Photo of Patricia Zipprodt taken from www.azquotes.com
I had the pleasure of interviewing Patricia Zipprodt, one of the most well-respected and prolific costume designers of the American stage, for my dissertation. Zipprodt’s designs were seen on the Broadway stage for four decades, and she was credited for improving the status of costume designers and contributing to the history of costume design with her innovative, groundbreaking techniques of realizing the playwrights and directors’ concepts, especially for Fiddler. These were also evident in the original productions of Cabaret, Pippin, Chicago, and Sunday in the Park with George.
I was always fascinated by the fabric textures used to enhance, define, and/or reveal themes and characters in plays. So, I jotted down several titles, including Cabaret (Isherwood, Kander, Ebb, and Masteroff), Pippin (Schwartz and Hirson), 1776 (Edwards and Stone), and Sunday in the Park with George (Sondheim and Lapine). When I checked the names of the costume designers for their productions, I discovered Patricia Zipprodt had designed them all. That’s when I decided that I want Zipprodt to be the subject of my dissertation after I retired from the NYC Board of Education in 1991.
Born and raised in Chicago, Zipprodt racked up 10 Tony Award nominations and three wins over a long and distinguished career. During a career that spanned four decades, she worked with such Broadway theatre legends as Jerome Robbins, Hal Prince, Gower Champion, David Merrick, and Bob Fosse. Besides theatre, Zipprodt also designed costumes for feature films including The Graduate, Last of the Mobile Hot Shots, and 1776, as well as the television adaptations of The Glass Menagerie, Alice in Wonderland, and Sunday in the Park with George.
In 1999, Patricia Zipprodt passed away from a recurring bout with cancer. It was hard to believe that someone with such vibrant designs would not grace the stage anymore. She was 74 years old.