Dressing The Human Comedy With Costumes and Props

In The Human Comedy (Opening May 5th), costumes and props play an important role in telling this story set in a small California town during WWII.

Recently, APAC alums Hunter S. Kaczorowski, Costume Design and Ashlee Springer, Prop Design, joined me on a stoop in Astoria to share insights into their work on the upcoming mainstage musical.

These are two talented artists looking to get down to specifics.

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN TELLING THE STORY OF THE HUMAN COMEDY?

Hunter S Kaczorowski Costume Design

Hunter S Kaczorowski, Costume Design

HUNTER: My role in this production is looking at how these characters dress themselves and thinking about where they get their clothes.

It’s about identifying who the character is through what they wear and how they fit into the world.

Since the central story of The Human Comedy is about family, I’m also looking at where things are hand-me-down clothes.

As a designer, I want to make this world as specific as possible and particular to these characters.

A lot of what I’m doing is carving out how these characters live, who they are, what they do, where they’re from and trying to inform all that into how they dress.

Ashlee Springer Prop Design

Ashlee Springer, Prop Design

ASHLEE: In The Human Comedy the props come in to help flesh out the stories and to aid in the music since it’s a sung through musical.

Tom (Wojtunik, Director) is so specific about his staging, he know’s exactly what he wants to happen at any given moment, and sometimes he needs objects to help with that.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH THE HUMAN COMEDY?

HUNTER: The biggest challenge is really tapping in to who these characters are. It’s a very real show, even though it’s a musical. The characters are telling real stories. So everything I do is about tapping into the characters as real people as opposed to creating something flashy. So a lot of these pieces are real vintage pieces. They have distressing on them that would’ve just happened. It’s about making things as specific as possible and making things real.

ASHLEE: The challenge with this show is finding the props that not only work within the time period but also with the dancing and staging. I want to provide the best possible aids for the storytelling. It’s the little things, the business, that really helps make it come together. It adds an authenticity.

IN THE HUMAN COMEDY WE’RE EXPLORING THE IDEA OF ‘HOME’, WHAT DOES HOME MEAN TO YOU?

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HUNTER: Home to me is anywhere that I feel I have a group of people that I connect with and that I can trust. If that’s my family, if that’s my friends here or if it’s this team.

ASHLEE: Home is just as different as it is similar for everybody. I think about my physical home where I was raised, in Atlanta, GA. I have my mom, dad, sister and they’re there. We have a good relationship and they’re awesome. But I don’t spend a lot of time there.

I’m at the point where I’m pretty young still and home is important to me but I’m in the “I’m enjoying being away” phase. I like figuring out more about what my home will start to be.

I want to be around a group of people who can hold me accountable and that I can hold accountable. I want people that take the time to get to know you because it can be hard to get to know people living here. It’s nice just to have people to talk to. Not every moment has to be some life changing, dramatic sharing experience. But to know that option is there sometimes is good.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT WORKING WITH APAC?

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HUNTER: I love working with this team. I love the amount of support I get. I really feel there are people looking after what I do. They’re there to support me when I need it. Specifically with Tom, Christine (O’Grady, Choreographer/Associate Director) and Kramer (Resident Scenic Designer).

I feel like there’s this mutual interest in discovery. All three of them are geniuses. I trust their work. I trust their ideas are good and well informed. I know they will not put anything onstage because it’s “cool”, they’ll do it because it has an actual dramatic function. We all have the same understanding of symbolism and storytelling so it’s really helpful having those people in the room.

ASHLEE: APAC hired me for The Pillowman when I just got to NY and was very green. I literally drove here, went to an interview the next day with Tom and Annie (Jacobs, Production Manager) and they were like, “Excuse me, you just moved here?” Then it just worked out. So APAC kinda gave me my first shot. Which I guess wasn’t totally horrific because here I am, I’m back.

The Human Comedy prop image

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I really like what APAC stands on. I like how involved they are with Astoria. I like that they’ve been around for a long time. They have some experience which I look for because I like to learn from other people.

I like that they pick plays that they really want to do. They don’t pick plays based on what they think is going to sell.

They’re very welcoming and they pull off some great stuff for being in a church gym with x amount of dollars. They make it look really rich.


Don’t miss this rich and beautiful ode to “home.” The Human Comedy begins May 5, 2011 and runs through May 21, 2011 at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent St (@30th Rd), Astoria, NY 11102.

Get your tickets here.

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