STAGES St. Louis has a new resident costume designer who has garnered many Broadway accolades throughout his career.
For decades, Brad Musgrove dazzled audiences with his numerous roles — from understudy to dancer, actor and choreographer — in Tony Award-winning Broadway shows, including “Fosse,” “La Cage aux Folles” and “Pippin,” among others.
“Dreams do come true,” Musgrove says. “I started dancing because I saw a Fosse show when I was 10 in Kansas City.”
Dancing was his first love, but in 2007, Musgrove needed a hip replacement. Rather than letting it get him down, he used his injury to push deeper into creating meaningful theater and he began designing costumes, where he found his next true calling. He spent a few years designing costumes on the East Coast, but the Kansas City native, who left home at 18, found himself longing to be closer to family.
When presented with the opportunity to become the STAGES St. Louis resident costume designer, Musgrove jumped at the chance. Although Broadway shows are a much bigger production than STAGES, he puts the same amount of love and care into each piece he designs, and he cuts no corners despite a lower budget.
“We’re not just borrowing from other theaters or costume shops,” he says. “It’s all custom-designed from bolts of fabric.”
With four STAGES shows for 2018 — “I Do! I Do!,” “Mamma Mia!”, “Oklahoma!” and the Emerson Family Theatre Series production of “Madagascar” — Musgrove is staying busy.
“Every show this season, aside from ‘Madagascar,’ all involve a wedding, so there’s lots of white lace,” he says. “My wheelhouse is glitz and glamour; I love rhinestones and feathers and fur, and I’ll get to do some beading and overlays.”
Each production’s design begins with a “Pinterest board rabbit hole” to inspire his design sketches. Then, he spends several weeks in New York City’s garment district choosing fabrics to make the dream a reality. After working up some renderings, his seamstresses can begin to create custom costumes for each cast member. The designs for the three major shows were a cinch for Musgrove, but designing for “Madagascar” threw him for a bit of a loop.
“This has been a challenge for me because I don’t want to design fur suits or mascots, so I have to put my spin on it and sort of put them in human clothing,” he says. “Gloria the Hippo’s dress and wig are made from ultra-suede to resemble the hide of hippo, and there’s been a fair amount of working with foam for the penguins. I’ve added a human element for the penguins that’s reminiscent of a cutaway coat and tuxedo bib.”
In addition to the spectacular costumes, STAGES provides a much more intimate theater-going experience than most other companies.
“There’s not a bad seat in the house,” Musgrove explains. “Even the back row can see every expression, every subtle nuance; a lot of that gets lost on bigger stages.”
For more information, visit stagesstlouis.org. M