Lanier’s costuming brings life to OSF

Jerrilyn Lanier works behind the scenes to make the Oklahoma Shakesperean Festival productions look good. Staff photo.

By Joey McWilliams

The gown, the crown and of course, the glass slipper.

All memorable sights of the grand presentation of Cinderella, a production the Oklahoma Shakesperean Festival will be performing later in July.

But it wasn’t necessarily festive sights that first grabbed the attention of the person responsible for the costuming for Cinderella. Jerriyn Lanier, now in her third season with OSF, first knew she wanted to be a part of the show after experiencing a 2,400-year-old Greek tragedy.

“Medea,” Lanier said. “I was an undergrad and it was the first show I ever saw. There was this actress that so got my attention under the lights.”

Lanier, from Biloxi, Miss., is responsible for all the costumes you will see during the OSF season and she has been at it for quite a while, even before arriving in Durant.

Cinderella’s glass slipper held by the prince. Staff photo.

“I talk to Riley (Coker, OSF producing director) about a month beforehand about themes, time periods and where she wants to set it,” Lanier said. “And then I go from there. I do research on Pinterest. A lot of the costume pages I belong to have research links. That’s my jumping off point – research, research and pictures.

“I have a wonderful shop crew of three people and we come in, we go to archives and we try to pull what we can from stock. That’s my job. All the costumes come from my area.”

While the actors have been in Durant for a while working on the parts, developing chemistry and even working with the Children’s Theatre, Lanier has been in town for a little longer.

“I get here two weeks before the actors get here. So that I consider my prep time. They send me measurements before I get here, so I have sort of a basis to go from. Two weeks of prep, buying, pulling and sewing, so maybe five weeks to get three shows together.

“Actually, I say two shows and Cinderella, because Cinderella is beast all in itself.

“I have that five weeks to make magic happen and to get fittings in and to do alterations. Anything that we can do we do in that time.”

Lanier earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and picked up her master’s degree at the University of Alabama. “Roll Tide,” she said with a smile.

And she does her own sewing.

“When I got my MFA, that was a part of our program. We couldn’t leave without knowing how to sew, cut, draft and drape patterns.”

Lanier has selected, adapted and/or made 250-300 costumes for Cinderella alone, and with the crowns, jewelry and more, oversees around 450 pieces for the production.

And she found her jumping on point at Medea.

“I had to go see this show for a class, and so I stumbled in to the theatre building, sat down in my seat, front row to watch this show. Never seen it before. And the lights came on for the opening act and I’m mesmerized.

“I know I can’t act personally, can’t get up there and say lines, but I just watched her and said, ‘OK. I like what she’s wearing. So maybe I can go work in the shop.’ I knew there was a costume shop. And the next day I went up and asked if I could work there for a work study. And I was there ever since.

“I got to design before I left undergrad and I wanted more training so I applied to grad schools everywhere – Alabama, LSU, Florida State, Texas A&M and I got a full ride to ‘Bama so that’s where I ended up going. But Madea did it. I sat there and watched that show and said, ‘I’ve got to be a part of that.’ And I’ve always loved fashion, so that’s how I got into costuming.

The Oklahoma Shakesperean Festival hits full swing later this month with Lanier’s costuming on display.


  1. Roslyn Sprowell says:

    Ms. Lanier is a true jewel. She takes great pride it what she does and is blessed with so many talents to offer. I am confident that she will blossom completely and “SOAR” real soon. If you need anything done from fashion, pictures, a wedding coordinator, she is the one to call. Keep pushing Ms.Lanier❤️

  2. Shela Lanier says:

    I love that you love what you do! I love what I do too, event decorating.