In 1976 Randall Kent was in his senior year at the University of Cincinnati when he left school to focus on working full time at his own company Stagecraft Inc. Forty years later, he returned to UC’s College-Conservatory of Music to finish his studies and earn a BFA in Costume Design and Technology.
Kent is the Technical Theater Director at McAuley High School and continues to serve as the president and CEO of Stagecraft Inc. With his company, Kent has created character costumes and mascots for amusement parks, sports teams, movies and universities. As a student, he created the UC Bearcat costume that was used from 1975 to 2006.
Kent’s passion for costume design began in the summer of 1972 at the Kings Island amusement park. He performed daily in the park’s classic Hanna-Barbera costumes, which were “old, hot and in disrepair,” Kent remembers.
He began studying technical theatre at CCM that fall and returned to Kings Island with the skills he learned in class. Kent took apart the park’s costumes and made new designs, turning 10 old costumes into 30 new costumes — from Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear to The Banana Splits.
In 1975 former ice hockey team the Cincinnati Stingers reached out to Kings Island for a referral company that could design and build a new mascot. Kent created the Stinger Bee “Slapshot” mascot through Stagecraft Inc. and launched his professional career.
The business was so successful that Kent left CCM a year after Stagecraft Inc. began. The company created costumes for Disney, Six Flags, Universal Studios and multiple universities from Maryland to Oregon. Stagecraft’s mascot costumes were featured in films The Waterboy, The Program and Old School. Stagecraft most recently created character costumes for Mentos gum, Miami Savings Bank, Walnut Hills High School and Roger Bacon High School.
Kent’s passion led him to teaching when he followed his daughter to McAuley High School twelve years ago. He began volunteering as the high school’s Technical Theater Director, which later became an official paid position. Kent oversaw the costume design for the school’s productions of Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins, both shows won Cappie awards for best costumes.
Kent made an immediate connection with his students, who ultimately inspired him to go back to school. He returned to CCM to finish the degree he left behind 40 years previously and graduated with a BFA in Costume Design and Technology in December, 2016.
Three of his students from McAuley High School joined Kent in his last semester; two are in CCM’s costume design program and one is in the stage design program. Ironically, they were in the same technical theatre class together at CCM.
“It seemed quite natural that we be in class together and quite rewarding for me that I could have that kind of effect on my students,” Kent says. “I hope to send more to CCM in the future.”
After he graduated from CCM, Kent jumped into his role as Technical Theater Director at McAuley High School. He and his students designed and built everything from the costumes to the set for the school’s spring musical All Shook Up, which ran April 7-9. The show was nominated for 24 Cappie awards, including best costumes.
Kent plans to continue to grow his passion for theatre at the high school and Stagecraft Inc.
“Getting that piece of paper was very rewarding and made me feel like I had come full circle,” Kent says of his degree from CCM. “It validated me as a artist and business man. It also ensured that I could teach as the teacher of record.”
Congratulations to all of CCM’s 2016-17 graduates! Photos from this year’s Graduation Convocation Ceremony will be posted to the CCM Village News later this week.