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Staples Players’ first-ever production of “The Descendants” thrilled audiences with energetic hip hop dancing and fantastic sets.

Also earn kudos: stunning costumes.

Although often overlooked, The Players costume team works long hours during and after rehearsals – often right up to opening night – to ensure the actors look their best.

Some costumes are taken from stock, or ordered and embellished. But one in “Descendants” is very special.

The coronation dress for Maleficent’s daughter, Mal, was designed and crafted from the ground up by senior Eliza Bowens.

Eliza Bowens, in her studio.

His path to designer stardom began in 7th grade, at the New England Fashion and Design Association. Over the years she has designed clothes for herself and her friends.

As a Players actress, she performed on stage in “Legally Blonde” and “Back to the 80s.” But Eliza’s true love is “The Costume Shoppe”. There she lent her excellent eye and skill to help create looks for characters on shows like “Mamma Mia!”, “Seussical” and “Grease.”

When costume designer Christie Stanger was gathering ideas for “Descendants,” she knew Mal’s dress for the big coronation scene had to be extra special. She also knew that Eliza could do it.

The young designer has rewarded the confidence that Christie and directors David Roth and Kerry Long have shown in her.

She submitted 3 drawings. When one was chosen, Eliza created a pattern, constructed a chiffon dress, chose a fabric, and sewed the dress herself.

It took a month. With a few minor tweaks, he was ready for Mal (Quinn Mulvey).

Quinn Mulvey as Mal in a dress designed and made by Staples senior Eliza Bowens. Sebastian Gikas as Prince Ben wears a suit embellished by student designers Rosie Kauppinen and Alexis Mahon. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Eliza didn’t stop there. Using scraps of fabric, she covered shoes to complete the look.

This fall, Eliza is heading to Polimoda in Florence, Italy. She will continue her studies of fashion design there.

Two examples of Eliza Bowens’ creations.

Kerry Long says Eliza’s stunning design “reflects Mal’s funky side, but also her mellowness in Auradon.” She grows throughout the show, falling in love and learning to care for others, but also staying true to herself. The dress reflects both the “edgy” and the “sweet”.

She and her fellow Costume Shoppe artists are never in the spotlight. At the final curtain, the actors point to the pit orchestra and the lights (the stage crew), for well-deserved applause. Who thanks the customers?

“06880”, for one. Congratulations and thank you, Eliza and your fellow designers and tailors. We are “sew” grateful for all your work!

(“The Descendants” will be played again this weekend: Friday April 8 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday April 9 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Click here for tickets and more information. To nominate an unsung hero, email [email protected])

Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds