We really couldn’t be more pleased with the warm reception we’ve received for our final show of the season, our “crown”ing glory, if you will: the musical CROWNS, by Regina Taylor, based on the book CROWNS: Black Women in Church Hats by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, and directed by Kevin Ramsey. Incredible gospel songs along with the stellar, powerhouse voices of our cast, the projections and staging of the show, and last, but obviously not least, the incredible hats and costumes, make it truly something worth seeing.

A few weeks ago, anxious to see how the bevy of over 30 handcrafted hats and costumes were progressing, I stopped up to our costume shop to visit costume designer Brian Strachan and his team. I was drawn to the beautifully designed quilt that Brian, Kimitha Cashin (our props master who’s been assisting in costume construction for this show), and costume assistant Mary Beth Regan (“MB” as she’s known by), were creating for the character of Mother Shaw. The script calls for Mother Shaw (played by the lovely Barbara D. Mills) to have a shawl. The shawl is utilized throughout the show as a sort of representational object as Mother Shaw and her ‘hat queens’ share their life lessons and what it means to “wear a crown.” Director Kevin Ramsey came up with the idea of turning the shawl into a quilt, with patches on the quilt to reference the various journeys that the characters take throughout the show, including many of the core stories depicted in the show, such “jumping the broom,” the “wedding” and the “funeral” scenes, among others. From personal experience (my mother is an avid quilter) I truly appreciate this idea of sharing a legacy, as a quilt does, and was delighted to see how the quilt truly becomes a sort of character in the show. Take a look at our slideshow (left) with some fun quilt-creation photos.

While visiting, I also took a sneak-peek at the hats Brian was finishing up for the show. A few were purchased in New York and then embellished and detailed for each specific character, while Brian himself hand-crafted many others from scratch, including the gorgeous fox hat you’ll see in the show, made from a real fox shawl he found at a flea market that he completed with glowing jeweled eyes, and the African hat. Brian referenced how he loves designing because of its multi-faceted aspects: “You make your design and then you get to see how to make it work for the characters/ actresses.” You can see these brilliant hats and gorgeous quilt come to life in CROWNS on DTC’s stage until this Sunday, April 29th. All of the hats are also up for auction through April 29th. View and bid on your favorite(s) now here.

We’ll see you soon!
-Amanda Curry