As Detroiters flocked to see The Lion King at the Detroit Opera House and marvel at the spectacle, they should know that an alumna from Detroit Mercy’s Theatre program is helping make that magic happen.
Amelia Rose Glenn ’21 is working backstage as dresser to actors playing the villainous lion Scar and the self-important African horned red-bill, Zazu.
“Scar’s costume has hooks, snaps, layers and a robotic head, and it’s my job to make sure the actor is in it and it’s on right and the mic pack is where it needs to be,” Glenn said. “It can be stressful, but it’s fun.”
Glenn, who could be seen both onstage and backstage during her time with the Detroit Mercy Theatre Company (DTMC), finds joys in both.
“If I had to pick a favorite, I would say I’m more comfortable backstage,” she said. “It gives me an opportunity to explore all aspects of the performing arts.”
Glenn was a theater kid in high school and found herself at home at DTMC.
“The program is a lot smaller than many others, but I found that to be very beneficial because the professors have a lot of connections in professional theater and that is really helpful for people who want to work in the arts,” Glenn said. “Because it is smaller, it gives everyone a chance to learn lots of different things and to take on roles of leadership.”
In fact, she got her first paying gig – as costume designer for “Evil Dead: The Musical” in 2019 – through Associate Professor of Performing Arts Greg Grobis, who directed the bloody, campy musical in Detroit.
Grobis also factors into the backstage work with Lion King by connecting Glenn with Mary Ellen Shuffett, who, as a Marygrove College student, earned a theatre degree in 1980 through University of Detroit. She’s been the head of the wardrobe department at the Detroit Opera House for nearly 25 years.
Since mid-January, Glenn has been working under Shuffett as a seamstress and now as a wardrobe supervisor, helping build costumes for the Michigan Opera Theatre’s season that includes the operas Frida, a new opera about legendary painter Frida Kahlo, the classic La Boheme, and X, Life and Times of Malcolm X.
The costume department also is called upon to run the wardrobe for national tours that play at the Opera House, which thrills Glenn.
Glenn says she knows she’s blessed to be working in the theatre as a new graduate and she thanks the connections Detroit Mercy has in the theatre community for it.
“This is my first big professional show,” Glenn said. “This show is responsible for so many innovations in theater and it’s really cool to see how everything works together. It’s such a mystical experience.”