Indiana State University Newsroom

‘Richard III’ rebooted with Hollywood glamour, mobster vice

March 26, 2015

Punctuated with old Hollywood glamour and mobster flair, "Richard III" by Indiana State University's theater department promises to be a feast for the eyes.

Some of the most important details, however, will not be noticed by the audience -- and that's OK, says the production's costume designer Lauren Kreigh.

"To be a costume person, you have to be aware of very small details that many people overlook," Kreigh said.

Shakespeare's tragedy has been rebooted from the 15th century English battlefields to Los Angeles, 1947. In the years following World War II, the City of Angels is a land of opportunity -- for industry, entertainment and organized crime. In this American dreamland, Ricky "Gloucester" Cohen of Chicago's York crime family begins his ruthless rise from lowly enforcer to the king of the streets of L.A.

"Richard III" will run 7:30 p.m. April 16-18 and 4 p.m. April 19 in Indiana State's New Theater. Tickets are $10 each (or free with a valid student ID) and are on sale noon-4:30 p.m. April 13-17 in the New Theater lobby, 536 S. 7th St.

To bring director Chris Berchild's vision to life, Kreigh spent the winter pouring over everything 1940s, soaking up film noir and creating concept collages.

"Research, research, research -- everything. I looked at a lot of celebrities at that time, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake, Katherine Hepburn," she said. "Men in the '40s dressed head to toe. They had a hat, a tie, a carnation in their lapel. They had a trench coat, their slacks were pressed -- especially mobsters. They come in from Chicago and New York and Italy, and they have personal tailors. They really can dress so well."

Her goal? To transport the audience to that era - instantly - with her designs.

"For someone who doesn't know anything about the 1940s, ‘Oh OK, that's the 1940s.' Or for someone who really knows the 1940s, ‘OK, I think that's 1940s.' If they think it is, then I've done my job correctly," she said. "It all goes back to research - silhouettes and details and colors and history."

Kreigh graduated in December with a major in textiles and apparel merchandising and minor in theater. Earlier this month, she started work as a sales associate at Marigold, a boutique in Broad Ripple Village -- a connection she made through a wholesale market class-sponsored trip to Chicago.

"It's really awesome, because I feel like my major and costume design intersect a lot and they mesh really well," she said. "I didn't really plan on that, but it turned out for the best, definitely."

During her time at Indiana State, Kreigh racked up a resume so extensive and diverse, it's difficult for her to recall all the productions in which she's participated, among them "The Color Purple," "Antigone," "Nightfall," "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." Not too shabby for the freshman from Indianapolis who didn't have a minor when she arrived in Terre Haute.

Her adolescent love of fashion and buying up anything she and her high school friend "thought looked crazy" at Goodwill helped developed her personal style -- and led her to her textiles major.

"I just loved clothes in high school," she said. "I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I should try to make a job out of this.'"

It was her first friend at Indiana State, however, who introduced her to the theater department ... and its costume shop.

"At the time, I didn't know all the programs that were available outside my major," she said. Considering a theater minor, she reasoned, "‘Why not? I can sew -moderately.'"

Under the guidance of pros such as costume studio manager Madonna Hummel and her daughter, Claire Hummel, Kreigh sharpened the skills she acquired from her grandmother.

"I kind of fiddled around with (sewing) and took some classes, but I really didn't learn construction until I came down here," Kreigh said. "They know it all."

In the theater department, Kreigh has worked on costumes -- in one capacity or another -- for the School of Music's Yuletide Madrigal Feaste, Crossroads Repertory Theater and, of course, student productions.

"The design people are very important -- set, costume and props," she said.

When starting a new production, Kreigh's first step is to read the original play, paying close attention to the setting and the characters. "You have to start with the words," she said.

During the design meeting, the director explains his vision and why he or she wants to do the show.

"Berchild likes to adapt different worlds. I would have never thought (mobsters and Shakespeare) could be cohesive, but it's really amazing," she said. "It's really great working with Berchild, because you can show him an idea and then run with it."

While every character's look is important, the leads tend to get the most attention, because the story is told through them and they have the most stage time.

For "Richard III," Kreigh is most excited for the audience to see Queen Margaret (senior Rayanna Bibbs) -

"She's this mysterious witchy character, so that's why she's in all black. She's great and spooky." And the ghosts, who wear rubber gloves and gas masks.

After the designs are approved and the costumes are either pulled from back stock or sewn, the dressed cast is literally paraded on the stage.

"We basically dissect what they're wearing. It's a really stressful, but awesome, day," she said. "I like to see people together. Like, I want to see all the Indigo Queens (Ylana Aukamp, Jessica Hall and Hannah Payne) on the stage, under the lights with their fans and doing a 360."

Seeing the designs under the lights is key, Kreigh said, because what looks black in the costume shop could appear more brown or purple on stage.

Some final backstage choreographing comes with the dress and final dress rehearsals.

"That's really when we figure out quick changes: You're this person at this part of the play, then you're this person during this part and at the beginning of the play, you're this other person," she said. "That's where the wardrobe crew is really great. It's a choreographed dance they do backstage. You have to figure out how to get them out of a costume and into another as fast as possible - without ripping it or snagging it - and making sure their tie is straight, their hat is on the right way."

After the final performance, the costume staff "strikes," meaning all the garment bags are emptied, every costume is disassembled, washed or dry cleaned and then stored for future use.

"It's like the show never happened ... and then we get ready for the next one," she said.

But for a costume designer, Kreigh always remembers what it's like to see her creations under the stage lights.

"It's amazing. It's the most satisfying feeling I've found so far in my short life," Kreigh said.

-30- -- Indiana State University costume designer Lauren Kreigh poses for a portrait with some of the designs for the upcoming production of "Richard III." (Tony Campbell/Indiana State University Photography Services) -- A rack of costumes for the Indiana State University theater department's upcoming production of "Richard III" is seen. (Tony Campbell/Indiana State University Photography Services) -- Indiana State University costume designer Lauren Kreigh poses for a portrait in the costume studio. Some of the sketches for the theater department's upcoming production of "Richard III" are seen in the background. (Tony Campbell/Indiana State University Photography Services) -- Indiana State University costume designer Lauren Kreigh looks over sketches for the theater department's upcoming production of "Richard III." (Tony Campbell/Indiana State University Photography Services) -- Indiana State University costume designer Lauren Kreigh poses with a fan from an Indigo Queens costume in the theater department's upcoming production of "Richard III." (Tony Campbell/Indiana State University Photography Services)

Contact: David Valdez, instructor, department of theater at Indiana State University, or 812-237-3337.

Writer: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or