Meet Janine McCabe, Guest Costume Designer for “A Christmas Carol”

We are beyond thrilled to have professional Costume Designer Janine McCabe provide her artistry for our upcoming production of “A Christmas Carol,” helping us make this timeless show feel reinvented and cast in a whole new light! Hear from her about her design process below:

Share with us your story of getting into costume design. 

I didn’t find my way into Costume Design until almost my Junior year in College! I did grow up dancing so I was always onstage for that but I never wanted to be an actor and had no idea that people could have careers as a designer. No one in my family was in the arts so I focused on the other things I was good at and actually started college as an Engineering major. I grew up in NJ though and beyond the excellent academics we were able to take classes in sewing, wood working, drawing and painting, metal shop and more so when I finished high school I was a proficient stitcher and would alter and create my own patterns for garments, like my prom dress!

When I realized engineering really wasn’t my passion I transferred to the College of Charleston where I took an Intro to Theatre class and learned that the department would hire Work Study students in the shops. I marched straight into the Costume Shop and proclaimed that I knew how to sew and wanted a job. After showing the professor at the time, Mary Halloway Jollensten, some sample garments, she hired me and I was sucked into the theatre world. I started taking all the classes and realized that Theatre and design combined so many of my passions and interests – sewing, teamwork, drawing, history, fashion, sociology, psychology….I was hooked.

I started designing shows my junior year and never stopped. I went on to graduate school and got my M.F.A. in Costume Design at the University of Virginia and then spent 5 years working, learning and designing in NYC. I worked under Martin Pakledinaz for multiple years on Broadway, opera and dance while designing my own shows off-broadway and for things like New York Musical Theatre Festival with friends I made along the way. I was lucky in NYC. I never worked a non-design job. It was hard work, freelance, but I loved every bit of it!

What do you love about what you do? 

It’s the collaborative aspect that I love most. Working with a team toward this shared goal of bringing a story to life in the best way possible for the audience…I can’t imagine anything better. And it is always something new. Each play, musical, dance piece brings you to different research, expands your view, allows the opportunity to learn about different cultures, time periods and other people’s journeys.

What is your favorite time period to design costumes for?

I get asked this a lot and I am not sure I have a favorite…they are all so interesting when you really start getting into the research and details. I do love when I get the opportunity to create a look that combines periods and creates some sort of timeless feel or look of another time and place that is undefined for the audience.

Tell us about your artistic inspiration behind the costumes for A Christmas Carol. 

All Julian had to say was that he wanted a more colorful approach and I was hooked. My design style tends towards the use of saturated color and textures so this was a chance to really play with that. There were movies he mentioned where the use of color served as inspiration for the team but then getting into the historical research of the early to mid 1800s demonstrated a fantastic use of color and mixing patterns and textures in the time period.

What would you like audiences to know about the costumes for this show?

This has been a really special process for me, one because I am thrilled to have the opportunity to design with such a passionate team and be part of Julian’s last production and two, because I was able to work with two amazingly talented students who will definitely become names people know, Brandon Alston and Molly Rumph. We started the summer brainstorming, researching and working together on a number of design projects. Through a SURF grant from the College of Charleston, Molly was able to work full-time for 10 weeks as an Assistant Costume Designer. Molly and I have had a blast working on the research, colors, renderings, shopping and planning together all summer and we really are looking forward to realizing the design with the Charleston Stage staff.

Rendering of Topper and Ms. Tilly Topper in “A Christmas Carol” by Costume Designer Janine McCabe.

Rendering of Mrs. Cratchit and Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol” by Costume Designer Janine McCabe.

Rendering of the Ghost of Christmas Past in “A Christmas Carol” by Costume Designer Janine McCabe.

Rendering of the Ghost of Christmas Present in “A Christmas Carol” by Costume Designer Janine McCabe.

Rendering of Mr. Wiggins and Mrs. Tabor in “A Christmas Carol” by Costume Designer Janine McCabe.

The Addams Family Butler: Patrick Brett, Former Resident Actor

Patrick Brett a Season 41 Resident Actor, has returned to the Dock Street Stage for the roles of Lurch in The Addams Family – A New Musical, currently playing, and Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol coming November 30th. While onstage this fall he’s appeared quite “stiff” in the role of the Addams Family’s half-dead butler, you can get to know his joyful personality here!

You’re a former Resident Actor with us – welcome back! What are some of your favorite Charleston Stage memories? What have you been up to since being with the company?

It’s good to be back! Charleston Stage feels like a second home to me. There are some incredible people in this company and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to return. I was a Resident Actor in Season 41, and my experiences have shaped the kind of actor that I am today. 

