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Drama Upstairs, Action Downstairs: The OU Costume Design Shop is always a busy place

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NORMAN, OKLAHOMA -- It might still be a few days before the curtain goes up, but far beneath the stage at the University of Oklahoma Theatre Department the costume design shop is where all the action takes place.

"We've got 35 ball room dresses going," says Lloyd Cracknell. "And at least 20 period mens' jackets."

The racks are full of Russian ball gowns from the 1820's.

The tags attached to them have orders on what needs to be done.

If there are any questions, Cracknell, the director of the OU Theatre Design Shop has the answers.

"What we do," he says, "Is take modern conventions, and modern fabrics, and turn them into theatre magic."

He's a former design student, now professor, who spent time with the Versace design house in Italy and making royal wedding dresses in London.

Lloyd always wanted something more.

"Eventually I got bored with that," he says. "I didn't really care whether a skirt should be short or long."

These days his costume design shop cuts, sews, fits, and alters the outfits for 3 big productions every semester.

Cracknell says they make costumes for, "the school of music, the school of dance, the school of drama, and the school of musical theatre."

The outgoing show was set in ancient Greece.

The one coming up is an opera.

Look around and you'll see the second oldest drama school in the United States has done just about every different kind of production you can think of.

Cracknell and people who worked here in the past, like Patricia Mason, have had their hands on thousands of costumes.

Patricia, who came back to help out at a busy time, says, "I retired after about 40 years."

Of their vast racks of stored costumes, Cracknell adds, "We have a Regency room. We have an Elizabethan room..."

They still have some last minute fittings for chorus designer Stephanie Sanditch.

The 'to do' tags are coming off most of the outfits.

The show will go on.

It always does.

And the part of the actor's character that always speaks firstwill go onstage too.

Theater magic at its best, just before the lights go on.

The opera scheduled to run March 3 -6 is called 'Eugene Onegin'

For ticket information go to