Costume design professor lands first show with South Coast Repertory – Orange County Register


When Katie Wilson was a Girl Scout, she featured on a cover of a box of their famous cookies (Samoas, in case you needed to know). In the photo, the then 10-year-old girl is wearing clown makeup and applying it to another girl’s face.

Watch out, Hollywood! an inscription on the declared box.

“Everyone thought I was famous,” Wilson recalled.

  • Katie Wilson, an associate professor in the Cal State Fullerton Department of Theater and Dance, designed the costumes for the South Coast repertoire production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” (Photo courtesy of South Coast Directory)

  • Kwana Martinez and Elyse Mirto on South Coast Repertory's 2022...

    Kwana Martinez and Elyse Mirto in South Coast Repertory’s 2022 production of Our Town by Thornton Wilder. (Photo courtesy of Matt Gush/South Coast Directory)

  • Evan Lugo and Grace Morrison on South Coast Repertory's 2022...

    Evan Lugo and Grace Morrison in South Coast Repertory’s 2022 production of “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. (Photo courtesy of Matt Gush/South Coast Directory)

  • Nicole Erb is wearing a period costume.  (Photo courtesy of Matt...

    Nicole Erb is wearing a period costume. (Photo courtesy of Matt Gush/South Coast Directory)

At the time, however, young Katie thought: it’s not me. Makeup and acting were not, at the time, on her radar.

It turns out that the art of makeup — along with other theatrical crafts — became a passion and a career for Wilson, who is now an associate professor who teaches costume and makeup in the Department of Theater and Dance. of the CSUF.

And earlier this month, she earned her first costume design credit for a stage production at the prestigious South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa.

Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town,” directed by Beth Lopes, opened on the Segerstrom Stage on May 7 and will run until June 4.

artistic family

Wilson, who grew up in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles, didn’t get involved in acting until high school.

Maybe it was inevitable.

Her father was an artist who worked in advertising and her mother was an art teacher.

“Growing up,” Wilson recalled, “we were doing all kinds of craft projects all the time.”

Although she did some acting while attending St. Monica High School in Santa Monica, Wilson preferred to work behind the scenes.

And that’s where his passion grew.

Originally an arts major at UC Santa Cruz, Wilson recalled the moment she found her calling.

“I was doing a tour of the theater for an actor friend who was visiting,” Wilson recounted, “and I saw a red beaded dress. It was beautiful. I thought, ‘This is what I want to do’.

Wilson changed his major to on-location theater and began designing costumes.

She transferred to Loyola Marymount University, where she completed an undergraduate degree in costume design and later earned her master’s degree in costume design at UCI.

Over the years, Wilson has designed costumes and makeup for theatre, dance, opera and film.

She has designed and worked for the Pacific Symphony, UC Irvine’s New Swan Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare’s Orange County, The Chance, LA Fringe Festival, La Mirada Theatre, Barclay Theatre, New London Barn Playhouse and other venues and events.

As an adjunct faculty member before becoming a full-time CSUF faculty member in 2017, she has taught both undergraduate and graduate students at UCI, Chapman University, and the University. Pepperdine University.

Wilson and Lopes, the “Our Town” director who helmed SCR’s Theater for Young Audiences and Families productions of “Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook” and “The Velveteen Rabbit,” have often worked together, mostly at the New Swan Shakespeare Festival. .

“Katie is one of those designers who is up for any challenge,” Lopes said. “In the 10 years we have worked together, she has created such vivid and varied worlds – from the Wild West to turn-of-the-century Europe, fairies, rock stars and toys come to life.

“She brings a rugged, lively beauty to everything she does and accomplishes it with thoroughness and care. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to collaborate with her so often.

A full plate

Wilson’s favorite part of costume design is hitting fabric stores.

“You have to be a bit of a shopaholic to enjoy it,” she said with a smile.

And she loves the creative process, no matter how big the stage.

“For me,” she says, “it’s not about designing for the biggest star or working on Broadway. It’s about craftsmanship.

Wilson likes to juggle multiple balls.

In addition to her teaching and mentoring duties at CSUF, she is a potter. Two of his creations are presented in May at the Chemers Gallery in Tustin. The exhibition-competition runs until May 28.

Prior to “Our Town,” Wilson designed the costumes for Verdi’s opera “Otello” for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra.

It’s no surprise that Wilson’s email signature reads:

“No rest for professional dreamers”

Says Wilson: “I don’t want to do things that I don’t like to do – I want to do things that I like.”

More information on “Our city” is available on

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