Performing Arts faculty and student collaborate on transformational costume for Cinderella: The Enchanted Edition

October 21, 2014

When the Lees-McRae Performing Arts Department presented Cinderella: The Enchanted Edition, most patrons awaited the ending reunion of Cinderella and her Prince Charming, but little did they know there was an equally special moment coming sooner. Faculty members Dr. Michael Hannah and Mindi Bishop collaborated with Lees-McRae senior Ethan Henry to put a new spin on Cinderella’s transformation from peasant to princess. Together, they created a one-of-a-kind dress that allowed Cinderella, played by senior Anna Ashburn, to instantly change costumes while on stage.

Click here to view the transformation

“I designed and built the ball gown separately because it was the base onto which the peasant costume would be attached,” said Dr. Michael Hannah ’93, director of Cinderella and program coordinator of musical theatre. “I knew of several possible ways the transformation could have been done, and I knew that we could adapt the peasant dress patterns to fit whichever method was chosen.”

Bishop ’09, costume shop supervisor and adjunct dance faculty, added, “This was a huge collaborative effort on our part. Once Dr. Hannah told us what he wanted and gave us the fabric, Ethan and I used dress forms, extra fabric and a lot of, "What if we did this?" It seemed that when either Ethan or I became stuck, the other one had the answer to fix it.”

The final product and its effect on stage was reminiscent of Katniss Everdeen’s dramatic wedding dress transformation in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. On stage at Lees-McRae, when it came time to transform, much to the audience’s delight, Ashburn began to twirl as the dress seamlessly transformed from a peasant outfit into a beautiful ball gown fit for a princess.

“As a costume shop work study, I was asked if I could play with the dress and see if I had any ideas on how to make the transformation happen seamlessly,” said Henry, a musical theatre major specializing in performance. “I tried an idea that ended up working on a very basic level and through collaboration with Mindi on the physical construction of the dress, we were able to achieve the final design. In addition to the sewing and building of the dress, there was a lot of costume engineering involved in making this work. We were given a beautiful design from Dr. Hannah, and I am glad we were able to make the magic come to life onstage.”  

The BFA degree in Musical Theatre is designed to prepare students to pursue careers as performers and leaders in musical theatre. Entrance into the BFA in Musical Theatre is by audition only. Utilizing performance venues on campus (Hayes Auditorium, Broyhill Theatre, Lauritsen Technical Theatre and Design Studio and a professional company - Lees-McRae Summer Theatre), students gain hands-on knowledge the moment they arrive on campus.

“As part of our departmental approach, students like Ethan experience every part of the production process,” said Danielle Curtis, interim chair of the Division of Creative and Fine Arts. “We feel very strongly that unless a student is able to be part of the entire process of a production they may not have the experience and knowledge that we know employers are looking for in today's market. We try to create a well-rounded artist, even within our pre-professional BFA program, which is evident when you look at our curriculum and meet our graduates.”

For more information about performing arts at Lees-McRae, please visit or call 828.898.5241.

Media Contact:

Nina Mastandrea  |  Content Manager
Tel: 828.898.8729  |  Email:
Before the transformation
During the transformation
After the transformation