Wayne State University

Scholarships allow theatre student to pursue passion for costume design

Scholarships allow theatre student to pursue passion for costume design
JennyJohn Scholarship recipient Melissa Hall works on the crew for productions at the Bonstelle Theatre and has designed the costumes for eight shows at the Studio Theatre.

Melissa Hall ’15 participated in every theatre production at her high school in Pinckney, Michigan. Although she started out helping with scenery, she quickly moved to costuming. As she began her college search, her theatre teacher recommended the great theatre program at his alma mater—Wayne State University.

Hall was accepted into the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts as well as the Irvin D. Reid Honors College at Wayne State. She received both a Presidential Scholarship and a Talent Scholarship, which cemented her decision to attend Wayne State as an honors theatre major with a specialization in costume design.

In her second semester, Hall got a job in the theatre department’s costume shop. When asked what she likes best about Wayne State, Hall said, “I’ve been able to design since I was a freshman.” Hall works on the crew for productions at the Bonstelle Theatre and has designed the costumes for eight shows at the Studio Theatre. Most recently, she was the designer for Dead Man’s Cell Phone and Birth and Afterbirth.

Hall both designs and creates her costumes, using skills she has learned on the job in the costume shop and in her classes. Hall said costuming classes are her favorite, as well as a puppetry class she took recently. Her dedication to her craft earned her an additional award this year, the JennyJohn Scholarship.

The JennyJohn Scholarship was established by Robert Pusilo ’63 B.A. who designed costumes and performed at the Bonstelle when he was a Wayne State student. He also designed the costumes for the opening season of the Hilberry Theatre in 1963. The JennyJohn Scholarship, named in honor of Pusilo’s parents, is intended to help hard-working theatre students enjoy their college experience. In the future, Pusilo hopes to support even more students by endowing the scholarship with a million dollar gift from his estate.

Hall said the JennyJohn Scholarship helps pay for her living expenses on campus. She doesn’t have much free time due to the intensive pre-professional curriculum for bachelor of fine arts students. When she does get a chance to relax, she likes to read and play video games in her apartment. As for post-graduation plans, Hall is keeping her options open. Right now, she’s happy designing costumes at Wayne State.

(Posted April 25, 2014)

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