The Student Newspaper of The John Cooper School

The Dragon Tales

The Student Newspaper of The John Cooper School

The Dragon Tales

The Student Newspaper of The John Cooper School

The Dragon Tales

Laura Targett: Costume Hero


As the musical is approaching less than a month, I had the opportunity to talk to one of Cooper’s most valuable artistic assets. Laura Targett has a long history at Cooper as the head of the costume and design department, working on the musicals, plays, and various dance shows. A talented seamstress and creative mind, she is the force behind the beautiful and functional designs that make all the fine art productions come alive. Our interview went as follows.

How long have you been at Cooper?

I came about 16 years ago. My daughter graduated in 2014, and that’s when I started working full time. That’s 10 years as an employee. Prior to that, I just volunteered my time. 

Were you always interested in costume and design? 

I didn’t know how interested I was. I did learn how to sew when I was a teenager and I made clothes, but it’s not something that I studied at university or trained in. I’ve always been artistic. It’s a very good skill to have. It’s great to use your brain and it’s great to use your body in sports, but it’s a phenomenal skill to be able to do something with your hands.  It’s calming, soothing.  

Is there anything that you would like people to know about you that they don’t know already?  

I don’t think very many people know me at all. When you work backstage, people don’t really know you. I’m not afraid, come and chat with me. Before I came to Texas, I lived in Canada, and I’m obviously Scottish. When I was first married, I traveled all over the world. I’ve been in the far East, Middle East and Australia. I’ve been all over Europe, I’ve traveled a lot more and been to more places than probably most people would ever imagine.  

What was your favorite musical you’ve done?

Recently I really enjoyed “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” We did that during COVID times and the whole process had to change. It was the last time I remember doing a show that looked the way I would like it to look together with Ashley Cooper. That’s really what I am doing, I’m trying to fulfill the director’s dream. We had to minimize contact with everybody and try to streamline the design that allowed for each person to take care of themselves.  It looked more 60s style, with light dresses. That way I could have all the men in green, and the ladies in black and white. When it was on the stage, it just looked pretty clean and tidy, but at the same time, colorful. It was a way to work within the constraints of what we were dealing with.  

What is your favorite part about working on Shrek the Musical? 

Shrek is super fun because there’s all the fairy tale characters. The costumes are kind of ridiculous. If you’re a white rabbit, you’ve got ears and you’re furry with a tail. If you’re a dancing rat, you have ears and a tail. We just laugh, and that’s kind of unusual. Normally it’s fairly serious, but we’ve been laughing a lot, a lot of giggles, a lot of belly laughs. I’m hoping that transfers to the stage and they [actors] can bring joy and fun because it’s just fun. You just have to buy into that. You have to suspend all disbelief and just say “look, it’s a donkey, but the donkey is on 2 feet and makes jokes!”  

After talking to Mrs. Targett, I had a wider scope of what being part of production entails and what her role is in the fine art department. With her undeniable dedication to the school and constant attention to detail, Targett not only works to design functional, stage-ready clothing, but also tailors those items for every student and show. She ensures that every actor, dancer, musician, and performer looks and feels their best. While much of the work done backstage goes “under the radar,” the shows could not go on without it. The light sequences, elaborate sets, tailor made costumes, makeup (to name a few) create streamlined experiences to help the talented actors and performers reach their full potential. I would like to thank Mrs. Target for her time, even during the hectic musical season.

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