Q&A: Mondo Guerra on the art of costuming and dressing Tracy and Edna Turnblad


Westword Magazine
By Susan Froyd Mon., Jun. 20 2011 at 12:30 PM

When the Arvada Center’s new production of Hairspray officially opens tomorrow night, Everyone, but everyone, will be checking out the costumes. That’s because Denver hero Mondo Guerra designed them, putting his way with fresh and professional looks to the test. And besides, if Mondo wasn’t meant to design costumes for this show, well, then who else? We caught up with Mondo for a Q&A on the fly. Here’s what he had to say:

Westword: How did you get involved in the Arvada Center’s production of Hairspray?

Mondo Guerra: I was a stitcher and a crafter at the Arvada Center for five years before all the Project Runway stuff. I told Rod I was interested in designing a show. When Hairspray came up, both Rod an I felt like it was a perfect fit for my aesthetic. In the beginning, I thought I might have bit off more than I could chew, but with the help of all the wonderful ladies down in the costume shop, this wacky dream has become a colorful reality.

hairspray_mondo_costume1WW: What are the challenges in designing costumes, as opposed to designing couture?

MG: Function! On the stage, the actors are dancing, doing twenty-second quick changes. It gets very technical making everything actor-friendly. For runway, it’s all about fit and the look, not necessarily comfort.

WW: Is this something you’d like to continue doing, or is it a one-time thing?

MG: It’s another creative endeavor down in the books. I loved seeing it
come together and progress into this beautiful piece of art. Who knows if I’ll do costumes for stage again…we’ll see.

WW: Do you have any favorite Hairspray creations?

MG: I don’t want to give anything away! You’ll have to come and see the show. But, I will tell you that if you’re a fan of John Waters, then you’ll definitely be pleasantly surprised with some of the costumes!

WW: What’s coming up next for you?

MG: What’s next!? What’s not next?

How do the costumes hold up? Judge for yourself:

Hairspray continues at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Booulevard, daily except Mondays, through July 17; for tickets, $49 to $63, visit the website. And we leave you with another tease: