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Dressing Fair Verona with Mariko Ohigashi

When it came to inspiration for the costumes for A Little Shakespeare: Romeo and Julietcostume designer Mariko Ohigashi didn’t have to look too far.

In fact, she’s been a Shakespeare fan since she was in high school herself in Japan, where she was first introduced to The Bard! Mariko started with Twelfth Night and her love has only grown since. It’s no surprise that this affinity is what drew her to working on this season.

In conversation with Director Diana M. Fathi, she and Mariko wanted to establish a setting that was new yet relatable. They took inspiration from prominent young artists of our generation, and how they appear. This organic collaborative process stemmed pretty early, when she took inspiration from the actors’ headshots before starting any costume designs.

To Mariko, who wanted to be a storyteller after interacting with Shakespeare’s work, The Bard’s pieces are intimidating because they’re timeless- and they can be adjusted easily- which is probably why Romeo and Juliet inspired so many different adaptations over the years, from garden gnomes to rival gangs.

Mariko doesn’t think many people notice this, but design can make a huge difference in a theatrical production. It can’t be overdone and it needs to work together with other elements of the play to effectively tell the story.

“You don’t get to see everything come together until the near end,” Mariko says. “But when it does, and it comes together right, it’s really magical to witness.”