WARSAW — Combining a love of the creative and artistic and mathematical and technical, Jean Beeson works in many capacities in the Warsaw Community Schools district. At Lakeview Middle School, she works as technical support to fix any issues with computers, iPads and any other technical equipment at the school.
However, for the last 29 years, she has worked with the Warsaw Community High School Theater Department helping to make their plays and musicals come to life.
In high school Beeson began sewing, altering and making clothing simply for fun. While attending Grace College, she performed the task as an odd job for fellow students. Now she is using her skills for the high school’s shows. Beeson got started at the school when her daughter was in a theater class and informed the teacher her mother could help with some of the sewings. Although her children are now grown, she continues to enjoy working with teens in theater.
As the program at Warsaw High School expanded to include variety shows, one-act plays, and even competitions and the school got its own performing arts center 14 years ago, Beeson took on the role of assistant director. The work is year-round as she is continually finding costumes, making costumes, altering costumes, helping with props or preparing in some way for an upcoming show.
On Saturdays, the class has workdays. “It’s an opportunity to teach students the skills they’re interested in,” Beeson mentioned. They work on set design, props, trying on and modifying costumes — whatever is needed that week. It is an opportunity for the students to focus on getting done what they need. However, she also commented, “There’s so much they can learn from just organizing and creating.” She included the parent booster group is extremely helpful in putting together lunches to serve the students, faculty and volunteers on Saturdays.
The theater department is lucky to be offered many quality donations from the community. Beeson works with these donations to modify the pieces, adding, embellishing or changing the garment as needed in order to fit the show. When she can’t find what she needs in the costume shop, she turns to her costume books. “I look at pictures, look at measurements and try to come up with the look that I want,” she explained. This method came in handy with a pair of medieval pants she chose to create.
Some of her most interesting pieces have included Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum costumes for “Alice in Wonderland,” which include a hula hoop. One of her most challenging costume designs was the transformation dress for “Cinderella” this past fall. The dress had to undergo a few revisions until it fell properly into the ball gown and hid the peasant dress. When it came to “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat,” Beeson wanted a unique coat. She got an early start cutting out strips of colored fabric and then found a pattern which she tweaked so she could “create the garment the way you want it to look.” She also supports the scene shop by helping with creating curtains, cushions and working on upholstery.
Some of the most important information Beeson receives is each of the students’ measurements, such as height, waist, neck, arms and legs. She then uses these measurements to connect the technical portion of her mind with the artistic side to find the perfect costume for each student.
“I enjoy spending time with students and enriching their lives using my talents,” she offered. Beeson has been with her husband, Dave, for 45 years. They have two married children: Laura and Jay with granddaughters Evelyn and Emma; Nate and Lindsay with grandson Alex.