Legendary Costume Designer. Set Dresser.
Margit Stallings has been a part of Master Mystery Productions since its inception in 2015, but her work with the company began before that when she originated the role of Scarlet O’Halloran in the very first Master Mystery Production, Murder at the Red Fez, in March 2013 for the Red Hat Ladies of Bakersfield. But Margit’s legendary contributions to the company have been made not with an actor’s voice, but with a needle, thread, flower arrangements, and feathers as the critically-acclaimed, award-winning costume designer, milliner, and set dresser for numerous amazing shows.
A long time costumer for her children for Halloween or dance performances, Margit made her first leap into Master Mystery Productions costuming by designing and creating the iconic white tea time hat and the pink silk satin gown worn by actress Lena Pokol as Lila Schroeder in the Spring 2015 production of Goodbye Hollywood, costuming which earned rave reviews as “fabulously retro” by critics. This extended to multiple gowns she made for the stage expansion, Goodbye Hollywood: At the Rainbow’s End.
Her first foray into scenic design and set dressing came when she designed the classic mystery themed centerpieces inspired by Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, Ellery Queen, Nero Wolfe, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, and more for the sold-out production of Hello Out There in September 2015, the first Weird Weekend show for Master Mystery Productions.
Her work backstage to design and create special set dressing, party favors, prizes, and even superhero capes for our superhero mystery, Hero, in October 2015 garnered her the Skeleton Key Award for Service Above and Beyond for the show.
In 2016, she created the iconic funeral wreath employed in many Master Mystery Productions for Wildflowers for the Funeral. Margit returned to costuming for The Last Garden Party in July 2016 where she created the rich Victorian ensembles worn by most of the cast, solid costumes which have been reused in various forms in several future productions.
For the 2017 season, Margit was the set dresser for the Writers of Kern production of Murder at the Broken Heart Mine, followed by more brilliant costuming in Bury Me in Paris and Ode to Agatha along with exquisite set dressing for the latter with Agatha Christie-themed table centerpieces and buffet design inspired by some of her best books like Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Death on the Nile. She finished the season with staggering set design for C. R. Rowenson’s The Silent City in September 2017.
In 2018, she once again costumed for a glamorous period show, What Happens at Sundown, including the drop dead gorgeous sapphire blue burnoose worn by actress Monica Dwyer in the role of Helena Rothschild. But her most fun came in November 2018’s Mutiny on the Sea Witch where she designed unique pirate costumes (along with a dozen pirate hats) and delved into scenic painting for the pirate ship set, creating the now famous dark wood grain and brass finish seen on what one critic called “the best set [they’d] ever seen.”
But the 2019 season brought Margit her greatest praise yet when she costumed the daunting and daring production of Eat Cake for Amargosa Opera House. Set in Versailles at the dawn of the French Revolution, Margit had to create FOUR custom gowns for the actresses, including the panniers, which she finished by hand with traditional closures for accuracy. Her costume design earned rave audience reviews, citing them as the most amazing costumes they’d ever seen, and Eat Cake is considered to be her masterpiece in her work as a costumer. Not only that, Margit received a Special Commendation from the company for her emergency costume work when she had to resize the Marie Antoinette dress entirely for the understudy who had to assume the role for closing night within a week’s notice.
For September 2019, Margit’s most unusual assignment came as the designer of the Bigfoot costume used in Monica Dwyer’s production of Close Encounters of the Hairy Kind, including yards and yards of hand-woven “Bigfoot hair” made of yarn.
At the end of 2019, Margit was once again an eleventh hour hero when she cut, sewed, and fitted the signature Lenore dress for Lenore Nevermore in one week after the original plan fell through. She also lent more costume and scenic design services from sourcing to sewing to decorating the buffet for that production, which is now considered one of her most legendary moves in Master Mystery Productions history.
In 2021, we again had the pleasure of seeing her genius and artisan craftmanship when she executed the scarecrow’s costume for Mr. Bubble in Who’s Who? with custom fabric patches.
Margit’s contributions to both costume design and set design have created a unifying brand for our shows and set and level of perfection, style, and jaw-dropping effect for all our Master Mystery Productions. Her unflappable professionalism, exquisite taste, and high level of execution have become standard bearers for the company and for theatre as a whole. She is a wonderful example of how every part of theatre is vital to its success. Bravo, Margit. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for all that you do.