Fashion Forward: Victorians Explore the Fabric of Time in ‘On the Verge’

By schwartzsa | December 7, 2012


Aristotle may have proclaimed that spectacle—costumes, scenery and other visual elements of theater—is the least important element of drama, but this certainly is not the case with Arcadia’s fast-paced production of On the Verge, which tells the improbable story of three time-travelling Victorians.

Set across different eras and locations, each known for distinctive fashion, the production pairs great acting with smart costuming. Thanks to Alisa Kleckner, Adjunct Professor and Costume Shop Supervisor, and her crew of 16 student workers, ensembles look appropriately vintage, as if pulled from the trunks of 1880s explorers or the racks of 1950s boutiques.

Each costume was thoroughly researched before being rendered, and then Kleckner and student costume designers used the drawings to build the outfits on site. Along the way, the talented and resourceful team found design solutions to questions like, “How can this costume change happen in 20 seconds?”

“Although my expectations are high and things can get a little nutty at crunch time, we still find a lot of time to laugh,” says Kleckner of her student workers. “I couldn’t have hoped for a more amazing group of people to work with. They are the reason we can do what we do, show after show.”

1950s style

Many students, including  Samia Merritt ’14, took on a lot of responsibility in the production, gaining valuable experience and understanding of their craft along the way. Merritt had a blast serving as hair and makeup designer, creatively solving problems as they arose.

“This show calls for some wacky changes, and I think my main focus as well as Alisa’s was supporting the play with our designs,” says Merritt. “I work in the costume shop and I can say there was never a dull moment working on the beautiful costumes. I think seeing the costumes on the actors helped make the show come to life!”

That’s certainly the case. It is especially obvious when the masterful yeti mask and spot-on African mask are revealed on stage. Both pieces were hand-crafted by Amanda Sharp ’13. “We spend countless hours working on both the big picture and the small details that no one would notice but us,” says Sharp. “We’re learning to take pride in our work and have the pieces we make be accurate—historically or otherwise—and thoughtful.”


  • General admission – $15
  • Arcadia students – Free with ID
  • Non-Arcadia students, senior citizens and Arcadia alumni – $12


  • Nov. 29, 30, Dec. 1, 6, 7, 8 at 8 p.m.
  • Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9 at 2 p.m.