Jeffrey Lieder is professor of theatre at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he teaches classes in tailoring, fabric painting and dyeing, millinery and costume crafts.  He has supervised more than 225 productions at the Tony award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival where he has been Costume Director since 1986.


He has designed costumes for the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre,  First Stage,

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and the Utah Shakespearean Festival.  He has created headpieces and hats for many ballet companies in the U.S.A. including four productions of The Nutcracker at the Milwaukee Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Alberta (Canada) Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet, all designed by Zack Brown.


He has coordinated three USITT Symposia and conducts master classes and workshops for USITT and many universities around the country including the University of Alabama, The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Indiana University,  Greensboro College, The University of Tennessee, Brigham Young University and The University of Mississippi. 



Personal Statement


University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

April 1, 2014

Creative activity before UWM

It never occurred to me in 1980 that I would become a university professor. 

I started my professional career while finishing classwork at The Ohio State University.  I found myself busy with professional commitments before I completed my MFA thesis.  As a free-lance costume technician, I worked in New York on Broadway productions, at the Metropolitan Opera, for Franco Zeffirelli,  Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, North Carolina School of the Arts and the Great Lakes Theatre Festival.

My graduate training served me well, providing skills and practice through excellent classes and production assignments at OSU as well as critical professional contacts to help begin my career.

Teaching and Curriculum development at UWM

Recruited to teach at UWM in the Professional Theatre Training Program, my professional experience was more important to the hiring committee and dean than any formal degrees.  I was hired to bring professional experience and contacts to the classroom and studio at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

In 1985, I created a curriculum to provide students with appropriate skills to compete in the professional arena.  Graduating students with BFA degrees began successful careers at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC, Santa Fe Opera, Utah Shakespeare Festival, The Old Globe Theatre and on feature films.

Sanford Robbins, chair at UWM and founder of the Professional Theatre Training Program, connected me with the Utah Shakespeare Festival and started my long association with the Tony Award® winning theatre.  As costume director and hiring agent, I have been able to create beginning professional opportunities for UWM students and alumni each season.  Many UWM students began their professional theatre career at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.  Students and alumni continue to work at the Utah Shakespeare Festival each season.

UWM Students at the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2014:

Levi Miles (BFA 2015) assistant costume supervisor

Andrew Beyer (BFA 2016) costume crafts technician & wardrobe  technician           

Emily Peplinski (BFA 2014) first hand and wardrobe technician

During the next restructuring of the curriculum at UWM in 1989,  advanced classes in costume production and management were devised.  The MFA program was developed at this time.  Formal classes in pattern-making, draping, tailoring, millinery, fabric painting and dyeing and management became the foundation of professional training.

Unique to the program was the “class mode/production mode” schedule consisting of roughly ten weeks of formal classes and five weeks of studio work experience each semester.  This plan, inspired by then chair Malcolm Morison, allowed students to focus on class work during specific periods and work in a dedicated manner during other periods.  During “production mode,” students modeled behavior and schedules after theatre professionals who were frequent guest artists in the department.

The flexible schedule also allowed for intensive master classes to be offered and for students to benefit from internship opportunities during the regular school year.

In 2003, partnership with Milwaukee Shakespeare Company provided MFA and BFA students with valuable para-professional experience under the my close supervision and advisement.

The program was restructured again in 2005 after discontinuing the MFA and Professional Theatre Training Program.

Incorporating the best of the BFA/MFA Professional Theatre Training Program, we adjusted the offering for delivery in a two-year cycle to all interested  BFA students.  In order to serve a larger number of students, classes were condensed, combined or eliminated to fit the two-year cycle while providing a range critical to the student’s needs.

Recent graduates continue to find successful employment.  Kari Ehler (BFA 2010) is a costume technician at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Jesslaine Fantazzi (BFA 2010) is an MFA candidate in Costume Technology and Design at Boston University, and Eleanor Kingsley-Cotely (BFA 2008) is a draper at the Milwaukee Ballet.

