We're Hiring!


Family Connections

Getting Involved





Getting Involved

Behind the Seams: The Magical Creative Costuming Process of Hillcrest’s ‘Prince Caspian’

We willingly suspend disbelief when we watch a theater production. We know we are watching something unreal and fictional, but we go along with it because we identify with the characters or the plot feels plausible.

Costume design can either fortify or shatter that fragile contract, believes Hillcrest High costume designer Michelle Abbott, who has spent the past year preparing for one of the most extravagant productions to be attempted by the Huskies in recent years: The world high school premiere of “Prince Caspian.”

The theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ epic “Chronicles of Narnia” adventure runs for four nights, March 16-19. Tickets are available now for purchase online, and Abbott recommends getting a balcony seat for a bird’s eye view of the stage in all its make-believe glory. 

In the world of theater, costumes are more than mere accessories. They are storytelling instruments that help transport the audience to another place and time. 

Months of design work have gone into bringing Narnia to life, along with such characters as the giant Wimbleweather, Aslan the lion, and all the forest creatures, both real and fantastical. It takes many hands to pull off a show of this scope and stature, and it’s Abbott who is primarily responsible for channeling the energy and creativity of 50-plus volunteers to build a believable world through Broadway-quality costume design.  

“[This is] probably the most extravagant piece that we’ve done, at least in recent history, as far as sets and costumes,” says Hillcrest Theatre Director Joshua Long, “mostly because there are just things we’ve never had to do before, like magic tricks, and giant talking lions and trees that come to life.”

A world premiere is a big feather in Hillcrest’s already plumage-filled cap. But before agreeing to tackle it, Long called a meeting with Abbott and his theater teacher colleague Giselle Gremmert to make sure they were up to the challenge, since much of the heavy-lifting would fall to them. 

They jumped at the chance, much to the delight of a group of young students who were treated to a sneak-peak matinee just hours before Opening Night.

“I’m excited, because I’ve read the book before, and also Hillcrest has really great actors,” said Claire McCann from Midvale Middle.

Said another new theater enthusiast, “It’s going to be awesome!”

Abbott got her costume-design start as a volunteer when her son, formerly a student at Hillcrest, signed up for one of the school’s plays.  Her mom was a gifted seamstress and had exposed Abbott to sewing and different fabrics and fits as a young girl. “I have always loved theater so that was an easy jump for me,” she says.

Five years ago, she hired on with the Husky Theatre Department full time. Abbott has costumed more than 25 Hillcrest plays and musicals, from period pieces set in revolutionary France to award-winning Shakespeare productions. 

Every show has its challenges. For this year’s fall musical, “Holiday Inn,” each student actor had 10 costume changes. “Prince Caspian,” with its cast of 130, is an equally ambitious production, albeit more technical.  

Puppetry was a new adventure for Abbott. It takes eight students to operate the large version of Aslan, which works like a Chinese dragon. 

“It’s really hard to take human beings on the stage and turn them into animals in a way that doesn’t look hokey,” Abbott says. “We have animals in this show that are just animals, and then we have animals that are Narnian-talking animals, and then we have creatures that are half-animal, half-creatures like centaurs and fawns, and then we have just human beings. So when we were in our design meetings which started in June, we had a lot of conversations about how to differentiate those. …That’s when we were thinking we needed to add puppetry.”

Most of Abbott’s designs start as pencil drawings, but she relies heavily on the diverse talents of her volunteers, some of whom have engineering, welding and construction, or sculpting experience. 

Hillcrest’s ceramics teacher Blaine Atwood designed and carved a life-sized horse. Abbott’s son crafted the giant, and her brother-in-law welded custom stilts for the dryads, trees that come to life, and the school brought in a stilts instructor to train the students and ensure that everything was safe. 

“They are just looking absolutely majestic on the stage,” Abbott says.  

One of the reasons Hillcrest chose “Prince Caspian” was to provide acting opportunities for students who don’t naturally gravitate to theater. Choosing familiar storylines helps, or physical pieces with big battle scenes. 

“Big casts make it harder. It’s more people to track, it’s more schedules to follow, it’s more costumes to create,” Abbott says. “But it’s worth it every time when we get to meet new students and watch them grow and develop and have an experience they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Abbott says it’s “exciting and satisfying” to see something that started as the germ of an idea in your brain become a three-dimensional object on stage. 

But what’s most rewarding for her — what motivates her to put in the late nights and extra hours — is when the students take their bows at the end of a show and the cast motions upward to appreciate the stage crew. 

“I wish there was a moment in every person’s life when they accomplish something and they get that kind of show of support and appreciation for the work they did,” she says. “That always gets me a little emotional.”

Share This Post

Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

Specialty Schools

High Schools

Elementary Schools

Middle Schools

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Statement

Canyons School District is committed to making this website compliant with the ADA. At this time, we recognize that not all areas of this website may be ADA compliant. We are currently in the process of redesigning and creating new website content to be compliant with the W3C Level Two guidelines. If you are experiencing issues with this website, please contact us here communications@canyonsdistrict.org