Sept. 26, 2001
CONTACT: Michaeleen Melita, 312-2988
COLLEGE COSTUME DESIGNER SEWS UP ROLE
WITH COLORFUL PBS CHILDREN'S SHOW
OSWEGO -- Viewers who tune into the children's show "Cory the Clown" on PBS stations next year will see the handiwork of Michaeleen Melita, SUNY Oswego's costume shop supervisor.
Melita served as costume director for the show, currently being filmed in Hollywood with a target for its series premiere of April or May.
The show features circus characters and emphasizes learning and creativity for young children. Cory Riback, who plays the title character, has been performing for 25 years. The producer is his wife, Linda Watt. "This has been their dreams for years," Melita said of the show, which is shooting 21 episodes for the season and is slated to air on around 200 PBS stations so far.
Jim Thompson, a 1998 SUNY Oswego graduate, "is the set designer and artistic director of the show," Melita said. "He called me. I sent sketches and swatches."
She went to California in May with preliminary sketches. She sent finished designs and swatches later. "We had a lot of conversations over the phone for each episode," she said of the cross-continental dealings. "We built a lot of the costumes here and took them out there for fittings."
Two of her students, Kelly Best and Julianna Marlow, had the opportunity to go to Hollywood for five weeks working at Raleigh Studios, where "Cory the Clown" is filmed. The students, who performed alterations and found costume pieces that needed to be fitted, enjoyed a tremendous experience, she noted. "They will get fabulous references," Melita said. "And they met a lot of professionals on the production team."
The costumes were constructed back at SUNY Oswego, with the help of students Reid Beadel, Michael Loosen, Stephen McSweeney and Gary Smith, high school students Priya and Ravi Mehra, volunteer Madeline Buell and professionals Jeanette Reyner and Pat VanWie.
"We needed everybody to do the job," Melita said. "There are at least 100 costumes for the show."
"Cory the Clown" features live-action performers as small as a 3-foot-9 character named Max the Entertainer to the towering 6-foot-6 ringleader (Frank McRae) who wears a 16EEE shoe, Melita said. Most characters required multiple costumes for each show as well as special apparel for themed episodes. There are also puppets that run on motors and human puppeteers; there are 18 motors just in the head of Lenny the Lion, she explained.
Those who watch closely may even see Melita make a cameo appearance in one episode.
"I haven't done it yet," Melita said of the small part that is in only one scene. "That will be fun."
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