Some other student accomplishments and achievements are listed below:

Beth Uber (BFA 2002), draper—Chicago Shakespeare Company

Robert Leibhauser (MFA 1992)—assistant professor and chair, Cardinal        Stritch University

Michelle Bochat (MFA 2002), crafts supervisor—Chicago Shakespeare    Company

Jennifer Maine (MFA 2000)-Maryland Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland

Robin Newell (MFA 2002)-costume director, Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts

Virginia Luedke (MFA 1992)-instructor, University of Michigan (retired)

Natalie Retzlaff (MFA 2002)–tailor, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford

Triffin Rassmussen (MFA 1996)-draper, Tricorne Costumes, New York

Christine Schultz (BFA 1996)—free lance costumer Boardwalk Empire-HBO, Enchanted, Metropolitan Opera

Inga Buske (BFA 2006)-draper, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre

Sharon King (BFA 1987)-milliner, Titanic, feature film, Old Globe Theatre, Pioneer Theatre Company, Santa Fe Opera

Melissa Benson (MFA 2002), Costume Director, Florentine Opera

Melissa Keiffer (BFA 1997), Lead Wardrobe, Cirque du Soliel “O” Las Vegas

Kelly Homan (BFA 2006), draper, Parsons-Meares Costumes, New York

Professional Service and Creative Activity

Along with teaching and design at the University, I have active professional service in Milwaukee and around the country.

I am in demand as a masterclass teacher at colleges and unversities around the country.  I developed a two-day 19th Century Corset Construction class that is especially popular.  I have taught my techniques at Webster University, the University of Tennessee, Florida State University, Albright College, the University of Alabama, and Kent State University among others.  Through teaching in a national arena, I am able to continually review, adjust and improve my teaching techniques and methods.  I am also able to observe and evaluate programs and curriculum at many universities around the country. 

The complete listing for this class and others can be found on my Vitae and website at

I frequently work for the Milwaukee Ballet.  I made more than 75 hats and headpieces for the Milwaukee Ballet’s Nutcracker in 2001.  I have maintained pieces for the production since its beginning, keeping everything fresh and beautiful each season, including being photographed for advertisements on the sides of MTA city buses each December.

Nutcracker designer Zack Brown invited me to work on each of the subsequent productions of  The Nutcracker he designed for companies in the USA and Canada.  Each production is different, requiring new construction techniques and engineering to create beautiful and lightweight but sturdy headpieces for dancer’s use.

Mary Piering,  Costume Director at the Milwaukee Ballet, invited me to work on a number of  other productions in Milwaukee.  I made hats for La Boheme, Galileo, Esmeralda, Cinderella, Clowns and Others, Scherazade, and Peter Pan.  The Milwaukee Ballet production of Peter Pan will air on PBS stations across the country on April 18, 2014.

Currently, I am at work on more than 40 hats and headpieces for the premier of Michael Pink’s Mirror, Mirror, debuting in May, 2014 at the Marcus Center.

Many examples of my professional work appear in my on-line portfolio at

With each off-campus production, I am able to offer professional employment opportunities to students.  UWM students benefit from professional experience before they graduate, allowing them great examples for their resumes and portfolios.

Each spring, I serve as a portfolio reviewer at the annual conference of the South East Theatre Conference.  I have also presented a number of master classes at annual conferences.  Please see my vitae for a complete listing.

As a long-time member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, I have presented many master-classes, symposia and conference programs.  I have been an editor/juror of the popular conference “Poster Session” where juried presentations are displayed at the annual national conference.  Recently, I was selected as senior editor for the committee.  Digital versions of the poster presentations are published annually at

I serve as a national board member on the newly formed Essential Skills for Theatre Artisans (ESTA) which will review and edit material to create exams and accreditation for young theatre professionals starting in 2015.

Development of the ESTA exam will provide UWM and other universities around the country with critical information and evaluation techniques about the standards and practices necessary for success as a theatre professional.