Celebration set to remember theatre costumer

September 7, 2011 | Arts, UToday
By Vicki L. Kroll



A celebration to honor Evelyn E. (Hepp) Davis, who worked in the UT Theatre Department for nearly two decades, will take place Friday, Sept. 9, in the Center for Performing Arts.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the lobby with a reception with hors d’oeuvres and wine. A program will take place at 7 p.m. in the Recital Hall.

“Following the formal program, we will retire to the Studio Theatre to toast, roast, remember, eat, drink and party for as long as anyone has something to say or wants to stay,” said Madonna DuVal, Davis’ daughter.

Davis, who was living in Cincinnati, died July 9 at age 91. She joined the UT staff as a costumer in the Theatre Department in 1964. Over the years, her title changed to seamstress, tailor, administrative specialist and theatre costume specialist, the position she retired from in 1981.

She made costumes for more than 100 UT theatrical productions as well as dance programs, according to DuVal.

“Sewing was always a part of my mom’s life,” she said. “During her 19 years at UT, she was given an opportunity to work and train at the prestigious Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada for a summer.”

Evelyn Davis showed the costume shop to actor Hal Holbrook, who visited the University in the late 1970s.

Evelyn Davis showed the costume shop to actor Hal Holbrook, who visited the University in the late 1970s.

DuVal, who worked at the University as business manager for the Theatre Department for more than 10 years, said those attending the event will have a chance to see some of her mother’s fine work.

William R. Smith, former UT costume designer, will give a slide presentation featuring some of his visions that were sewn by Davis. Costumes from “The Way of the World,” “Pericles,” “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” “Cabaret” and “Monkey Music” will be spotlighted.

In addition, Davis’ costumes from “The Way of the World,” “A Doll’s House” and “The Three Sisters” will be displayed on mannequins throughout the evening.

“I was impressed with the way she could create so much out of so little,” said Bill Grange, 1970 UT graduate. “She dressed an entire Russian regiment in old ROTC uniforms.”

“Evelyn took me under her huge wings when I was 16 and hanging out in the costume complex that was the old barracks behind University Hall,” said Jennifer Rockwood, UT assistant dean of the College of Innovative Learning and director of the First-Year Experience Program. “She was kind, loving and taught me so much about the world, as well as the patience one needs to build costumes.”

DuVal said anyone who would like to remember Davis will be invited to say a few words during the event.

For more information on the celebration, contact DuVal at madonnaduval@cinci.rr.com or Angela Riddel at 419.530.2452 or angela.riddel@utoledo.edu, or RSVP on Facebook here.

Click to access the login or register cheese