My most treasured memories from those bygone days always include Colin Waters. Colin entered the program as a tour de force and quickly became a leader among our fellow Resident Actors. He was the mastermind behind our legendary Halloween costume (Inside Out), a founding member of PTO, and shared his love for his favorite day, sitzprobe. I was very proud, albeit not surprised, when he was asked to join Charleston Stage full-time as the Education Program Manager.

In the role of Beast in Beauty and the Beast I got the chance to fly with Fly by Foy during the character’s transformation from beast to man, and there’s nothing like it. I remember coming in for a training rehearsal, putting the harness on, and getting lifted off the ground by two metal wires thinner than my pinky – each one strong enough to bear 800 pounds. I’m notoriously afraid of heights, and I was so scared when the ground disappeared from underneath me. My heart skipped a beat when I was told I’d be doing three backflips while spinning uncontrollably; Oh, and simultaneously take off my Beast costume. After a few trial flights I was hooked. I’m very excited that I will be given that same chance in A Christmas Carol this year.

Featured (Left to Right): Former Charleston Stage Resident Actors Patrick Brett as the Beast and Levi Denton-Hughes as Belle in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”.

After the curtain fell on Beauty and the Beast I traveled around the country performing in various shows. I saw the northern lights in Alaska while slinging arctic keta at a dinner theatre run by a cruise line. I was in a two person show, sometimes in ten different schools a week. Before the year ended I had moved to Chicago to pursue acting and improv. It wasn’t long before Covid came along and my focus shifted to a different vein: survival.

During my hiatus from the stage I had a variety of different roles that I began to fill. I half-heartedly earned my residential leasing agent license and began concurrently showing luxury apartments while waking up around four in the morning for my front desk job at a fitness studio. For a time I was Chicago’s worst real estate broker. I thought about becoming a plumber, and was laid off from an HVAC company. The hustle never ended. I eventually ended up working at Second City (where Chicago goes to laugh!) as a server. My favorite job by far. 

It wasn’t until 2021 that I returned to the stage in a theme park’s production of A Christmas Carol -though long story short, Covid shut down the production and I’m not allowed to be a Harlem Globetrotter. In April of this year I returned to Alaska along with my gorgeous partner Mary Kate, who I met at Charleston Stage during our time as Resident Actors. 

I’m having a blast in rehearsal. My return feels like a wonderful bookend to the last three years and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.   

Featured (Left to Right): Charleston Stage Resident Actor Cedar Valdez as Gomez Addams and Former Charleston Stage Resident Actor Patrick Brett as Lurch in “The Addams Family – A New Musical”.

How have you been preparing to play the role of Lurch in “The Addams Family?”

Lots of grunting, especially at the dinner table. Haha – Lurch does not say anything during the show. He is a large, lugubrious presence. So I’ve been practicing standing up straight and absolutely still while looking glum. And when he does move, he’s incredibly slow. To help with that I walk on a treadmill for 15 minutes a day in his gait. I’ll tell you, it would take him well over an hour to walk one mile. I’m excited for audiences to see Lurch’s mouth. Obviously in rehearsals we were masked, but when we get to tech my cast-mates were able to see a completely new dimension to my character.

Featured (Far Right): Former Charleston Stage Resident Actor Patrick Brett as Lurch in “The Addams Family – A New Musical”.

This show is very physically challenging, as with any big musical with multiple dance numbers. What has been the most difficult aspect of rehearsals for you? What has come more naturally? 

I unfortunately couldn’t arrive until a week and half into the rehearsal process: music was already learned, a few dances were choreographed, and half the show was blocked. A lot of information came at me very fast, and it was hard to not let the pressure of meeting my own expectations and standards get to me. Returning as a guest artist, I gotta show up, not throw up. I have to bring my A game. The cast was incredibly welcoming and supportive of my arrival.

As far as things go that come naturally, just standing around as Lurch. To quote my JV volleyball coach, “You can’t teach tall.”

What are your standard pre-show routines as you get ready to perform?

I don’t have any, I probably should…showing up on time, I guess.  

Tough question: plays or musicals? Why?

This is a tough question because I’m a horrible student of my craft. I was very fortunate that when I was in elementary school we’d take field trips to see children’s theater. I remember seeing Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but I wasn’t exposed to musicals till the sixth grade. The music was a nice caveat, but I think I like watching plays more. Like: “Oh, here’s an Office style mockumentary adaptation of Henry V” (do it, you cowards). There’s some weird stuff out there and that’s the work I want to do. So throw me some monologue suggestions: the fewer words, the better.

Patrick would like to thank all the powers that made it possible for him to return to Charleston Stage as a guest artist. He was last seen onstage in the 2019 production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as Beast and could not be more excited to be back. Special thanks to his parents, MK and all friends, old and new, who have come to watch. Follow him on Instagram at @party_patbrett.

