The Lees-McRae College Division of Performing Arts has two alumni in the new film The Producers.
Donald (Donnie) Sanders worked as William Ivey Long’s assistant, who is the costumer for the film. The pair also worked on the Tony-winning Broadway play of the same name. Charles Duff, another alumnus was in the Chorus of “The Producers.”
Sanders attended Lees-McRae from 1995 to 1999, earning a Theatre Arts degree while working heavily with costuming for the Performing Arts department. A main character in the production Baby, Donnie also performed in many other shows, also participating in the Clogging team, and the Highlanders Group.
Donnie looks at Lees-McRae with great admiration. “When I was at Lees McRae, anything was possible,” he said. “If a production needed 15 show girl costumes and I only had a few pennies in my budget, then we would just make it happen.
“I would over-dye stock fabric, make some ruffles, and cut up an 80′s prom dress – and believe me we were doing the world a favor by ‘recycling’ those poofy frocks. I’d stitch – or more often hot glue – sequins around the hem and suddenly we had a glamour gown from the 20′s. Top it off with an industrial toilet paper roll, glittered then bedazzled – our actress had a lovely new bracelet.”
Dr. Janet Speer, Chair of the Division of Performing Arts, remembers her former student fondly. “Donnie is a full-of-life guy, always wanting to explore new territories,” she said. “He took our degree from Lees-McRae, went on to successfully complete graduate school, designed the King and I for Lees-McRae Summer Theatre and went immediately to New York and landed a great job. We are so very proud of him and his many achievements.”
Donnie is still in New York working with Tony Award winning costume designer William Ivey Long. He has worked with William on Hairspray, The Boy From Oz, Chicago, and The Frogs as well as the 2005 film, The Producers: The Movie Musical. Donnie’s design work can be seen in the Bloomingdale’s Christmas windows this year. He was also recently featured in GS Magazine:
His education at Lees-McRae gave him not only the practical skills of his profession but the confidence to succeed.
“Lees-McRae taught me how to solve problems and what to do when you run into a brick wall,” he said. “Bust right through it!”