Megan Turner got her theater start in elementary school, majored in theater technology, and now works for Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.

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Meet Megan Turner, who grew up in Seattle involved in theater at Garfield High. She now works in theatrical costuming in Chicago.

What do you do? I am the outside projects coordinator for the costume shop at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. It’s my job to work with outside theaters and production companies locally and nationally to assistant design, source, build, alter, fit and maintain costumes.

How did your interest in costuming start? From an early age, I loved learning to sew and creating tangible things with fabric, paper or clay. I grew up in Seattle and participated in theatrical electives at Coe Elementary and McClure Middle School, mostly acting but also putting in a few hours assisting parents with costumes.

My freshman year at Garfield High School, I enrolled in a tech theater class and was introduced to the theater-production process via Stewart Hawk, the director. I spent the next three years fostering a small community of fellow students to help me design, create and source costumes for main stages and the drama club. With encouragement from Mr. Hawk and my family, I decided to pursue a career in professional costuming, which led me to DePaul University.

How did you get your job? Since graduating from DePaul University with a bachelor’s in fine arts in costume technology, I have worked at Steppenwolf on different productions as a stitcher and design assistant. Showing interest and dedication to costume management, I was offered my current job last fall when the Steppenwolf costume shop was contracted to manage the costumes for the first national tour of “On Your Feet! The Emilio and Gloria Estefan Musical” [coming to Seattle’s Paramount Theatre for a limited run Oct. 23–28.].

Mauricio Martinez as Emilio Estefan and Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan in “On Your Feet!” Megan Turner, who grew up in Seattle, works for the Steppenwolf costume shop in Chicago, which was contracted to manage the show’s costumes.
(Matthew Murphy )
Mauricio Martinez as Emilio Estefan and Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan in “On Your Feet!” Megan Turner, who grew up in Seattle, works for the Steppenwolf costume shop in Chicago, which was contracted to manage the show’s costumes. (Matthew Murphy )

What’s a typical day like? Typical days could include but aren’t limited to ordering fabric and supplies, creating paperwork, shopping, fittings, returning, more shopping, more fittings, more returning, coordinating alterations, loading out costumes, attending tech and dress rehearsals … and then more shopping, more fittings and more returning. It all depends on the project, where we are at in the process and what the costume shop needs are that day.

What surprises people about what you do? In my experience, most people don’t realize that a career in costuming exists! The assumption always seems to be that I’m the sole member of the costume department. In reality, there’s an entire dedicated team working with me to get costumes on stage. For one look, someone must buy the socks, another needs to alter pants and yet another will need to distress and add sweat stains to a T-shirt.

What’s the best part of the job? It is thrilling to be able to work with so many different people! Whether I’m interacting with designers, actors, directors or crew members, the group effort to get a show up and running is invigorating. The process is ever-changing and always challenging. The camaraderie that inherently comes from a costume shop dynamic is truly special and unlike any other work environment.

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