At Home with Hairspray
[The following sidebar was written for the current Arvada Center program guide, artscentric, under the title, "At Home with Hairspray."]
Fresh off a runner-up finish in Season 8 of the Lifetime Channel's Project Runway, a fashion competition that culminated at Lincoln Center in New York, Mondo Guerra is excited about the challenge of producing over 130 costumes for Hairspray.
"For me, what's fun about this is that it's set in the early '60's and I love that period. I also like the fact that these aren't people who necessarily have the means to buy the fashion that was really cool back then. They're always putting different things together to make it work."
Photo: Project Runway
That eclectic approach strikes a chord with Mondo.
"I've always been a creative person. I started out painting when I was five and then started playing piano when I was eight. I've always tried to find new outlets to express my creativity. When I graduated from high school, my interest was in fashion and I was lucky enough to get a position as a milliner's apprentice. I learned the basics and then was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to New York with the position as a head designer."
Mondo returned home to Denver to recuperate from a major injury. After his recovery, finding fashion jobs few and far between, he looked to the theatre as the best alternative for his skills. He called the costume shop at the Arvada Center and was hired by Betsy Zumfelde.
"She really took a chance on me, because I was a designer, not a stitcher. They really stuck with me and I didn't want to be left behind, so I really paid attention and took advice from the girls in the shop and I learned a lot."
Getting the opportunity to create the costumes for Hairspray brings his work at the Arvada Center full circle.
"It's a show that fits my aesthetic and my own personal story growing up. There was definitely racial tension in the schools that I went to, but more than that, everybody works hard, pays their dues, and continues to approach each day with a good attitude. Everything comes to them in the end."