While on a motorcycle trip last summer, Gillian Hewitt came across the perfect fake fur to make a donkey costume, so she brought it back to Revelstoke at the bottom of her motorcycle trailer.
Hewitt designed all of the costumes for the recent production of Shrek the Musical.
She started with the designs in June and recruited a team of sewers to help.
In total, there were 91 costumes, all handmade in Revelstoke, for the production.
“This is my swan song,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt’s mother taught her to sew when she was 12 years old.
It wasn’t long before she threw out the patterns.
“I got in trouble in school for making skirts too short,” she recalled, laughing.
She first started making Halloween costumes for her kids. Working as a teacher, it wasn’t long before a friend and co-worker recruited her to help with sewing class.
From there it grew to making costumes for school plays, all of which never had big budgets.
Hewitt moved to town in 2008, breaking her leg on her second day of skiing at the newly opened resort.
So she had to find other activities to keep her occupied, on top of volunteering with the Revelstoke Museum and Archives, she got involved with the theatre company. Her first production was Chicago.
“It was a whole different ball game (compared to high school productions),” she said. But Shrek The Musical required the most creativity.
The director, Anita Hallewas, kept giving Hewitt tiny people and asking her to make them big.
For example, Hewitt did costumes for Humpty Dumpy as well as The Three Little Pigs.
Everything was going well, but just before Christmas, Hewitt started to experience bad headaches which limited her ability to sew to an hour at a time. On Jan. 10, she was diagnosed with cancer.
While she was away for treatment, her costume team stepped up to complete the finishing touches for the show.
The costumes now fill Hewitt’s basement, but she saw them in action twice before packing them away.
Hewitt said she doesn’t know how the next production’s costumes could ever top this one, but she added that Hallewas has other ideas about that.
For now she is spending the next two weeks in Mexico, and hopes to go on more motorcycle trips with her husband.