Their resumes look like a “Best Plays” list: The Book of Will, The Glass Menagerie, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Lord of the Flies, One Night in Miami, Smokey Joe’s Café, Titus Andronicus, Tantalus, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Whale, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Love, Janis among dozens (perhaps hundreds) of others.
The work of DCPA Theatre Company Costume Design Associate Meghan Anderson Doyle and Costume Crafts Director Kevin Copenhaver is regularly in the spotlight on area stages. Now, their designs will be on display at the CU Experience Gallery adjacent to the Bonfils Complex. “Beyond the Stage: Costuming of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts” opens on December 15, 2022 for a free six-month exhibit.
The gallery will feature designs for seven DCPA Theatre Company productions: American Mariachi, The Chinese Lady, A Doll’s House, Sweeney Todd, Twelfth Night, Wild Party and The Who’s Tommy. In April, the curators will swap out some of the pieces so that the costumes are not exposed to natural light for more than four months, all the reason to come multiple times.
While the duo might be just as famous as the literal “poster children” for the annual Denver Zombie Crawl — and yes, they did their own makeup — their day job is to create the costume designs and costume crafts (think hats, shields, masks, puppets) for the Denver Center’s original plays and musicals
When asked what her inspiration is, Anderson Doyle immediately and without hesitation replied, “Telling the story.” For instance, “American Mariachi was a story about my neighborhood and my community presented in a beautifully authentic way,” she said. Anderson Doyle started with the DCPA Theatre Company in 1998 and moved into her current role as Costume Design Associate in 2006. She also enjoyed designing for Off-Center’s Sweet & Lucky, which she described as an “incredible and unique experience” that “fostered an interest in Immersive Theatre,” as well as The Wild Party, which was “a wonderful combination of immersive experience, musical theatre, and period design.”
While Anderson Doyle certainly has considerable longevity at the company, Copenhaver boasts 32 years at the DCPA, having started under the artistic leadership of Donovan Marley and Barbara Sellers.
“I enjoy building the crafts with my team for shows that I design the costumes for – such as the masks for Oedipus Rex; the hats, accessories, and bloody effects for Sweeney Todd, the dozens of hats for the ladies in Crowns,” Copenhaver said. But of the most memorable elements he’s worked on, three come immediately to mind:
“The onstage inflatable costume for the king in Beethoven and Pierrot, which involved an inflatable mattress motor mounted inside the costume and was a fun collaboration with draper Sheila Morris; the understructure body padding for the 600 lb. lead character in The Whale, which was a great collaboration with draper Louise Powers, and the bear costume for A Winter’s Tale with onboard speakers, moving eyes and jaws.”
While examples of these costumes can be seen on the Denver Center’s YouTube channel, audiences are invited to get an up-close-and-personal look at the design sketches, clothing, crafts and more at the CU Experience Gallery.
“Beyond the Stage” is the most recent exhibit at the CU Experience Gallery. Since the 1970s, the three colleges on downtown Denver’s Auraria Campus — University of Colorado/Denver, Metro State University and the Community College of Denver — have curated and installed artwork by national and international artists in the Emmanuel Gallery.
As an extension of these programs, CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media partnered with Denver Arts & Venues to open the CU Experience Gallery at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. This interactive and immersive gallery regularly features celebrated artists and cultural institutions that highlight talent and artistry.
All exhibits are free; hours vary. For more information, visit www.nextstagecu.org.