F E L L O W    T R A V E L E R S



In Fellow Travelers, the costume design concept was based on the perspective of  the lead protagonist, Timothy Laughlin. Each costume design was a visual snapshot of the character based on Tim's point-of-view. 'What is catching Tim's eye about his environment or the people?' As an aspiring writer, 'What does Tim strongly remember about each person he encounters?' 'What is holding Tim's attention at the time and now?' With this, I had to think about each design from the lens of Tim which included in-depth analysis and an understanding of each character's development in the plot.

The director was inspired by the 1998 film "Pleasantville," and the transition of black-and-white to color. In addition, I was inspired by the costume designs (CD: Donna Zakowska) in the Emmy-winning Amazon Prime series "The Marvelous Ms. Maisel." With a gray-scale scenic design, there was the opportunity and challenge to create significant meaning using clothing for the characters. For the costume design, the aesthetic goal was to show a variation of people who live true-to-themselves (real identity), live in a facade, or suppress their personality to fit the norm. To achieve this, I used color symbolism (i.e., blue for comfort/security, pink for femininity, white for suppression). 

Overall, to abstractly capture the picturesque ideal of the 1950s in Gregory Spears's modern American opera Fellow Travelers, the use of period-accurate silhouettes, controlled-color symbolism, and subtle use of patterns and motifs were used to evoke feelings of individuality vs. fashion conformity based on the protagonist's point-of-view.

INSPIRATIONAL SONG(S): "Scene 1a, Park in Dupont Circle - LIVE", Composer: Gregory Spears

Arrangement By: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

*Link will redirect to YouTube clip with song.


Quote from Audience Member:

"This [production of Fellow Travelers] was a milestone of quality artistry and refined clarity."

Kenneth Shaw, Professor of Voice at College-Conservatory of Music (CCM)

Disclaimer: The following  research and reference images are utilized under Fair Use: Copyright Disclaimer under Section 107 of the Copyright Act in 1976; Allowance is made for "Fair Use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. All rights and credit of these research images go directly to its rightful owner. No copyright infringement intended.


For Fellow Travelers, I wanted to build a special costume for the character Mary Johnson. She is an innocent, delicate and graceful character. Due to this, I wanted a 1950s party dress to reflect her elegant nature. For this character, the director(s) and I made a design choice to use mainly blue for her color story throughout the show. So, I had a challenge of sourcing (1) blue and (2) tiered fabric. I was attracted to the fluffy "cupcake" style skirt of the period. Yet, to contrast, I wanted the bodice to present Mary as a mature woman. So, I designed a halter bodice with ruching at the center front and princess seams. 

With this, I worked alongside two makers, Amira Rowe and Abby Powers, to build two dresses. One for each double cast Mary - Emma Marhefka (pictured) and Emily Garcia. During swatching, the skirt fabric was specially sourced. To create the extra fullness, 25+ layers of tulle were sewn underneath the main fabric using a ballet basque technique. In addition, I collaborated with the makers to layer multiple colors/styles of tulle including light blue, gray, silver sparkle, and silver glitter.

"Fellow Travelers" at University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music is a double-cast production.


Venue: Patricia Corbett Theater (PCT).

Book: Gregory Spears.

Libretto: Gregory Pierce.

Conductor: William R. Langley.

Director: Greg Eldridge and Daria Zholnerova.

Stage Manager: Quinn Morgan.

Scenic Designer: Mark Halpin.

Costume Designer: Brittannie McKenna Travis.

Assistant Costume Designer: Jayna Fry.

Costume Supervisor: Lauren Fitts.

Lighting Designer: Baron Leon.

Sound Designer: Kaitlyn Barnett.

Technical Director: Janay Sukkarieh.

Props Masters: Maddie Byrnes.

Wig-and-Makeup Designer: Tiara Jones.

Maker(s): Amira Rowe and Abby Powers.

Musical Preparation: Marie-France Lefebvre and Lisa Hasson.

Intimacy Director: Susan Moser.

Photographer: Mark Lyons and Katie Reus.