Travis Eli Whited arrives at get the job done all over 7:15 just about every early morning. He enters the environmentally friendly place at the rear of Arts United Heart, where Fort Wayne Civic Theatre is based mostly, and walks downstairs to the basement in which the costume store sits.
It is lined with hundreds of costumes, reflecting unique reveals the theater has put on in its 95 yrs. Whited would make his way by way of the maze to his worktable, where he will commit the day operating on assignments for an approaching display.
Whited took over as Civic’s costume designer and supervisor in May well. Since then, he has been building costumes for “The SpongeBob Musical,” which opens the theater group’s 2022-23 season this weekend.
“SpongeBob” focuses on characters from the well-liked Nickelodeon clearly show doing the job jointly to save their property of Bikini Base from a volcano which is about to erupt. It functions tunes from artists this sort of as Cyndi Lauper, John Legend and Sara Bareilles in genres from place to gospel.
There are a lot more than 30 forged members in the display, which include Lincoln Everetts as SpongeBob, Keristen Baker as Patrick, Ayana Brooks as Sandy and Thom Greving as Squidward.
The actors are not cartoon figures, clearly. And so Whited’s costumes are impressed by the cartoon but have a human twist. For case in point, SpongeBob wears plaid shorts, a yellow button-up shirt and brown suspenders, so audience customers will figure out him.
“I variety of assumed it was like the topic park, with major, big puppets,” Whited claims, “which this present is not. … It is seriously grounded.”
Since he was about 4 yrs old, Whited has established artwork, but it wasn’t until eventually he was in higher faculty that he did theater. When in university at Missouri State College in Springfield, Missouri, he examined acting.
“I had a ton of fittings for 1 show in specific,” he says, “and the costumers there had been just chatting about my art background and reported, ‘Well, you know, you can blend them and arrive into costumes.’ And which is really all it was.”
Whited shifted his focus from acting to style and design and has worked professionally for much more than 30 a long time. After graduating university, he traveled across the state to do the job on costumes for different displays this sort of as “Mary Poppins” and “The Producers.”
“The thought of coming to Fort Wayne and just coming to a shop each individual day, and then heading residence to my genuine residence, sounded a lot improved than all the lodges,” he suggests.
Prior to beginning at Civic Theatre, Whited also labored on film and truth television initiatives, such as “The Biggest Loser,” but he was most passionate about functioning in theater.
“I’ve worked all more than,” he says. “I’ve worked with group theaters and specialist theaters and operas. It’s just a issue of obtaining to know the staff and the tradition of the space.”
Considering that no two displays are the same, there is no established program for how prolonged it requires to make costumes, and that’s one thing he just can’t handle. He goes based off the season’s program, searching at when crews are intended to get started doing the job on a display, when dress rehearsals are and when it is established to premiere.
The sizing of a show’s forged also has an effect on how lengthy it normally takes to build its costumes, Whited suggests, and “SpongeBob” has a large solid, which he thinks is a exciting obstacle.
When Whited initial started doing work on “SpongeBob,” he was operating remotely simply because he had not moved to Fort Wayne yet, suggests the show’s director, Albert Brownlee. The crew would have creation conferences, and Whited would be on speaker cellular phone, and his assistant, Rosemary Hampton, would have his sketches for the group to see.
Whited was in-particular person by the time auditions started off.
“It was excellent to set a face to a voice we all experienced listened to,” Brownlee says. “Just to see his inventive process has been definitely exclusive.”
He states he likes the costumes Whited designed for the show, as does the show’s choreographer, Capri Williams.
Williams states it can be hard to structure apparel that perform in all areas of the present, but the resourceful team has worked jointly to locate approaches to make it function.
“I like specified models, but the vast majority of my inquiries are: ‘Can they transform in that? What is the footwear heading to be? Can they kick their leg really high in that piece?’ ” she states. “We just really want to produce a present that is equal in inventive blending.”
Whited might be new to the theater, but he is not the only creative workforce member in a new purpose.
Although Brownlee has acted in demonstrates at Civic Theatre, this is his very first time directing, and this is Williams’ first summer season exhibit and initially full time as marketing and advertising director.
Simply because so several persons on the group ended up new, Brownlee was not certain how their creative visions would line up. But he states there hasn’t been an challenge performing alongside one another or determining what the exhibit would look like.
“We’ve got some fantastic items,” he says. “There’s a single piece in distinct that’s amazing. We don’t want to give any surprises away, but there is some intriguing costumes, and I’m excited about that.”
Brownlee and Williams think “SpongeBob” is about more than the kids’ show, and there are relatable themes, these as staying accurate to who you are, accepting many others and getting brave and brave.
“In my viewpoint, it is geared for the older generation, but it also will work with kids,” Williams says. “You’re not only obtaining to see your childhood exhibit arrive to life in this kind of medium, but you are also type of learning and knowledge these really grownup items by your childhood.”
Variety and inclusion is yet another topic viewed in the clearly show, with the sea creatures accusing Sandy of getting the cause the volcano erupted since she’s a land animal. Williams believes that is very similar to race relations now, exclusively with the Black Life Subject motion.
Williams states she’s thrilled for Whited’s long term with Civic and to see how his do the job translates to the organization’s other displays.
“It’s likely to be appealing to see him deliver diverse kinds for unique genres,” she suggests. “I think it’s a challenge, but I imagine it’s wonderful mainly because he will get to constantly build his artwork and have it showcased in this variety of medium.”