Parker Performing Arts Teacher Looks Back on 35-Year Career as Costume Designer for Regional Theaters

THEATER ROUNDUP

Check out these regional theaters for worthwhile entertainment:

• THE PACE CENTER, PARKER: ParkerArts.org

• LONE TREE ARTS CENTER: LoneTreeArtsCenter.org

• SPOTLIGHT THEATER IN CASTLE ROCK: SpotlightTheater-CR.com

• LITTLETON TOWN HALL ARTS CENTER: TownHallArtsCenter.org

• AURORA FOX ARTS CENTER: AuroraFoxArtsCenter.org

• CHERRY CREEK THEATRE: CherryCreekTheatre.org

If you’re a theater-goer in south Denver, chances are you know Rosemary Smith’s work.

Whether it was a production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat or A Few Good Men, Rosemary put her heart and soul into creating show-stopping performances. But you’ve never seen Rosemary on stage. It’s her costumes that have helped bring on the drama.

“The purpose of a costume is to help an actor get into a character. Sometimes an actor can’t find that right character until they don a wig or put on a dress. Costumes help you do that,” says Rosemary, who spent 35 years creating costumes for regional theaters before becoming the home economics teacher at Parker Performing Arts School, a two-year-old Douglas County charter.

And her career in costuming all began with a childhood love of playing dress-up.

“My mother taught me to sew in eighth grade, and then I started sewing my own Halloween costumes,” Rosemary says.

Rosemary was involved in theater in high school and continued her performing arts career in music in college. After graduating, she began to get more and more work creating costumes for regional theaters, simply through word of mouth. 

Now, Rosemary sits in her home ec classroom that doubles as the school’s “green room” and answers one of her student’s question on how to finish sewing the tie on an apron. Rosemary teaches her students the fundamentals of sewing and costuming, which at this grade level mainly involves creating and embellishing hats, jewelry and other accessories to complement costumes.

“Costuming, across the board, is about budget,” Rosemary says. “Community theaters have very limited budgets and have to find things to make their productions work. Everywhere I go, I see my costumes, because everybody borrows everything.

“It always brings a smile to my face to see them still being used.”

Her work has appeared on the stages of the PACE Center in Parker, Spotlight Theater in Castle Rock, and the Aurora Fox, Cherry Creek, and the now-defunct Ignite theaters, among others.

“My favorite show to create costumes for was Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat because there was so much variety,” Rosemary says.

The most difficult costumes to create was from a production of A Few Good Men at the Spotlight Theater, because of the specific requirements on all the military uniforms.

“I spent months of research to get it right,” she says.

Rosemary says she has loved teaching young performing arts students the basics of sewing and costuming, but that she sometimes misses being an integral part of regional theater.

“The design part of it is the most enjoyable,” Rosemary says.