Not many people can say they’ve designed a costume for Kool-Aid Man, Tarzan’s gorilla friends and a flying fish for The Little Mermaid.
Rory Scanlon can. Scanlon, associate dean of Undergraduate Education at Brigham Young University, was honored earlier this year by the Utah Theatre Association (UTA) for his contributions to theatre at a university level. UTA presented the award at a faculty luncheon on January 27.
“It was fun to look out and see everyone,” Scanlon said. “I knew a majority of them because they were my students. The president and the person that gave me the award were both my former students.”
Scanlon has worked at BYU for 28 years, having started soon after completing his master’s degree at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1984.
One of Scanlon’s favorite projects was the Hill Cumorah Pageant. He helped in the redesign of more than 3,000 costumes used by performers in a show that dates back to 1917. Designers had to take into account not only the overall appearance of costume but also the time and resources it would take to create them. The costumes also had to be adaptable to different body types.
In his time at BYU, he has taught hundreds of students. One of his more humorous experiences happened earlier this year when one of his students told him that he had taught her grandfather.
“I’d had that happen with parents but never grandparents,” Scanlon said with a laugh. “But it was a real milestone for me.”
Theatre and film is a family activity for the Scanlons. Scanlon and his wife share a passion for the arts that has been carried on by their children. Scanlon’s first son went into animation, his second and last sons are interested in film, and his daughter loves to act.
“I never pushed theatre on them,” Scanlon said. “But it seems to have rubbed off! I guess it’s dangerous living in the house with someone that’s in design!”
Scanlon said that one of their favorite family activities when they are all together is making movies.
“Most families do a picnic, we go to a park and film something,” Scanlon said.
According to Scanlon, his faith has played a major role in his career. One of the things he considers a blessing is being able to work on projects that he actually wanted to work on–something a lot of designers can’t say.
“Heavenly Father is the best costume designer there is,” Scanlon said. “Heavenly Father knows all things.”
In addition to teaching, Scanlon served as associate dean in the College of Fine Arts and Communications from 2005 to 2010. In 2010, Scanlon was appointed to his current position as associate dean of Undergraduate Education.