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This profile was last updated on 9/1/14  and contains information from public web pages.

Employment History

  • Costume Designer
    Diamond Head Theatre
  • Lead Costumer
    Diamond Head Theatre
  • Costume Manager
    Diamond Head Theatre
Web References
"Sometimes it requires so many tricks," ..., 1 Sept 2014 [cached]
"Sometimes it requires so many tricks," says Karen Wolfe, costume designer and veteran at Diamond Head Theatre, as she talks about preparation for the theatre's 100 th season. "I don't know how we're going to do it yet, but I know we're going pull it off."
As the artistic director of Diamond Head Theatre for 19 years, John Rampage has worked closely with Wolfe to master the art of extracting ooohs and ahhhs from an audience. With arms high above his head, he takes it back to the last two productions of Cinderella and the scene where the Fairy Godmother comes to grant her wish. "There are dancing fairies standing around her as the magic dress flies in over her head. Then they change her right on stage," he says. "It's all very exciting."
Looking over Cinderella's gown, with embellishments of gold and white lace, silk ruffles and intricate beading throughout, Wolfe confirms, "A dress like that would take about four days."
Wolfe is accustomed to working with restrictions to time, material and theme. Much like the contestants she roots for on the reality TV show, Project Runway. But unlike those nerve-wracked designers, she is not focused on flattering her models. "If they don't like it, then they can act like they like it," Wolfe says, followed by her firecracker laugh.
"John is so good with costumes because he actually wore them for years," Wolfe asserts. "He knows what it feels like to put it on and have it communicate a character. More than just a costume, the garments made by Wolfe and her team bring characters to life.
This intuition may not be typical of a costume designer, but Wolfe has been the lead costumer at DHT for nearly 30 years. Time and experience give her the ability to know exactly where Little Red Riding Hood's dress is from Into the Woods, but to be able to create that costume and 124 others for one show (six shows a year for 29 years) takes talent and passion.
"Nobody knows the challenges and the difficulties, the work and hours that go into it," Wolfe says.
Karen Wolfe, costume ..., 31 Oct 2009 [cached]
Karen Wolfe, costume designer for Diamond Head Theatre, took some time to e-mail some ideas and pointed out that the local community theater known for bringing Broadway shows to Honolulu often uses quick and simple costumes.
For a judge wig, Wolfe said, "I used craft foam rolled like toilet paper rolls glued to a baseball cap."
Sticking to the glue theme, bubble wrap strips glued to an umbrella can become a jellyfish, and a mattress pad can be cut and glued into a ghost costume. A pillowcase with a coat of arms glued (taped or sewn) onto it, can become a tunic, if you cut out head and arm holes, and macaroni shells spray-painted and glued can become Elizabethan designs, Wolfe said.
But if those ideas aren't easy enough, Wolfe suggests being the last straw, a costume so simple all you have to do is "stick a drinking straw in your pocket."
Diamond Head Theatre, 20 Mar 2005 [cached]
Karen Wolfe, Costume Manager, 733-0277 ext. 2
Pearl Harbor Performing Arts Association  -  Mardi Gras Follies 2003, 27 Feb 2006 [cached]
KAREN G. WOLFE, Costume Designer at Diamond Head Theater for all her help.
Diamond Head Theatre Artistic Director ..., 10 Sept 2014 [cached]
Diamond Head Theatre Artistic Director John Rampage and Costume Director Karen Wolfe
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