Meet Our Wednesday Addams, Resident Actor Jenna Barricklo

Jenna Barricklo, a Season 45 Resident Actor with us, has shined on our Dock Street stage in the role of Wednesday Addams in “The Addams Family – A New Musical,” performing until Nov. 6th. Hear from her about her preparations for the role below:

You’re a Season 45 Resident Actor with us. What have you enjoyed about your
work with us so far?

I love that I get to fulfill all sides of why I love theater! It is amazing to work with my students during the day teaching them what I know and then come to rehearsal at night and explore my acting abilities. This is such a special company that really supports us and encourages us to be brave both in rehearsal and in life. It has been so much fun getting to learn and grow as an educator and challenge myself as an actor at the same time. There are not many places where we can get both of these things at once.

How have you been preparing to play the role of Wednesday in “The Addams

The amazing thing about performing Wednesday is there is so much source material to pull from! I have been watching the original TV show from the 1950s as well as the live action Addams Family movies. While Wednesday is a slightly different age in each iteration, six and twelve years old respectively, there is a lot to learn about her relationship with her family, what motivates her, and what makes her unique. Wednesday does not have your average coming of age story, and it’s been very fun to dive into what her upbringing was like. The original Charles Addams cartoons have been great material to learn from as well. There are so many small details in the musical that are taken right from those original cartoons.

Tell us more about Wednesday. What motivates her? What is she afraid of? How
have you been working through these things as an actor?

At this point in Wednesday’s life, she is ready to be out on her own exploring. She is definitely a daredevil, and I think she is looking for the next adventure in life – in this case, love. She is very independent and always wants to prove that she can get by just fine on her own. At the same time, though, I think falling in love proves to her that there is so much she has yet to experience and understand.

While there is not much Wednesday is afraid of, I think falling in love with Lucas makes her more vulnerable. She doesn’t know how to handle the emotions that come with letting your guard down, and I think she is afraid of letting people down. While she is very independent, she really needs her family’s approval and love in her choice to marry Lucas. She has learned to value her family above everything, and I think she is now grappling with how to let new people into her heart.

The easiest part of Wednesday for me to connect with is her love for her family. While the Addams are anything but average, their family bond is something I can strongly relate to. Wednesday’s decision of whether to leave home is a similar experience to what I am going through at the stage of life, a native New Yorker now transplanted in Charleston.

Resident Actor Jenna Barricklo as Wednesday Addams in “The Addams Family – A New Musical”.

This show is very physically challenging, as with any big musical with multiple
dance numbers. What has been the most difficult aspect of rehearsals for you?
What has come more naturally?

I think the hardest part is getting Wednesday’s physicality down. All of the Addams’ move unnaturally – a little off. It is hard as an actor to resist the urge to react with your body, but Wednesday is very still – not much phases her. I had to rethink my impulses and really get into her mindset, noticing how her body language is different around her family than it is with Lucas, as he brings down her guard a little.

What has been most fun for me is any time I have the opportunity to dance. Wednesday doesn’t necessarily dance a ton in the show given her stiff nature, but I get to have my moments! I had a really fun time with Raymond, our Lucas, choreographing a little dance duet for an Act II number. Any time I got to throw in a little dance event makes my soul happy!

Resident Actors Raymond Cronley as Lucas Beineke and Jenna Barricklo as Wednesday Addams in “The Addams Family – A New Musical”.

What are your standard pre-show routines as you get ready to perform?
The music in this show is quite a beast, especially for Wednesday, so most of my pre-show routine is making sure I’m vocally warm. I do my standard warmups as well as a few that are specific to get my voice ready for this style of show. I then sing all of “Pulled,” Wednesday’s big solo, through a straw. It’s a technique I learned from my voice teacher to get my voice exactly in the spot and positioning I need it to be in that song, and I do it before every rehearsal and performance to remind my voice what it needs to do!

Tough question: plays or musicals? Why?
I have to say musicals. The music piece of a story is what always draws me in – there is so much storytelling that comes from song and dance. It can be introspection, a glimpse into a character’s thoughts, and allows the audience to dive further into a character’s point of view.

Jenna is so excited to be joining Charleston Stage for its 45th season! She received her B.F.A. in Musical Theater from Shenandoah University. Professional Credits: Lisa (Mamma Mia!), Rosalia (West Side Story), Female Newsie (Newsies), Fannie (Mary Poppins). Jenna grew up in New York City and most recently resided in Boston! She is so grateful to her parents and brother for their endless support. Keep up with Jenna on her website and on Instagram: / @in_jennaral