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Department of Theatre
logoJanine McCabe/Theatre
The Seams Behind the Scenes
By Ashley Bennett and Kevin Boniface

Theatre professor Janine McCabe travels in time to find the perfect attire for every production. McCabe specializes in designing costumes for the College's Theatre Department- and teaching students how to do this. It can be a globe-trotting adventure.

"In a single year we may visit 19th century America or travel to 16th century Spain, or another world," she says.

With an array of talents, McCabe specializes in costume design, pattern making, draping, and costume research. After earning her undergraduate degree in theatre from the College of Charleston, she went on to get her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Virginia.

Returning to her roots, the New Jersey native headed back north. She is originally from Lanoka Harbor, N.J. However, she stumbled upon an amazing opportunity to intern for Broadway costume designer Martin Pakledinaz in New York during her last year of graduate school. This opportunity led to four years of maintaining a position as Assistant Designer on many of Martin Pakledinaz's designs for Broadway, Opera and Dance in NYC and across the country. Some of these included "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Kiss Me Kate," and "Wonderful Town" on Broadway, "The Nutcracker" for San Francisco Ballet, "Alcina" for New York City Opera and "Vanessa" for Washington Opera, among many others. Along her journey in New York more opportunities began to blossom. She went on to become Assistant Designer for "The Wedding Singer" on Broadway, designed by Gregory Gale.

Throughout her five years in New York McCabe also designed on her own for companies such as The Julliard School, Circle in the Square School, Praxis Theatre Company and for the New York Musical Theatre Festival. In 2005, she designed costumes for Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy's new musical about F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Waiting for the Moon," at Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center. Part of the Philadelphia Theatre Alliance this production was nominated for multiple Barrymore Awards including a Barrymore Award Nomination for Best Costume Design.

"Her designs are not only beautifully constructed but incorporate very powerful concepts," says fellow theatre professor Glenda Byars.

Soon after, McCabe received an offer from the College of Charleston asking her to become a Visiting Assistant Professor for the Theatre Department. She relocated to Charleston in 2006 and then applied for the tenure-track position of which she is now in her third year. McCabe teaches multiple classes in costume design in the theatre department, designs for the department and mentors student designers. "I love teaching costume design because it focuses on the collaborative process. You are working collectively to bring a big production together- not solo, it's a team effort,"McCabe says.

"My favorite part of teaching here is being able to facilitate a hands-on environment with specialized individual time in order to provide my students with the encouragement and feedback they need to excel," she says. "I am able to take on an assistant designer for each production who walks through the design and production steps with me and I really enjoy this mentorship," McCabe says.

McCabe teaches "Costume I", which incorporates sewing and the basic design process, "Costume Design II" which is pattern making, "Costume Design and Research," which analyzes scripts and research to design costumes for different plays and periods.

One of McCabe's contributions has been creating a Student Design Showcase in the theatre department at the end of every semester. The showcase is an open house display of the costumes used in the plays throughout the season and the work done by the students in the design and technical classes in the department. The open house gives an opportunity to showcase her and the department's students' hard work and creativity.

"Janine has brought a real vitality and sense of life to the department," Byars says. "She is very well respected and liked by her students."

In her time at the College, Janine has designed "Arms and the Man," "The Children's Hour," " Richard III," "Lysistrata," "Measure for Measure," "Arabian Nights," "Tartuffe," "The Seagull," and "The Last Days of Don Juan."