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Dressing The Part

Featured Photo from Dressing The Part

When it comes to costumes, Lake Mary High grad and Dr. Phillips Center wardrobe supervisor Kerrie Bishop runs the show.

Kerrie Bishop has one of the coolest jobs in Orlando. She’s the wardrobe supervisor at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and its sister theater, the Bob Carr.

As shows, concerts, comedians, and speakers take the stage in the Dr. Phillips Center – which Kerrie calls her second home – she gets to know the unique intricacies and quirks of each performance and the people who give it, from legends like Patti LaBelle to pop culture phenomenon Hamilton. Every day at the job is different.

Kerrie’s office desk sits in a long room amidst sewing machines, rolling carts, steamers, and washers and dryers, but you won’t find her sitting there for long. Kerrie’s work keeps her on her toes, setting props, repairing clothes, and prepping the dressing areas for the next curtain call.

The grand stages Kerrie now knows so well aren’t far from her alma mater, Lake Mary High School. Kerrie graduated from LMHS in 1990 and spent much of her time there in the yearbook room or the auditorium, where she worked on costumes for school musical productions like Pirates of Penzance.

Kerrie first learned to sew as a young girl at the knee of her grandmother, but Kerrie knows she is still learning.

“I still, at this point, don’t say that I know everything,” she says. “There’s no way to know every single thing – it’s just too much. It’s a nice challenge to learn as I go along.”

In high school, Kerrie was known for her playful fashion sense: She was the first of her friends to begin adding menswear pieces to her closet long before it became trendy.

“It looked a little French,” Kerrie laughs.

Often, she came to school dressed like she had walked off the set of a John Hughes movie or a B-52’s music video. Even now, Kerrie still wears the knit berets she was sporting back then.

She headed to the University of Florida after high-school graduation to study costume design, but Kerrie soon decided to dive in and learn on the job. After a chance meeting at a music conference in New York City with members of ska punk band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – famous for their 1997 hit “The Impression That I Get” – Kerrie had her first big break.

The band hired her to make eight plaid tuxedos in sizes 40 to 68 for the performers to wear when they opened for Aerosmith at the old Boston Garden arena on New Year’s Eve 1993 – and they needed the tuxes “really super fast,” Kerrie remembers. “It was really crazy, but it was a great show.”

Buoyed by this success, Kerrie went after her dream to work in the wardrobe department for NBC’s iconic Saturday Night Live. After submitting her application, Kerrie waited to hear back from them for weeks. She finally decided to call the SNL office directly and ask why they couldn’t at least have the courtesy to reject her. The wardrobe assistant was happy she called: Their human resources manager had quit and taken all the resumes with her, and they needed someone immediately.
Kerrie landed the job; the dream was hers. At SNL, she helped dress cast regulars like Mike Myers, Chris Farley, and Adam Sandler as well as guest stars like Sarah Jessica Parker. To this day, in fact, one of Kerrie’s favorite costume creations is a Glinda the Good Witch dress she helped make for one of Sarah Jessica’s skits on the show.

While she was in New York, Kerrie also worked for MTV’s irreverent comedy skit show The State, where she says she learned a lot.

“They were so bizarrely creative,” she remembers, noting that she once had to make a dress for the show out of bacon. “They taught me there is nothing you can’t make, no matter how weird. It was really excellent training.”

After two years in New York, Kerrie came back to Central Florida, where she worked for Disney in creative costuming for five years before she left for a job with the Bob Carr Theater’s wardrobe department.

She also had a baby boy, Brody, who graduated from LMHS himself and is now a college student at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Kerrie’s career continued to build at the Bob Carr and then the Dr. Phillips Center when it opened in 2014, and she found the love of her life, husband Randy Bishop, soon after. When Kerrie’s supervisor and mentor at the Dr. Phillips Center retired, she jumped at the opportunity to become the new wardrobe supervisor in 2018.

Recently, former Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne performed at the Dr. Phillips Center. It was the band’s quirky music video for their hit “Wild Wild Life” that first inspired Kerrie to think about costumes conceptually when she was in high school and designing the wardrobe for the LMHS production of You Can’t Take It With You.

Kerrie found David’s costumer backstage and shared this fact with her. It was a perfect full-circle moment that even Kerrie couldn’t have designed any better.

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