The Colorado Theatre Guild’s 15th annual Henry Awards took place online Sunday, July 26. Established in 2006 and named for longtime local theatre producer Henry Lowenstein, the awards honor outstanding achievement by performers, artists and producing companies throughout the state.
This year, DCPA Theatre Company’s Costume Design Associate, Meghan Anderson Doyle won the 2019/20 Henry Award for Outstanding Costume Design for her work on A Doll’s House.
Q&A with Meghan Anderson Doyle:
What is your background in costuming?
I studied Costume Design and General Theatre at the University of Denver and was fortunate enough to get a work study job in the costume shop. When I was younger, my grandmother had taught me some basic sewing techniques, but this experience gave me a chance to learn about costumes and what it was like to work in a shop. It became my passion. Later, I received my MFA in Costume Design and Technology at the University of Florida. I ended up getting an internship as a design assistant at the DCPA and I’ve been with the company in multiple different variations ever since.
When did you start designing A Doll’s House?
About nine months before the first rehearsal, the design team met with Artistic Director Chris Coleman to see what his expectations were for creating the world around the show. He also shared the resources he found to inform his direction. The designers then drafted and a month later, I brought back silhouette ideas and color schemes to see how they worked with the set and lighting designs. These sketches were then turned into renderings and we discussed the functionality of the costumes.
For example, Coleman envisioned Nora to be a hands-on mother, so, we needed to make sure that her clothes allowed her to be active and move around well. All the bits and pieces were discussed before the actors even got there, so that when they came in, we could give them an idea of what to expect.
What inspired your designs for these costumes?
I love Pinterest as a jumping off point. While looking for period ideas, I found a fascinating set of photographs a student had done in Norway in the 1890s. It was a wonderful way to see what real people wore on the street rather than museum replicas or in paintings. The article inspired how we wanted the clothes to feel; that they weren’t simply a presentational piece, but something people lived their lives in.
The color scheme came from the beautiful Nordic painting style called rosemaling that Scenic Designer Lisa Orzolek brought to the table. This hand painted detail was on everything, from the doorways to the furniture, and it just felt right for the era.
What was your favorite costume?
I had a lot of fun with Nora’s things because they were so decadent. As the title alludes, she is a doll to dress up. It’s kind of a costume designer’s dream to make all of these gorgeous ensembles. It’s wonderful to draw these pictures and hand it over to the drapers and tailors in the costume shop and see their skillset play into certain choices and making the costumes a reality.
What was difficult about designing this show?
There’s a line in the play where Nora talks about saving her money from her clothing allowance to pay off her debt. So, we wanted to find a way to make her look elegant but also show that she may be squirreling away her money. Some design choices included her underskirts being the same for the first two dresses she wore and having similar pieces of lace on different dresses, to convey that she had taken fabric from one dress and used it on another. Of course, we weren’t sure if those choices tracked for the audience, but it helped us, as the storytellers, get our point across.
What is it like to see your designs manifest on stage?
It’s so exciting. We spend so much time with these characters and work closely with the tailors and drapers and the director to assure we are all on the same page. There’s nothing worse than going into a dress rehearsal and your vision not aligning with the director expectations. When it works out, seeing all the pieces come together on that stage, it’s a very exciting moment.
Doyle also designed costumes for A Doll’s House, Part 2 that was performed in repertory with A Doll’s House.
“It was a really unique concept that we were able to do both as a company,” Doyle said. “The design team got to be the same for both shows, so we already had a language going between all of us when it came time to put the second one on stage.” More of her recent work can be seen on her website, including DCPA Theatre Company’s world premiere of twenty50.
Read below for a full list of winners for the 2019/20 Henry Awards:
- Outstanding Production of a Play: “The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night Time,” Fine Arts Theatre Company at Colorado College, Directed by Scott RC Levy
- Outstanding Production of a Musical: “The bridges of Madison County,” Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College, Directed by Nathan Halvorson, Musical Direction by Stephanie McGuffin
- Outstanding Direction of a Play: donnie l. betts, “The Mountaintop,” THEATREWORKS
- Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Nathan Halvorson, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
- Outstanding Musical Direction: Stephanie McGuffin, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
- Outstanding Actor in a Play: Logan Riley Bruner, “The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night Time,” Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
- Outstanding Actress in a Play: Marisa D. Hébert, “The Mountaintop,” THEATREWORKS
- Outstanding Actor in a Musical: Perry Davis Harper, “Jekyll&Hyde,” Thingamajig Theatre Company
- Outstanding Actress in a Musical: Jennifer DeDominici, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play: Chris Kendall, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” Cherry Creek Theatre
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play: Marisa D. Hébert, “Tiny Beautiful Things,” Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical: Jeff Roark, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Annie Dwyer, “Cabaret,” Town Hall Arts Center
- Outstanding Ensemble Performance: “The Mountaintop,” THEATREWORKS
- Outstanding Choreography: Christopher Page-Sanders, “The Scottsboro Boys,” Vintage Theatre
- Outstanding New Play or Musical: “Hazardous Materials,” by Beth Kander, Directed by Kyle Haden, Produced by Creede Repertory Theatre
- Outstanding Costume Design Tier 1: Meghan Anderson Doyle, “A Doll’s House,” DCPA Theatre Company
- Outstanding Costume Design Tier 2: A 3 way tie Buntport Theater, “Universe 92,” Buntport Theater; Suzanne Couch, “Noises Off,” StageDoor Theatre; Nancy Hankin, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” Mountain Repertory Theatre Company at the – Butte Theater
- Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 1: Holly Anne Rawls, “The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time,” Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
- Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 2: Sean Jeffries, “A View From the Bridge,” Thunder River Theatre Company
- Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 1: A Tie Lindsay Fuori, “Hazardous Materials,” Creede Repertory Theatre; Charles Packard, “The Mountaintop,” THEATREWORKS
- Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 2: Dean Arniotes, “Noises Off,” StageDoor Theatre
- Outstanding Sound Design Tier 1: Jacob Keough-Mishler, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
- Outstanding Sound Design Tier 2: Buntport Theater, “Universe 92,” Buntport Theater