Open Forum

Community Spotlight: Shirlee Idzakovich

By Ginny Butsch posted 09-24-2019 10:02


One of the main goals for our Theatre Education Community is to help theatre students and professionals from all over connect and identify with each other in order to build resources and support the theatre education field. We shine a spotlight on a different member every other week by conducting a simple interview.

Our next spotlight is Shirlee Idzakovich, a professional costume designer and EdTA professional member in New York, New York. Shirlee offers excellent costume tips and advice to fellow Community members in the Open Forum, but she also leads workshops at various events, helped create the National Theatre Standards, and was one of EdTA’s first webinar hosts.


What does a typical day look like for you?

My typical day is anything but typical. As a professional costume designer in NYC/LA I am never in two places for the same reason. I could be at Lincoln Center under a hoop skirt, then dressing someone for the red carpet to working on costume plots for a show. Every day is a different challenge.  


Shirlee and PDI attendees at the 2019 EdTA National Conference in New York.


Tell us about the best day of your career.

The best days are always the ones where I look at my to do list and everything is checked off.

Do you have any tips for new theatre teachers?

The advice I would give any new teacher/director is to “follow your gut.”

What is the best advice anyone has ever given to you?

The best advice I was given I received a long time ago, “treat everyone the same, no matter what their title is.”

Shirlee with Pasek and Paul


What is your favorite musical (or play)?

 My absolute favorite Broadway show is Next to Normal, it was the perfect storm of a show.


Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of theatre?

 In my down time, I plan trips to fashion and costume exhibits all over the world. I love getting lost in the pieces that I get to see at the museums I visit. Studying all types of clothing and fabric is a passion of mine.

Spencer Lau, Shirlee, and Bakari King at the International Thespian Festival


What is your proudest accomplishment?

 My biggest accomplishments are my children, they truly own my heart completely.

 I knew the day I saw the new Star Wars trailer that I finally have crossed a big line in my career. I did two specialty pieces for the trailer and I literally cried. I am still in shock and I have to pinch myself when I think about it.

 Screenshot__511_.pngL to R: Miss Saigon in the Philippines, Sea Horse, Little Mermaid Costume, Pride and Prejudice Preview Pre-Broadway.


Name something on your bucket list.

 My bucket list is to win a Tony or an Emmy (or both) in costuming. 


Shirlee and Two Chainz at the Video Music Awards

If you could have a different career, what would you choose?

 I don't see my job as a career but more of a lifestyle, I really do love what I do. I am always taking classes to better myself in many aspects of my job.


If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I live between NYC and LA, so I cannot complain about my world, I love both places for many reasons.


What is the resource you most recommend to others in your profession?

I really enjoy the collaboration I have with many people involved with EdTA and knowing some of my best friendships stem from here is a bonus. Seeing the kids that I have mentored over the years come out of college and become my peers.


If you enjoyed Shirlee’s interview as much as we did, add her as a contact in the Community.

Do you know someone who deserves a moment in the Spotlight? Tell me their name and why at Want to read more Community Spotlights? You can find them here.