David Jordan Baxter, our Assistant Costume Shop Manager and Cutter and Draper, has brought incredible talent to designing the costumes for our production of THE LIGHTNING THIEF: THE PERCY JACKSON MUSICAL. Hear about his artistic style and design process below:
Share with us your artistic background. How did you get into theatre and costume design?
I got my B.A. in music with a concentration in Classical Voice from Kentucky Wesleyan College and while I was there I worked as a local dresser for touring shows that would come through our theatre. I also helped a local theater company, Back Alley Musicals, with costumes for their larger productions. After graduating, I spent a few summers at the Sharon Playhouse in Sharon, Connecticut as the Costume Shop Manager, and was the Wardrobe Supervisor for the Off-Broadway production of Martin Luther on Trial. After that I was the star dresser on the National Tour of Kinky Boots. While on tour, I applied to the M.F.A. Costume Design program at Florida State University, and was accepted to attend that fall. I spent the next three years at FSU taking classes in both costume design and technology. While I do love to design, technology has become my primary focus.
Which styles of theatre do you gravitate towards the most? Why?
I find myself being pulled toward shows with great concepts and larger-than-life aspects. I also really love puppets, so I’m definitely a fan of Avenue Q, Little Shop of Horrors, and Julie Tamor’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. I think the reason I am drawn to shows like this is, again, the larger-than-life aspects you can achieve with puppets. To quote Tammy Faye Baker, “Everybody loves puppets!”
Featured (Left to Right): Charleston Stage Resident Actors Brendan Considine as Grover, Cody Elsensohn as Percy Jackson, and Chloë Wendler as Annabeth in The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. Photo by Reese Moore Photography
What has inspired you as you create your designs The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical? What are your dreams for Charleston Stage’s visual presentation of this special show?
In talking with the director, Rylee Coppel, we discussed that we both really like the visual quality of the graphic novel version of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. We talked about what aspects from the graphic novel we wanted to include, so keep an eye out for easter eggs if you’re a fan of the books! I also thought about the use of “Mist” in the novels. It is a magic spray that mythical beings use to make themselves appear human while in the human world. Playing on the idea of what these creatures would look like as the “Mist” began to wear off, I have designed some new ways to look at a minotaur or a flying fury!
What has come easily as you costume the show? Which aspects have proven to be more challenging?
The easiest part has been putting together modern costumes for the teenage characters. The more challenging aspects have been creating the designs for the monsters–as I mentioned in the previous question, figuring out where these monsters are in their transition between human and monster.
Featured: Charleston Stage Resident Actor Cody Elsensohn as Percy Jackson. Photo by Reese Moore Photography
What are your favorite shows of all time?
Okay, big toughie here. In no particular order…She Loves Me, Gypsy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Godspell, Sunday in the Park with George, and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.
Save your seats for THE LIGHTNING THIEF: THE PERCY JACKSON MUSICAL, running for a limited engagement July 22-30, at CharlestonStage.com.
Featured: Charleston Stage Resident Actors Cody Elsensohn as Percy Jackson, Brendan Considine as Grover and Chloë Wendler as Annabeth in The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. Photo by Reese Moore Photography