Local costumer adds sparkle to outfits

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s annual Yuletide Celebration shines the holiday spotlight on the city’s world-class symphony.

Joining them on stage will be Broadway singers and dancers performing traditional Christmas favorites and music from the Disney smash “Frozen.”

To close out the first act, 14 tap-dancing Santas will shimmy across the stage.

Audiences will be rapt with the singing and dancing that is the focus of the performance. But the Yuletide Celebration wouldn’t have the same flash and sizzle without the talented group of costumers and their dizzying array of outfits.

Center Grove-area resident Katie Cowen Sickmeier will serve again as the assistant costume designer for this year’s show. She and head designer Clare Henkel, as well as the rest of the designing team, have spent the past two weeks getting all of the performers fitted, each of the costumes sewn and everyone ready to shine.

“The look of the show is a very beautiful and classic elegance, with a lot of sparkle. We use a lot of sequins,” she said.

Sickmeier, who graduated from Center Grove High School, fell in love with costume design while attending the University of Southern California. Though she initially intended to study set design, a semester in the costume shop changed her career trajectory.

“It was the constant way it touches every part of the production,” she said. “You have constant contact with everybody. It has to be adaptable, and there has to be a more organic process than set design.”

Last year was her first year with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, after a friend recommended her to Henkel. It was an experience like nothing else she had ever done.

The size of the performance, with dozens of performers on top of the full orchestra, is more than anything she had been associated with. She learned quickly that she needed to be open to adjustments as the show progressed.

“It’s in flux from the moment it’s conceived. It can change at any moment,” she said. “So the challenge is to remain flexible and still get everything you need done.”

So far, the preparations have been sprinting toward opening night on Dec. 5. Work started on Nov. 13, which gave the costume team little time to get all of the outfits ready.

They did fittings every day and made adjustments as rehearsals commenced to fit the individual dancers and singers.

“You’re learning a lot very quickly. You’re putting pieces together,” Sickmeier said. “At the start, a lot of different brains had different bits of information. My job is to put that information together and gather it into a single piece of paperwork to let wardrobe happen backstage.”

But the work is worth it to be part of such a fun show, she said. She is looking forward to the Christmas medleys and song-and-dance numbers planned throughout the performance.

Plus, the version of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” is her favorite.

“There is something very simple and magical and theatrical about it,” Sickmeier said. “Even though I saw the show five nights in a row in tech week, once we got to opening night, it was just as magical.”

If you go

Yuletide Celebration

Who: The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, with co-hosts soprano Angela Brown and Broadway star Ben Crawford and artists-in-residence Time for Three.

Where: Hilbert Circle Theatre, 45 Monument Circle, Indianapolis

Show times

  • 8 p.m. Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 22 and 23
  • 2 p.m. Dec. 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22 and 23
  • 6 p.m. Dec. 7, 14 and 21
  • 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 17 and 18.

Tickets: Start at $34 for adults and $19 for children ages 4 to 12.

Information: indianapolissymphony.org

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.