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Q&A with Steel Magnolias Costume Designer Sarah Uwadiae

Sarah Uwadiae is a Nigerian multi-disciplinary artist and theatre designer based in Calgary. Steel Magnolias marks Sarah Uwadiae's first show with Theatre Calgary as a Costume Designer, but not her first work with us. Previously, Sarah was a Design Mentee/Assistant on our productions of The Humans and Skylight. Sarah is also an emerging filmmaker, and enjoys creative collaborations and is passionate about storytelling, and artistic exploration through theatre, film and visual art.

We asked Sarah a few questions about her costume designs for Steel Magnolias, just before it hit the stage.

Steel Magnolias is set in 1987... What were the most important fashion fads that you wanted to capture?
Definitely shoulder pads, bold prints, corduroy, high-waisted and pleated pants!

Describe Ouiser and Annelle's costumes. Do they go through any changes as the characters do in the show?
(See PHOTO GALLERY below for references for the sketches and photos referenced)

Ouiser and Annelle both evolve in the story. Annelle comes in as a young, shy girl who is not sure if she is married in Act 1 scene1, and by scene 2 she is living bolder in her character and choices. And, she is big into DIY! Act 2 scene 1, she has found Jesus and her life is changing. By the final scene, she is now experiencing a much more fulfilling part of her life. Ouiser does not care too much about fashion or what people say or think of her, as she said, "she has been in a bad mood for forty years and the reason people respect her is because she has more money than God". By the final scene, her personal life has changed, and she is caring a bit more about her appearance.

How many total costumes will there be in Steel Magnolias?

There will be a total of 23 costumes in the show.

Have they all been built in-house, or did you get to go shopping too??

We got to do both. Most of the costume pieces were built in-house. Some were bought and a few of the bought costume pieces were altered.

Any other fun costume facts that you want to share?

Since Annelle in Act 1 Scene 2 is big into DIY-ing, I approached her costume in that scene like she made it. It was really fun designing and creating that look.

Steel Magnolias runs at Theatre Calgary from March 8 - April 3, 2022.

Steel Magnolias Costume Designer Sarah Uwadiae