18-year-old Jeannie Hurley never sewed a stitch until she joined the Chanhassen High School Drama Club two years ago. There she discovered an interest in theater design and costumes.
Hurley, a 2019 Chanhassen High School graduate, was recognized in May as a Meritorious Scholar by the Minnesota Scholars of Distinction in Theater Arts, in conjunction with the Perpich Center for Arts Education, Golden Valley.
The designation recognizes high school students who demonstrate exceptional knowledge, skill and creativity in the performing arts: acting, dramatic writing, technical design and theater, or directing.
Hurley, a resident of Excelsior, transferred to Chanhassen High School in second grade.
âI wanted to meet new people,â Hurley said via email. âI decided to join the technical team. My first show, I helped paint and build the set; the following fall, I worked on âCinderellaâ. I joined the team as the leader of the student costumes and immediately fell in love. “
Hurley credits Jane Herget of Chaska, a former teacher and costume designer with Chaska Valley Family Theater, as a mentor.
âShe helped me through difficult times and became a supportive person,â said Hurley. âWhenever I sew on my own, I can still hear her in my head remembering the little sewing tips she taught me over the past two years.
âAnother important person who helps me grow through theater is Ms. Lori Constable. I worked with her in class and with her as a principal. She helped me learn to put on a show and be a better customer. It was Constable who told Hurley about the Scholars of Distinction competition.
Q: What was the first costume show you worked on?
A: âCinderellaâ, last year’s musical, directed by Mrs. Anna Hickey Fotis. I was very happy with the results. I made the Fairy Godmother dress for this show and was able to compete at the Minnesota Thespian Festival and advanced to the International Thespian Festival.
Q: What did the judges say about your work?
A: I had very good feedback! They noted the finish I had done … which helps make the costume complete. And how my creations complemented the director’s vision; that’s what you really want to hear as a designer, that you’ve helped to keep that cohesive and strengthen the overall concept.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: I would really love to try costume design. Part of my research for my recent Capstone in Advanced Theater Arts with Ms. Constable was to look at how to present her work in the digital age.
I contacted a few professionals in the field and found out that costume design isn’t just for theatrical productions – people ask for designs for corporate events or installations … so I really want explore the possibilities.
I will be attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth for costume design. I have other interests – outreach and working with groups to some extent. It is too early to tell. I’m just impatient, open to whatever comes my way.