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In Memory of Martin Pakledinaz

July 10th, 2012

Our contributing correspondent Andrew Glaszek remembers the life and work of Tony-winning costume designer Martin Pakledinaz, who passed away July 8.

Martin Pakledinaz. Photo by Ken Howard.

I went to a performance-based program, in Detroit at Wayne State University, which meant that we did a season of 5 fully produced shows each year at a 1200 seat proscenium arch theatre in addition to a season of studio productions and two touring shows at the same time that the graduate company was doing 8 full productions in rotating repertory in their own theatre. (breath) On top of our class loads and training, of course. We did everything. And we did it with our blood, sweat, and tears. All three of which ended up on the costumes – plenty of it was mine.

When I wasn’t on stage or in rehearsal (which was a hell of a lot), I worked in the costume shop to pay my rent and buy my booze (and some groceries sometimes, I guess…) I stitched, ripped, surged, washed, dyed, and pressed, blocked hats, cut patterns, pulled together looks, loaded in to the theatre and loaded out again… and again. I also learned the skills to make a lil side career as a designer. Working there was life changing, especially due to my mentor, professor and friend Mary K. Copenhagen. The costume shop is where the heart is – where actors are able to meet, not only their character’s presence, but the creative process in action.

At WSU, we had a hero – Martin Pakledinaz. Marty had gone to WSU for theatre many years before but, at the time I was in school, he was reaching the height of his success as a costume designer on Broadway and starting to pick up TONY nom after TONY Nom. – 10 with 2 wins! Show after show, we were able to revel in the fact that one of our alum had made it big. He had worked under the best, Theoni V. Aldredge, to be the best. Here’s Marty in his own words describing his start:

Once I moved to NY I was happy to see his name in program after program and lightly brag to my theatre companions that “he went to my school!”  The last time that I said those words was when I was in the BC/EFA office just over a week ago; a card was being signed to send best wishes to this man who didn’t have much time left. I’m honored to have been able to sign it on behalf of this fan and the rest of the WSU students that he inspired.

He dressed some legendary ladies and here are just a few that I was fortunate to see on stage:

"Kiss Me Kate". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Kiss Me, Kate – Marin’s dress was as fiery as her Kate.


Matthew Broderick & Kelli O'Hara. Photo by Walter McBride.

Nice Work If You Can Get It – The backless flappers were hot but the curtain call dresses were hotter – Kelli O’Hara’s was like liquid platinum – I stood up for the dresses!

Thoroughly Modern Millie – I loved the b&w patterns and use of color on the ensemble. And he certainly made his leading ladies look like dreams.

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