Van Loon designs costumes

Sara Van Loon became the costume designer in September.

“We are really lucky to have two new people on the Shorewood drama team and we’re all really, really excited to see what everyone has in store for the rest of the year,” said Taylor Anapol, senior.

Van Loon went to Westminster College to become an actress, when a mistake led her to try costumes. The previous costume designer had put felt costumes in the wash, ruining them, and so the director of the program put her in charge of costumes.

“I knew nothing about how to do costumes; I just knew how to sew,” Van Loon said. “I was thrown to the wolves, and I figured it all out.”

Van Loon liked the job given to her, and so she took classes at another college in the area.

She decided to move to Ohio, and went to graduate school at University of Akron, where she received a Master of Arts in technical theater and costumes. While she was attending school, Van Loon also worked in a variety of costume-related jobs.

“I also got to teach costumes and I found out that that was really fun,” Van Loon said.

After pursuing freelance costuming in the greater Akron area, Van Loon took an internship at the Cleveland Playhouse. There, she got experience as a shopper, stitcher, and cobbler, as well as in many other crafts.

“In theater you end up learning lots and lots of skills, and that’s what I did,” Van Loon said.

Van Loon then returned to Milwaukee and got additional degrees from Cardinal Stritch in art and teaching. Van Loon did her student teaching in Shorewood.

“I kind of just hung around ever since; I love this school district and I’m not afraid to say it,” Van Loon said.

Van Loon runs the Shorewood Drama Jr. program. She writes and directs the shows herself.

“To me, it doesn’t seem like I’ve been doing [Drama Jr.] for so long, but I really have … this is our 17th [Drama Jr.] show we’re doing right now,” Van Loon said.

Getting back into costume designing has posed some challenges, but Van Loon has found support to help in the transition.

“[This transition is] great; she is very excited to be doing it; she’s putting a lot of time and energy … to make sure the costumes are really great,” said Joe King, director.

“Getting back to speed [is a challenge] … my drawing skills … are a little rusty. I was a little worried about it, but [King] seems to … have a lot of faith in me and he liked my designs,” Van Loon said.

Anapol does not share her doubts. “[Van Loon] had so many unique ideas that she was presented to us … the costume renderings were really impressive and fantastic,” Anapol said.

She also knows many of the other staff members due to her involvement in the district. “Everyone’s been very warm and open and welcoming,” Van Loon said.

When she is not involved with some aspect of Shorewood drama, Van Loon likes graphic design, throwing parties, dressing in costume and reading.

Working as costume designer will allow Van Loon to combine her hobbies with work.

“I love clothes, I love history, I love theater, so [costume designer is] a great combination of all of it,” Van Loon said.

Van Loon has also written a novel. In 2012, she participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and hopes to continue writing the series she started. Her book follows six siblings in a Jane Austen-type setting, but with 20th century sensibilities.”[The novel is] kind of my answer to Twilight and the Hunger Games … some people don’t read sci fi, and I thought there was a hole in juvenile lit,” Van Loon said.

Theater has taught Van Loon many skills and lessons.

“You have to like working with people, and a lot of different kinds of people … you have to be patient, you have to have a collaborative spirit,” Van Loon said.

by Nathalie Bolduc

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