on costumes for the production which debuts on Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center.
"There are over 30 actors playing something like 80 roles, which makes for challenging costume changes," Stockstill explained. "We have over 1,500 pieces of costume that we're working with."
A production of this magnitude requires great organization and detail. Student designers created a book that contains everything a designer and the shop need for a large-scale performance such as "Ragtime." It includes research, renderings and fabrics in a page-by-page breakdown of each actor in the performance.
"I'm trying to show the mosaic quality of the intermingling of the three groups in 1906 New York," Stockstill said. "Each group is connected to each other in small ways. My favorite thing is sitting down and talking with the actors about the characters they are playing. If an actor feels more like the character with the items they put on, it's only going to make for a better show."
Talented and creative students work hard to ensure the costumes are top-notch and reflect the time period accurately. Rebecca Hickman, costume shop supervisor, oversees all the planning, executing and finalizing of costumes.
"For each and every costume, we're going to either build or pull. Build means we buy the fabric and design the costume from the ground up. Pull means we'll pull something we have in stock or buy it, adapt it, die it and make it our own," Hickman explained.
When asked why people should come see "Ragtime," Stockstill replied, "Ragtime is a great story. You really care about these characters and what happens to them."
Combining multi-faceted groups has allowed Southern Miss students to see both sides of the spectrum.
"This is the first performance in a really long time where three of the arts at Southern Miss are involved, including The Department of Theatre and Dance and the School of Music, Stockstill said. "This makes for a very special show that will be like none other."
"Ragtime" will run March 4-6 at 7:30 p.m. and March 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults; $15 for faculty, staff, seniors, military; and $10 for students.
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